9 Important Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
What are common vitamin A deficiency symptoms?
Are skin rashes a sign of vitamin A deficiency?
These are some of the questions that might pop up in your mind when you read about vitamin a deficiency.
Whenever we think about our eye health or increasing our eyesight, the first thing that comes to our mind is eating vitamin A rich foods. Therefore you start including colored foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes etc. Vitamin A deficiency is very rare so you don’t find many people talking about it. One more reason for it may be that we are not aware of vitamin A deficiency symptoms. In today’s post, I have shared 9 important symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. If you experience these symptoms consult your doctor, get a test done and take steps to cure it. (1)
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble unsaturated organic compound that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamins A carotenoids (most notable beta-carotene ). All these compound are together called as vitamin A. It is one of the most important vitamins as it helps in critical function of eyes and skin.
Vitamin A Requirement
The daily requirement of vitamin A for adult men is 900 micrograms and for adult women is 700 micrograms. Since vitamin A is fat soluble and can be stored in our body we need not have its regular intake. Excess of vitamin A can result in many hazardous health problems.
Is Vitamin A Deficiency Common?
Vitamin A deficiency is common in underdeveloped and developing nations. Mostly, people who have malnutrition face vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency can also be caused due to some diseases affecting liver or pancreas. People who are strict vegans can also face this kind of deficiency. Excessive intake of alcohol or drugs can also cause this deficiency.
Even if vitamin A deficiency is not common in the developed nations, it is advisable to keep a check on the symptoms if any. Nowadays because of the lifestyle changes we do not take balanced diet or do regular exercise. This can result in the deficiency of vital nutrients. (2)
Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms
There are two kinds of Vitamin A deficiency.
- Mild deficiency
- Severe deficiency
The symptoms of both kinds are different.
You can watch this video by Dr. Berg for more information on vitamin A benefits and deficiency symptoms
Mild Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms
1.Frequent Tiredness or Fatigue
Regular tiredness is one of the Vitamin A deficiency symptoms. Stress or workload can cause tiredness but make sure it is not frequent. If you are feeling so over the period of time you may have a deficiency of vitamin A.
When you feel a continuous tiredness or fatigue it is better to consult your doctor and get the blood test done. If you get to know vitamin A deficiency at an early stage it is easy to control and treat it with less effect on your health. (3)
2.Increased Risk of Infection
Vitamin A deficiency weakens your immunity consequently makes you prone to various infections. It may lead to infections in throat, chest, and gastroenteritis. If you have any injury and it is not healing fast or getting worse day by day it is better to get the checkup done. The right amount of vitamin A ensures that you have a good, strong immune system and fight any infection.
3.Dry Skin and Hair or Itching
If you are facing a problem with dry skin or hair or itching over your body, it may be due to the inadequacy of vitamin A. Increase the consumption of vitamin A in your diet and you will get your glow back. You might notice some patches or dry skin and feel the itching of skin in case vitamin A is not present in adequate amount.
Apart from the dry skin if you have an aging problem you can try antioxidant-rich foods. These foods are good for reducing the oxidation process and keep your skin young and glowing.
Severe Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms
1.Difficulty in Vision in The Dark
If you are facing difficulty in vision especially during night time for a long period of 1 or 2 months then you may be having night blindness. It is caused due to severe deficiency of vitamin A. Consult a good doctor for an Immediate check-up. (4)
Night blindness is not a good state to be in and is difficult to cure. So it is better to consult your doctor as soon as you experience any of the symptoms stated here.
The cornea is the transparent layer forming the front of the eye. In keratomalacia, eye cornea undergoes thining and ulceration. This is the effect of severe deficiency of vitamin A. This results in blurring the eye vision. If you are noticing any change in your eyesight it is advisable to consult your ophthalmologist at the earliest.
Xerophthalmia means drying of conjunctiva and cornea on the surface of our eye. If you are facing this problem more often, vitamin A deficiency may be the reason. It is one of the important vitamin A deficiency symptoms.
If you find any symptoms stated above it is advisable to consult your doctor without any delay. This is one of the very rare cases but if found need to be treated on urgent basis.
Bitot’s spots is a formation of foamy patches on the white part of our eye. This is one of the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency.
This is not a common vitamin A deficiency symptoms. If you find any such spot in your eye you need to consult your ophthalmologist on urgent basis. This can result into permanent vision impairment so better to take precautions and consult the doctor at the earliest.
Sight impairment is an inability to see or read properly . This may be due to insufficient intake of vitamin A.
It is not always vitamin A which can be a reason for your vision blurriness. Sometimes simple reasons like increase in the power of your eye or stress on your eyeballs can result into sight impairment. You need to consult your ophthalmologies every 6 months. A regular eye checkup ensures that you have a good vision. Even after a proper checkup, you are finding it difficult to see the objects clearly then you might have to take a vitamin A deficiency test.
If you want to improve eyesight you can perform eye exercises to improve vision. If you do it right you might start seeing the effect in less than 6 months.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause huge damage to your cornea. It can cause perforations in it. It is one of the important vitamin A deficiency symptoms.
When you have any symptoms of perforated cornea never ignore these. A late diagnosis of this might result in considerable damage to your eyesight. With the given symptoms your doctor might be able to identify it earlier. A regular eye check is a key to stay away from such problems.
