Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in “vision, especially night vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division, and cell differentiation; helps regulate the immune system; may help lymphocytes fight infections; promotes healthy surface linings of the eyes and the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts so that infections cannot get into the body through those openings” (Mighty Micronutrients). Being deficient in vitamin A can therefore have negative consequences, such as blindness and an increased risk of severe illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state in its IMMPaCt (International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Program) that “improved vitamin A nutrition could prevent up to 2.5 million deaths annually among children under 5 years.” Additionally, for children, vitamin A deficiency is the most important cause of childhood blindness in developing countries, it increases the risk of illness and death from common childhood infections such as measles, and also increases the risk of mortality in pregnant women. It is estimated that 200-300 million preschool-aged children are at risk for a vitamin A deficiency, and nearly 600,000 women die from childbirth-related causes that could be prevented or reduced through better nutrition consumption (IMMPaCt). Natural sources of vitamin A include colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, and spinach, eggs, and whole milk.