Vitamin A-Importance,Food Sources and Deficiency
It has been a while since I have written a post on a vitamin. So here it is!! Actually it is good to be aware of essential nutrients for your body and be able to identify a deficiency of any kind. This post exclusively aims at providing you with information on vitamin A. Vitamin A quickly brings two things to the mind carrots and eye health. Well, these are just a part of the picture of the large canvas of vitamin A. There is a lot more to it.
About vitamin A
Vitamin A actually is present in two different forms. The vitamin A that is sourced from animals is fat soluble. It is in the form of retinoids. The retinoids are bioavailable and is stored in our body’s tissues. Consuming too much vitamin A derived from animals can lead in a body build up and it can become toxic.
The vitamin A that is sourced from fruits and veggies is in the form of carotenoids. They need to be converted by the body into retinoids so that they can be used. Our body can make all the vitamin A it requires from carotenoids sourced from plants. Carotenoids are water soluble and there is no accumulation of them in the body.
Why do we need vitamin A?
Retinoids are known to play key roles in the following-
- The health of the immune system
- The health of the inflammatory system
- Skin health– It is prescribed for treating acne
- Gene transcription
- Development of bones
- Production of red blood cells
- Provides vision support
Carotenoids are essential for the following-
- To prevent deficiency of vitamin A in the body.
- They have anti cancer and anti aging properties in them.
- They promote the communication of cells.
- Carotenoids are known to be powerful antioxidants.
- They are essential for heart health
Food sources of vitamin A
The good animal sources of retinols are as follows:
- Cow’s milk
- Salmon, Sardines, Tuna, cod and halibut fishes
The natural sources of carotenoids are fruits and veggies that include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Bell peppers
Vitamin A deficiency
One of the earliest signs of the deficiency of this vitamin is night blindness. It can take a more ghastly form of permanent blindness if the deficiency is left unchecked.
Vitamin A deficiency can make infectious diseases like measles and pneumonia more severe. Lack of vitamin A reduces one’s immunity.
How to cure the deficiency of vitamin A
- Consumption of vitamin A supplements. (under medical supervision)
- Food fortification is one way to solve the problem of the deficiency of vitamin A. Cereal flours, milk and other foods can be enriched with vitamin A.
- Consuming a variety of vitamin A rich fruits and veggies and also animal sources.
Excess vitamin A consumption
Just like how excess of everything is bad even excess of vitamin A consumption is bad. Though in developing countries of south west Asia there is a deficiency of this vitamin but popping vitamin pills without the doctor’s consent is not advisable.
The recommended daily requirements according to gender are as under:
For men (14 years and above): 900 mcg/day
For women (14 years and above): 700 mcg/day
Pregnant women: 770 mcg/day
Lactating women: 1300 mcg/day
Hope you will make it a point to eat a varied diet with vitamin A rich foods!
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