Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is a fat-soluble vitamin that ensures the proper metabolism of epithelial cells, thereby contributing to the health of the skin, hair and nails. It also plays an important role in immune processes, the proper development of bones, thus growth, and the function of the light receptors in the eye, and therefore directly in the quality of vision.
The body can meet a significant part of its vitamin A needs by converting the precursor of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and processing retinol in meat. Beta-carotene is present in large amounts in brightly coloured vegetables and fruits (e.g. carrots, apricots, spinach), and retinol can be ingested by consuming animal offal (e.g. liver, kidney) and various dairy products.
What does the test show?
The test measures the level of retinol in the blood, which shows whether there is a deficiency or an overdose.
In which cases is it recommended to perform the test?
Laboratory testing of vitamin A levels in the body is primarily recommended if symptoms suggest an abnormal deficiency of vitamin A or its accumulation as a result of dietary supplements. It is also recommended to check the level of vitamin A in the body from time to time for certain diseases with malabsorption (celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis).
The following symptoms may indicate a vitamin deficiency:
- nyctalopia (night-blindness)
- corneal damage,
- grey spots on the surface of the eye
- dry, desquamative, or thickened skin
- broken hair and thinning nails
- common infections
Excessive intake of vitamin A can be indicated by various toxic symptoms:
- nausea, vomiting
- peeling skin, hair loss
- double or blurred vision
- joint pain
What sample is needed for the test?
A blood sample taken from a vein is needed to perform the test.
Having an empty stomach is required for sampling and alcohol consumption should be avoided for 24 hours prior to the blood count.
What can the result indicate?
A value of Vitamin A within the normal range means that there is enough Vitamin A in the body for cells to function.
If the measured value is below the normal range, there is a vitamin A deficiency.
If the value obtained is higher than the normal range, the amount of vitamin A exceeds the amount that the body can store. Vitamin A circulating in the bloodstream can build up in tissues and cause poisoning.
What to do after the test?
The result obtained does not constitute a diagnosis, therefore always consult your doctor or the specialist who ordered the examination to establish the diagnosis and determine the necessary treatment.