Vitamin A is one of the oil soluble vitamins.
It is involved in many aspects of life like in embryonic development, body growth and in fertility & reproduction.
It has a special role in the health of eyes and also aids nervous system.
It also has effects on bones and protein synthesis.
It also improves resistance to cold and other infections. So it is called “Anti-infective Vitamin”.
Vitamin-A deficiency is one of the routine deficiencies seen among undernourished people.
This affects many organs or systems in the body.
In time of deficiency it can be supplemented with shark liver oil or cod liver oil
Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms
On Eyes: It acts on two aspects of eye. One is vision at night, other is tear secretion which keep the eye moist. In Vitamin-A deficiency, there is night blindness due to decline in formation of rhodopsin. But the early symptoms can be drying of eyes. The lachrymal glands which secrete tears degenerate leading to dry eyes.
Alimentary system: Digestive disturbance due to degeneration of stomach layers in deficiency.
Nerves: Affects nerve sheath and linings.
Bones: The growth of bone is slow and also irregular.
Respiration: Chances of respiratory infections, tuberculosis, pneumonia and common cold.
Side effects of Vitamin A:
Taking excess of vitamin A lead to side effects. This is termed as hypervitaminosis.
It is of two types like
- Short term effects
- Long term effects.
Short time effects: Taking excess dose can lead to effects for few hours to days. These include headaches, fits (seizures) in the head regions.
In the stomach region it leads to nausea, vomiting and pain. Chances of liver damage.
On skin it can lead to peeling or shedding of upper layers.
Ophthalmic effects like swelling of eye balls (papilledema), discomfort to light, blind points in vision etc..
These symptoms mostly appear in children.
Long term effects: When the excess doses are taken for long term, the following symptoms occur.
On skin it shows dryness and inflammation. Also chances of hair loss.
In mouth it can lead to drying of mucous, itching, swelling and cracks of lips.
In liver cirrhosis, hardening, leading to portal hypertension, jaundice and even ascites (swelling of abdomen). Even swelling of spleen can occur.
In the head, it can cause headache, vision disturbances, fits (seizure), drowsiness and even vomiting.
In bones it can cause tenderness, improper bone maintenance, pain in joints etc.
In pregnant women when excess Vit-A is taken can affect the baby in the womb. The effects can be on nervous system, head, on muscles, urinary tract, skeleton etc.