In this article I will explain the benefits of Vitamin A and why you should make sure you are getting enough.
Most articles highlight that Vitamin A is good for your eyes, your immune system and your bone health – it offers so much more that though, as I will explain further down the article.
I will also provide where the food best sources of Vitamin A are and what is the ideal daily requirement.
Vitamin A is Powerful Antioxidant
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that also boasts powerful antioxidant capabilities.
It’s important for healthy skin and good eyesight and also plays a key role in disease prevention and bone health.
There are two primary forms of Vitamin A:
The body normally obtains retinol form animal-derived foods like meat and poultry.
Beta-carotene comes from colourful fruits and vegetables. Although the body can put retinol to use straight away, it has to convert beta-carotene to retinol before it can obtain the benefits.
There is a third form of Vitamin A. It’s called palmitate and it’s the type commonly used in capsules and pills.
A Look at Some Vitamin A Benefits
There is a wealth of research that shows antioxidants like Vitamin A and Vitamin C promote good health and help provide longevity. Nutrition experts recommend obtaining antioxidants from food rather than supplements.
This list is not conclusive, but Vitamin A supports:
- Eye health
- Radiant skin
- Immune function
- Bone health
- Tissue repair
Vitamin A also reduces cholesterol and may prevent urinary stones. Research suggests Vitamin A may have cancer-fighting capabilities as well.
Good Sources of Vitamin A
The best way to get more Vitamin A into your body is to start eating more Vitamin A-rich food.
Good sources include:
- Beef liver
- Red peppers
- Cod liver oil
- Sweet potatoes
- Fortified breakfast cereals
There are a lot of foods that contain Vitamin A, so eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is a good way to protect against deficiency.
The recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A is 900mcg for adult men and 700mcg for adult women.
During pregnancy, the RDA for a woman increases to 770mcg per day. Research suggests many pregnant women do not get enough.
What Happens if You Don’t Get Enough Vitamin A
Vitamin A is necessary for good health, but deficiency is common in more than half the countries of the world. Especially in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Lack of Vitamin A can lead to severe visual impairment. It can also cause blindness and significantly elevates the risk of serious illness.
Other common symptoms of a deficiency include:
- Dry lips
- Thick or scaly skin
- Stunted growth (children)
- Night blindness
- Impaired immune system
Vitamin A deficiency can also cause an unpleasant medical condition called Xerophthalmia, where the eyes become unable to produce tears.
What Happens If You Get Too Much
Although a lack of Vitamin A is bad for the health, getting too much is presents problems as well.
High doses are toxic. Such doses cause a condition called Hypervitaminosis A.
This kind of vitamin overload is more commonly associated with the use of supplements.
It’s rare to get Hypervitaminosis A just from eating food. However, pregnant mothers need to be especially cautious because it causes birth defects.
Other symptoms of Hypervitaminosis A can include:
- Blurred vision
- Bone pain
- Loss of appetite
- Liver damage
- Softening of the skull (Children)
Although vitamin supplements can be useful for promoting good health, it’s always preferable to meet your RDA by eating a healthy combination of foods.
Vitamin A can also interact unfavorably with some medications, including certain birth control pills.
Some studies show getting too much may lead to or worsen Vitamin D deficiency.
This is also an important consideration. The body needs Vitamin D and many people struggle to reach the RDA.
This can cause fatigue, depression, hair loss, impaired wound healing and a number of other undesirable consequences.
If you are worried you are not getting enough the best course of actions is to share your concerns with a doctor.
Rushing out and buying a supplement may not be the right answer for you. Your doctor will be the best person to advise on the best way to go.
There is no substitute for healthy living and a well-balanced diet.
By eating meals that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you will be feeding your body in the way nature intended.
Pills and other forms of food supplement do have a role to play in supporting good health, but they may not be the best option for you.
However, certain individuals are more likely to need extra help.
People who are trying to lose weight by using fat blocking products are a good example.
Supplements that work in this way can cause the body to become deficient in Vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins.
Using vitamin pills can be a very good way to prevent such dietary inadequacies from occurring. Your doctor will be the best person to ask for advice.
You can read about the other vitamins here: Read about Vitamin B
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