What Is Vitamin A And Why Is It Important?
Have you ever heard of the phrase "Eating carrots will help improve your eye sight"? Well, this is not just an old myth that has been told by your mother and grandmother; this is because there is some truth to this overused statement.
This is because carrots contain an essential vitamin . . . called vitamin A. Not only does vitamin A come to the rescue of aiding and improving of eyesight, but it comes with many other health benefits and comes from a variety of different food sources.
Because of the many health benefits that vitamin A provides it is important that you are making sure that you are getting your daily dose of vitamin A.
To help you get a better understanding of why vitamin A is so important and where you can get this vitamin, we put together a guide that informs you all about vitamin A.
What Is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a biologically active compound and is an important mineral as it is essential for your overall health. It helps aid good vision, healthy immune system and promotes growth in cells.
It is also a water soluble vitamin which means that it can travel freely through the body and excess amounts when needed are emitted to the kidney. However, since vitamin A is also a fat soluble that too much vitamin A in the liver can cause toxic levels.
Vitamin A also comes in the form of two types of compounds. First being retinoid which is immediately ready for your body to use. Retinoid is mainly found in animal's products like liver, eggs and fish.
The most common form that Vitamin A comes in is the beta-carotene. Unlike retinoid, the body needs to convert this compound so it can be used in the body as a vitamin A mineral.
It is commonly found in plants like carrots, sweet potatoes, mangos, etc.
Vitamin A is stored in the liver for access for the body when needed. However, it is important not to have too much vitamin A as it can turn toxic causing harm to your liver.
What Are The Benefits of Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a powerful mineral for your body, as it provides many health benefits which lead into better overall health.
Here are some of the many benefits from making sure you get the recommended amount of vitamin A into your diet.
Helps Asthma: Through recent medical studies it is shown that consuming high amounts of beta-carotene which is usually found in bright colored plant foods; for instance, squash, carrots and papaya help control asthma. These foods are an antioxidant which help prevent and/or reduce the symptoms of asthma.
Healthy Skin: Vitamin A is a great mineral for overall healthy looking skin. This is because it helps with the growth of tissue, skin, hair, acne and other skin conditions. In addition, it helps keep skin moist to prevent dryness and it even keeps hair moisturized.
As well, it aids in the prevention of your skin aging. By reducing wrinkles, brown spots and roughness. You can usually find the vitamin in almost any over-the-counter lotions, night creams and prescriptions.
Better Vision: Vitamin A is well known for its health benefits that help improve overall eye sight and eye health. Studies have shown that it can be of assistance to keeping eyes moist to prevent dryness and inflammation. Many doctors recommend vitamin A drops to help patients who experience chronic dryness of eyes.
Vitamin A also helps with the prevention of central vision loss or commonly known as muscular degeneration which is commonly found in older adults.
In recent studies, it has been proven multiple times that vitamin A plays a big part in decreasing vision loss and slows down the development of vision problems.
Better Immunity: Vitamin A is discovered through recent scientific research studies to help increase immunity against infections. This is because vitamin A contains ascorbic acid and lymphocytic. These two things help with enhancing the activity of white blood cells, helps with fighting of bacteria, and boosts the immune system to help fight off viruses. This will help you to overcome colds a lot faster.
Stronger Teeth: Vitamin A contains the minerals that are needed to promote overall stronger teeth. This is because it helps with the creation and production of dentin. Dentin is an essential part of having strong teeth. As it helps with healthy enamel, tissue, cementum and pulp which are major components of the teeth. Therefore, having vitamin A create dentin will allow and help your teeth stay strong and healthy.
Stronger muscles: Vitamin A is essential towards preventing weakness and loss of muscular strength. The mineral help with repairing and growth of body tissues and ensure proper muscle growth and development in children.
In addition, if you are an individual that works out more frequently it is important to increase vitamin A intake as you lose vitamin A while working out.
Prevention of Stones: Urinary stones can be painful and is caused when the bladder does not empty completely and create crystals called urinary stones or sometimes called bladder stones. It can cause lower abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and painful urination.
However, vitamin A produces calcium phosphate in the body, which helps aid prevention of the formation of these stones.
What is the Recommended Amount of Vitamin A?
The recommended amount really depends on your age, gender, and health status. Therefore, we put together a table which is an overall glance of the recommended amount of vitamin A that is needed to get the health benefits of it.
|1 to 3 years of age
|300 micrograms per a day
|4 to 8 years of age
|400 micrograms per a day
|9 to 13 years of age
|600 micrograms per a day
|14 years of age and older (female)
|700 micrograms per a day
|14 years of age and older (male)
|900 micrograms per a day
Note: it is important that before making any decisions on Vitamin A amounts that you contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Where Can You Find Vitamin A?
