What is Vitamin A Deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency is an easily-preventable yet common health concern. Its most common symptom is an eye-condition called xerophthalmia, which is the inability to see in low light (or night blindness), and it can cause permanent blindness if it isn’t treated.

Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining a healthy reproductive system. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to difficulty conceiving and infertility. Long-term vitamin A deficiencies may lead to higher risk of diseases like pneumonia, measles, and anemia. The most severe effects of  A deficiency are seen in young children and pregnant women in low-income countries.

Common Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms

  • Night blindness
  • Ulcers on the cornea of eyes
  • Irregular patches on the white of eyes
  • Dry skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Infertility
  • Respiratory tract infections

What causes a vitamin A deficiency?

  • A diet lacking in the following food sources:
    • Green-colored vegetables like leafy greens and broccoli
    • Orange and yellow vegetables like mangoes and papayas
    • Liver, beef, and chicken
    • Eggs
    • Fortified milk products
  • A lack of vitamin A supplementation

Further reading: Cleveland Clinic, Harvard School of Public Health