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However, there are two types of vitamin A discovered in foods:

  • preformed vitamin A 
  • provitamin A

Preformed vitamin A is further known as retinol and usually found in fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products.

On the other hand, the body converts carotenoids in plant foods, such as green, red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, into vitamin A.

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While deficiency is uncommon in developed countries, many people in developing countries do not get enough vitamin A.

Furthermore, those likely to have the highest risk of deficiency are pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children. Cystic fibrosis and chronic diarrhea may also enhance your risk of deficiency.

Here are the signs and symptoms of vitamin A deficiency.

1. Dry Skin

Vitamin A is necessary for the creation and repair of skin cells. It also promotes fight inflammation due to certain skin issues.

However, not getting sufficient vitamin A may be to blame for developing eczema and other skin problems.

Additionally, eczema is a condition that causes dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. Many clinical studies have shown alitretinoin, a prescription medication with vitamin A activity, to be powerful in treating eczema.

In one 12-week study, people with chronic eczema who took 10–40 mg of alitretinoin per day experienced up to a 53% reduction in their symptoms.

2. Dry Eyes

Eye problems are some of the most well-known issues related to vitamin A deficiency.

In severe cases, not getting adequate vitamin A can lead to total blindness or dying corneas, characterised by Bitot’s spots.

Dry eyes, or the inability to produce tears, is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency.

Young children in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia who have diets lacking vitamin A are most at risk of developing dry eyes.

Supplementing with vitamin A can improve this condition.

One research discovered that high doses of vitamin A reduced the prevalence of dry eyes by 63% among infants and children who took supplements for 16 months.

3. Night Blindness

Severe vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness.

Some observational studies have reported a high prevalence of night blindness in developing nations.

Due to the extent of this problem, health experts have worked to increase vitamin A levels in people at risk of night blindness.

In one research, women with night blindness were given vitamin A in food or supplements. Both forms of vitamin A developed the condition. The women’s ability to adapt to darkness developed by over 50% over six weeks of treatment.

4. Infertility and Trouble Conceiving

Vitamin A is essential for reproduction in both men and women and for proper improvement in babies.

If you are having trouble getting pregnant, a lack of vitamin A may be one reason. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to infertility in both men and women.

Researches confirm that female rats with vitamin A deficiency have trouble getting pregnant and may have embryos with congenital disabilities.

Other research recommends that infertile men may have a greater need for antioxidants due to higher levels of oxidative stress in their bodies. Vitamin A is one of the nutrients that act as an antioxidant in the body.

Vitamin A deficiency is also linked to miscarriages.

Research that examined the blood levels of different nutrients in women who had recurrent miscarriages found low levels of vitamin A.

5. Delayed Growth

Children who do not get adequate vitamin A may experience stunted growth. This is because vitamin A is necessary for the proper development of the human body.

Some studies have revealed that vitamin A supplements, or other nutrients, can increase growth. Most of these studies were conducted on children in developing nations.

In reality, a study in over 1,000 children in Indonesia discovered that those with vitamin A deficiency who took high-dose supplements over four months grew 0.15 inches (0.39 cm) more than children who took a placebo.

Nevertheless, a study discovered that supplementing with vitamin A in sequence with other nutrients may significantly impact growth than supplementing with vitamin A alone.

For example, children with stunted growth in South Africa who received multiple vitamins and minerals had length-for-age scores that were half a point better than those who received only vitamin A.

Frequent infections, especially in the throat or chest, may be a sign of vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A supplements may help with respiratory tract infections, but research results are mixed.

A study in children in Ecuador showed that underweight children who took 10,000 IU of vitamin A per week had fewer respiratory infections than those who received a placebo.

On the other hand, a review of studies in children found that vitamin A supplements may increase the risk of developing throat and chest infections by 8%.

The authors suggested that supplements should only be given to those with true deficiency.

Furthermore, according to one study in older people, high blood levels of the provitamin A carotenoid beta-carotene may protect against respiratory infections.

7. Poor Wound Healing

Injuries that do not heal well after injury or surgery may be linked to low vitamin A levels.

This is because vitamin A promotes the creation of collagen, an important component of healthy skin. Research suggests that both oral and topical vitamin A can strengthen the skin.

Research in rats discovered that oral vitamin A improved collagen production. The vitamin had this effect even though the rats were taking steroids, which can inhibit wound healing.

Additional research in rats found that treating skin with topical vitamin A appeared to prevent wounds associated with diabetes.

A study in humans reveals similar results. Older men who treated wounds with topical vitamin A had a 50% reduction in the size of their wounds, compared to men who did not use the cream.

8. Acne and Breakouts

Since vitamin A promotes skin development and fights inflammation, it may help prevent or treat acne.

Many types of research have connected low vitamin A levels to the presence of acne.

In one research in 200 adults, vitamin A levels in those with acne were over 80 mcg lower than those without the condition.

Topical and oral vitamin A may treat acne. Research shows that creams containing vitamin A can reduce the number of acne lesions by 50%.

The most well-known form of oral vitamin A used to treat acne is isotretinoin or Accutane. This medication can be very effective at treating acne but may have several side effects, including mood changes and congenital disabilities.

Dangers of Too Much Vitamin A

Vitamin A is valuable to overall health. However, too much of it can be dangerous.

Hypervitaminosis A, or vitamin A toxicity, typically results from taking high-dose supplements over long periods of time. People rarely get too much vitamin A from diet alone.

Excess vitamin A is stored in the liver and can lead to toxicity and problematic symptoms, such as vision changes, swelling of the bones, dry and rough skin, mouth ulcers, and confusion.

Pregnant women should be prudent not to consume too much vitamin A to prevent possible congenital disabilities.

Always check with your healthcare provider before starting vitamin A supplements.

People with certain health conditions may need a higher amount of vitamin A. However, most healthy adults need 700–900 mcg per day. Women who are nursing need more, while children need less.