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Vitamin A blood test

The vitamin A test measures the level of vitamin A in the blood.

How the Test is Performed

How to Prepare for the Test

Follow your health care provider's instructions about not eating or drinking anything for up to 24 hours before the test.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterwards, there may be some throbbing or slight bruising. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to check if you have too much or too little vitamin A in your blood. (These conditions are uncommon in the United States.)

Normal Results

Normal values range from 50 to 200 mcg/dL.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A lower than normal value means you do not have enough vitamin A in your blood. This may cause:

  • Bone or teeth problems in young children
  • Dry or inflamed eyes
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night blindness
  • Recurring infections
  • Skin rashes

Vitamin A deficiency may occur if your body has trouble absorbing fats through the digestive tract. This may occur if you have:

  • Chronic lung disease called cystic fibrosis
  • Pancreas problems, such as swelling and inflammation (pancreatitis) or the organ not producing enough enzymes (pancreatic insufficiency)
  • Small intestine disorder called celiac disease

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Alternative Names

Retinol test

Images

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Vitamin A (retinol) - serum. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:1175-1177.

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.

Update Date 11/1/2015

Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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