Sources & Benefits of Vitamin A

About Vitamin A

In today’s world we see that there are many night blindness patients, whom fill up hospital seats and about 20% of these sufferers do not survive the first year after surgery. The facts repeatedly authenticate the need for better medical services in the field of Vitamin A application. The aim of this article would be to illuminate the necessities of vitamin A, the requisite amount we need in a day, where to get it from and its types.

Vitamin A is usually called retinoid and is abundantly found in plant and animal sources. The vitamin A that is obtained from animals is called retinol, retinoic acid or retinal. Vitamin A that is obtained from animal protein is fat soluble. High levels of this type of vitamin A can become toxic and ultimately harmful for the body.

Vitamin A derived from plants is known as carotenoids and together with the retinols they work to build a strong and efficient body. Carotenoids are water soluble and are not as toxic when consumed in increased amounts as retinols are. Carotenoids may be taken in supplement form; and in which case they are called mixed carotenoids. A large number of carotenoids discovered have proved to be helpful in avoiding a number of diseases. Most of them have to be converted to the retinol form. Lycopene, an important carotenoid has shown to be increasingly effectual against prostate cancer.

Vitamin A is a pivotal panacea for improving such conditions as body immunity, growth, vision and reproductive health. Vitamin A is soluble in fat and plays a major role in alleviating bodily functions to maintain a healthier and fitter lifestyle. Inadequate amounts of vitamin A results in a lot of diseases which include loss of hair, acute problems in skin, dry eyes, cases of night blindness and decreased immunity, which makes one more prone to infections and problems. Deficiency of Vitamin A in our diets is a major cause of increased levels of night blindness in most underdeveloped or developing countries and has led to massive scales of malnutrition amongst children. This has led to the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) to mandate as much as 900 mcg of Vitamin A in diets. This is rigorously followed in countries, such as USA and Canada. Given below is a comprehensive list of sources of Vitamin A which can to a large extent augment our immunity functions giving rise to a healthier lifestyle amongst individuals.

Sources of Vitamin A

Animal & Dairy Sources of Vitamin A: Also known as retinol, vitamin A is abundantly sourced in animal protein, such as fish and liver. Even dairy products, such as cheese and butter have rich sources of vitamin A. Fishes like cod, salmon, tuna and mackerel have vitamin A levels of about 25% to almost 150%. Egg yolk is also a sustainable source of vitamin A. It is an established fact that animal protein termed as retinol has comparatively higher amounts of vitamin A than plant sources (carotenes).

Plant Sources of Vitamin A: Amongst plant sources, red and orange fruits and vegetables have maximum quantities of vitamin A. Sweet potato, carrots, kale, squash or butternut, dried apricots, cantaloupe, yogurt and soy milk are rich sources of vitamin A. Vitamin A is usually lost from food sources f it is stored for a long time and even during preparation or cooking. To prevent this from happening, it is advised that raw fruits and vegetables be used and consumed using cooking techniques like steaming, baking, braising or boiling. Frying results in a huge loss of vitamin A from food sources and should be avoided at all costs.

What Form Of Vitamin-A Is Utilised By Our Body?

Vitamin A has its biologically active form in the body in the form of retinol. Carotenes, which are another form of vitamin A, have to be converted to retinols before they could be utilized by the body. Retinol is instrumental in improving eyesight to a massive extent by creating light sensor molecules in the retina area of the human eye. When retinol is converted into its acid form-retinoic acid, it plays a major role in gene multiplicity and mutation by switching the genes on and off by cell differentiation creating a plethora of metabolic pathways. Not all carotenes can be converted; however, into its counterpart retinol. Study shows that only about 10% of the 600 discovered carotenes can be converted. These carotenes, known as pro-vitamin A, perform a lot of dietary functions in the body by behaving as a powerful antioxidant. The three most common forms of pro-vitamin A are beta carotene, alpha carotene and beta cryptoxanthin that help in the above mentioned process. Reading the nutrition labels while buying food in grocery stores could give one a correct estimate about quantities of vitamin A in the diet.

Benefits of Vitamin A

Eyesight Benefits of Vitamin A: As mentioned above, vitamin A is instrumental in developing good eyesight by creating newer pigments for the retina of the eye. Vitamin A also increases night vision and almost all the sight functions. A study conducted by the national eye institute discovered that antioxidants, such as vitamin A followed by zinc may reduce cases of macular degeneration that is seen in old age by about 25 %. This macular degeneration, which accompanies old age, is also one of the leading causes for loss of eye sight amongst old people.

Skin Benefits of Vitamin A: Vitamin A also improves skin health massively. Skin conditions, such as acne and pimples along with rashes are largely cured by the presence of tretonin. Tretonin also known as Retin-A works by proliferation of skin cells. Newer cells grow and replace drier skin faster giving rise to brighter and more youthful skin.

Development of Immune System & Other Benefits of Vitamin A:

Formation and development of teeth, bones, soft tissues, immune system, white blood cells and mucus membranes are also facilitated by levels of vitamin A in our body. Intake of vitamin A increases the antioxidant levels in the body. This prevents cancer and a general study has indicated the consumption of more red and orange vegetables have resulted in lesser cases of cancer.

Conclusion

Vitamin A is imperative for healthy and salubrious sustenance of an individual. Neglect in diet and food charts have resulted in rampant cases of night blindness all across the world. Although these cases are rare in developed countries, such as America or Canada, it is most acute in the under developed nations of South East Asia. A joint effort with the national medical institutes is necessary to completely eradicate deficiency of vitamin A across the world. It is also incumbent on individuals to be aware of the negativities of the diseases that follow due to deficiency of vitamin A and follow diet rules accordingly. By following a strict rigorous diet that has all the necessary vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and minerals, we can ensure a generation of able bodied healthy individuals. It is also advised that individuals suffering from the occurrence of diseases brought about by the deficiency of vitamin A in diet, first consult a physician who can rightly prescribe all the necessary supplements before undertaking any step. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following a strict and balanced diet and by engaging in physical activities like exercise and meditation, we can rise to be healthy stalwarts of the generation.

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