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Are we overlooking widespread vitamin A deficiency in Australia?

By Daniel Roytas MHSc (Nut), BHSc (Nat), Dip. RM, MANTA

Could it be possible that widespread, subclinical vitamin A deficiency exists in the Australian population? According to the Australian Department of Health, vitamin A deficiency is thought to be rare1. However, the 2011-2012 Australian Health Survey found that 33% of males and 27% of females aged 14 - 18 years, and approximately 20% of individuals aged 19 – 50 years had inadequate intakes of vitamin A2. Note that the RDI for vitamin A is 900 µg/day for men and 700 µg/day for women3.

There are a number of recent case studies in the peer reviewed literature that have found severe ocular diseases in Australian children4 and adults5 arising from inadequate dietary vitamin A intake. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health found that 36.5% of children presenting to the Sydney Children’s Hospital with ocular disease had vitamin A deficiency6. Many of these cases are irreversible...

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