Low Vitamin A Levels Linked to Childhood Health Issues

First Posted: Feb 07, 2014 03:27 PM EST

 A recent study shows that children who maintain a diet high in vitamin A are less likely to suffer from gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses.

"Studies of older children have included a range of micronutrients administered together, but no study had estimated the potential role of vitamin A alone in this age group," said Dr. Eduardo Villamor, U-M associate professor of epidemiology and senior author of the study, according to Medical Xpress.

For the study, researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Michigan State University studied 2,800 children between five and 12-years-old for a year in Bogota, Colombia. The team then measured the children's levels of zinc, folate, iron, Vitamin B12 and vitamin A.

Findings showed that children with lower levels of vitamin A typically had more issues with vomiting and diarrhea, as well as cough and fever.

"The association we found with vitamin A followed a dose-response pattern, in that higher blood concentrations of retinol were related to fewer symptoms," Villamor said, via the news organization. 

The study showed that for every 10 micrograms per deciliter of retinol detected in the blood, there was a reduction of 18 days accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting. There was also a 10 percent reduction for cover and fever, with less than six percent of children requiring doctor's

"The effects of micronutrients, including retinol, could vary in different settings due to the underlying nutritional status of the population, the epidemiologic patterns of the microorganisms that cause illness-whether viral, bacterial or parasitic-the age and possibly sex of children, and other factors. It's definitely uncertain whether supplementation is a one-fits-all solution," Villamor concluded. 

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More information regarding the study can be found via the Journal of Nutrition.

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