Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential to maintaining good overall health. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to a number of health problems, ranging from mild to severe ailments. As a matter of fact, a deficiency of vitamin A is the most common cause of blindness across the globe. In order to maintain healthy vision, proper bone growth, healthy reproduction, and normal cell division and differentiation, individuals must consume the recommended daily values of vitamin A. This important vitamin is also needed for many of the body’s maintenance functions, such as maintaining the surface linings of the intestinal tracts, eyes, and respiratory and urinary tracts. Vitamin A is also a fighter vitamin, meaning that it aids the immune system in fighting and preventing infections.
If an individual is not getting enough vitamin A in his or her diet, it is quite possible that the first sign of the deficiency will be night blindness. Night blindness is a tell-tale sign that the body is lacking vitamin A. Night blindness is characterized by the complete inability to see in the dark, but in initial stages it may simply be very difficult to see or for the eyes to adjust to darkness. Vitamin A deficiency can also trigger itchiness and dryness in the eyes, cornea shriveling, cornea ulceration, and the onset of Bitot’s spots in the eyes. Bitot’s spots are tiny floating gray circles that show up in the white area of the eyes. Vitamin A deficiency is nothing to mess around with. Although it is true that many of the early signs of a deficiency are treatable and reversible through vitamin A treatment, severe symptoms like blindness and tissue death are permanent and cannot be aided by increased vitamin A intake.
Preventing vitamin A deficiency is hardly a daunting challenge for individuals who are not poverty-stricken. Maintaining a healthy diet that includes vitamin A-rich foods is all it takes to stave off a deficiency. Adult men should be sure to consume 900 micrograms of the vitamin each day, while female adults require just 700 daily micrograms. Eggs, whole milk, liver, some cereals (check your labels), and dark-colored fruits and vegetables are all great sources of vitamin A. In industrialized nations, vitamin A deficiency is a relatively scarce problem. However, adults and children in third world countries are at an increased risk for the deficiency solely because there often are not vitamin A foods that are accessible to the general population.