Various vitamins are essential to our bodies, and they have different nutritional values. Vitamin A is present in many of the foods that we usually intake and is very important for normal vision and immune system of our body. Vitamin deficiencies are often found in developing countries, which might lead to poor vision and susceptibility to infections. WHO has declared Vitamin A deficiency as public health problem affecting kids aged between 6 and 59 months, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
Deficiency of Vitamin A in a mild form may not show up with any symptoms, at least not initially. However, a continuous state of this deficiency may lead to throat infections, chest infections, delayed bone growth in children, infertility, poor vision and low immunity levels of the body thereby being more susceptible to infections. Eating right kind of foods rich in vitamins helps in maintaining good health. Micronutrients such as Vitamin A help in developing strong bones in children, gene regulation and maintaining healthy clear skin.
Food Sources of Vitamin A
Vitamin A works as an antioxidant and protects the cells from damage. The most common type of vitamin A, which is beta-carotene, is found in the dark pigments of plants. It is found in the bright-colored foods such as green leafy vegetables and orange-colored vegetables. Preformed Vitamin A is found in such animal foods as eggs, milk, liver, and fish. Food sources of Retinol, which is preformed Vitamin A, exist mainly in liver oil and liver. Vitamin A deficiency may occur due to inadequacy of this vitamin in the diet (especially when rice is the staple food as it does not contain beta-carotene). It may also occur when the body fails to make use of this Vitamin in a proper way.
Genetically modified (GM) food is a method to select a desirable trait in crops to overcome certain problems. Golden rice is one among such GM foods which produces beta-carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A, and newer varieties do so at a rate 23 times more than the original golden rice. This is mainly done to overcome Vitamin A deficiency in Asian countries where rice is their staple food.
Vitamin A Deficient Countries
Poor economic status, minimal healthcare infrastructure, and insufficient dietary intakes are but a few of the many reasons for malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies in Sub-Saharan African, Central American, and South East Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Liberia, and Nicaragua. Bangladesh and Liberia effectively have 0% Vitamin A Supplementation rates among the children younger than 5 years old, while Nicaragua has 4% Vitamin A supplementation rate for its kids. Recent studies have stated that several morbid and mortality rate status is prevalent among young children, pregnant women and young women in these countries. Around 44% to 50% of the preschool children of South East Asia are affected by severe deficiencies influencing their whole life. Night blindness was found in 82.4% of school children in South East Asia. Availability of Vitamin A supplements to the people through events such as child health days and immunization campaigns should help in these countries.
To improve health conditions and reduce deficiencies among the people in many countries, a more integrated and calculated approach is necessary. Though short-term measures have been taken in the countries, but a scientific approach which helps in taking the required measures at all levels is inevitable.
Lowest Rates Of Vitamin A Supplementation Among Young Children By Country
|Rank||Country||Vitamin A Supplementation Rate Among Children Younger Than 5 Years Old|