vitamin A Deficiency
The opposite of the rare situation of a vitamin A overdose
, is the vitamin A deficiency
which affects up to 230 million people (mostly children) in over 75 countries. The main effect is irreversible damage
to the eye
s, and it even may result in blindness
. People with the deficiency do have little white spots in the iris
of the eye; at first blocking only that part of their sight.
Check the WHO website at http://www.who.int/vaccines-diseases/diseases/vitamin_a.htm (or http://www.micronutrient.org/publications/vadkey.shtml) for more information and their plans how to combat the deficiency. Besides providing dietary supplement
s and "hitch hiking" with large scale immunization
programs, there are ongoing projects to stimulate consumption
of vitamin A-rich foods. An additional positive effect of the last mentioned approach is, that it stimulates the regional agri-business and is more sustainable than keeping on providing supplements. An example is the use of sweet potato
(camote in spanish; another good source of beta-carotene
, the precursor
of vitamin A) in weaning food, which has been invesitgated at the CIP (www.cipotato.org).