Vitamin A, being a fat-soluble micronutrient, supports the proper functioning of the skin, immune system and lining tissue. It is an important component you need to maintain everything from eye health, immune system to digestive processes. So, what will happen if your body is not getting sufficient amount of vitamin A? Whether it is due to not consuming the required amount of vitamin A through your diet or you are suffering from conditions like the coeliac disease which could limit your nutrient absorption, here are 5 signs of Vitamin A deficiency you should watch out for:
Night blindness and eye problems:
Vitamin A or beta-carotene is generally associated with eye health. Lack of Vitamin A consumption could cause various eye problems. Vitamin A produces rhodopsin (also known as visual purple), a light-sensitive receptor protein. They enable your vision in low-light condition. If Vitamin A is not consumed adequately, production of rhodopsin decreases and so is your ability to see in the dark. Reduced night vision is one of the early signs of Vitamin A deficiency.
The other eye problems due to vitamin A deficiency are thinned cornea, foamy patches across the white of the eye, eye aches due to dryness. Vitamin A supports normal growth and maintenance of epithelial tissues, including those of your eyes. The surface of eyeballs and line of your eyelids are covered by specialized epithelial cells. If you have vitamin A deficiency, it affects tear production and the otherwise clear, moist eye tissue become dry, cloudy and erodes, potentially leading to blindness unless you receive treatment.
A range of skin problems such as acne, persistently dry skin and infections might be caused by vitamin A deficiency. The body requires vitamin A to maintain the skin by sloughing the old cells and replacing them with new skin cells. The disturbance in this process may cause skin thickness and leads to the rough and dry skin. Furthermore, it may also cause itching and rashes.
Paleness and shortness of Breath:
There are several vitamins and minerals that contribute to the production of red blood cells. Vitamin A is one of them. Lack of Vitamin A and beta-carotene in your diet results in low red blood cells count leading to anaemia. The common signs and symptoms of anaemia caused due to Vitamin A deficiency are shortness of breath, paleness, lack of energy and tiredness.
Frequent and prolonged illness:
Vitamin A deficiency affects the epithelial linings of the organs. It could affect the respiratory airways, digestive tract and urinary system. The lack of vitamin A in your system lets your whole body be vulnerable to the opportunistic infections such as the cold, infections of lungs, recurring throat infections, gastroenteritis, infections of kidneys. Some people also suffer from frequent bladder infections which are manifested as lower abdominal pain, a burning sensation during urination or urge to pee even when the bladder is empty. In severe cases, Blood might also appear in the urine. Also, the wounds such as the cuts and grazes should heal up rapidly, especially if they are superficial. If they are taking longer than they are supposed to, one of the underlying reasons could be vitamin A deficiency.
Considering the role of Vitamin A in the immune system, the lack of required amount of vitamin A in the body reduces your ability to fight the infections. As a result, the time required to recover from an infection may take longer than expected.
Hair and Scalp Changes:
Along with affecting the skin on the body, the skin of the scalp is also affected by the vitamin A deficiency. It could cause patches of acne and chronic dryness in the scalp. In not very severe cases of vitamin A deficiency, you might notice the sudden appearance of dandruff and the dryness of your hair. Sometimes the reason for this kind of dryness could be the sensitivity to hair products or a simple case of dermatitis. But it could be considered as a warning of nutrient deficiency if the signs are combined with some other symptoms.