Vitamin A Deficiency

In the first world (developed countries) deficiencies of Vitamin A are rare and most often associated with stict dietary regimes or poor diet due to excessive drug or alcohol intake.

In the third world (developing countries) , however, it is a different story. Vitamin A deficiency diminishes the body's ability to fight infections. Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 malnourished children in the developing world go blind or die each year from complications of infectious diseases that are endemic to their environment because of poverty or social conflict.

Night blindness is one of the first signs of Vitamin A deficiency because the cornea becomes very dry, damaging the retina and cornea.. Before it was known why if worked, it was noticed that night blindness could be cured by eating liver. Now it is established that liver is a rich source of Vitamin A.

The lining of the cells making up the lungs lose their ability to remove disease-causing microorganisms, contributing to the pneumonia commonly associated with Vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A deficiency can be caused by inadequate intake of

  • protein
  • calories
  • zinc
  • iron

since these nutrients are needed to make retinol and iron is particulalry required for Vitamin A metabolism.

Whole foods such as brown rice contain significantly greater amounts of Vitamin A than milled or processed foods. Ber-beri is a disease resulting from subsistance on white rice.