What Causes A Vitamin A Deficiency?

March 15, 2024

Vitamin A is a key vitamin to sustain health at any age. It is important for a variety of processes in the body including maintaining the immune system and organs, maintaining vision, while also helping babies develop while in utero. It can help protect an individual's vision from night blindness and other age-related sigh deterioration like macular degeneration. Consuming proper amounts of vitamin A is also helpful to reduce the likeliness of certain cancers. Vitamin A helps the body maintain equilibrium for cell growth and development, preventing cells from growing and dividing in an uncontrolled way. It is also necessary for keeping a healthy immune system by keeping the production of white blood cells high while also helping the mucus barriers defend the body against infection.

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Pancreatic Insufficiency

When the pancreas functions correctly, it secretes a group of proteins into the small intestine to help with digestion. When the pancreas doesn’t produce enough of these proteins and enzymes, the body is unable to break down the food into nutrients the body can absorb. This will eventually lead to deficiencies throughout the body, including a vitamin a deficiency, that can have serious side effects. Symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency include steatorrhea otherwise known as fatty stools. This happens because the intestinal tract isn’t able to absorb the fats in the diet. It is marked by abdominal pain, fullness, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. It can also have symptoms of muscle cramps and pain in the bones. Pancreatic insufficiency can be treated by reducing the amount of fat in the blood levels, reducing alcohol use, stimulation of the duct drainage, and surgery. Using antioxidant supplements like selenium, and vitamin A can reduce inflammation of the pancreas.

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Small Bowel Bypass Surgery

Small bowel bypass surgery can also lead to a vitamin A deficiency because removing part of the intestine changes the way the body absorbs nutrients. It can create complications for individuals who are looking to avoid nutrient deficiencies. Many patients choose small bowel bypass surgery to remove gastric obstructions. It is performed on patients looking for bariatric revisions. It is also used for individuals who have stomach cancer to remove the tumor if it blocks the flow of food from the stomach to the intestines. Patients also use this kind of surgery to help patients lose excess weight while reducing weight-related health problems like diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The surgery can cause a vitamin A deficiency because it limits the kinds of food the patient can eat while also limiting the nutrients the body can absorb. If patients opt for the surgery, they will need to work with a nutritionist to make sure they are getting the proper nutrients.

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Iron Deficiency

An iron deficiency can also lead to a vitamin A deficiency. The deficiency of both iron and vitamin A frequently occur and can affect billions of individuals, specifically women and children. The combination affects up to thirty percent of the world’s population. Vitamin A deficiency is particularly prevalent among women and children in developing countries and is often found paired with anemia and low iron. It is often paired with anemia when the patient starts experiencing fatigue, shortness of breath, insomnia, and dizziness. This condition can be treated by consuming foods rich with vitamin A including intestinal meats like liver, beef, whole milk and fortified milk, eggs, and chicken. Eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A, including carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, and carrots, can also prevent a deficiency. Patients need the nutrients to support healthy growth and reproduction, which is why it is particularly important for women and young children to ensure they are getting enough vitamin A and iron.

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Inadequate Vitamin A Intake

One of the obvious reasons a vitamin A deficiency occurs is when an individual has an inadequate vitamin A intake. A variety of symptoms communicate various vitamin deficiencies. Having brittle nails and hair, ulcers, bleeding gums, poor night vision and scaly patches of skin can be the body’s way of communicating it is not getting enough nutrients, including vitamin A. It is important for patients to eat a varied diet full of vegetables, fruits, and whole foods to ensure they are getting enough vitamins and minerals. To consume more vitamin A, individuals should make sure they are consuming carrots, whole milk, eggs, beef, orange fruits, sweet potatoes, spinach, and other leafy vegetables. Individuals can also ensure they are getting enough vitamin A by taking a multivitamin. Research reveals dieting and reducing calories can prevent patients from consuming enough vitamin A.

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Liver Disorders

Liver disorders can also be a cause of a deficiency in vitamin A. The liver is a part of the digestive system that metabolizes micronutrients and macronutrients. When the liver doesn’t function properly, it makes it difficult for the body to absorb vitamin A. The liver uses vitamin A to help promote healthy cell function. When it doesn’t function well, the lack of vitamin A can change the way the liver functions, creating a cyclical issue. Vitamin A and iron deficiencies are some of the most common deficiencies around the world. The liver is the main site of vitamin A storage, and when it malfunctions, it can send too much vitamin A to other tissues. This can be a particular problem when the patient has consumed too much alcohol and has damaged their liver. However, too much vitamin A can be toxic to the organ, causing it to form scar tissue.

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