Vitamin A For Children

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Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s necessary for growth, vision, and immunity. It helps your body see in dim light, and it also helps maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes.

Because the body can’t store very much vitamin A at once, it needs to be consumed regularly. Most people get enough of it in their diets—but if you’re not eating well or your diet doesn’t contain enough meat or other animal products, you might want to consider supplementing with a vitamin A capsule or multivitamin that contains the vitamin.

How much vitamin A is too much?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for children aged nine months to five years old is 750 micrograms (mcg). For children six years old and older, it’s 900 mcg.

But just because these are the recommendations doesn’t mean they’re set in stone: Your doctor might tell you to give your child more than that depending on his or her needs. The only way to know for sure what’s best for your family is by talking with your doctor about how much supplementation you should be giving each child based on age and health condition(s).

Vitamin A For Children


What do these indicators tell us?

These indicators tell us what proportion of children aged 6-59 months received a dose of vitamin A through the main distribution mechanism during the first semester (January-June) and what proportion of children received a dose during the second semester (July-December). Vitamin A supplementation coverage is included in the WHO Global reference list of 100 core health indicators.

How are they defined?

These indicators are defined as the proportion of children aged 6-59 months who receive a first and/or a second high dose of vitamin A supplements within a calendar year. The two-dose coverage can be determined by the semester that achieved the lower vitamin A supplementation coverage for children aged 6-59 months in the calendar year.

Current international recommendations call for high-dose vitamin A supplementation every 4-6 months for all children between the ages of 6 and 59 months living in affected areas. The recommended doses are 100 000 international units (IU) for children aged between 6 and 11 months, and 200 000 IU for children aged between 12 and 59 months.

What are the consequences and implications?

Programmes to control vitamin A deficiency increase children’s chances of survival, reduce the severity of childhood illnesses, ease the strain on health systems and hospitals, and contribute to the well-being of children, their families and communities.

Vitamin A is vital to child health and immune function; hence, in settings where vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem, vitamin A supplementation is recommended in infants and children aged 6-59 months as a public health intervention to reduce child morbidity and mortality. Measuring the proportion of children who have received two doses of vitamin A within the past year can be used to monitor coverage of interventions aimed at increasing child survival rates. Supplementation with vitamin A is a safe, cost-effective and efficient means for eliminating deficiency of this vitamin and improving child survival

vitamin a drops for babies benefits

Vitamin A is important for babies and young children, and some may not be getting enough.

It’s needed for a healthy immune system, can help their vision in dim light, and keeps skin healthy.

Good sources of vitamin A include:

  • dairy products
  • fortified fat spreads
  • carrots, sweet potatoes, swede and mangoes
  • dark green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for your child’s general health and immune system. It can also help their body absorb iron.

Good sources of vitamin C include:

  • oranges
  • kiwi fruit
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • peppers

A balanced diet for babies and young children

It’s important for children to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure they’re getting all the energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.

Get more advice and information on a balanced diet for babies and young children:

Vitamin A is the generic term for a group of fat-soluble compounds highly important for human health.

They’re essential for many processes in your body, including maintaining healthy vision, ensuring the normal function of your immune system and organs and aiding the proper growth and development of babies in the womb.

It’s recommended that men get 900 mcg, women 700 mcg and children and adolescents 300–600 mcg of vitamin A per day (1Trusted Source).

Vitamin A compounds are found in both animal and plant foods and come in two different forms: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A.

Preformed vitamin A is known as the active form of the vitamin, which your body can use just as it is. It’s found in animal products including meat, chicken, fish and dairy and includes the compounds retinol, retinal and retinoic acid.

Provitamin A carotenoids — alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin — are the inactive form of the vitamin found in plants.

These compounds are converted to the active form in your body. For example, beta-carotene is converted to retinol (an active form of vitamin A) in your small intestine (2Trusted Source).

Here are 6 important health benefits of vitamin A.

1. Protects Your Eyes From Night Blindness and Age-Related Decline

Vitamin A is essential for preserving your eyesight.

The vitamin is needed to convert light that hits your eye into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain.

In fact, one of the first symptoms of vitamin A deficiency can be night blindness, known as nyctalopia (3Trusted Source).

Night blindness occurs in people with vitamin A deficiency, as the vitamin is a major component of the pigment rhodopsin.

Rhodopsin is found in the retina of your eye and extremely sensitive to light.

People with this condition can still see normally during the day, but have reduced vision in darkness as their eyes struggle to pick up light at lower levels.

In addition to preventing night blindness, eating adequate amounts of beta-carotene may help slow the decline in eyesight that some people experience as they age (4Trusted Source).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Though its exact cause is unknown, it’s thought to be the result of cellular damage to the retina, attributable to oxidative stress (5Trusted Source).

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that giving people over the age of 50 with some eyesight degeneration an antioxidant supplement (including beta-carotene) reduced their risk of developing advanced macular degeneration by 25% (6Trusted Source).

However, a recent Cochrane review found that beta-carotene supplements alone won’t prevent or delay the decline in eyesight caused by AMD (7Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Eating adequate amounts of vitamin A prevents the development of night blindness and may help slow the age-related decline of your eyesight.

2. May Lower Your Risk of Certain Cancers

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow or divide in an uncontrolled way.

As vitamin A plays an important role in the growth and development of your cells, its influence on cancer risk and role in cancer prevention is of interest to scientists (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

In observational studies, eating higher amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene has been linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as cervical, lung and bladder cancer (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Yet, though high intakes of vitamin A from plant foods have been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, animal foods which contain active forms of vitamin A aren’t linked in the same way (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

Similarly, vitamin A supplements haven’t shown the same beneficial effects (16Trusted Source).

