How Can Vitamin A Deficiency Be Prevented And Treated?

A vitamin A deficiency manifests itself in symptoms such as night blindness, skin problems, and a weakened immune system. This can usually be avoided by eating a balanced diet. Liver, fish, and colorful vegetables in particular are good sources of vitamin A.

Symptoms: How does a vitamin A deficiency become noticeable?

Vitamin A is often referred to as the “eye vitamin”. The eye needs vitamin A to form the visual pigment that enables light and dark vision in the visual cells. Therefore, night blindness is usually the first symptom of a vitamin A deficiency: the cornea of ​​the eye dries out and becomes horny – the eye can no longer adapt to the darkness.

The skin and mucous membranes can also dry out and become horny due to a vitamin A deficiency. Possible consequences are skin diseases such as dry skin, acne, or frequent respiratory infections – due to dry mucous membranes. Since the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract are also affected in many cases, there is a risk of symptoms such as diarrhea. Another sign of a possible vitamin A deficiency is an increased susceptibility to infections. A lack of vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to anemia or infections in the mother-to-be. In the unborn child, there is a risk that growth or lung maturation will be disrupted.

Risk groups: who are particularly susceptible to vitamin A deficiency?

A vitamin A deficiency is present when the vitamin level in the blood serum is less than 20 micrograms of vitamin A per decilitre. Here you can find out more about the daily requirement of vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is rare in Germany and other industrialized countries. However, certain risk groups are particularly susceptible to a deficiency. This includes:

  • People with indigestion: Vitamin A belongs to fat-soluble vitamins. If, for example, fat digestion is disturbed by an illness, the body cannot absorb vitamin A properly.
  • Alcoholics: Vitamin A is stored in the liver. In alcoholics, the liver is often severely damaged as a result of the disease and cannot absorb vitamin A sufficiently.
  • Vegetarians/Vegans: Vitamin A is primarily found in foods of animal origin, so without these foods, there may be a deficiency. However, many types of fruit and vegetables contain the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A.
  • People with an increased need: Pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly, and premature babies may have an increased need that they need to balance to prevent a deficiency. That is why they also belong to the risk groups.

What can I do to prevent and treat vitamin A deficiency?

A balanced diet is usually enough to avoid vitamin A deficiency. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends that adult men consume 1 milligram of retinol equivalents and women 0.8 milligrams of retinol equivalents daily. Retinol equivalents are the unit in which vitamin A intake is expressed. Foods such as liver, eel, palm oil, camembert, carrots, or kale are particularly rich in vitamin A or its precursor beta-carotene. In the case of a proven vitamin A deficiency, the doctor can also prescribe a vitamin supplement.

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