Fortunately, vitamin A can be found in many food products; for instance, in plants and meat based products. However, it is important to not eat too much (especially in meat products) as it can have effect with your heart, sugar levels etc.
Moderation is key!
Here is a list of a few of the products that contain vitamin A:
- Beef Liver
- Green Leaf Vegetables
- Dairy Products
- Fish Oil
* Plant based produce contain beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in your body after consumption. Whereas, meat products do not need to be converted into vitamin A in your body.
How about Dietary Supplements?
Dietary supplements of vitamin A are recommended when you are unable to get the required amount each day and acts as a filler to fill in the nutrition gaps. You can find supplements with online resources like www.canadapharmacy.com.
However, it is not to be taken as a replacement of real food, as this can cause serious health problem and/or concerns.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the best way to get your recommended amount of vitamin A is through food sources, such as what we have listed above.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin A?
Getting enough of your recommended dose of vitamin A is not a common problem in North America. However, some ethnic groups and some people have a harder time getting or absorbing enough vitamin A in their body. For instance, most premature babies have a hard time getting enough vitamin A up until they are a year.
Infants, children, pregnant and/or breastfeeding women in developing countries also have a hard time getting enough vitamin A into their bodies. This is common because most developing countries do not have the resources or enough produce to have vitamin A as part of their diets.
In addition, people who suffer with Cystic Fibrosis, which is a genetic disorder which affects the lungs and has no cure; have a hard to absorbing vitamin A.
In any of these cases it is important to consult your family doctor.
Are You Getting Too Much Vitamin A?
If you are getting too much vitamin A in your diet this can become harmful for your health. This is because it can cause dizziness, nausea, and headaches.
Additionally, if you are getting too much vitamin A while you are pregnant, it can lead to birth defects with your baby. Too much vitamin A can also cause yellow skin, dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, weak bones and muscle and gum disease.
Too much vitamin A can also cause liver disease. This is because vitamin A is considered a fat soluble which means that the vitamins are stored in the liver and over time it can become toxic for your liver and body.
However, getting too much vitamin A into your body is not common, but if you think that you're getting too much vitamin A it is important to talk to your doctor.
What Is Vitamin A Deficiency?
Vitamin A deficiency is uncommon in North America. However, vitamin A deficiency is common in developing countries like Africa.
Many of the people who suffer in undeveloped countries are infants and children. Which in many cases, these children become blind due to scarce resources of produce that contain important vitamins and minerals like vitamin A.
Early signs of vitamin A deficiency include night blindness which can eventually lead into a complete loss of eyesight. It also results in having low levels of iron which can lead and cause anemia. In addition, many people face high risks of infections and getting sick because it weaker immune systems.
If you think that you have an vitamin A deficiency it is important to seek medical attention and book an appointment with your family doctor.
Vitamin A & Interactions with Other Medications:
In some cases, Vitamin A can cause reactions and/or interaction when using other medications. In most cases, your health care provider would let you know if vitamin A can cause effects on your medications, but it is always a good idea to consult your doctor again if you are unsure.
Here is a list of the few medications that can have an undesirable effect on your vitamin A levels.
Tetracycline Antibiotics: If you are taking tetracycline antibiotics with high doses of vitamin A it can cause health concerns. It can cause a condition called Intracranial Hypertension which can rise pressure if brain fluids which can be extremely dangerous.
Orlistat: If you are taking Orlistat which is a drug for weight loss treatment, it can cause your body not to absorb vitamin A fully. This can cause lowering of plasma levels in some people. This will cause low calcium levels which can weaken bones and decrease muscle strength.
Blood Thinners: If you are taking blood thinner while having a high intake of vitamin A it can cause and increase the risk of bleeding.
Retinoid: When taking retinoid and having a high consumption of vitamin A can increase some health risks. This can include, increase the risk of hypervitaminosis a, which can cause blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, hair loss, vomiting, weight gain and liver damage.
Meal & Snack Ideas:
If you are wondering how to incorporate vitamin A into your daily meals and snacks; here are some ideas:
- Instead of using a white potato for fries substitute it with a sweet potato
- Instead of using lettuce in your sandwiches, burgers and salads substitute it with spinach
- Make a healthy smoothie with yogurt, mangos, cantaloupe and/or papaya
- Eat some carrots as an afternoon snack
- Add protein to your diet like salmon into your salads as part of your main meal
It is important to get your daily recommended amount of vitamin A to maintain optimal overall health. However, the information provided should not be used as a replacement for medical advice. If you are concerned about your intake of vitamin A or anything else it is important to discuss your concerns with your family doctor.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.