Vitamin A Deficiency Sample Essay

Vitamin A Deficiency Sample Essay.

Vitamin A Deficiency Sample Essay

                                     Category:medicine and health

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Vitamin A Deficiency

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Vitamin A Deficiency


Vitamin A deficiency is caused by insufficient intake of Vitamin A needed to satisfy physiological needs (WHO, n.d). The deficiency of Vitamin A in the body causes type 2 diabetes (Weill Cornell Medicine, 2015). Some studies have indicated that serum vitamin A or uptakes of provitamin A carotenoids, such as B-carotene, inhibit insulin resistance (Trasino & Gudas, 2015). Type 2 Diabetes refers to the inability of the body to use and modulate sugar (glucose) as a fuel. It is a chronic condition leading to large amounts of sugar flowing in the body. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021). Hence, this paper will discuss Vitamin A deficiency and its relationship to type 2 diabetes etiology, epidemiology, risk groups, and determinants.

Vitamin A Deficiency and Etiology of Type 2 Diabetes

The current studies by researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College indicate that type 2 diabetes is caused by a lack of Vitamin A which produces beta cells in the pancreas, responsible for producing insulin, the blood sugar-regulating hormone (Weill Cornell Medicine, 2015). Vitamin A deficiency makes the pancreas produce insufficient insulin. Consequently, the body cells respond inadequately to insulin hence taking in less sugar (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021). The result is that type 2 diabetes develops.

Vitamin A deficiency and Epidemiology of Type 2 Diabetes

The increased deficiency in Vitamin A has significantly contributed to escalating levels of type 2 diabetes. According to Unnikrishnan (2017), type 2 diabetes is now considered a global pandemic. Vitamin A deficiency is scarce in developed nations but common in developing countries, particularly in South East Asia and Africa (WHO, n.d).  Its prevalence is caused by limited access to foods rich in preformed vitamin A, available in animal-based foods. Due to poverty, developing nations also do not often consume beta-carotene-rich foods (Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 2021). Three hundred and fifty million children and adults are affected by type 2 diabetes owing to Vitamin A deficiency (Trasino & Gudas, 2015). As a result, according to Khan et al. (2020), by 2030, the global prevalence of type 2 diabetes is projected to be 7079 individuals in every 100,000 people.

Major Food Sources

Diet, especially Vitamin A deficiency, has been dramatically associated with type 2 diabetes. The primary food sources causing Vitamin A deficiency and type 2 diabetes are high in fat and cholesterol and low in fiber (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017). They include red meat, fried foods, sweets, and soft drinks, manufactured using high fructose corn syrup, consequently making blood glucose levels rise to dangerous levels (Sami et al., 2017). Other diets lacking Vitamin A and consequently causing type 2 diabetes include high intake levels of sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, and processed meat (Zheng et al., 2018). The top sources of Vitamin A foods in the US include fortified cereals, fish, liver, and dairy products. Those rich in provitamin A include squash, carrots, cantaloupe, and broccoli (Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 2021. However, these foods are not highly consumed or consumed, leading to Vitamin A deficiency and subsequent type 2 diabetes.

At-risk Groups

First, those at risk of Vitamin A deficiency and subsequent type 2 diabetes are people with cystic fibrosis. Most people with this condition have pancreatic inadequacies, and their high risk of Vitamin A deficiency is caused by difficulty in fat absorption (Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 2021). Secondly, lactating and pregnant women in developing countries do not get sufficient Vitamin A in their diets due to poverty, rendering them vulnerable to type 2 diabetes (Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 2021). Third, premature infants in developing countries are at risk of Vitamin A deficiency which is helpful in the production of insulin generating cells during fetal development (Weill Cornell Medicine, 2015). It is caused by the same deficiency in their mothers, potentially posing them at risk of type 2 diabetes (Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 2021). Fourth, young children and infants in third world countries are vulnerable to Vitamin A deficiency immediately after breastfeeding. Their parents do not have sufficient Vitamin A while breastfeeding them exclusively due to poverty, leading them to consume poor diets lacking in Vitamin A (Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 2021. According to Tariku et al. (2016), children whose mothers did not have Ante-Natal Clinics follow-up are also likely to suffer Vitamin A deficiency. Additionally, the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency in liver cirrhosis patients qualified for a transplant is 70% (Hodge & Taylor, 2021). Furthermore, the correlation between Vitamin A deficiency and the severity of liver cirrhosis is positive.


