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- Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that helps promote good vision, sustain a strong immune system, support the body’s ability to reproduce, and ensure skin health.
- If you’re not getting enough vitamin A, you might notice changes in your eyesight, especially in dim lighting.
- A vitamin A deficiency might also lead to a weakened immune system.
- Vitamin A deficiencies are rare in developed countries.
Vitamin A helps promote good vision, a strong immune system, and skin health. Most people can get all the vitamin A they need by eating foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupes.
Though vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries — the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that less than 1% of the American population is deficient — some people are at risk of being deficient in this crucial vitamin.
People who are very young, pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffering from a liver or malabsorption condition are most likely to have a vitamin A deficiency. In fact, Unicef found that one in six pregnant women worldwide isn’t getting enough vitamin A from their diet.
The source consulted with doctors and nutritionists to find out what kind of signs and symptoms you might notice if you’re not getting enough vitamin A.
1/Poor vision is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency.
Even though vitamin A deficiency is extremely rare in developed countries, one of the first symptoms of a deficiency is usually problems seeing or eye discomfort.
“Changes in vision are often the first noticeable sign of vitamin A deficiency. You may notice that you can’t see as well at night, or that your eyes are dry and get irritated easily,” Dr. Khalid Saeed, DO, told us.
If you’ve noticed a change in your vision or worsening sight, you should discuss the possibility of a vitamin A deficiency with your doctor.
2/Night blindness is a common symptom of vitamin A deficiency.
Many people are first alerted that they may have a vitamin A deficiency by the onset of night blindness.
“Night blindness, known as nyctalopia, is where the eyes struggle to adjust to dim light. This means that in low-light situations, things can appear almost pitch-black to someone with a vitamin A deficiency,” general practitioner Dr. Don Grant told us.
This means that driving at night might suddenly be much more difficult for someone with a vitamin A deficiency, and their eyes might take much longer to adjust between brightly lit and dim areas.
“Rod cells in the retina contain a receptor-protein that is synthesized from vitamin A and is regenerated in the absence of light. A lack of vitamin A causes lower rhodopsin levels leading to night blindness,” explained Dr. Grant.
Night blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency can progress to permanent vision loss, so it’s important to check in with your doctor and a nutritionist if you’re worried you’re not getting enough of this vitamin from your diet.