Vitamin A Deficiency
Although rare in developed countries, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in developing areas of the world. Symptoms that may occur as a result of a deficiency include diarrhea, night blindness, and pneumonia. Certain people appear to be at a higher risk for developing deficiency of vitamin A, including those with diabetes, liver disease, or cystic fibrosis.
Vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries. However, it is a leading cause of blindness in developing areas of the world, especially in malnourished children. Fortunately, the condition is easily treated.
Signs that a person may be deficient in vitamin A include:
- Night blindness, which can progress to complete blindness
- A weak immune system (increasing the susceptibility to infections)
- Goose bump-like appearance of the skin
- Slow growth
- Slow bone development
- Decreased chance of surviving serious illnesses
- Birth defects.
Healthy people in developed countries have a low risk for vitamin A deficiency. This vitamin is found in a wide variety of foods, including animal and plant products. However, certain groups of people seem to have a higher risk of developing a deficiency, including people with the following conditions:
- Protein deficiency
- An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
- Liver disease
- Pancreatic disease
- Intestinal disease (such as Crohn's disease)
- Cystic fibrosis.