March 2, 2024

These are the consequences of vitamin A deficiency: symptoms, causes and background


Vitamin A deficiency can sometimes lead to eye damage. You can consume it primarily through animal fats. What you need to know about vitamin A.

The human body needs different vitamins in order to feel as good as possible. This is an important nutrient Vitamin A. Even if it is less popular than, e.g Vitamin CSo it is essential for our bodies. A deficiency can lead to vision damage. You can find out here what other symptoms of vitamin A deficiency are and what you can do about it.

Possible vitamin A deficiency: What exactly is vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a so-called fat-soluble vitamin and is found only in animal foods. It is also known as retinol. There are precursors to vitamin A that are also found in plant foods. This includes provitamin A (beta-carotene), which is one of the so-called carotenoids. Beta carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin A: Where to find the vitamin?

Vitamin A is found in animal foods. These include the following products:

  • Milk
  • cheese
  • Liver
  • Meat
  • egg
  • ghee

Liver is particularly rich in vitamin A, while other products contain smaller amounts of the vitamin. Provitamin A, i.e. beta-carotene, is also found in the following plant products:

  • Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, and lamb's lettuce)
  • Yellow vegetables
  • carrot
  • tomatoes
  • Bean
  • Broccoli

These carotenoids are best absorbed by the body when cooked or eaten with fats (such as oils).

How much vitamin A does the human body need?

Adults ages 25 to 51 will get a daily intake of vitamin A of 0.8 milligrams for women and 1.0 milligrams for men. Recommended. An increased dose applies to pregnant women from the fourth month onwards, as their need increases. Here 1.1 milligrams per day is recommended. The requirement is higher for breastfeeding women, who should consume 1.5 milligrams per day. However, women should not eat liver in the first three months of pregnancy, and they should also eat a little later in pregnancy.

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If you cannot take vitamin A, for example due to a vegetarian diet, 2 to 4 milligrams of beta-carotene is recommended. Basically, one milligram of vitamin A can be compared to six milligrams of beta-carotene. You can find a detailed list of recommended values ​​broken down by age group on the website German Nutrition Society website.

What are the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency?

Vitamin A plays an important role in the visual process, especially in seeing light and dark. If you have a vitamin A deficiency, your eyes' ability to adapt to changes between light and dark may become worse. This can lead to night blindness. Those affected see much worse at dusk or at night than people with healthy eyes. If the deficiency persists for too long, it may lead to blindness.

Another effect of vitamin A deficiency is a weakened immune system. This makes those infected more vulnerable to infection. However, serious infectious diseases caused by vitamin A deficiency are very rare in industrialized countries.

In general, the younger the patients are, the greater the impact of vitamin A deficiency on them. As a result, children are often affected by stunted growth and infections. Children with severe vitamin A deficiency sometimes develop it The mortality rate is more than 50 percent.

Overdose: Is it possible to consume too much vitamin A?

Yes, it is also possible to overdose on vitamin A. The typical acute symptom is headache, but chronic symptoms such as skin and skeletal changes as well as liver enlargement, jaundice and even cirrhosis can also occur. However, with a normal diet, a vitamin A overdose is very unlikely.

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Nutrient preparations are more serious here. In smokers, an overdose of beta-carotene can cause lung damage. For these reasons, taking supplements should always be discussed with your doctor.

How does vitamin A deficiency occur?

The development of vitamin A deficiency is primarily related to a person's diet. For example, in South and East Asia, where the staple diet is rice, which does not contain beta-carotene, vitamin A deficiency is common. In developing countries, vitamin A deficiency is a common cause of blindness in children.

However, it is not only diet that causes vitamin A deficiency. In some cases, vitamin A is absorbed but cannot be transported or stored adequately. This could be a result of chronic diarrhea or cirrhosis.

Vitamin A deficiency: treatment

If a person has a vitamin A deficiency, this is usually combated with vitamin A palmitate. The dose given depends on the severity of the deficiency and the patient's age, gender, and health condition.

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