Vitamin A Deficiency Diseases, Causes, prevention

Vitamin V Deficiency Diseases, causes and Prevention

Before discussing Vitamin A deficiency diseases first, you should know a little bit about vitamin A.

Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble organic compounds called retinol. Natural and semi-synthetic compounds derived from retinol are called Retinoids.

Retinoid include

  • Retinal
  • retinol
  • retinyl ester
  • Isotretinoin
  • Acritretin
  • Tretinoin
  • Alitretinoin
  • Etretinate
  • Retinaldehyde

Vitamin A is essential vitamin And humans must take it in foods because the body cannot prepare it.

Vitamin A is essential for various functions of the body. Vitamin A is involved in vision, the immune system, and cellular communication.

Vitamin is very crucial for proper vision because it helps in the formation of rhodopsin which is a protein essential for the absorption of light in retinol receptors.

Two types of vitamin A are found in food.

Preformed vitamin A like retinal, retinyl ester

Provitamin A carotenoid like alpha-carotene, beta carotene, beta cryptoxantin

Preformed Vitamin A is obtained from animal sources like meat, dairy products, fish, liver, etc.

Provitamin A carotenoid is obtained from plant origin. Provitamin A carotenoid plants pigments and inside the body, it is converted into Vitamin A.

Both vitamins are intracellularly converted into retinal and retinoic acid which is the active form of vitamin A.

The function of vitamin A

So vitamin A is an essential micronutrient and possesses different body functions like

  • Vision
  • Immune system
  • Skin health
  • Reproduction
  • Maintain normal function of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and other tissue
  • Growth and development

Vitamin A deficiency causes

in the united states, vitamin A deficiency is rare but it majorly occurs in developing countries.

The main vitamin A deficiency cause is an improper intake of vitamin A in your diet. People in developing countries are unable to eat food that has enough vitamin A content.

Vitamin A deficiency can also happen from liver disorders. The liver stores excess vitamin A but during liver disorder, the liver is unable to store vitamin A so vitamin A depletion occurs.

Some gastrointestinal diseases reduce the absorption of vitamin A from the food in the intestine, which leads to vitamin A deficiency.

The most common gastrointestinal intestinal disorders include:

  • Pancreatic diseases
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Iron or zinc deficiency
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Small bowel bypass
  • Intestine surgery
  • Pancreas surgery
  • Celiac disease

In developing countries, infants, children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are at the most risk.

The leading cause of night blindness in children around the world is vitamin A deficiency. Every year between 250000-500000 children become the victim of night blindness due to vitamin A deficiency. The main reason for these children is malnutrition.

A deficiency of Vitamin A will cause the following vitamin A deficiency diseases.

Vitamin A Deficiency Diseases

Night blindness

When a deficiency of vitamin A is sustained for a longer time then it causes night blindness.

Researchers have observed the prevalence of night blindness in developing countries at a large scale.

Health professionals are trying their best to eliminate this problem and trying to ensure the supplementation of Vitamin A.

In one survey night, the blindness of several women was treated with the supplement of vitamin A and vitamin A rich foods.

Dry Eyes (Xeropthalmia)

Dynes of the eyes occur with vitamin A deficiency.

When vitamin A deficiency is extreme then complete blindness occurs which is characterized by marks called BItot’s spot.

In developing countries like Africa, India, and Southeast Asia children have dry eyes because their foods lack vitamin A.

Supplementation of vitamin A improves dry eyes condition.

Dry skin

Vitamin A is necessary for the formation and repair of skin cells. When the body not getting a normal intake of vitamin A the skin becomes dry and starts slight inflammation. When it remains for a longer period then eczema occurs.

Dry skin is not only a sign and symptom of vitamin A deficiency but several other conditions may also cause dry skin.

Delayed Growth

As we know that Vitamin is important for the normal growth of the body.

Children who don’t take an adequate amount of vitamin A may experience retard growth.

Several studies have proved that vitamin A supplementation improved delayed growth in children in developing countries.

A study was conducted on 1000 children in Indonesia who were experiencing vitamin A deficiency. It was found that the children who took vitamin A supplementation grew 0.39 cm more than those who were taking a placebo.


Vitamin A plays important role in the reproduction of both men and women. It is also important for the development of babies. 

Lack of conception may be one reason for vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to infertility in both women and men.

Studies conducted on women who were prone to miscarriages found that all these women have vitamin A deficiency.

So vitamin A  deficiency can lead to miscarriage.

Chest and throat infections

Frequent infections of the chest and throat may be a sign of vitamin A deficiency.

The study had shown that underweight children who took 10000 IU per week had shown few infection chest and throat than those who were taking a placebo.

So vitamin A supplementation may relieve chest and throat infections.


Vitamin A is important for the growth of skin cells and fights against inflammation. So it treats and prevents acne.

So vitamin A deficiency causes acne.

Several studies linked acne with the low level of vitamin A.

Studies had shown that vitamin A creams reduce acne lesions by 50%. Both topical and oral form of vitamin A is available in the market.

Isotretinoin and Accutane are well-known forms of oral vitamin A. This medication is effective in the treatment of acne with the least side effects.

Poor wound healing

Poor wound healing after surgery or injury is linked to low levels of vitamin A.

Both oral and topical vitamin A strengthens the skin because it promotes the growth of collagen.

Studies in humans had shown that people who were taking topical vitamin A creams had their wounds reduced 50% more than those who were taking a placebo.

Gastrointestinal diseases

As we know that vitamin A improves the development of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. So its deficiency will cause abnormalities in it. The absorption of vitamin A disturbs when the lining is not perfect.

The following are the common gastrointestinal diseases linked with vitamin A deficiency.

  • Cirrhosis of liver
  • Celiac diseases
  • Bile duct disorder
  • Giardiasis
  • Duodenal bypass
  • Pancreatic insufficiency

To avoid the above diseases vitamin A rich foods and vitamin A supplementation is necessary.

Daily recommended dose of vitamin A

The daily intake of Vitamin A is

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for men is = 900 mcg

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for women is =700 mcg

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for children and adolescents is =300mcg

How I can prevent vitamin A deficiency

To prevent vitamin A deficiency you should focus on a healthy diet which is vitamin A rich food.

Moreover, treat that diseases quickly which impair vitamin A absorption. Vitamin A can be found naturally in the following foods:

Vegetables like broccoli, kale leafy greens

Dairy products such as milk, chees

Yellow and orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, and carrots

Yellow and orange fruits, such as papayas, cantaloupe, oranges, and mangos.

Some types of fish, such as salmon, tuna, and trout.

You can also take Vitamin A supplementations to fulfill vitamin A deficiency.


Vitamin A deficiency is less in the United States but prevalent in developing and under-developing countries.

A deficiency of vitamin A leads to night blindness, infertility, dry and inflamed skin, respiratory infection, weak immune system, and delayed growth.

A deficiency of vitamin A can be compensated by vitamin A rich food such as green vegetables, meat, fish, cereals, dairy products, and vitamin A supplementation.

If you have vitamin A deficiency talk to your family doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. Right foods and supplementation can easily treat vitamin A deficiency.


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