Vitamin A is a yellow crystalline substance and functions in the body in several forms – retinol, retinal, or retinoic acid. The ultimate source of all vitamin A is the carotenes. These carotenes are synthesized by plants. Let’s know about the Benefits, Sources, and Deficiency of Vitamin A.
Benefits of Vitamin A
Right Vision – This is necessary for normal vision in dim light or at night. It enables a person to see in the presence of light. In this process, if vitamin A is not provided in proper need, the ability of the eye to alter the intensity of light is impaired and therefore cannot see in dark or dim light.
Tissue growth – It helps in maintaining the integrity of the skin, mucous membranes, and other epithelial tissue. It is known as an anti-infective vitamin because it maintains resistance to infection.
Growth – It is essential for normal skeletal and tooth development with deficiency of vitamin A, the bone does not grow in length.
Reproduction – This is necessary to promote fertility in animals. In the absence of vitamin A, the failure of sperm cell production in men.
Hematopoiesis – Deficiency of vitamin A is associated with iron deficiency anemia. Vitamin A is required in addition to iron for preventing anemia.
Sources of Vitamin A
The animal source in which vitamin A is present in butter, ghee, whole milk, curd, egg yolk, halibut liver, shark oil, etc. Plant products through which vitamin A is obtained are leafy vegetables such as spinach, coriander, drumstick leaves, ripe fruits such as mango, papaya, yellow pumpkin, carrot, tomato, etc.
Deficiency of vitamin A
Night Blindness – The earliest symptom of vitamin A deficiency is the impaired ability to see in dim light. Nyctalopia is the condition in which the person is not able to see normally in dim light.
Xeropthalmia – In this condition, the outer layer of the eyeball becomes dry and wrinkled causing itching and burning sensation accompanied by redness, inflammation, and photophobia. The cornea of the eye becomes dry and lusterless.
Bitot’s spot – In this case of chronic deficiency of vitamin A greyish patches called Bitot’s spot appears in the sclerotic of the eyes.
Phrynoderma – In this condition, small projections appear especially on the elbows, kneecaps, shoulders, and back of the legs giving the appearance of toad skin.
Defective teeth – Vitamin A helps in the formation of teeth enamel. Hence deficiency of this vitamin leads to defective teeth and is likely to contain pits and fissures which makes the tooth decay.
Kidney stone formation – Vitamin A deficiency makes the person susceptible to the formation of stones in the kidney.
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