Functions of Vitamin A: Benefits | Deficiency | ‎Dosage | Food Sources |‎

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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]Functions of Vitamin A: Benefits | Deficiency | Dosage | Food Sources |

Vitamin A is a vital nutrient required for human growth and development. It is essential for vision, cell differentiation, reproduction, and immune function.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays an important role in your body.

It is found naturally in the food you eat and can also be consumed through dietary supplements.

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the ‘United States. If it happens, it could lead to eye problems, including night blindness.

This article describes the role of vitamin A, including its benefits, food sources, and effects of deficiency and toxicity.

What is Vitamin A?

Although vitamin A is often considered a single nutrient, it is the name of a group of fat-soluble compounds, including retinal, retinol, and retinyl esters.

Vitamin A forms – There are two types of vitamin A found in food.

  1. Preformed Vitamin A: retinol and retinyl esters are only found in animal products, such as dairy products, fish, and liver.
  2. Pro-vitamin A: carotenoids are high in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and oils.

To use them, your body must convert both forms of vitamin A into retinal acid and retinoic acid, the active forms of the vitamin.

Since vitamin A is fat-soluble, it is stored in human tissues for later use.

What’s the Role of Vitamin A in Your Body?

Functions of vitamin A in your body: Vitamin A is a crucial nutrient for your health and supports cell growth, immune function, fetal development, and vision.

  • One of the well-known functions of vitamin A is its role in eye health and vision. It also helps protect and preserve the cornea (the outer layer of the eye), and the conjunctiva.
  • Vitamin A helps also help maintain surface tissues such as the skin, lungs, intestine, bladder, and inner ear.
  • It supports your immune function by enhancing the growth and distribution of T-cells, which are a type of white blood cell that protects your body from infection.
  • In addition, vitamin A supports healthy skin cells, male and female reproduction, and fetal development.

What are the Important Health Benefits of Vitamin ‎A‎

What are the Health Benefits of Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient required by the body and benefits your health in many ways.

  1. Vitamin A is a Powerful Antioxidant

Pro-vitamin A carotenoids (such as β-carotene, α-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin) are precursors of vitamin A and have antioxidant properties.

A diet rich in carotenoids is associated with a reduced risk of many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and lung cancer.

  1. Essential to Eye Health, & Prevents Macular Degeneration

Vitamin A is necessary for vision and eye health.

Adequate intake of vitamin A in the diet can prevent certain eye diseases, such as age-related-macular-degeneration (AMD).

Studies have shown that higher levels of β-carotene, α-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin in the blood could reduce your risk of AMD by up to 25 percent.

  1. Vitamin A Supports Bone Growth & Development

Adequate vitamin A intake is also essential for proper bone growth and development, and a deficiency of this vitamin results in poor bone health.

It is important for building strong and healthy bones. Both osteoblasts (bone-building cells) and osteoclasts (bone-breaking-down-cells) are affected by vitamin A.

According to research, people with low vitamin A levels in their blood have a higher risk of bone fractures than people with healthy levels.

  1. Vitamin A Can Prevent Certain Types of Cancer

Fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids can prevent certain types of cancer due to their antioxidant properties.

The research suggested that smokers with the highest blood levels of α-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin had a 46% to 61% lower risk of dying from lung cancer than non-smokers.

Additionally, test-tube studies show that retinoids can inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells, such as breast, bladder, and ovarian cancer.

  1. Vitamin A is Essential for Fertility and Fetal development

Vitamin A is critical for both male and female reproduction as it plays an important role in developing egg and sperm cells.

It is essential for pregnant women and fetuses. It plays an important role in the health of the placenta, the development and maintenance of fetal tissue, and the fetus’s growth.

Therefore, Vitamin A is crucial for pregnancy, fetal health, and for those trying to conceive.

  1. Vitamin A Strengthen Your Immune System

Vitamin A affects immune health by stimulating responses that protect your body from diseases and infections.

It is involved in producing certain cells (including B-cells and T-cells), which play a central role in the immune response to prevent diseases.

The lack of this nutrient leads to increased levels of pro-inflammatory molecules, which reduces the response and function of the immune system.

  1. Vitamin A is Vital for Healthy Hair and Skin

Vitamin A is important for the growth of all body tissues including hair and skin.

It helps sebum production, an oil that maintains the moisture content of the skin and hair which means it helps to effectively hydrate skin and hair, giving them a radiant glow.

Additionally, it helps fast healing, prevents breakouts, and supports the skin’s immune system. It also promotes and maintains a healthy dermis and epidermis; the top two layers of your skin.

What is Vitamin A Deficiency: Signs and Symptoms?

What is Vitamin A Deficiency Signs and ‎Symptoms‎Although vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries like the United States, it is very common in developing countries.

Almost 44-50 percent of pre-school-aged children have vitamin A deficiency. Its deficiency can lead to serious health complications.

  • Blindness: According to the WHO, vitamin A deficiency is the prominent cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide.
  • Diarrhea & Measles: Vitamin A deficiency also increases the severity and risk of dying from infections such as diarrhea and measles.
  • Unhealthy Pregnancy: Vitamin A deficiency increases the risk of anemia and death in pregnant women while negatively affecting the fetus’s health by slowing down growth and development.
  • Skin Problems: Some symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include skin problems such as acne and hyperkeratosis.
  • Cystic Fibrosis: Certain populations in developing countries, such as premature babies, people with cystic fibrosis, pregnant or breastfeeding women, are more at risk of vitamin A deficiency.

How is Vitamin A deficiency diagnosed?

Vitamin A deficiency is diagnosed with an eye exam and a review of your medical history. A blood test can measure the amount of vitamin A in your blood.

What are the Best Food Sources of Vitamin A

The American-Heart Association recommends getting antioxidants (beta-carotene), by eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains instead of supplements.

There are many food sources of both preformed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A.

Foods High in Preformed Vitamin AFoods High in Pro-Vitamin A   (β-carotene)
ButterCarrots
Egg yolksPumpkin
LiverwurstSweet potatoes
Beef liverSpinach
Chicken liverCabbage
Cod liver oilButternut squash
Liver sausageDandelion greens
Cheddar cheeseRed peppers
King mackerelSwiss chard
SalmonParsely
TroutCollard greens

Note: Preformed vitamin A is more readily absorbed and utilized by the body than plant sources of pro-vitamin A – carotenoids.

best food sources of Vitamin A

What’s the Recommended Intake of Vitamin A?

It’s suggested that women should get 700 mcg, men 900 mcg, children and adolescents 300-600 mcg of vitamin A per day.

The National-Health-&-Nutrition-Examination Survey found that the average American individual, aged 2 years or older, takes 607 mcg of vitamin A per day.

Note: Most people in the United States get enough vitamin A from their food, and vitamin A deficiency is rare.

Vitamin A Toxicity and Dosage Recommendations

Just as vitamin A deficiency can adversely affect your health, getting excessive vitamin A intake can also be dangerous.

The most common side effects of chronic vitamin A toxicity commonly referred to as hypervitaminosis, include:

 
Vision disturbancesJoint and bone pain
Poor appetiteNausea and vomiting
Sunlight sensitivityHeadache
Hair lossDry skin
Liver damageJaundice
Delayed growthDecreased appetite
ConfusionItchy skin

Functions of Vitamin A – Takeaway

Vitamin A is vital to many important processes in your body.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient crucial for eye health, immune function, reproduction, and fetal development.

Both deficiency and excessive intake can have a negative impact on your health.

A healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to provide your body with a safe amount of this essential nutrient.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]
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