Health Benefits of Vitamin A

Health Benefits of Vitamin A

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  1. Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble compounds that play an important role in the body.  There are two categories of vitamin A, depending on whether the food source is a plant or animal.  

    Vitamin A, also known as retinol, produces pigments in the eye’s retina.  It is critical to the functioning of the eyes.  It promotes good vision and promotes healthy surface linings of the eyes.   

    Vitamin A helps form and maintain teeth, tissue and the mucous membranes that act as barriers to bacteria and viruses.  It can help regulate the immune system and may help lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, fight infections more efficiently.  It also plays an important role in reproduction.

    Vitamin A is important in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails.  Without vitamin A, they will be dry and sickly.  Vitamin A, as a retinoic acid, decreases acne.  It helps to get rid of bacteria and decreases the dead layer of skin and oils that plug pores.  Vitamin A used topically can increase the elastin fibers, structural collagen and natural moisture in the skin.  Topical retinoids can help repair sun damage and minimize wrinkles.      

    Vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables is called a provitamin A carotenoid.  Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which can cause aging, heart disease, cancer and other chronic health problems.

    Animal sources of vitamin A include eggs, meat, fortified milk, cream, cheese, liver, cod, halibut, salmon, kidney and oil.  Some plant sources of vitamin A include carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, apricots, papaya, mango, oatmeal, peas, tomatoes, broccoli, yellow squash, watermelon and pumpkin.  Fruits and vegetables brighter in color contain more beta-carotene content.   

    A deficiency of vitamin A can cause night blindness birth defects and the ability to fight infection.  However, too much vitamin A can be toxic to the liver, cause birth defects, and may cause reduced bone mineral density that can lead to osteoporosis and central nervous system disorders. 

    Vitamin A deficiency is common in developing countries, but rare in the United States.  Research has shown that nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods.  Before taking vitamin A supplements, talk to your doctor.



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