Parallel Problems: Measles Infection & Vitamin A Deficiency

With a local case of measles reported in Port Angeles, Washington, it gives me reason to make myself more informed as to what measles is so I can recognize it, and what options there are for taking preventative measures to boost my immune system.

I recognize that for all the illnesses I hear about in the news I do not always have an understanding of the signs, symptoms, remedies, or even the basic chemistry of how the illness operates in the human body. Once I start to learn those things then I realize what the real fear is -- the unknown.

The fear of the unknown easily creates feelings of anxiety and helplessness, at least for myself; the good thing is that I recognize this. Sometimes news sources include anxiety-relieving information along with a fear-inducing story, but often not. Why? Because nobody can do everything, including news reporters, but everybody can do something, including taking on the responsibility to research what I do not know when I recognize I do not know something. 

Anyone else remember life before the Internet and only being able to find reference materials in a library? I do. That is why I cannot get over the awesomeness of having search engines available 24 hours a day to research answers to my inquiries. I do not have to wait for a library to open; I can search out answers and do my own analysis of what I accept or reject all from the comfort of home. Such awesomeness makes my toes tingle.

So, instead of fearing the unknown when it comes to measles, I searched the Internet and read through select pages of information to gain more knowledge about the virus. Not only did it put my anxieties at ease but I learned new information regarding preventative care:

  • Dr. Andrew Weil, MD: Measles, symptoms, causes, conventional treatments, what Dr. Weil recommends, MMR vaccine guidelines, vaccine side effects.
  • Kate Birch, RSHom(NA), CCH, CMT: Homeopathy and the treatment and prevention of measles, signs and symptoms, approaches for prevention and treatments, measles prevention schedule.  
  • World Health Organization: Measles, key facts, signs and symptoms, who is at risk, transmission, treatment, prevention, response.

All three links have helpful information regarding measles. I prefer the Dr. Weil link the most as he covers the pros and cons of vaccines along with reference sources. As well, his mention of vitamin A deficiency has exposed me to learning more about the importance of vitamin A when it comes to immunity wellness to combat measles. 

So, with the help of the Internet I found even more resources to expand my understanding of measles and vitamin A. All links are included below to help others learn about the importance of vitamin A, its relation to measles, and what food sources contain vitamin A. This is medical/nutritional information, not advice;  always consult with trained experts.
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Vitamin A and Measles
by Dr. Clive E. West, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Nutrition Reviews, February 2000, Vol. 58, No. 2
Medical paper with studies, charts, and footnoted references

Here are a few standout sentences that caught my attention
in regards to vitamin A deficiency and measles:
  • The high impact of the disease [measles] can be attributed to poor nutrition status, particularly with respect to vitamin A. 
  • In developing countries where vitamin A deficiency is widespread, WHO and UNICEF recommend that children with measles be given a massive dose of vitamin A.
  • It is therefore important to provide children who develop measles with vitamin A upon the first contact and on the subsequent day.
  • Measles infection was shown to compromise nutrition status and vice versa. The nutrient that appears to play the most important role in this respect is vitamin A.
  • Therefore, measles infection and vitamin A deficiency need to be considered parallel problems. 
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More Helpful Vitamin A Resources:
  • Bembu: 26 Foods High in Vitamin A for Healthy Eyes
    • 'A diet rich in Vitamin A can prevent nighttime blindness, eye inflammation, and dry eyes.'
  • HealthAliciousNess: Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin A
    • 'Vitamin A i[s] a fat soluble vitamin, and therefore, needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption.'
  • MedLinePlus: Vitamin A function, food sources, side effects, recommendations, alternative names, references.
    • 'If you don't get enough vitamin A, you are more likely to get infectious diseases and vision problems.' 
  • Merck Manuals: Vitamin A deficiency and toxicity; etiology, symptoms and signs, diagnosis, prevention, treatment.
    • 'Primary vitamin A deficiency is usually caused by prolonged dietary deprivation.'
  • True Vitamin A Foods: Why You Won't Get Vitamin A From Carrots; retinoids vs. carotenoids, deficiency and toxicity, pair vitamin A with vitamin D foods.
    • 'Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, we can neither consume adequate vitamin A or absorb this vitamin A if we are on a low fat diet. (Period.)'
  • WebMD: Keratomalacia 
    • 'Although rare in developed countries, vitamin A deficiency and keratomalacia may occur secondary to conditions associated with impaired absorption, storage, or transport of vitamin A, such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, liver disease, or intestinal bypass surgery and any condition that affects absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.'
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