7.Difficulty in Conceiving or Infertility
Insufficient supply of vitamin A to ovaries or female reproduction system, as a result, cause difficulty in conceiving. It can also lead to infertility in many women. So, fill your plate with colorful veggies and dairy products to avoid it.
Also in men, it can result in lower levels of testosterone. If you have low levels of the hormone start including testosterone-rich foods in your diet.
8.Miscarriage or Abortion of The Fetus
Vitamin A is very important for our immune and reproductory system. It also helps in proper hormonal regulation. Inadequate amounts of vitamin A in the body can probably lead to miscarriage or abortion. It is one of the important vitamin A deficiency symptoms.
The immunity you lost can be retained back if the normal levels of vitamin A are restored in your body. When you are planning to have a baby its advisable to perform a blood test and consult a gynecologist if you are healthy to get pregnant.
Vitamin A Benefits
Vitamin A is very important for your eyes, skin and helps you to keep the respiratory infection away. You can read more about vitamin A benefits in my post.
We ignore the importance of vitamins many times but vitamins are very important for normal functioning of our body. If you have a sufficient amount of vitamin A you might not experience any problems related to vision blurriness or skin disorder. Your skin will be healthy and other ocular functions will also be performed as expected.
Vitamin A Rich Foods
Vitamin A is found in most of the colorful foods like carrot, green vegetables, tomato etc. Eating vitamin A rich foods regularly will help you to get vitamin A is sufficient amount.
Vitamin A can also be received from animal sources. Fish, chicken, and eggs are good sources of vitamin A. You might have got an advice to eat fish if you have glasses, this is because fish is a rich source of vitamin A and many other vital nutrients. Unlike vitamin D, vitamin A has many natural and animal sources so your choice to get it from can be versatile. These animal sources are also rich in protein.
Vitamin A Overdose
Vitamin A overdose causes hypervitaminosis A. It is caused when an excess of vitamin A is stored in Liver over a period of time or excess intake of vitamin A over a short period of time. Generally, any therapy or treatment cause this condition. In Children, it can be due to accidental indigestion. Vitamin A toxicity can be Acute and Chronic.
Acute toxicity is caused due to consumption of large amounts of vitamin A over a short span of few days or weeks. Vitamin A builds for a long time can cause Chronic toxicity. Its symptoms are changes in vision and skin, bone pain. Vitamin A toxicity can also damage Liver and put pressure on your brain.
Diagnosis of Vitamin A Deficiency
If you are facing symptoms given above then it is recommended to get the Vitamin A test done from any reliable laboratory with modern equipment. Also, check if you have other conditions like malabsorption of nutrients in your body and test your vision especially in dark. Vitamin A blood test is carried out to determine the deficiency.
If you are finding any of the vitamins A deficiency symptoms don’t panic, it can be because of some other factor. To determine if you are really vitamin A deficient a blood test is the trusted way. If your doctor advises you to perform the test you can go ahead and take the test.
Treatment of Vitamin A Deficiency
First of all to treat the deficiency start increasing the amount of vitamin A rich foods in your diet. You can get provitamin A from plants but for preformed vitamin A, you need to depend on animal sources like meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods. If you are a vegan or strict vegetarian then you can have vitamin A supplements but make sure to visit your doctor and get proper supplements. You can read more about the vitamin A deficiency treatment from American Academy of Ophthalmology.
How to Prevent Vitamin A Deficiency
Prevention is better than cure. So, first of all, it is beneficial to include vitamin A rich foods in your diet regularly if not on daily basis. If any other health conditions are preventing the proper absorption of vitamin A then talk to your doctor about the symptoms and ask for prescribing the necessary medication. You can read more about vitamin A rich food in our article Top 15 vitamin A rich Foods.
So this was all about the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Write to me with your feedback and how it helped you.
Frequently Asked Questions on Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms
Q: What happens when vitamin A is deficient?
Ans: Vitamin A deficiency can result into vision-related problems like night blindness, xerophthalmia etc. You might experience dry skin and impaired immunity because of low levels of vitamin A.
Q: What happens if you don’t get enough vitamin A?
Ans: If you don’t get enough vitamin A you might get xerophthalmia which is a vision impairment in darkness. You can also experience dry skin or itching etc. Your immunity will be low and you might be susceptible to a various health problem.
Q: What happens due to deficiency of vitamin A?
Ans: Deficiency of vitamin A can result into ocular problems like xerophthalmia. Your skin might start itching and getting dry. The immunity might also be impaired if you have long time deficiency of vitamin A.
Q: Which foods contain vitamin A?
Ans: The foods high in vitamin A are
- Green leafy vegetables
Q: What does the vitamin A do for the skin?
Ans: Vitamin A has the antioxidant properties. It will heal your skin of any damage and helps to keep your skin healthy and young. If vitamin A levels are dropped you might experience various skin related problems like dry skin, itching etc. So to get a glowing, healthy skin keep your vitamin A levels to the normal range.
Q: What is the most common vitamin deficiency?
Ans: Iron deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency and women are the most iron deficient. Vitamin A is not a common deficiency as it is present in most of the food sources both veg and non-veg.