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8 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

7 minute read


All vitamins and minerals are essential to your health, with each playing very specific roles in your body. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which provides benefits from head to toe. Vitamin A deficiency is rare, but it can happen, so it is important to understand the signs to look for.

There are two forms of vitamin A that you will see in your foods. Preformed vitamin A is also called retinol and can be found in meats, eggs, fish, and dairy. Provitamin A is the result of your body converting carotenoids from food.

Increasing intake of foods rich in vitamin A or taking a supplement can help to get you back on track should you notice any of the following symptoms.

How to Know if You Have Vitamin A Deficiency

1. Dry Eyes: Reading the word retinol should have triggered thoughts of vision and this is because retinol is known for its important role in eye health. Eye problems are the most common issue resulting from vitamin A deficiency.

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In extreme cases, a lack of vitamin A can cause dying corneas which are marked by spots called Bitot’s spots and even blindness. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to decrease the occurrence of dry eyes and can protect your vision.

2. Night Blindness: This is an additional vision problem that can occur as a result of low vitamin A levels. This is a prominent problem in developing countries, but it does happen across the world.

Because of the increased incidents, physicians have been working to improve the vitamin A levels in high-risk areas to prevent night blindness. Research has shown that supplementation after night blindness has been diagnosed helps to improve the condition.

3. Dry Skin: Vitamin A is essential to the generation, development, and repair of your skin cells. Low levels of this vitamin could result in excessively dry skin or the development of eczema, which causes inflamed and itchy skin.

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Supplements containing vitamin A have been successfully shown to reduce the symptoms of eczema and fight inflammation in the skin. Dry skin can be linked to other conditions or diseases, so make sure you confirm with your doctor if a lack of vitamin A is the culprit.

4. Acne: The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin A allow it to prevent inflammation, which is a contributing factor to acne breakouts. Studies have shown that there is a definitive link between low vitamin A volumes in the body and the presence of regular acne.

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Topical solutions containing vitamin A or supplements have been known to help control breakouts. Supplements are the preferred choice, however, because some topical creams come with unpleasant side effects, including birth defects and severe mood changes.

5. Delayed Growth: Vitamin A plays an important role in growth and development, so if deficiency occurs at an early age, your growth can be stunted. This vitamin supports both bone and muscle growth. Regular intake of vitamin A promotes production of dentin, which strengthens teeth and protects them from oral decay.

With regards to your muscles, vitamin A promotes growth and prevents the development of muscular dystrophy. Vitamin A supplements alone can help to improve this, but some damage will already be done. Studies using vitamin A in combination with other nutrients show the biggest improvements.

6. Respiratory Infections: If you experience frequent throat or chest infections, you could have a vitamin A deficiency. Studies show mixed results when it comes to using vitamin A to treat respiratory problems, but the positive results do look promising. Regular intake of vitamin A supplements shows a decreased risk of developing respiratory problems.

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This could be an advantage for you as you get older, because high levels of vitamin A have been shown to protect the elderly from chest infections. In fact vitamin A is a powerful immune system booster, so when levels are high, you stand a better chance of fighting bacterial and viral infections. Vitamin A increases production of disease-fighting antigens, which will benefit your health as you age.

7. Wound Healing: With decreased levels of vitamin A in your blood, your body will not be able to heal as efficiently after injury. Vitamin A promotes collagen production, which is essential for skin health. Both oral and topical use of vitamin A can restore collagen production and keep your skin healthy.

Studies with rats have shown that vitamin A treatments helped wound healing even when steroids were present, which is known to inhibit the healing of skin.

Additional studies also found that the wounds associated with advanced diabetes had a faster healing time under the presence of vitamin A.

The aging process weakens skin. which increases risks of injuries and wounds, but with regular vitamin A supplementation, this can be prevented. Skin will be stronger and in the event an injury occurs, it will heal much quicker.

8. Infertility: The connection between vitamin A and development is already established, so it makes sense that the vitamin also plays a role in reproduction. If you are experiencing trouble getting pregnant, then a vitamin A deficiency could be to blame.

Extreme low levels of this vitamin have been linked to infertility in both men and women and have also been associated with birth defects in babies.

Scientists believe that infertility is linked to the greater need for antioxidants since infertility is associated with high levels of oxidative stress. Deficiency has also been linked to an increased incidence of miscarriages, which further demonstrates the need for vitamin A in a healthy reproductive system.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin A deficiency is linked to serious health conditions that impact your eyes, skin, and respiratory and reproductive systems. Low levels of vitamin A in the blood can be easily corrected with supplemental consumption or increased intake of meats, dairy, and eggs.

Watch for these signs, and make sure you get the vitamin A you need, so you can be the healthiest version of you, now and in the future.

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