Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and is important for the normal vision, neurological function and healthy skin. It is a powerful antioxidant and helps in reducing inflammation through fighting free radical damage.
Vitamin A is also plays a role in formation of bones, regulating gene, cell differentiation, and supporting immune function.
Sources of Vitamin A;
Some of the best sources of Vitamin A include eggs, milk, liver, carrots, yellow or orange vegetables such as squash, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables
It is found in two primary forms: active Vitamin A and beta carotene.
Active Vitamin A or Retinol is found from animal-derived foods. This can be used directly by the body
The other type of Vitamin A is obtained from fruits and vegetables, especially colourful vegetables like carrot. In plant sources it is in the form of “pro Vitamin A” or carotenoid. These need to be converted to retinol by the body in order to be utilized by the body.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A is essential for normal vision– A Vitamin A deficiency can lead to drying and thickening of the cornea. This condition can lead to blindness. Keratomalacia is a condition that comes from severe deficiency of vitamin A and usually affects both eyes. . Signs of Keratomalacia are dry eye and colour blindness.
Premature Skin Damage:-Vitamin A deficiency causes drying, scaling, and follicular thickening of the skin. Keratinization of the skin occurs where the epithelial cells lose their moisture and become hard and dry.
Respiratory Infections:-Respiratory infections occur because as the immunity is impaired In younger patients growth retardation can occur. Infections are more common among children, and high mortality rates are observed in children with severe vitamin A deficiency.
Pregnancy Related Symptoms
The vitamin A demand is the high during the last trimester of pregnancy .If these demands are not me, women may suffer from deficiencies leading to night blindness.
Associated issues: – Certain pathologies of the gut such as the various malabsorbtion syndromes can cause malabsorption of vitamin A. Examples include gluten sensitivity, immune responses, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatic disorders. Alcoholics may also absorb less vitamin A
Investigation of Vitamin A deficiency
When the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency such as night blindness, thickening of cornea, dry skin etc are present , Vitamin A levels in the blood should be measured in the lab .A venous sample is taken and no specific preparation is required except for avoiding alcohol for 24 hours before the test
This type of deficiency may be dietary, that is the daily intake of the vitamin is less and not adequate for the needs of the body. On the other hand it may be metabolic; meaning the body’s ability to absorb it is less.
A normal vitamin A blood level indicates that a person has sufficient vitamin A but it cannot assess the stored or reserve in the body .In a situation of stress on the body like in pregnancy or illness there may be a sudden deficiency if the stores are low
A low vitamin A blood test result indicates that all reserves have been depleted and the person is deficient.
A high vitamin A blood level typically show that the stores are full to the capacity and excess vitamin A is now circulating in the blood. Since this is a fat soluble Vitamin and not removed by the kidney, these high levels may cause toxicity.
Eating excessive amounts of foods with beta carotene, such as carrots however cannot cause vitamin A toxicity and normally the toxicity occurs by eating supplements of the Vitamin
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