Vitamin A is one of the oil-soluble vitamins.
It is involved in many aspects of life like embryonic development, body growth and fertility & reproduction.
It has a special role in the health of the eyes and also aids the nervous system.
It also has effects on bones and protein synthesis.
It also improves resistance to colds 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 a 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 the eye. One is the vision at night; the other is tear secretion which keeps the eye moist. In Vitamin-A deficiency, there is night blindness due to a decline in the formation of rhodopsin. But the early symptoms can be drying of the 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 the common cold.
Vitamin A toxicity symptoms
Taking excess quantities of the vitamin leads to the development of side effects which is termed hypervitaminosis.
It is of two types like
- Short term effects
- Long-term effects.
Short time effects
Taking excess doses 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, pain and chances of liver damage.
On the skin, it can lead to peeling or shedding of upper layers.
Ophthalmic effects like swelling of eyeballs (papilledema), discomfort to light, blind points in vision, etc.
These symptoms mostly appear in children.
When the excess doses are taken for the long term, the following symptoms occur.
On the skin, it shows dryness, inflammation and also, chances of hair loss.
It can lead to drying of mucous, itching, swelling, and cracks of lips in the mouth.
In liver cirrhosis, hardening, leading to portal hypertension, jaundice and even ascites (swelling of the abdomen). Even swelling of the spleen can occur.
It can cause headaches, vision disturbances, fit (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 the nervous system, head, muscles, urinary tract, skeleton, etc.