Why vitamin A deficiency is a dangerous threat to your health

We always feel sad when we fall sick and panic to look for treatment or even buy tablets to stabilise our health.

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Dr Joseph Kamugisha

We always feel sad when we fall sick and panic to look for treatment or even buy tablets to stabilise our health.

When you look at the basis for the occurence of diseases in our body, you will realise that for any problem to occur there is an underlying cause.

To trace the cause is not easy and this calls for health expertise. There are many health secrets that can be discussed but today want to focus on the Vitamin A deficiency.

Many people have been sensitised on the importance of vitamins in the body and possibly could be one of the motivative factors that have prompted people to feed on vegetables than meat products.

Fruits and vegetables contain important ingredients of vitamins. Vitamins are good modulators of our immune system and offer potential health support.

Vitamin A, C and D are all important for our body to function properly and an imbalance in one of them can lead to occurrence of ilnesses.

Food plants like sweat potatoes, carrots and spinach are carotenoids that contain good amounts of vitamin A and are known as pro-vitamin A food plants.

Vitamin A is a group of compounds such as retinol, retinal, and the carotenoids. Retinol and retinal are usually found in animal foods such as liver, eggs, and butter. Once these foods are taken in the body, they are put into use immediately and are often referred to as pre-formed vitamin A.

Carotenoids are known as provitamin A,they are precursors to Vitamin A and need to be converted in the body before they are put into use.

The total vitamin A in your diet is, therefore, a combination of the pre-formed vitamin A and provitamin A in your diet.

It’s important to note that optimal absorption of retinol, retinal, and the carotenoids into your blood requires an adequate amount of healthy fat in your diet. This is because pre-formed and provitamin A are fat soluble compounds that are best absorbed into your blood in the presence of digestive juices that are needed to digest fat.

It is, therefore, believed that the more fat you include in your diet, the better you are likely to absorb vitamins A,D,E and K in your blood stream.

Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world and is also a leading cause of death in young children.

One of the commonest problems associated with vitamin A deficiency is poor night vision.

People who develop skin problems like the acne and acne rosacea tend to have vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A is needed to develop and maintain moist and healthy epithelial tissues, including your skin. Many long time vegans find it difficult to understand why they have acne while on a whole food, plant-based diet. Vitamin A deficiency is a common cause of acne and affects people who do not feed on foods that contain a reliable source of vitamin A in their diets.

Additionally, vitamin A is needed for proper growth and maintenance of bones and other soft tissues throughout the body. People with weak bones, weak teeth, and poorly-spaced teeth tend to have deficiency in vitamin A.

A weak immune system can also be linked to vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is needed for the development, maintainance and protection of our body system. It acts as a barrier or offers defense to problems like infection, especially in areas of the lungs, and the mucosal linings in your digestive,urinary tracts.

Since vitamin A is essential to the health of your immune system, a deficiency could increase your risk for developing certain forms of cancer, such as breast, lung, stomach, and cervical cancer.

Many vitamin deficiency sufferers usually present with persistent problems of anemia and fatigue. One of the explanation is that vitamin A is needed for proper red blood cell formation and it’s deficiency affects some blood components.

Dr Joseph Kamugisha is an oncologist  at Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe

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