Do You Have Vitamin A Deficiency?


Bunches of Fresh Carrots

Vitamin deficiency is a common ailment among people in general, although in first world countries foods are enriched to help to stave off the detrimental lack.  For instance, milk is enriched with vitamin D, and salt is enriched with iodine for just this reason.  For those who are looking to really make those healthy lifestyle changes, there are some things to look for as the daily menu begins to become a reality.  This is particularly necessary for individuals who are dabbling in vegetarianism or doing a high protein diet. 

There are many different kinds of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  The seven most common ones are iron, iodine, vitamin D, calcium,  B12, vitamin A, and magnesium.  Vitamin A is important in this list because it protects the skin, bones, and eyes and is one of the building blocks of our eye pigments, which means it is necessary for maintaining good vision.  Vitamin A deficiency is the number one cause of blindness worldwide.

Vitamin A is fat-soluble.  This means that if the body is getting enough of it, and is able to absorb it, that it sticks around a bit better, and for longer, than the water soluble vitamins in general.  There are two forms of the chemical in food sources, and the form is determined by whether it is plant-based or animal-based.  Preformed vitamin A is found in land, air, and ocean based meats, and in dairy products.  Pro-vitamin A, of which beta-carotene is one type, is found in fruits and vegetables. 

Because vitamin A is common in so many plant and animal-based foods, the majority of people in the western world do not have a problem with this deficiency.  In the developing world, however, the deficiency is much more common. 

Beef and fish liver are the best animal sources of vitamin A.  Sweet potatoes and carrots are the best vegetable based sources.  

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