Vitamin A deficiency symptoms in adults
Vitamin A belongs to the fat-soluble, essential vitamins and is contained in both animal and plant foods – in the form of beta-carotene. Among other things, it is important for eyes and skin and plays a role in the regulation of bone growth. Learn how much vitamin A you need and what foods it contains.
Vitamin A, like vitamin D, E and K, is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin A includes a large number of groups of substances which are similar in the body, for example the so-called retinol. In addition, there are provitamins, a kind of precursor of vitamin A, which the body can convert into vitamin A.
This includes, for example, beta-carotene, which is contained in many plant foods. Vitamin A is absorbed via the small intestine and stored primarily in the liver.
What does vitamin A do for the body?
Vitamin A is involved in the visual process (especially at night) because it is part of the visual pathway (rhodopsin) in the retina in the form of retinal.
It also plays a role in the development of egg and sperm cells, as well as in the construction of the placenta, and also in the maturation of the embryo. Vitamin A is also important for bone, cartilage, and dental health.
The human being also needs vitamin A to increase the resistance to free radicals that are caused by UV radiation, nicotine, medicaments, etc. Skin building and regeneration are also the task of this vitamin or of the active substance retinol.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is often equated with vitamin A, but it is only one of several groups of substances which are added to the vitamin A. From a chemical point of view, this is the transport form of the vitamin within the body.
The active ingredient retinol is for example in carrots or egg yolk and is often used for skin creams and serums. In the skin, the retinol is converted to vitamin A acid, which is supposed to maintain the elasticity of the skin.
Vitamin A deficiency causes in adults
Causes of a vitamin A deficiency are a disturbed intake of this vitamin from the intestine or a lack of vitamin A. As an early symptom of vitamin A deficiency, bitot spots can develop. These are whitish, dripping-appearing spots in the lid-gap region of the conjunctiva.
Vitamin A deficiency is the world’s most common vitamin deficiency. This condition occurs especially in developing countries. The vitamin A content in the blood plasma is measured. If the values fall below 10 μg / dl, according to the definition of the WHO, a vitamin A deficiency is present.
In Germany and other industrialized countries the vitamin A supply is generally good. Risk factors for a vitamin A deficiency are preterm infants, infectious infants, pregnant and breastfeeding people, people over 65 years of age, as well as people with insufficient, predominantly herbal dietary habits.
The fat-soluble vitamin A occurs exclusively in animal food. In plant food, only precursors, so-called carotenoids, which the body can transform.
A deficiency of vitamin A can have several causes:
- Insufficient intake (eg unbalanced diet)
- Difficult intake (eg due to gastrointestinal diseases)
- Poor storage capacity
- During pregnancy
- At times low vitamin A values can also occur in some infections, such as measles
Vitamin A deficiency symptoms in adults
Vitamin A plays an important role in the visual process and is necessary especially for twilight and night vision. Therefore, people with vitamin A deiciency often experience problems with vision in twilight (night blindness)- in extreme cases the vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness. As an early symptom, bitot spots can occur (whitish spots in the lid-gap area of the conjunctiva).
Other possible symptoms of vitamin A deficiency:
- Severe dryness of the eye
- Damage to the skin and mucous membranes
- Congenital disorders of respiratory and urinary tract mucous membranes
- Hearing impairment
- Bad odor
- Disorder of sperm cell production
Vitamin A deficiency effects in pregnancy
During pregnancy and lactation, the recommended daily intake of vitamin A according Society for Nutrition is 1.1 to 1.5 milligrams, which is slightly above the average daily requirement of adults (0.8 and 1.1 milligrams / day).
Vitamin A deficiency in expectant mothers has effects not only on their own health but also on those of the unborn child. Studies suggest that the development of the child is disturbed and the child’s lungs can be affected if the pregnant woman suffers from a deficiency at the wrong time.
However, vitamin A should not be overdosed as it can lead to malformations of the child (eg, palate gaps, growth, liver and eye damage).