Deficiency of Vitamin A in Children

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin found in animal sources such as liver, kidney, eggs and dairy products. This is one of the essential nutrients required for various biological functions of a human body, mainly for maintaining the visual cycle.

Vitamin A deficiency is the most common health problem prevailing in under developed and developing countries, mainly in Africa and South East Asia. Majority of the children are being affected by the symptoms of this deficiency because of inadequate diet, poor nutritional base or prolonged dietary deprivation.

Vitamin A deficiency in children can lead to severe visual impairment and blindness. Retinol is a vital form of Vitamin A that is actively involved in maintaining the visual cycle. The deficiency damages the rod cells present in the retina that result in night blindness. It further causes the eye to dry because of lost moisture content, which in turn leads to complete blindness.

Suffering from Vitamin A deficiency, children also show signs of weakened immune system, broken nails, loss of appetite and dry skin. Children suffering from this deficiency are more prone to allergies, acne and other infectious diseases like measles and diarrhea. These allergies and infections can further increase the risk of childhood mortality.

Childhood mortality can be significantly reduced by consuming Vitamin A rich foods or taking nutritional supplements. Adding essential vitamins and minerals to foods is very important, so feed children with a nutritious diet. If they are fussy about the taste and choice, add vitamin supplements to their diet. These supplements contain active forms of beta-carotene, retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. Some doctors recommend oral supplements for children. Adequate intake for VAD syndromes is 600 mcg for children below 3 years, 900 mcg for children between 4-8 years and 1700 mcg for children between 9-13 years.

Parents must ensure that the vitamin requirement is fulfilled in their child’s body. A severe check on the dietary intake can help prevent child mortality.