Vitamin A or Retinol is a fat soluble vitamin which helps in the vision and the formation of healthy skin and normal metabolism in the body. The deficiency of this vitamin can lead to night blindness or the complete loss of vision and dermal aberration or infection.
The Vitamin A test or the Retinol Test checks for the amount of Vitamin A, present in the blood.
The Vitamin A test is done so as to check for the abnormal concentration of the Vitamin A in the blood stream. The test checks for both deficiency and the surplus of the vitamin in the person’s body. The deficiency of Vitamin A is rare in the developed world but many developing countries have a higher number of children suffering from this deficiency.
The person who has to undergo the Retinol test or the Vitamin A test should observe a fast of four hours prior to the test. The first step in the Vitamin A test is the collection of the Blood sample through venipuncture either from the inner part of the elbow or the back of the hand. The area from which the blood is to be collected is first swabbed with an antiseptic and then the upper part of the punctured area is bound tightly with an elastic band so as to introduce pressure and to restrict the blood circulation. This helps in the collection of blood in the desired region and hence the blood sample can easily be obtained in the syringe.
The elastic band is removed immediately after the blood sample so that the circulation is regained. The sample is collected either into an air tight vial or into a syringe. The collection of the blood sample in case of children or infants is usually done onto a slide, a test strip or into a narrow pipette.
The sample hence obtained from the person is tested for the presence of Vitamin A and its concentration.
A value of 50- 200 micro gram of Vitamin A per Deciliter of the Blood signifies a normal concentration of the Vitamin in the person.
Any value above or below the normal concentration of the Vitamin A signifies hyper or Hypo Vitamin A concentration. The value below 50 mcg/dl means that there is a deficiency of the vitamin A and any value above the 200 mcg/dl means an excess of Vitamin A concentration (which is very rarely observed). The abnormal value may change slightly depending on each laboratory condition so it is better to refer to a doctor before coming up to a conclusion.
The deficiency of Vitamin A in children and grownups can lead to a number of conditions like aberration in the bones and teeth, Night blindness and loss of taste& hunger, skin rashes and hair loss. The deficiency may also be associated with dry eyes Malabsorption syndrome and under absorption of fatty acids from the intestine. The deficiency of Vitamin A may also be associated with frequent occurrence of infections.
The risks associated with the test are minimal but there are risks which are usually associated with blood sample collection. Some people may feel moderate pain while puncturing the vein to collect the sample and some may have a slight risk of infection when the skin is broken.
There are people who may feel dizzy or faint when the blood sample is collected. There are also cases where the blood cannot be collected easily due the differences in the vein diameter, in such cases multiple trials might be needed before obtaining the sample.
Vitamin A deficiency can be treated by different ways.
Oral consumption of Vitamin supplements or tablets can help to overcome the Vitamin A deficiency to a great extent.
Having food which in rich source of Vitamin A like Carrot, Spinach, Apricot, liver, Margarine fortified with Vitamin A, cheese, eggs etc. can also help. it has been found that animal source of Vitamin A helps a lot more than the plant source, in overcoming the deficiency, hence it is advisable to include more of non-vegetarian food items like liver, cod liver oil, eggs etc.
Fortifying the food item with Vitamin A can also help to boost the concentration of Vitamin A in the blood stream.