Scientists at Newcastle University have found that nearly half of UK women may be suffering from vitamin A deficiency due to a genetic variation.
The study, led by Dr. Georg Lietz, showed that 47 percent of women had a genetic disorder that reduced their ability to produce an adequate amount of vitamin A from beta-carotene.
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, protects people from infections, helps maintain healthy skin and strengthens the immune system.
The study also found that those who were suffering from the genetic variation were not eating enough vitamin A rich foods, such as dairy products, to properly compensate and reach the optimum level of the vitamin that their body needs to function properly.
"Vitamin A is incredibly important," explained Lietz. "Particularly at this time of year when we are all trying to fight off the winter colds and flu."
Lietz added that younger women are at a higher risk than the older generations who tend to eat more foods rich in vitamin A.
The next step in the study is to see if there is a genetic variation in men that inhibits their ability to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin A from beta-carotene.