Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
SOUZA, Walnéia Aparecida de and VILAS BOAS, Olinda Maria Gomes da Costa. Vitamin A deficiency in Brazil: an overview. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2002, vol.12, n.3, pp. 173-179. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892002000900005.
Prolonged vitamin A deficiency may cause a severe disorder, hypovitaminosis A, that in turn may result in xerophthalmia and blindness. Although preventable, hypovitaminosis A is still a public health problem in many developing countries. This article presents an overview of the information available about vitamin A deficiency in the world and especially in Brazil. The piece also discusses the social impact of hypovitaminosis A, which is an important determinant of morbidity and mortality among children, and the relevance of prevention in the fight against this disorder. Although some studies have been done in Brazil, the information concerning vitamin A deficiency is not sufficient to determine the magnitude and severity of hypovitaminosis A on a national level, especially due to the small size of the samples studied and to the dearth of clinical and biochemical studies, which often present contradictory results. Nevertheless, it is clear that the intake of vitamin A is below recommended levels among the poor and that most children do not consume the amount recommended by the World Health Organization. In part, this could be remedied by educating people on foods that are rich in vitamin A and by correcting their attitudes toward certain dietary taboos. As part of this effort, schools play a major role in the prevention of vitamin A deficiency, among both students and the broader community.
Keywords : Vitamina A; deficiência de vitamina A; educação em saúde.