This section would prove to be a comprehensive guide for an individual fretting as to what are the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. The deficiency of this vitamin can be defined either subclinically or clinically, and a number of symptoms are associated with it.
Illustrated below are some of the vitamin A deficiency symptoms:
This vitamin is vital when it comes to the repair and formation of skin cells. It is also responsible for helping the body fight inflammation occurring as a result of some specific skin problems. Inadequate inputs of vitamin A might be the reason for the occurrence of eczema and other skin issues.
Eczema is a skin condition that can be blamed for the cause of dry, inflamed and itchy skin. Many clinical studies have shown that a prescription medicine having vitamin A activity named alitretinoin is effective when it comes to treating this skin condition.
In a particular 12 week study, it was noticed that individuals suffering from chronic eczema who were administered alitretinoin in 10 to 40 mg dosage per day experienced a reduction in their symptoms by up to 53%.
Regarding skin dryness, one must keep in mind that it can be caused due to various reasons, but a chronic deficiency of vitamin A might be a reason.
Dryness in Eyes
Eye issues are known to be one of the most well-known vitamin A deficiency symptoms. In severe scenarios, inadequate inputs of this vitamin can result in total blindness or dying corneas characterised by marks known as Bitot’s spots.
The inability to produce tears or dry eyes forms one of the first symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Young children belonging to Africa, India and Southeast Asia having a lack of vitamin A in their diet are at substantial risk for the development of dryness in the eyes. This condition can improve with vitamin A supplementation.
A specific study determined that high vitamin A doses caused a lowering of the prevalence of eye dryness among children and infants by 63% who received supplements for a period of 16 months.
Extreme deficiency of vitamin A can result in night blindness. Several observational studies reported that night blindness highly prevailed in developing countries. Owing to this problem’s extent, health professionals have worked towards improving the levels of vitamin A in individuals who are at risk of night blindness.
In a study, women having night blindness were administered vitamin A in the form of supplements or food, and both these forms of vitamin A led to an improvement in their condition. This was evident by the fact that the ability of the women in adapting to darkness increased by more than 50% over the six month treatment duration.
Infertility and Difficulty Conceiving
Vitamin A is required for reproduction in the case of both women and men. It is also necessary for the proper development of babies.
The lack of vitamin A might be one of the reasons why a woman faces difficulty achieving pregnancy. Infertility in both women and men is one of the signs of vitamin A deficiency.
Other research suggested that due to the high levels of oxidative stress in the bodies of infertile men, they might have a higher requirement of antioxidants. For that case, vitamin A can again prove to be one of the nutrients providing a source of antioxidants in the body.
Miscarriages are also one of the effects of vitamin A deficiency. A study was conducted by analysing the levels of various nutrients in the blood of women who suffered recurrent miscarriages. Those women showed low vitamin A levels in their blood.
Children not getting sufficient vitamin A might experience delayed growth.
A number of studies conducted on children from developing countries showed that vitamin A supplements could enhance growth. It was also found that other nutrients combined along with vitamin A as supplements showed a higher impact on growth.
Poor Healing of Wounds
Low levels of vitamin A might be the reason for poor healing of wounds after a surgery or injury. The reason behind it is that this vitamin promotes the generation of a vital healthy skin component named collagen.
According to research results, both topical and oral vitamin A can help to strengthen the skin. Aged men who considered treating their wounds with topical vitamin A experienced a reduction of 50% in wound size compared to those who didn’t use them.
Acne and Breakouts
As vitamin A helps fight inflammation and is also responsible for the promotion of skin development, it might help in the prevention or treating acne.
Chest and Throat Infections
Frequent chest and throat infections might be a vitamin A deficiency disorder. Though the results from research are mixed, there has been evidence that vitamin A supplements might provide help with infections related to the respiratory tract.
In addition to these, there are three other disorders caused due to vitamin A deficiency.
These include the following:
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
A major reason for significant loss of vision among older adults, AMD or age-related macular degeneration’s origin is generally unknown. But it is postulated that the cumulative effect of oxidative stress plays a role.
If that is the case, carotenoid containing supplements like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin which have antioxidant functions, may prove useful for preventing this health condition. Particularly, zeaxanthin and lutein get accumulated in the retina, a tissue in the eye that gets damaged by AMD.
A number of studies have examined the link between cancer and vitamin A owing to the role which vitamin A plays in the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. However, there is a lack of clarity in the relationship between cancer risk and serum vitamin A levels or vitamin A supplementation.
It is seen that measles is a major reason for mortality and morbidity in children from developing nations. Severe measles is known to be caused due to vitamin A deficiency.