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What Is Vitamin a Deficiency Disease?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2020
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Vitamin A deficiency disease refers to an insufficient amount of vitamin A in a person's body. This vitamin deficiency is often common in developing nations, since it is usually caused by malnutrition. Not having enough of this vitamin can cause a variety of medical problems, including vision problems and problems fighting disease. Treating a vitamin A deficiency usually requires vitamin A supplements or diet changes.

When a person is unable to get enough vitamin A, it can be very detrimental to his health. In the medical community, this is called vitamin A deficiency disease. Children and pregnant women are more at risk than other people of developing this disease.

Children need certain amounts of various vitamins to grow and develop properly, and without these, serious development problems could occur. A pregnant woman needs more vitamins than others, since these vitamins are passed through the placenta and into her fetus. Most of the time, these nutrients are first used by the fetus. The leftover nutrients are used by the mother. If there is not enough vitamin A for the fetus and the mother, this can result in vitamin A deficiency disease.

Vitamin A deficiency disease is more common in developing nations than in developed nations. There are very few cases of vitamin A deficiency in the United States, for instance. In developing nations, on the other hand, especially those in Africa and Southeast Asia, there are a high number of cases of this deficiency each year.

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Malnutrition is the leading cause of vitamin A deficiency disease. Some foods, such as certain types of meat and milk, are rich in vitamin A. Individuals who are not able to get enough of these foods and drinks are at a high risk of developing a vitamin deficiency. Infants who are nursing from mothers with a vitamin A deficiency will often end up with a vitamin deficiency as well. Individuals who have problems absorbing vitamin A are also at risk of developing a vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A benefits the body in several ways, including protecting the eyes and maintaining healthy retinas. Eye and vision problems are often the most common symptoms of vitamin A deficiency disorder. The most common eye problems associated with this disorder include blindness, particularly night blindness, and xerophthalmia. Blindness in children is most commonly caused by vitamin A deficiencies.

Skin cells also require vitamin A to stay healthy. Without enough vitamin A, the skin can become scaly. Mucus membranes may also stop working properly. Along with skin, this vitamin is also necessary to help maintain healthy bones.

Individuals with vitamin A deficiency disease will typically have problems fighting off certain infections. This occurs because vitamin A is necessary for a healthy immune system. Without it, the body has a harder time fighting infections. Immunizations against certain infections can help minimize the risk of contracting these infections.

Treatment for vitamin A deficiency disease often involves either oral or intravenous vitamin A supplements. These supplements can help restore these nutrients in a person's body. Dietary changes, such as adding foods rich in vitamin A, are also usually necessary.

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