Health

Why is vitamin A important to a child’s development? – VnExpress


Children from 6 months to 5 years old are supplemented with high doses of vitamin A to avoid the risk of vision diseases and immunodeficiency.

According to pharmacist Hoang Trong Tin, Deputy Director of Pharmacy Department, Tam Anh General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, vitamin A is an oil-soluble vitamin, a group of vitamins with the function of regulating protein synthesis, protecting eyes, preventing night blindness. dry eye diseases. Vitamin A also ensures the normal development of the skeleton, teeth, and protects the integrity of epithelial cells, mucous membranes and skin. In addition, nutrients also play a role in growth, strengthening the body’s immunity against bacterial and viral infections.

How much vitamin A is enough?

Vitamin A is an important and necessary micronutrient for the body. The need for vitamin A for the body varies depending on age and subjects, calculated by the activity of vitamin A, expressed as retinol active equivalent (RAE).

Age

Vitamin A requirement

Daily (RAE)

0-6 months

400 mcg

7-12 months

500 mcg

1-3 years old

300 mcg

4-8 years old

400 mcg

Over 8 years old

600-900 mcg

Breastfeeding Women

1200-1300 mcg

Postpartum women and children 6 months to 5 years of age at risk for vitamin A deficiency should receive a preventive dose every 6 months as follows:

Subject

Dosage (IU)

Children

Under 6 months old, not breastfed

50,000 units

From 6 to under 12 months old

100,000 units

Over 12 months old

200,000 units

Mothers after giving birth, breast-feeding babies

Within 1-2 months after giving birth

200,000 units

How to give children safe vitamin A?

According to pharmacist Hoang Trong Tin, a high dose vitamin A supplement for children must be in the right dose and in the right way. When giving vitamin A to children, parents should note:

For children 6-12 months old: hold the capsule with index finger and thumb, use scissors to cut the tip of the capsule, squeeze the number of drops in a capsule. Parents give children 3-4 drops of vitamin A (half a tablet), then give them a spoonful of dessert water.

For children 12-23 months old: hold the capsule with your index finger and thumb, use scissors to cut the tip of the capsule, squeeze all the vitamin A juice into the child’s mouth, then give the child a spoonful of dessert water.

For children over 24 months old: chew or swallow vitamin A capsules and give them water to drink.

Parents who bring their children to take vitamin A should note that, although Vitamin A is very safe, parents should also monitor the health of the child after taking the supplement within 2 days to handle if there are any unwanted effects. .

According to pharmacist Hoang Trong Tin, some unwanted effects that may occur when children take vitamin A are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, slightly bulging fontanel, headache, swelling, itchy skin, swelling of the face or lips. , allergy. These symptoms only last for 1-2 days after supplementing with vitamin A, possibly because the child is too sensitive to the drug, not to a state of poisoning and is not dangerous to the child.

Do not abuse vitamin A

Pharmacist Hoang Trong Tin said that arbitrarily supplementing with vitamin A too much will cause many consequences, poisoning, liver damage, and even death.

Specifically, adults if taking high doses of vitamins over 1,500,000 units per day, children over 300,000 units per day will be at risk of acute poisoning 4-6 hours after taking the drug. In case of high dose over 100,000 units per day continuously for 10-15 days, there is a risk of chronic poisoning with typical symptoms of diarrhea, hepatomegaly, skin discoloration, hypercalcemia, edema. Children with poisoning are at risk of increased intracranial pressure, tinnitus…

Prolonged use of vitamin A can damage the liver and even lead to cirrhosis. Drinkers are at risk of liver damage when drinking 15,000 – 40,000 units per day for a year, if using higher doses, it only takes a few months to become toxic.

Normally, vitamin A is found in breast milk, especially colostrum. Therefore, within the first 6 months of life, breastfed babies do not need this vitamin supplement at all. In addition, vitamin A is found in foods such as liver, meat, fish, eggs, milk, green, yellow, and red vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, papaya, gac fruit, amaranth. .. contains many provitamin A carotenoids (mainly beta carotene).

Although vitamin A plays a very important role in the body, it is not allowed to use vitamin A arbitrarily. If a child is suspected of having a vitamin A deficiency, parents need to see a specialist to determine the appropriate dose of supplement.

According to the data of the 2020 Nutrition Census, the status of micronutrient deficiencies in Vietnam has improved, especially in two subjects: mothers and children. The rate of vitamin A deficiency among children aged 6 to 59 months across the country decreased to 9.5%. This rate is highest in the Northern mountainous region (nearly 14%) and the Central Highlands (11%). The prevalence of preclinical vitamin A deficiency in children 5 to 9 years of age was 4.9%, which is mild in terms of public health significance as assessed by WHO. This is the result of a campaign to supplement vitamin A capsules twice a year for children of the drinking age.

On June 1-2 every year, millions of children under the age of 5 receive high-dose vitamin A supplements at commune health centers across the country.

Tue Diem

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