Recognizing a vitamin A deficiency is important to be able to take action quickly. A deficiency of this vitamin can cause many health problems. Although a deficiency of vitamin A in the Netherlands is not very common, it is certainly important to take it into account.
For example, there are certain groups of people who have an increased risk of a vitamin A deficiency. This includes pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and infants. In addition, chronic diarrhea can increase the risk of deficiency.
In this article, we will describe which 7 health complaints regularly arise from a deficiency of this vitamin.
1. Acne vulgaris and pimples due to a vitamin A deficiency
So it's not surprising that multiple studies have linked vitamin A deficiency to skin problems, such as acne and pimples.
It has been found that the vitamin A level in adults with skin problems (including acne vulgaris) is often lower than in people who do not experience skin problems. In other words, there is often a vitamin A deficiency.
Treating acne vulgaris with the help of vitamin A can be done by using vitamin A drugs or by applying vitamin A topically to the skin. In many cases, this ensures that the relevant skin problems diminish or disappear.
The most well-known form of oral vitamin A used to treat acne is “isotretinoin” (also known as Accutane). This drug can be very effective in the fight against acne but unfortunately can lead to numerous unpleasant side effects. Think of mood swings and birth defects.
Fortunately, there are natural supplements available that contain vitamin A. These supplements generally do not result in any unpleasant side effects when used properly. For example, someone with skin problems due to a vitamin A deficiency – who does not want to use a heavy medicine – can still experience the possible benefits of this vitamin.
2. Infertility Due to a Deficiency of Vitamin A
In addition, a deficiency of vitamin A can increase the risk of infertility. Vitamin A is necessary for reproduction in both men and women. A vitamin A deficiency is also harmful to the physical and mental development of babies.
If you are experiencing problems conceiving, it may be due to a lack of vitamin A. Studies show that vitamin A-deficient mice have trouble conceiving and their embryos may have birth defects. The same goes for people.
As well, a deficiency of this vitamin is linked to miscarriages. One study, which analyzed the blood levels of women with recurrent miscarriages, found that they had low vitamin A levels.
3. Retarded Growth Due to Vitamin Deficiency
If a medical specialist (such as a pediatrician) has diagnosed a vitamin A deficiency in a child, it will most likely be decided to use a vitamin A supplement to combat this deficiency.
In addition, research has shown that supplementation of vitamin A, in combination with other nutrients such as minerals, may have a greater impact on promoting growth in children. However, this is very specific and will need to be short-circuited by a medical specialist. That person can provide insight into what will benefit a child the most.
4. A vitamin A deficiency can lead to poor wound healing
Poor wound healing is another symptom that can indicate a vitamin A deficiency. This is because vitamin A promotes collagen production. Collagen is an important part of healthy skin.
Research suggests that both oral and skin-applied vitamin A can strengthen the skin. Nevertheless, it is important to tackle a lack of vitamin A in a more targeted way than just applying a cream containing this vitamin to the skin.
Vitamin A supplements can provide the solution. There are plenty of high-quality vitamin A supplements available in the Netherlands. Always coordinate the use of a dietary supplement with this vitamin with a dietician or doctor. Too much vitamin A can be harmful to your health. Obtaining proper vitamin information is, therefore, a “must”. You can read more about this in the last part of this article.
5. Deficiency Causes Dry Eyes
In extreme cases, not getting enough vitamin A can lead to complete blindness or corneal death.
One of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is dry eyes. After all, a deficiency can hinder the body's ability to produce tears. In addition, your eyes can become irritated more quickly due to a deficiency. For example, they are less able to tolerate sunlight, dirt, and dust.
In short, if you often suffer from problems with your eyes, it is advisable to have your blood values checked by your doctor. That way you can rule out a possible vitamin A deficiency, or – if you have a deficiency – add vitamin A supplements to your diet.
6. Night Blindness Can Also Come From Deficiency
Speaking of eye problems… A severe vitamin A deficiency can also lead to night blindness. As the name suggests, night blindness causes you to see a lot less well in the dark. This can be dangerous, for example, while driving.
If you notice that your vision is poor at night or in the dark, it is certainly important to find out whether a vitamin A deficiency is due to this. Fortunately, night blindness due to vitamin A deficiency is a reversible condition. That is to say: Supplementing this vitamin in the fight against a deficiency can ensure that you can see better in the dark in the long run.
This is confirmed by scientific research. In one study, women with night blindness were given vitamin A in the form of food or supplements. Both forms of vitamin A improved the condition of their eyes. The women's ability to adapt to darkness increased by more than 50% over six weeks of treatment.
7. A lack of vitamin A can result in infections
Finally, a vitamin A deficiency can result in frequent infections; especially in your throat or chest area. Vitamin A supplements can help fight respiratory infections, but research results on this topic are mixed.
On the one hand, research showed that children with a vitamin A deficiency benefited greatly from taking a vitamin A supplement to combat respiratory infections. This is in contrast to those who received a placebo.
On the other hand, a review of several studies found that children who took vitamin A supplements did not notice any health benefits when looking at reducing the risk of respiratory infections.
Be aware of the dangers of too much vitamin A
A healthy vitamin A level is crucial for overall health. However, too much of it can be hazardous to your health. A vitamin A deficiency must therefore be reduced safely and responsibly.
If that doesn't happen, hypervitaminosis A can manifest. Hypervitaminosis A (or vitamin A toxicity) usually results from taking high-dose supplements for a long time. People rarely get too much vitamin A through their diet alone.
Excess vitamin A is stored in the liver and can lead to toxicity and health problems, such as changes in vision, swelling of the bones, dry and rough skin, mouth ulcers, and confusion.
Pregnant women should be especially careful not to consume too much vitamin A to avoid possible birth defects. But this applies to anyone who uses or plans to use vitamin A supplements.
Recognizing a vitamin A deficiency summarized
A vitamin A deficiency is rare in the Netherlands since most of us get enough of this vitamin through our diet. Yet some people do not get enough vitamin A. In that case, supplements with vitamin A can offer the solution.
Especially if it has been determined that you have a vitamin A deficiency. After all, too little vitamin A can lead to inflamed skin, night blindness, infertility, stunted growth, and respiratory infections.
In addition, people with wounds and acne vulgaris may have lower blood levels of vitamin A and may benefit from treatment with higher doses of this vitamin.
If you suspect you have a deficiency, please contact your doctor or healthcare provider. With the right foods and supplements, fixing a deficiency can be quite simple.