In fact, in some studies, smokers taking beta-carotene supplements experienced an increased risk of lung cancer (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

At the moment, the relationship between vitamin A levels in your body and cancer risk is still not fully understood.

Still, current evidence suggests that getting adequate vitamin A, especially from plants, is important for healthy cell division and may reduce your risk of some types of cancer (20Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Adequate vitamin A intake from whole plant foods may reduce your risk of certain cancers, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as cervical, lung and bladder cancer. However, the relationship between vitamin A and cancer is not fully understood.

3. Supports a Healthy Immune System

Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses.

This includes the mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, gut and genitals which help trap bacteria and other infectious agents.

It’s also involved in the production and function of white blood cells, which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from your bloodstream.

This means that a deficiency in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and delay your recovery when you get sick (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

In fact, in countries where infections like measles and malaria are common, correcting vitamin A deficiency in children has been shown to decrease the risk of dying from these diseases (23Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Having enough vitamin A in your diet helps keep your immune system healthy and function at its best.

4. Reduces Your Risk of Acne

Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin disorder.

People with this condition develop painful spots and blackheads, most commonly on the face, back and chest.

These spots occur when the sebaceous glands get clogged up with dead skin and oils. These glands are found in the hair follicles on your skin and produce sebum, an oily, waxy substance that keeps your skin lubricated and waterproof.

Though the spots are physically harmless, acne may have a serious effect on people’s mental health and lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression (24Trusted Source).

The exact role that vitamin A plays in the development and treatment of acne remains unclear (25Trusted Source).

It has been suggested that vitamin A deficiency may increase your risk of developing acne, as it causes an overproduction of the protein keratin in your hair follicles (26, 27Trusted Source).

This would increase your risk of acne by making it more difficult for dead skin cells to be removed from hair follicles, leading to blockages.

Some vitamin-A-based medications for acne are now available with a prescription.

Isotretinoin is one example of an oral retinoid that is effective in treating severe acne. However, this medication can have serious side effects and must only be taken under medical supervision (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

The exact role of vitamin A in the prevention and treatment of acne is unclear. Yet, vitamin-A-based medications are often used to treat severe acne.

5. Supports Bone Health

The key nutrients needed for maintaining healthy bones as you age are protein, calcium and vitamin D.

However, eating enough vitamin A is also necessary for proper bone growth and development, and a deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to poor bone health.

In fact, people with lower blood levels of vitamin A are at a higher risk of bone fractures than people with healthy levels (30Trusted Source).

Additionally, a recent meta-analysis of observational studies found that people with the highest amounts of total vitamin A in their diet had a 6% decreased risk of fractures (30Trusted Source).

Yet, low levels of vitamin A may not be the only problem when it comes to bone health. Some studies have found that people with high intakes of vitamin A have a higher risk of fractures as well (31Trusted Source).

Even so, these findings are all based on observational studies, which cannot determine cause and effect.

This means that currently, the link between vitamin A and bone health is not fully understood, and more controlled trials are needed to confirm what has been seen in observational studies.

Bear in mind that vitamin A status alone does not determine your risk of fractures, and the impact of the availability of other key nutrients, like vitamin D, also plays a role (32Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Eating the recommended amount of vitamin A may help protect your bones and reduce your risk of fractures, though the connection between this vitamin and bone health is not fully understood.

6. Promotes Healthy Growth and Reproduction

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining a healthy reproductive system in both men and women, as well as ensuring the normal growth and development of embryos during pregnancy.

Rat studies examining the importance of vitamin A in male reproduction have shown that a deficiency blocks the development of sperm cells, causing infertility (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

Likewise, animal studies have suggested that vitamin A deficiency in females can impact reproduction by reducing egg quality and affecting egg implantation in the womb (33Trusted Source).

In pregnant women, vitamin A is also involved in the growth and development of many major organs and structures of the unborn child, including the skeleton, nervous system, heart, kidneys, eyes, lungs and pancreas.

Yet, though much less common than vitamin A deficiency, too much vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to the growing baby as well and may lead to birth defects (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).

Therefore, many health authorities recommended that women avoid foods that contain concentrated amounts of vitamin A, such as pâté and liver, as well as supplements containing vitamin A during pregnancy.

SUMMARY

Adequate amounts of vitamin A in the diet are essential for reproductive health and the healthy development of babies during pregnancy.

Taking Too Much Vitamin A Can Be Risky

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is stored in your body. This means that excess consumption can lead to toxic levels.

Hypervitaminosis A is caused by consuming too much preformed vitamin A through your diet or supplements containing the vitamin.

Symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, headaches, pain and even death.

Though it can be caused by excessive intake from the diet, this is rare compared to overconsumption from supplements and medications.

Additionally, eating a lot of provitamin A in its plant form doesn’t carry the same risks, as its conversion to the active form in your body is regulated (37Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Eating high amounts of the active form of vitamin A from animal foods, medications or supplements can be toxic. Excessive consumption of provitamin A from plant foods is unlikely.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin A is vital for many important processes in your body.

It’s used to maintain healthy vision, ensure the normal functioning of your organs and immune system, as well as establishing normal growth and development of babies in the womb.

Both too little and too much vitamin A could have negative effects on your health.

The best way to ensure you get the balance right is to consume vitamin-A-rich foods as part of your normal diet and avoid supplementing with excessive amounts.

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