How’s your night vision these days? Your ability to see in the dark will be the first thing to go. Next you may notice a painful sensitivity to bright lights and an unusual fatigue after looking at a computer screen for several hours. All of these symptoms are markers of one simple deficiency.
“Both day vision and night vision require vitamin A, but night vision depends on the vitamin-A mechanism entirely; therefore a subtle vitamin-A deficiency first causes difficulty in seeing in the dark… Tests have shown that persons having auto accidents at night are pathologically deficient in this vitamin… Such a person is sensitive to bright light during the day and feels more comfortable wearing dark glasses… People who work in bright light, which destroys vitamin A quickly, or dim light, which requires night vision entirely, use relatively more vitamin A than do persons working in moderate light.” – Adelle Davis, Let’s Eat Right to Stay Fit
Vision is not the only thing affected by vitamin A deficiency. This nutrient is also vital to the skin, immune system, bones, digestion, reproduction, lactation, and the formation of blood. A lack of this vital vitamin can result in the following symptoms:
- Deterioration of night vision and sensitivity to bright lights
- Eye fatigue after looking at electronic screens
- Inflamed, burning, or itching around the eyes, along with sties and corneal ulcers
- Dry, rough skin
- Pimples and rashes
- Susceptibility to bacterial infections
On a positive note, most of the symptoms listed above may be resolved fairly quickly by increasing your intake of vitamin A. It is not difficult to find in common foods. One trick is to look for fruits and vegetables that are yellow, orange, or bright green. Here’s a more comprehensive list of foods containing vitamin A, or substances which can be converted to vitamin A:
- Organ meats such as liver or kidneys
- Butter from grass fed cows
- Egg yolks
- Fish eggs
- Cod Liver Oil
- Chard, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens
- String beans
- Yellow squash
- Sweet potatoes
Adelle Davis reminds us that all sources are not created equal, however. By the time many foods arrive at a mainstream grocery store, they may already be several weeks old. Growing, harvesting, processing, and cooking practices may also affect how nutrient-dense your food is.
“Vegetables analyzed in a laboratory perhaps grew on excellent soil and received the optimum amount of rain and sunshine; possibly they contained a hundred times more vitamin A than those grown under less ideal conditions. Carrots, for example, have been analyzed which contain no carotene whatsoever. Losses of the vitamin occur during shipping, storage, freezing, canning, and cooking.” – Adelle Davis, Let’s Eat Right to Stay Fit
Whenever possible, it is ideal to source food products that are as fresh as possible, locally grown and harvested using healthy, organic farming practices.
Additionally, it’s important to note that not everyone can rely on plant foods for Vitamin A. Certain deficiencies, conditions, and environmental factors, can inhibit a person’s ability to make vitamin A from plant sources. Animal foods, such as organ meats, butter, egg yolks, and shellfish, are considered to be more reliable sources.
Balance is Key
While you may be planning to buy a few more carrots on your next shopping trip, remember that vitamin A alone is not enough. Absorption of vitamin A is dependent on a healthy balance of fats, vitamin E, and the macronutrient choline. Without a balanced and complete diet, few nutrients can be properly absorbed and used by the body. Look over this list of dietary guidelines from the Weston A. Price Foundation for an idea of where to start.
Read more recommendations from renowned nutritionist Adelle Davis on the Living Clean blog: