Worldwide, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Not having enough vitamin A also increases the risk of disease and death from common childhood infections like diarrheal disease and measles.
While rarely seen in the U.S., vitamin A deficiency is a major public health problem in more than half of all countries – especially those in Africa and Southeast Asia. Pregnant women in low-income countries are also greatly affected by vitamin A deficiency, increasing their risk of disease and death.
The numbers are staggering.
The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient, and it’s likely that in vitamin A deficient areas, a large portion of pregnant women are vitamin A deficient as well. Between 250,000 and 500,000 vitamin A deficient children become blind every year, with half dying within 12 months of losing their sight.
Why isn’t vitamin A deficiency a problem in the U.S.?
Here in the U.S. we meet our needs for vitamin A through fruits, vegetables (like carrots and sweet potatoes) and animal sources, vitamin supplements, and food that has been fortified with vitamin A. Commonly fortified foods include milk, sugar, cereals, margarine and cooking oils.
Combating Vitamin A deficiency.
One high-strength vitamin A capsule every six months can help protect a child from the death and disease associated with vitamin A deficiency. Breastfeeding also protects babies from vitamin A deficiency. Eating vitamin A fortified foods is yet another solution.
What is Walgreens doing?
Walgreens and Vitamin Angels have partnered up in an ongoing initiative to get vitamin A to more than 10 million children in the U.S. and abroad. By purchasing select vitamin and supplements at Walgreens, you’ll generate a 25-cent donation with each purchase to Vitamin Angels – enough to reach one child for one year with Vitamin A.
To learn more about Vitamin Angels and this worthwhile cause, you can visit vitaminangels.org/why-vitamins.
Be well, stay well ~