9 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble organic compound required for vision and for epithelial tissue health, bodily functions, a strong immune system, reproduction and good skin health. Basically, there are two types of vitamin A found in foodsPreformed vitamin A and Provitamin. The performed vitamin A is also called Retinol and fish, meat, eggs and dairy products are a rich source of it. Provitamin A is often referred to as beta-carotene and its highest ranking sources are leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetable & fruits, tomatoes and some vegetable oils. Almost 80 to 90% of it is collected in the liver.

What is vitamin A deficiency and what causes it?

There is not a layered understanding of the term deficiency here – it simply means inadequate intake. Vitamin A plays an important role, providing for several conditions both – simple and severe. It is easy to maintain the level of vitamin A as it is present in the most basic foods like carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mango, orange, tomato, spinach etc. which can be easily included in any kind of diet. Now, the deficiency can be caused by inadequate intake of the vitamin, fat malabsorption and liver disorders. These disorders lead to various bodily defects.

Well, this is simply a deficiency and can be taken care of with professional help and make certain changes to one’s lifestyle. It can be simply detected and treated but for that one must know to read the signs right.

9 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

1. Dry Skin 

Vitamin A is responsible for the creation and repair of skin cells, it also fights inflammation. Insufficient intake of the vitamin can lead to the development of Eczema and other skin problems. Eczema causes dry, itchy and inflamed skin. Alitretinoin is a proven prescribed medication for Eczema; it causes a reduction in the symptoms by up to 53% in about 12 weeks with 10 to 40 grams of Alitretinoin (prescribed only).

2. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes or the inability to produce tears is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. We all apply lotions and moisturizers to our dry skin but what we forget about the moisture for the eyes. Vitamin A can’t be physically applied to eyes obviously, but eating vitamin-rich food provides for the nourishment of the eye – without it the eyes cannot produce enough moisture to keep them properly lubricated.

3. Reduced Visibility/ Night Blindness

The condition of dry eyes can lead to dying of corneas and causing impaired vision at nights. Science tells us that to see the full spectrum of light, the eyes need to produce certain pigments for the photoreceptor cells in your retina to work properly. The deficiency leads to minimising the production of these pigments – causing night blindness. It is also called ‘Nyctalopia’ (a type of vision impairment). These people can’t see after sundown and at dimly lit places, eventually might lose full vision. Night blindness can be reversed by treatment, however, total blindness cannot be treated.

4. Infertility

One of the reasons for not being able to conceive can be a deficiency of vitamin A (in both men and women). Vitamin A deficiency is also related to miscarriages and birth defects. It is also a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant which is essential for infertile men as men have a greater need for antioxidants due to a higher level of oxidative stress in their bodies.

5. Slow Growth

The imbalance of this vitamin can cause a stunted growth or delayed growth. A deficiency directly in the child or even the mother at the time of birth can cause this slow growth. It is no new discovery that a kid needs a proper diet and attention for a proper development of the body. If you already have a child (baby) who is still breastfed then the mother must consume a high vitamin diet increase the immunity and a stable growth.

6. Throat Infection or Mouth Ulcers

It is characterised by small blister-like ulcers around the mouth or in the back of the throat. This infection could further cause fever or swelling and sore throat, headache and neck pain. Also, chest infection is one of the symptoms in this category. all this may be caused due to a deficiency of vitamin A. Ofcourse there are supplements available out there, but a research has confirmed that supplements should be given to people only with true deficiency. According to one study in elderly people – those with a high plasma beta-carotene (provitamin) concentration may have a lower occurrence of respiratory infections.

7. Dry hair and Dandruff

As the vitamin is stored up in the liver and before you take in more, the reserve (vitamin in the liver) should be used up. vitamin A helps produce healthy sebum which is essential for locking the moisture of hair and strengthen the hair. With this, the scalp stays cleaner which reduces the chance of dandruff returning. But a deficiency causes breakage of hair, increase in split ends, makes it dry on the ends and causes dandruff.

8. Acne 

Acne is one of the most common skin complaints, so much that some people just neglect it believing the cause being hormonal changes or locked moisture from the weather. They seldom forget about their diet, acne is not restricted to hormonal teens – adult acne is equally common with people till the age of 55. Sometimes the cause might be fluctuating hormones, but for most – the cause of this will be related to a sweet-fatty diet that does not include vital nutrients and vitamins. Even if you change to a healthier diet (at a personal level), it is strongly suggested to consult a professional as all the vitamins and nutrients need to be restocked – so a properly measured balanced diet is required.

9. Poor Wound Healing

Good nutrition is necessary for healing. During the process of healing – the body needs an increased amount of calories, protein, minerals and most importantly vitamin A. A deficiency slows down cell replication and tissue repair. Young skin has enough elastin and collagen to keep on growing, but with old age and hormone fall – oxidation and inflammation increases and damages the collagen fibres that keep the skin intact. So, dark green, leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, cantaloupe, fortified dairy products, liver, fortified cereals can provide that part of the vitamin required.

Can too much vitamin A be harmful?

Vitamin A deficiency usually results from a dietary deficiency. But when the same is reversed – it can be harmful. High intake of preformed vitamin A can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma and even death. As mentioned above that a deficiency of vitamin in pregnant women or people trying to conceive can cause medical problems, but then high doses of vitamin A supplement (especially supplements) can also cause birth defects in their babies.

However, more conditions are caused due to preformed vitamin overdose whereas, high amounts of provitamin or beta-carotene could turn the skin yellow-orange, which actually isn’t really harmful unless you like a weirdly tanned complexion.

Another thing an overdose can cause is Vitamin A toxicity, that is, negative results from taking high-dose supplements over long periods of time (too much vitamin A from diet alone is not really possible). This toxicity can lead to problematic symptoms such as vision changes, swelling of bones, dry and rough skin, mouth ulcers and confusion.

Vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in developing nations but rare in the United States and some other developed nations. There are many options for its consumption, options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. But if you suspect to have a vitamin deficiency it is recommended to talk to a health provider or a doctor first, so they can prescribe you the right thing according to your needs and problems as fixing a deficiency can be simple.


I am a student of literature, and Literature Is The Most Agreeable Way Of Ignoring Life, Maybe, because It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its' tainted glory, and still to love it.

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