Vitamin A is not just one nutrient, but a class of nutrients which all fill the same necessary range of needs for the human body. The most commonly known source of Vitamin A is Beta-Carotene, but others include Retinoic Acid, Retinal, and Retinol. Vitamin A is not only a crucial Antioxidant, but it also facilitates normal and healthy function in a range of other ways.
For example, Vitamin A is critical for eye development and eye health, because it is a component of Rhodopsin, which is necessary for the eyes to properly absorb light. Beyond vision, Vitamin A is highly influential in the normalized function of other organs and systems, such as the kidneys, lungs, and heart.
Types of Vitamin A—Preformed Vitamin A and Provitamin A
Though there are many subclasses of Vitamin A, they can all be divided into two groups—Preformed and Provitamin A. Preformed Vitamin A is found solely in products of animal origin, such as meat, fish, and dairy. Provitamin A is found in plant pigments, and the three most common forms of Provitamin A are Beta-Cryptoxanthin, Alpha-Carotene, and the famous Beta-Carotene. The body absorbs both types of Vitamin A and converts it into Retinoic Acid and Retinal.
Five Reasons You Should Make Sure You Get Your Vitamin A
Vitamin A Preserves Vision and Eye Function
Macular Degeneration is a major risk as men and women get older, and is exacerbated by Vitamin A Deficiency. One study found that a supplemental cocktail which included Vitamin A and other essential nutrients reduced the chances of Macular Degeneration for ¼ of patients over the course of 6 years. Furthermore, eye drop formulations of Vitamin A have proven effective for patients with chronic dry eyes.
Vitamin A Boosts Immune Function
Vitamin A is essential for a range of immune system tasks, and Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to bolster immune response. Not only does Vitamin A assist in the body’s fight against major conditions such as autoimmune disorders and cancer, but it also helps against common viruses and bacterial infections. In poorer countries, Vitamin A Deficiency in children is strongly associated with increased childhood mortality risk.
Vitamin A Protects Against Inflammation
Getting your daily recommended allowance of Antioxidants is essential. Your body uses Antioxidants to protect against the negative impact of Free Radicals, which damage DNA and contribute to general physiological wear and tear. Vitamin A keeps inflammation in check and can even protect against the development of food allergies, especially in children. Inflammation is powerfully associated with the development of many neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By controlling inflammation, it may be possible to reduce your risk of such conditions.
Vitamin A Promotes Healthy Skin
In addition to its effects on immune health, Vitamin A also contributes heavily to healing processes, most notably the healing of skin wounds and soft tissue. This is because Vitamin A is a critical component of the process of Glycoprotein formation, which is essential to the foundation of such tissue. Individuals that don’t get enough Vitamin A are more likely to deal with premature skin aging, poor complexion, acne, and other issues associated with poor skin health. Also, Vitamin A is a common ingredient in shampoos because many of the same benefits that apply to skin also apply to hair.
Vitamin A is a Crucial Component of Cancer Treatment and Prevention
In the 21st century, Cancer Research is advancing at a rapid pace. We are quickly learning new methods to treat existing cancers and to reduce the risk of cancer in the future. Recent research published by representatives from the University of York shows that Vitamin A has a critical role to play in preventing the proliferation of cancer cells. As you may know, human cells malfunction every day, and the vast majority of the time, cancer does not develop. The human body has various processes to prevent the growth of tumors from malfunctioning cells.
Retinoic Acid, the body’s activated form of Vitamin A, appears to suppress the malignancy of various cancers, including skin, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. At this time, we don’t fully understand why Vitamin A has these effects, but it is clear that Vitamin A is highly beneficial in this regard. It’s important to recognize that Vitamin A overdose is dangerous to healthy cells, so at this time, only Vitamin A Supplementation is recommended as a means to reduce the risk and proliferation of cancer.
How Much Vitamin A Should I Get Each Day?
Vitamin A belongs to the broad class of Fat-Soluble Vitamins. Unlike Water-Soluble vitamins, which pass excess vitamins through the kidneys, Fat-Soluble Vitamins accumulate in adipose tissue, which means that there is a risk of overdose if one intakes too much Vitamin A too frequently. Suggested guidelines suggest that adult males get at least 900 mcg per day, while adult females get 700 mcg per day, though this increases to 1200 mcg daily during breastfeeding. Children, dependent upon age, require between 300-600 mcg daily, rising from age one to age thirteen.
While sufficient Vitamin A supplementation helps the human body thrive, too much can be detrimental to health. The National Academy of Scientists recommends getting no more than 3,000 mcg of Vitamin A Daily. 3,000 mcg Vitamin A is Equivalent to 10,000 IU of the nutrient.
Sources of Vitamin A
As we mentioned, Vitamin A can be sourced from both plant products and animal products. If you are looking for an efficient means to get your daily dose of Vitamin A, the following are some of the most potent sources of the crucial Vitamin, all of which provide at least 40% of your daily recommended intake:
- Romaine Lettuce
- Red Pepper
- Beef Liver
- Sweet Potato
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