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Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is vital in the aid and supplement of human health. It is essential for many bodily functions in the body including maintaining healthy vision and ensuring the optimal workings of the immune system and organs. Foods containing vitamin A can be found in two forms: Retinol from animal-based food and Carotene from plant-based foods. Vitamin A has two forms: Retinol from animal-based foods and Carotenoids from plant-based foods.

  • Retinol

Retinol is also known as preformed Vitamin A and is the active form of the Vitamin. The human body can use these preformed vitamins just as it is. It is found in animal products like red meat, chicken, fish, and dairy are a rich source of vitamin A. They include the compounds retinal, retinol, and retinoic acid.

  • Carotene

Carotene or provitamin A carotenoid is the inactive form of the vitamin found in plants. This compound is converted to the active form in your body. Carotene can be found in yellow or orange fruits like papaya and orange or green leafy vegetables like spinach.

Benefits of Vitamin A

  • Protects from Night Blindness

Eating adequate amounts of vitamin A prevents the development of night blindness. The vitamin is needed to convert the light that hits your eye into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain. The first deficiency in vitamin A can be in the form of symptoms of night blindness, also known as Nyctalopia. The vitamin is a major component of the pigment Rhodopsin, which is found in the retina and is extremely sensitive to light. People with symptoms of Nyctalopia will still be able to see during the day, however, will suffer from reduced vision in the dark

  • Age-Related Decline of Eyesight

Eating the right amount of carotene may help slow the decline of eyesight that some people experience as they age. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness. Though its exact cause is unknown, it is thought to be the result of cellular damage of the retina attributable to oxidative stress.

  • Lowers Risk of Cancer

Adequate intake of vitamin A from whole plant foods may reduce your risk of certain cancers including Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as well as, Cervical, Lung, and Bladder cancer. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow or divide in an uncontrolled way. As vitamin A plays an important role in the growth and development of your cells, its influence on cancer risk and prevention has caught the interest of many in the scientific community. Numerous observational studies show that eating higher amounts of vitamin A in the form of carotenes has been linked to a decrease in some cancers. Evidence suggests that getting adequate vitamin A, especially from plants, is important for healthy cell division, thereby mitigating cancerous cells.

Supports Healthy Immune System

Having adequate vitamin A in your diet helps keep your immune system healthy and function at its best. Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining your body’s natural defences. This includes the mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, intestines, and genitals, which help trap bacteria and other infectious agents. The vitamin also plays a crucial role in the production and function and function of WBC (white blood cells), which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from the bloodstream. A deficiency in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and delay recovery.

Foods that Contain Vitamin A

Vitamin A can be found in meats like chicken, mutton, fish, and dairy products like milk and cheese. This form of vitamin A is known as retinol. Vitamin A can also be found in yellow or orange fruits like papayas, oranges, and pineapples. This form of vitamin A is known as carotenoids. Finally, a very good source of vitamin A is green leafy vegetables like spinach and cauliflower. This food rich in vitamin A is known as beta-carotene.

Research indicates that vitamin A, found in fruits and vegetables (carotene), may not be absorbed like the vitamins found in animal-based foods (retinol). In fact, for every microgram of retinol absorbed by the body, only 4%-50% per microgram μg of vitamin A is absorbed from carotins. To put that into perspective, you’d have to eat more than 1.5kgs of carrots to obtain the same amount of vitamin A as 85 grams of red meat.

Here’s a quick glance of the Foods that contain Vitamin A

Food

Percent (Daily Value)

Micrograms (mcg) RAE per serving

Pan fried Beef liver (3 ounces)

731

6,582

Sweet potato baked in skin (1 whole)

156

1,403

Frozen or Boiled Spinach (½ cup)

64

573

Pumpkin pie (1 piece)

54

488

Raw Carrots (½ cup)

51

459

How Much Vitamin A Does Your Body Need?

The recommended amount of vitamin A to be consumed daily:

  • 700μg micrograms for women

  • 900μg micrograms for men

Note: The upper limit consumed daily should not exceed 3000μg for either gender.

For pregnant women existing WHO recommends a maximum dose of up to 10,000 IU per day. IU or International Unit is calculated in the following manner:

  • 1 IU = 0.3 micrograms μg of Retinol

  • 1 IU = 0.6 micrograms μg of Carotins

A single dose of a vitamin A supplement greater than 25,000 IU for either gender is not recommended and is considered unsafe.

To Wrap Up

The right dose of vitamin A plays a critical role in maintaining optimal health regardless of your age. Knowing about the benefits of vitamin A is the first step towards keeping fit even till the onset of the golden age. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above like night blindness or extended bouts of acute headaches, consult a physician for more advice. It’s also advisable to have the right health insurance to safeguard you and your family from the financial drain caused in the event of a medical emergency. The right health insurance will ensure you get the proper care you need and you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay the bills.

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