Vitamin A - Uses, Benefits, Sources and Dosage
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in the liver.
Types of Vitamin A
Generally, Vitamin A found in the diet is of two types:
- Preformed Vitamin A: This type of Vitamin is found in animal products that include meat, fish and dairy foods too.
- Pro-Vitamin A: This type of Vitamin is found in plant based foods. It includes fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene is the most common type of Pro-Vitamin A.
The Vitamin is available in the form of supplements. It is usually comes in the form of beta carotene, retinyl acetate and retinyl palmitate. It is also available in the combination of Pro-Vitamin A and preformed vitamin A.
Importance of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for the maintenance of healthy skin, eyes, teeth, and skeletal tissues of the body. This vitamin is also called as retinol, as the vitamin helps in the production of pigments in the retina of the eye.
The vitamin is great for healthy vision, even in low light. This vitamin may also be helpful for reproduction as well as breastfeeding.
Retinol is one of the most active forms of this vitamin and is found in animal liver, some fortified foods and whole milk. While carotenoids are the dark colored pigments that are found in the plant foods. Generally, there are about 500 carotenoids known. Beta carotene is the common among them.
Benefits of Beta Carotene
- Beta-carotene has antioxidant properties.
- It may reduce the risk of cancer.
Dietary Sources of Vitamin A
Animal sources such as eggs, fortified milk, cream, meat, cheese, liver, kidney, and halibut fish oil are some of the great sources of Vitamin A. All these dietary sources contain high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol except the skim milk that is fortified with vitamin A.
The other good sources of this vitamin include Cold liver oil, fortified breakfast cereals, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits. Broccoli, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables are great sources of beta carotene. The more intense the color of the fruit or vegetable, more amount of beta carotene is present in that food.
All the vegetable sources of beta carotene are fat free as well as cholesterol free.
Deficiency of Vitamin A
If a person is having a deficiency of this vitamin, then he is at high risk for eye problems. The eye problems may include reversible night blindness, which in turn may cause xeropthalmia. Xeropthalmia is a condition of non-reversible corneal damage.
Lack of vitamin A can even lead to hyperkeratosis, a condition of dry and scaly skin.
Recommended Amount of Vitamin A
In general, the amount of vitamin how much you need depends on various factors such as your age and gender. The factors such as pregnancy and the general health of a person, are also important while considering the dosage.
One of the best ways to get the daily requirement of all the essential vitamins is to include lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans), lentils, fortified dairy foods, and whole grains in the diet.
In general, the minimum intake of 900 mcg per day, of this vitamin is essential for males with 14 years age or more. While for females of the same age group, it is 700 mcg per day. If a woman is pregnant, then 770 mcg per day is required whereas 1300 mcg per day is required during lactation.