Vitamin A: The Warrior Against Measles

Measles, a highly contagious sometimes fatal infection characterized by fever, malaise, cough, conjunctivitis and rash, has been a growing concern in our developed country. In recent months, there have been outbreaks of the disease in the New York area. In 2018, New York and New Jersey accounted for more than half of the measles outbreaks in the United States. The virus can live in the air up to two hours where it has been sneezed or coughed. The treatment and control of this disease has been growing ever important in this anti-vaccination movement.

So, what is the deal with Vitamin A and Measles? Along with antiviral medication, vitamin A (also known as retinol) plays a critical role in preventing morbidity and mortality of this disease. Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body as well as supports the immune response. In one study done on 114 pediatric patients, decreased serum levels of vitamin A was associated with increased illness severity. Think of vitamin A as a solider that gathers its troops for battle. It is, therefore, important to maintain therapeutic levels of Vitamin A to stop the progression of the disease, enhance recovery and post-measles complications.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and WHO recommend that vitamin A be administered to all children diagnosed with acute measles, but there is no harm in making sure that your child is has Vitamin A protection on board with a good balanced diet. Some foods that are rich in Vitamin A are carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, and cantaloupe. If you happen to have a picky youngster check out a more thorough list of foods rich in Vitamin A from the NIH or just skip the regular fries and opt for sweet potato fries at your next dinner.

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