Are you having trouble seeing clearly at night? Is your skin dry and itchy? You may be suffering from vitamin A deficiency, which is a nutrient with antioxidant properties that we need in small amounts daily.
Most of the time, it’s due to malnutrition — your everyday diet may not contain enough foods that supply the body with vitamin A. However, there are times, too, when it can be due to a medical condition that causes malabsorption, such as cirrhosis of the liver or celiac disease which requires treatment to reverse deficiency in vitamin A.
Here are some of the signs that your vitamin A intake is not up to par:
- Night blindness. Just like what the name says, this involves poor vision at nighttime or in the dark. Also known as “nyctalopia”, night blindness is something that can make driving at night a real problem.
- Bitot’s spots. It’s easy to see if you have bitot’s spots — there are white or gray formations on the conjunctiva, which is the white portion of the eyes. You don’t want to have those spots around because, according to experts, it can lead to night blindness or even complete loss of vision.
- Xerophthalmia. Outside the medical world, xerophthalmia is referred to as dryness of the eyes, and it’s caused by the absence of tears. This eye condition is not a good thing because it can damage the cornea, which is the clear front part of the eye where light enters. If the cornea gets damaged, you can say bye-bye to your vision.
- Retinal damage. Your retina is the one that sends messages to the brain, allowing you to visually perceive things. With the retina in a bad shape, it’s not unlikely for blindness to strike.
- Dry skin and hair. It’s not just your eyes that are affected by vitamin A deficiency, but also your appearance. Lack of the said nutrient can leave your skin looking dry and scaly — your lips included. Your hair can also end up dry and brittle, leading to breakage and hair thinning.
If your vitamin A deficiency is brought about by malnutrition, all you have to do is include more foods in your daily diet that contain good amounts of vitamin A. Some wonderful examples are carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, red bell peppers, leafy green vegetables and various tropical fruits. You may also ask your doctor about supplements.
Just like what’s mentioned earlier, it’s possible for deficiency in vitamin A to be due to an underlying medical condition. Having it treated can help reverse the signs and symptoms of vitamin A deficiency.