Vitamin A or retinol is a pale-yellow, fat-soluble alcohol which is most commonly found in fatty fish and fish-liver oils. 

Plants do not contain vitamin A but many fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A.  One of the most important uses of vitamin A is its ability to support the health of your eyes.  It also plays a big role in improving the body's functions concerning wound-healing, bone formation, skin health, growth, mucous membranes, lactation, and immunity. 

As a potent antioxidant, it helps to protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals – these are molecules that can cause early aging and tissue degeneration.

Sources of Vitamin A

Your body cannot produce vitamin A by itself.  You need to get it from food sources that include milk, eggs, kidney beans and liver. 

Beta-carotene is a substance from plants that the body converts into vitamin A.  Plants which are high in beta-carotene include carrots, broccoli, apricots, and yellow and green vegetables.

Here are some of the adverse effects of vitamin A deficiency:

1. Night Blindness

It refers to a person's difficulty in seeing at night or in dimly lighted areas.  It is one of the most common and primary indications of vitamin A deficiency.

Other manifestations of vitamin A deficiency in the eyes include i) Conjunctivitis – the inflammation or redness of the conjunctiva, the lining of the white part of the eye and the underside of the eyelid, ii) Xerophthalmia – the abnormal dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eyes, iii) Color-blindness – the inability of the eyes to identify colors, iv) Photophobia – the sensitivity of the eyes to light, and v) complete loss of vision.

2. Dry Hair and Unhealthy Nails

Another symptom of vitamin A deficiency is dryness of the hair.  It could also include peeling or the appearance of longitudinal ridges on the nails.

3. Infections of the Skin

Vitamin A plays an important part in the maintenance of your skin health.  A deficiency in this vitamin may trigger acne or worsen the condition of existing acne on your skin.  It is therefore imperative to take enough vitamin A to stop and prevent acne.

Vitamin A can also prevent the growth of boils, cold sores and other infections of your skin. It is also a potent antioxidant that helps to prevent wrinkles, dryness and premature aging of your skin.

4. Other Health Problems

Aside from its effect on your eyes and skin, vitamin A deficiency also plays a role in the maintenance of your overall health.  A deficiency of this vitamin can also lead to reproductive health problems, cardiovascular diseases, a weakened immune system, and loss of smell or appetite.

Vitamin A is an essential substance that helps to maintain the body's health and protect it from diseases.  The best way to prevent vitamin A deficiency is to eat a healthy diet and to take multivitamin supplements daily.

Caution

The vitamin A requirements of people vary with age, but for adult males and females, the required daily amount of this nutrient is 3,000 IU.

You should avoid taking excessive vitamin A for long periods as this can cause serious health problems which include dry skin, mouth sores, liver failure, and thinking problems.

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