VITAMIN A: DIETARY FACTS, SOURCES, HEALTH BENEFITS, AND PRECAUTIONS

VITAMIN A-min

Vitamin A is among the different types of vitamins there are. It is important for good vision, among many other health benefits.

Vitamin A, also called retinol, is a micronutrient and a fat-soluble compound responsible for good vision, healthy immune response, and reproduction. Besides, it is critical for strong bones and visual adaptability in the dark. It has many sources of vitamin A. For instance, it is found in plants in beta-carotene form, later converted in the liver to its active form and used in the body. However, it gets depleted when one is sick or is fighting an infection. Peer into this article and learn various facts about Vitamin A.

 Health benefits of vitamin A

Vitamin A plays many roles in the body, and some are outlined below;

·         Improves eyesight

Vitamin A helps form pigments that enable one to differentiate colors, thereby improving and maintaining vision at night or in dim light. Its lack might lead to complete blindness in the dark or difficulty adjusting to dim light. Moreover, it helps protect the eye’s cornea and minimizes cataracts’ growth, which would cause blurry vision. Vitamin A also combines with other nutrients like zinc to form an antioxidant that prevents the eye from other diseases and vision loss in old age.

·         Boosts your immune system

Epithelial and mucoid tissues surround several body organs where theydefend theorgans against pathogens. Vitamin A is required to grow, maintain, and strengthen these tissues for a stronger immune system.In addition, it has antioxidant properties that mayprotect the cells during oxidation processes when free radicals accumulate in the body. This is critical since continuous cell damage increases the risk ofdiseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart diseases.

·         Treats acne 

Retinol is a major treatment or one of the ingredients in the products that treat mild acne. It acts as an exfoliator, removing the dead skin cells in the skin, and promotes new cells’ growth.However, excess vitamin A on the skin might lead to itchiness or skin dryness. To prevent this, you should:

  • Apply a thin layer of retinol gel
  • Use a gentle moisturizer
  • Apply the retinol gel daily for the first four weeks
  • Apply sunscreen before going to the sun to prevent sunburns.
  • It helps maintaina healthy pregnancy.

Taking vitamin A during pregnancy will help in fetal development, which is why people take it as a prenatal supplement. For instance, it will help in the lung functioning of the child during and after pregnancy. For best results and dosage safety, themother should ask the doctor about the dosage.

How will you know that you are Vitamin A deficient or have excess vitamin A?

Hypovitaminosis A, a deficiency of vitamin A in the body, is a form of micronutrient malnutrition in which a person suffers from retinol deficiency.Contrastingly, consuming more foods with vitamin A may be harmful to the consumer when hypervitaminosis results.The following are signs and symptoms of;

a. Hypovitaminosis A

One is likely to experience:

  • Infertility
  • Poor wound healing
  • Acne breakouts and skin breakouts
  • Dry eyes
  • Night blindness
  • Growth retardation

Hypervitaminosis A

  • Bone swellings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blurry vision
  • Hair loss
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal pains

Sources of vitamin A

There are two types of vitamin A: Preformed Vitamin A found in the animal products like fish, poultry, and dairy products, and Provitamin A from plant sources like vegetables and fruits.

Below are the major sources of Vitamin A:

  • Vegetables like broccoli, kales, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, collards, sweet red pepper, and carrots
  • Fruits such as mangoes, apricot, guava, passion fruits, nectarine grapefruits, watermelons, and papayas
  • Legumes like nuts, green peas, black-eyed peas, and kernels
  • Fish like salmon, tuna, Bluefin, herring, and mackerel
  • Liver, for example, turkey, chicken beef livers, and sausage livers.
  • Dairy products like cheese, whole milk, yogurt, and cream
  • Other sources are butter, eggs, cod olive oil, oatmeal, etc.

Vitamin A supplements 

Apart from the natural sources, you can find vitamin A in capsules, tablets,andliquids. The supplements usually come in the form of retinyl acerate, beta-Catone, or a mixture of vitamin A and provitamin A and are recommended to those deficient in vitamin A to take them alongside the natural sources. They help reduce the chances of one getting infections and increased mortality rates.However, it is critical to consult a doctor before taking the supplements.

What is the required dosage of vitamin A supplements? 

Since there is no information on the exact supplement dosage, youshould see a nutritionist to know the rightful dosage and the duration for taking the supplement, even before you start supplementing. The dosage usually depends on the age and the needs of an individual, with the recommended amount being 3000mcg for an adult. Remember thatyou are likely to add harmful toxins to your body when you take it in excess.

What are the precautions and side effects of the supplements?

  • Children and pregnant women: generally, infants should not be given vitamin A supplements.Besides, pregnant women should consult medics before taking them since an overdose may adversely affect the mother or the unborn baby.
  • Overdose: when taken in excess, one might experience nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, and sleepiness. You can also damage your liver.
  • Anticoagulant usage:if you are on anticoagulants, avoid taking high vitamin Adosagessince it could result in fatal bleeding. Youshould also consult adoctor if you want to take blood-thinning medications together with vitamin A supplements.
  • Vitamin A allergy: people who are hypersensitive toany vitamin A compounds are not supposed to take them. Instead, they should take natural sources of vitamin A. In addition, consulting a dietitian helps you know the required dosage to add to your diet.

Summary 

The fat-soluble vitamin A has numerous advantages to the body, including helping with good eyesight. Its deficiency and surplus have several effects on the body in the form of hypovitaminosis hypervitaminosis, respectively. Taking various vitamin A foods and a balanced diet with grains, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins helps keep the retinol level in the body sufficient.

Credits

We would like to thank the below contributors who have helped us to write this article:

KoalaEye

Julia Davis

Mental health expert MS, University of Latvia I am deeply convinced that each patient needs a unique, individual approach. Therefore, I use different psychotherapy methods in my work. During my studies, I discovered an in-depth interest in people as a whole and the belief in the inseparability of mind and body, and the importance of emotional health in physical health. In my spare time, I enjoy reading (a big fan of thrillers) and going on hikes.

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