Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin A Deficiency

So what are the Vitamin A deficiency symptoms? Before you get scared, here’s something that’ll allow you to breathe just a little easier. Vitamin A deficiency symptoms are fairly rare in the Western world. That’s because a lot of our foods are fortified with Vitamin A (this includes milk and various breakfast cereals).

Most of the deficiency symptoms are often associated with people with decreased protein intake, preschool children, and those in developing countries. These are just a few groups of people who should watch out for deficiency symptoms. I go over more groups below in this section.

But, here are some signs to look out for…


How’s Your Vision?

One of the earliest signs of deficiency is night blindness and cloudiness of the eye (a sign that cataracts are forming).

Also, mild Vitamin A deficiency can result in changes in the corner of the eye and cause Bitot’s spots. This is basically a build-up of keratin on the white part of your eye. The build-up of keratin on your skin is also another sign of deficiency but we’ll discuss that a little further down.

Severe or prolonged deficiency can cause Dry Eye and can result in corneal ulcers, scarring and blindness.

Yeah... not fun.


Check Your Skin Lately?

I’m not referring to skin cancer, necessarily. Although it’d be a good idea to check for moles that either have gotten bigger or just look funny. Then go see a dermatologist. But let’s get back on topic.

Another Vitamin A deficiency symptoms is a skin condition called follicular hyperkeratosis. No, I did not just curse at you (although I could if you’d like).

In the earlier section, I briefly mention the build-up of keratin on your skin is another symptom of Vitamin A deficiency. Follicular hyperkeratosis is the proper name for what I was talking about.

Let’s examine the word so it makes sense to you. Follicular refers to your hair follicles so you’ll see this occurring on your skin. And hyperkeratosis just means “too much keratin.” Keratin is a fairly hard protein that’s found in the hair and nails.

What happens is you start to get keratin deposits around your hair follicles and they look like little weird goosebumps. Not exactly the most attractive look (especially for a first date) and you see this condition more in developing countries.


Anything Else?

Yes. A shortage of Vitamin A can make you more prone to respiratory infections, sore throats, sinus and ear infections. Also, children with low amounts of Vitamin A have a higher chance of getting measles and will have a harder time fighting it off.


People Who Are Most Likely To See
Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms

Even though Vitamin A deficiency symptoms are rare in the Western world, there are certain groups of people who run a higher risk. And these groups are...

1) Strict vegetarians, vegans and those follow strict dietary restrictions.

2) Those who abuse alcohol – Both Vitamin A and beta carotene are stored in the liver and alcohol reduces their amount.

3) People who smoke

Side Note: If you smoke and/or you drink a lot, do yourself a favor and do not supplement with Vitamin A or beta carotene. It will do more harm than good.

4) Take birth control pills – birth control pills will release and raise the amount of Vitamin A in your blood but decrease the amount stored in the liver. Although apparently that’s not the case with beta carotene, just with Vitamin A.

5) Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs or methotrexate – below is a list of the cholesterol-lowering drugs to watch out for and chances are that your doctor will discuss Vitamin A supplementation. If they don’t… hit them over the head and bring it up!


Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
Brand Name Generic Name
Colestid Colestipol
Locholest Cholestyramine Resin
Questran Cholestyramine
Welchol Colesevelam


6) If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding – Talk to your doctor first before you start any Vitamin A supplements. Too much Vitamin A during pregnancy can cause birth defects.


Detective's Solution For You...

Getting the Vitamin A RDA is good enough to avoid the troubles of the Vitamin A deficiency symptoms. But for optimal health and to get the full benefits of Vitamin A, get at least 10,000 to 15,000IU of Vitamin A per day (most of it from beta carotene sources).



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