Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is one of the many vitamins needed by the body for proper functioning of different organs and organ systems. So how do you make sure your baby is getting enough of this important vitamin? How can you prevent your baby from being deficient in vitamin A?
Keep reading to find the answers to this question and many more.
Why Is Vitamin A Needed?
Vitamin A is particularly important for babies and young children. It has been found that vitamin A plays a role in:
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Promoting vision.
- Maintaining healthy skin.
- Promoting the health of tissues, organs and cells.
- Keeping the eyes, lungs and urinary tract healthy(1).
In fact, according to a review published by the WHO, having adequate amounts of vitamin A could be linked to reduced morbidity and mortality in children between 6-59 months of age.
[ Read: Vision Development In Infants ]
Best Sources Of Vitamin A For Babies:
Vitamin A is a component naturally present in
- Animal Sources: Liver, egg yolk, whole milk and fortified dairy products are some good examples of animal sources of vitamin A.
- Plant Sources: Vitamin A is present as carotenoids in many plant foods including mangoes, spinach, bell peppers, papaya, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage etc.
Consumption of these foods can ensure that your baby gets enough vitamin A and possibly many other important minerals and vitamins. If you are still breastfeeding your baby, you may not need to provide your kid with additional supplements or foods that contain vitamin A. Mother’smilk provides enough of it.
Deficiency Of Vitamin A In Babies:
A deficiency of any particular mineral or vitamin can prove to be extremely harmful to health, and may prove to raise the risk of several conditions. A deficiency of vitamin A in particular, can result in the following:
- Drying of the conjunctiva of the eye
- Presence of bitot spots
- Night blindness
- Drying of the cornea of the eye
- Permanent blindness (in extreme cases)
- Reduced physical growth
- Increased susceptibility to infection
Apart from these, being deficient in vitamin A could also put your baby at an increased risk of mortality(2).
[ Read: Nutritional Requirements For Infants ]
How To Detect A Deficiency?
A baby deficient in vitamin A usually demonstrates the following symptoms.
- Itching, burning and inflammation of the eye.
- Dryness and scaly appearance of the skin.
- Diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Bacterial infections of the respiratory tract.
- Increased susceptibility to infections.
- Impaired immunity.
- Foamy patches on the conjunctiva of the eye.
- Slow growth of bones and teeth.
[ Read: Vitamin K For Babies ]
Over-Consumption Of Vitamin A:
While vitamin A does play an important role in various functions of the body, an overdose of the same could turn out to be dangerous. Huge amounts of vitamins in the body are often termed as hypervitaminosis, and when it occurs due to too much vitamin A content in the body, it may prove to be potentially life threatening.
Increased consumption of vitamin A for baby is linked to the following:
- Acute toxicity
- Bone pain
- Visual changes
- Skin changes
- Liver damage
- Increased pressure to the brain
Increased consumption of vitamin A is often characterized by symptoms such as dryness of the skin, dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite etc(3). It is therefore; best to get your doctor’s opinion before taking any supplemental forms of vitamin A for your baby.
We hope this article helped you understand everything about vitamin A for babies. Have some suggestions or experiences to share? Let us know in the comments box below.
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