Environmental, cultural, economic, and social factors determine Vitamin A deficiency and type 2 diabetes. They include poor living conditions, employment insecurities, low income, and minimal educational attainment (Hill et al., 2013). The social-economic status (SES) is a significant determinant as well. It is linked to how communities and individuals can access material resources, including housing, nutritious food, health care, transportation, and social resources such as social engagement, political power, and control.

Notably, the people likely to get Vitamin A deficiency and consequent type 2 diabetes are those lower in social-economic status (Hill-Briggs et al., 2021). Their low economic status makes it difficult to afford diets rich in Vitamin A such as green leafy vegetables, yellow and orange vegetables, eggs, milk, fruits, liver fish, some vegetable oils, and tomato products (Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 2021). Culture also limits consumption of certain foods like liver and eggs, rich in Vitamin A among some African communities’ pregnant women based on the belief that the unborn children will become big and cause birth difficulties (Makaka et al., n.d). Kuhnlein & Pelto (n.d.) state that in some environmental settings, especially in developing countries, most fruits and green leafy vegetables, rich in Vitamin A, are only available during the wet or rainy seasons, limiting their continuous consumption throughout the year. The seasonal availability of food thus increases Vitamin A deficiency and type 2 diabetes.  

Intervention for Vitamin A Deficiency and Type 2 Diabetes

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) (2021), dietary modification with supplements, fortified foods, and natural foods to directly increase Vitamin A uptake is an existing intervention for Vitamin A deficiency.


In a nutshell, the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency and type 2 diabetes has raised global concern. Many factors have led to this, such as environmental, social, cultural, and economic factors, with the vulnerable groups being at higher risks. However, some interventions like dietary modifications to include more Vitamin A intake have been proven effective for Vitamin A deficiency and subsequent type 2 diabetes.


Hill, J., Nielsen, M., & Fox, M. H. (2013). Understanding the social factors that contribute to diabetes: a means to informing health care and social policies for the chronically ill. The Permanente Journal17(2), 67. doi: 10.7812/TPP/12-099

Hill-Briggs, F., Adler, N. E., Berkowitz, S. A., Chin, M. H., Gary-Webb, T. L., Navas-Acien, A., … & Haire-Joshu, D. (2021). Social determinants of health and diabetes: a scientific review. Diabetes Care44(1), 258-279.

Hodge, C., & Taylor, C. (2021). Vitamin A Deficiency. StatPearls [Internet].

Khan, M. A. B., Hashim, M. J., King, J. K., Govender, R. D., Mustafa, H., & Al Kaabi, J. (2020). Epidemiology of type 2 diabetes–global burden of disease and forecasted trends. Journal of epidemiology and global health10(1), 107. doi: 10.2991/jegh.k.191028.001

Kuhnlein, H. V., & Pelto, G. H. (n.d.). Culture, environment, and food to prevent Vitamin A deficiency. IDRC – International Development Research Centre.

Makaka, A., Johns, T., & Bukania, Z. (n.d.). Social/cultural challenges on vitamin A and iron status in infants and young children (IYC) in Machakos and Makueni Counties, Kenya.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, January 20). Type 2 diabetes – Symptoms and causes

Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). (2021, March 26). Vitamin A

Sami, W., Ansari, T., Butt, N. S., & Ab Hamid, M. R. (2017). Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. International journal of health sciences11(2), 65.

Tariku, A., Fekadu, A., Ferede, A. T., Abebe, S. M., & Adane, A. A. (2016). Vitamin-A deficiency and its determinants among preschool children: a community-based cross-sectional study in Ethiopia. BMC research notes9(1), 1-8. doi: 10.1186/s13104-016-2134-z

Trasino, S. E., & Gudas, L. J. (2015). Vitamin A: a missing link in diabetes?. Diabetes management (London, England)5(5), 359. doi: 10.2217/dmt.15.30

Unnikrishnan, R., Pradeepa, R., Joshi, S. R., & Mohan, V. (2017). Type 2 diabetes: demystifying the global epidemic. Diabetes66(6), 1432-1442.

Weill Cornell Medicine. (2015, January 15). Vitamin A deficiency may be involved in type 2 diabetes, researchers say

WHO. (n.d.). Vitamin A deficiency. WHO | World Health Organization.

Zheng, Y., Ley, S. H., & Hu, F. B. (2018). Global aetiology and epidemiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its complications. Nature Reviews Endocrinology14(2), 88-98.

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