Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. They are essential for general good health, the daily repair of body cells and efficient functioning of body organs. As the name suggests, they are carried into the body by fat. Must-know facts about vitamin A.
The first, or active form (retinol), is immediately available to the body and can be obtained from animal sources, such as eggs, meat, fortified milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, cod, and halibut fish oil. However, all of these sources — except fortified milk are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
The second, or precursor form (beta-carotene), can be obtained from green, leafy vegetables and intensely colored fruits and vegetables, and is converted to the active form in the body. It has antioxidant properties which protect cells from the daily toxic damage of oxidation and help to reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer.
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Sources of beta-carotene include:
Bright yellow and orange fruits such as cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, and apricots.
Vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
Other sources of beta-carotene include broccoli, spinach, and most dark green, leafy vegetables.
The more intense the color of a fruit or vegetable, the higher the beta-carotene content. Vegetable sources of beta-carotene are fat-free and cholesterol-free.
Benefits of Vitamin A :
- Good vision
- Healthy skin and hair
- Promotes the development of teeth, soft and skeletal tissue
- Fortifies the immune system
Sources of Vitamin A :
- Comes from animal sources such as egg, meat, fortified milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, cod, and halibut fish oil and dairy products
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
- Bright yellow and orange fruits
- Legumes(dried beans), lentils and whole grains
Functions of Vitamin A:
Vitamin A, plays a vital role in vision (especially night vision), normal bone growth, reproduction, healthy skin, the growth of mucous membranes, fortifies the immune system, maintains the protective lining of lungs, intestine, urinary tract, and other organs.
Deficiency of Vitamin A causes:
- Night blindness
- Xerophthalmia (abnormal dryness and thickening of the cornea)
- Hyperkeratosis (plugging of hair follicles with keratin, forming white clumps)
- Depression of immune reactions
Excessive Intake of Vitamin A cause:
- Liver Damage
- Nausea and vomiting
- Alopecia (hair can be easily plucked)
- A headache
- Joint pain
- Dry skin and hair cracked lips
- Loss of appetite
- Birth defects
Excessive Intake of Beta Carotene cause:
Yellow/orange skin color, especially on palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The skin will change to normal color if we reduce the intake of beta-carotene.