Thursday, 27 February 2014

Functions and Benefits of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also known as Retinol and is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that it does not have to be consumed every day as it is stored by the body in the liver, kidneys and the body’s fat.  In fact, around 90% of Vitamin A is stored in the liver.


Benefits and Functions of Vitamin A

The benefits and functions of Vitamin A are numerous and include:

·        Helping us to see in dim light.
·        Counteracting night blindness.
·        Counteracting weak eyesight.
·        Helping to build resistance to respiratory infections.
·        Shortening the duration of disease.
·        Helping to keep the outer layers of your tissues and organs healthy.
·        Promoting growth. 
·        Promoting healthy skin.
·        Promoting healthy hair.
·        Promoting healthy teeth and gums.
·        Promoting normal reproductive capabilities.

Vitamin A is available in two forms:

·        Pure form, known as Retinol, which is found in foods from animal origin.
·        Carotene, which is provided by foods from both plant and animal origin and from which our bodies can make Vitamin A.  Carotene is converted into Retinol by the liver and small intestine.


Natural Sources of Vitamin A

Natural sources of Vitamin A include:

·        Fish liver oil.
·        Liver.
·        Eggs.
·        Milk and dairy products, such as cheese, butter, yoghurts.
·        Carrots.
·        Sweet potato
·        Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli.
·        Yellow vegetables.
·        Butternut squash.
·        Yellow fruits.
  

Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin A

You should be able to get all the Vitamin A you need from your daily diet.  The amount of Vitamin A an adult needs is:

·        0.6 mg a day for women
·        0.7 mg a day for men

Remember that any Vitamin A your body does not need straightaway will be stored for future use, so you don’t necessarily need to intake Vitamin A every day.

Liver is in fact a very rich source of Vitamin A, so if you eat liver (or liver products such as pate) just once a week, you should not need any supplements.


Vitamin A Deficiencies

Lack of Vitamin A over a period of time could result in the following deficiencies:

·        Night blindness.
·        Clouding of cornea.
·        Dry or sore skin.
·        Dry hair.
·        Increased respiratory infections.
·        Increased digestive infections.
·        Increased urogential tract infections.

Side-effects of Too Much Vitamin A

Excess intake of Vitamin A over a long period of time (more than 1.5 mg a day) could result in the following side-effects:

·        Nausea/vomiting.
·        Loss of appetite.
·        Anorexia.
·        Headaches.
·        Hair loss.
·        Fragile bones.
·        Bone and joint pains.
·        Liver and spleen enlargement.

You could be more at risk of excess Vitamin A side-effects if you do not get enough Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin!)

N.B.  Vitamin A supplements or foods high in Vitamin A are not recommended for pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant in the near future.  Older-aged men or women (particularly women who have passed the menopause) are more at risk of osteoporosis and should therefore avoid having too much Vitamin A.  It's always advisable to consult your doctor or health care professional if you have any concerns regarding your health or nutrient intake.

Prices/discounts indicated are correct at the time this article was written/published.  E&OE.





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