Vitamin A is essential for our health. We get carotenoids and beta carotene from plants, and retinol from meat. Because it's fat soluble, it's important not to overdo the amount of vitamin A you ingest, as it can interfere with your vitamin D levels and bone health (especially the retinol form of vitamin A).. Learn to recognize foods that contain vitamin A so that you get enough of it.
Part 1 of 3: diagnose vitamin A deficiency
Step 1. Familiarize yourself with the role of vitamin A
It plays a crucial role for many of our organs: our skin, our vision, our teeth and the formation of our bones, the health of our tissues and our mucous membranes, our digestive system, our respiratory and reproductive functions.
Step 2. Recognize the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency
The best known are the loss of night blindness. People with vitamin A deficiency will also suffer from corneal ulcers and therefore blurred vision.
- Corneal ulceration forms on the top layer of eye tissue.
- You will gradually lose your sight, as the objects in front of you will tend to be obscured by a veil or to be cloudy.
- The first manifestation of night blindness is the appearance of a triangle-shaped veil in front of the temporal part of your eye. It usually appears on both eyes and may be accompanied by a foamy build-up of keratin.
- Night blindness can also manifest itself as starry effects when looking at a light spot in a dark environment.
- Other symptoms you may see are dry eyes and the appearance of rough patches on the surface of your eyeballs, but these are not sufficient to diagnose vitamin A deficiency.
- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat your infection, but the most important thing for you is to change your diet.
Step 3. Take a blood test
If you are worried that you may have vitamin A deficiency, you can ask your doctor for a retinol blood test. The normal level of vitamin A in your blood should be 50 to 200 micrograms per deciliter of blood.
- You will normally be asked not to eat or drink for 24 hours before the test.
- If you do suffer from vitamin A deficiency, your doctor will prescribe food supplements (unless you are pregnant) or advise you to see a nutritionist.
Step 4. Also ask to have your child tested
Children can also be affected by this deficiency which impairs their growth and increases the risk of infection.
This deficiency can occur if your child does not drink enough milk or suffers from chronic diarrhea
Step 5. Take the necessary precautions if you are pregnant
You should be especially vigilant during your third trimester of pregnancy, when you and your fetus are especially in need of vitamin A.
Read the disclaimers in this article. Pregnant women should not take synthetic vitamin A (unless prescribed by your doctor), as too much can be dangerous for your baby
Part 2 of 3: Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin A
Step 1. Eat vegetables
Vegetables are a good source of carotenoids such as beta-carotene. Yellow, orange, and red vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and pumpkin contain a high dose of vitamin A. Dark green vegetables like kale, spinach and lettuce are also preferred.
Step 2. Eat more fruit
Mango, apricots and melon are rich in vitamin A.
- One mango can provide you with 45% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.
- Dried apricots are also a great source of vitamin A: one cup contains 764 micrograms of vitamin A. Canned apricots are also high in vitamin A, but only contain 338 micrograms.
- Raw melon is also an excellent source of vitamin A, for example one cup corresponds to an intake of 286 micrograms.
- Some experts recommend that pregnant women increase their daily intake of vitamin A by 40% and 90% while breastfeeding.
Step 3. Add animal protein to your diet
It is an excellent source of vitamin A retinol which your child will convert into carotenoid after digestion. So you can eat liver, eggs and fatty fish.
- Because it is absorbed very quickly, but expelled slowly, vitamin A in its retinol form can be consumed in too much quantity. So watch out for the onset of nausea, vomiting, headaches, loss of appetite, dizziness and excessive fatigue.
- Vitamin A poisoning, however, is very rare. But gradually developing chronic poisoning is more common. An adult should consume more than 7.5 mg of vitamin A per day for 6 years to be at risk. So be careful not to consume too much vitamin A retinol.
- Acne creams and treatments may also contain vitamin A retinol.
Step 4. Consume more dairy products
Milk, yogurt and cheese are also great sources of vitamin A.
One cup of milk will provide you with 10-14% of your daily vitamin A intake. A portion of cheese will give you 1 to 6%
Step 5. Consult your doctor or a nutritionist so that they can advise you on a diet more suited to your needs
- Your doctor can recommend a colleague. If not, you can contact your hospital or a general practitioner so that they can recommend a nutritionist near you.
- Some specialized sites will allow you to access a list by region of members of the French association of nutritionists and dieticians.
Part 3 of 3: Take Vitamin A Supplements
Step 1. Know the recommended limit for children
These supplements usually come in different doses, so you should know the recommended tolerance for each supplement you take.
- For a child under 6 months, the recommended tolerance is 0.4 mg.
- For a child from 7 to 12 months, the recommended tolerance is 0.5 mg.
- For a child aged 1 to 3 years, the recommended tolerance is 0.3 mg.
- For a child from 4 to 8 years old, the recommended tolerance is 0.4 mg.
- For a child aged 9 to 13, the recommended tolerance is 0.6 mg.
- For a child aged 14 to 18, the recommended tolerance is 0.7 mg for girls and 0.9 for boys.
Step 2. Know the recommended limit for adults
Adults need more vitamin A than children, but it is still important that you know the recommended tolerance for you.
- For a man over 19 years old, the recommended tolerance is 0.9 mg.
- For a woman over 19 years of age, the recommended tolerance is 0.7 mg.
- For pregnant women under 19, the recommended tolerance is 0.75 mg.
- For pregnant women over 19 years of age, the recommended tolerance is 0.77 mg.
- For lactating women under the age of 19, the recommended tolerance is 1.2 mg.
- For breastfeeding women over 19 years of age, the recommended tolerance is 1.3 mg.
Step 3. Do not exceed the recommended tolerance, as ingesting too much vitamin A can lead to medical complications
- Children under the age of one should not consume more than 0.6 mg of vitamin A per day.
- Children 1-3 years old should not consume more than 0.6 mg of vitamin A per day.
- Children 4 to 8 years old should not consume more than 0.9 mg of vitamin A per day.
- Children 9 to 13 years old should not consume more than 1.7 mg of vitamin A per day.
- Children 14-18 years old should not consume more than 2.8 mg of vitamin A per day.
- Adults over 19 should not consume more than 3 mg of vitamin A per day.
- If you consume too much beta-carotene, your skin may turn orange in color. This mild reaction is often seen in children and vegetarians. If this happens, stop consuming these vegetables for a few days.
- Consult a doctor or nutritionist before changing your diet or taking vitamin A supplements.
- Remember to read the instructions for your supplement. Make sure it doesn't exceed 10,000 IU, which rarely happens. Be vigilant all the same.
- Never change your diet before talking to your doctor, who can advise you on what to do next.
- Taking too much vitamin A can cause loss of appetite, dizziness, headaches, dry, itchy skin, hair loss, blurred vision, or reduced mineral density in your bones. In the most serious cases, you can also damage your liver. If a fetus ingests too much vitamin A, its health can be endangered. Pregnant women should not take more than 5,000 IU of vitamin A supplements per day, and some experts even recommend that they do not take it at all.