There are 13 essential vitamins your body needs to stay in good health. Each of these performs a specific role in your growth and development and keeps diseases at bay. For these vitamins to perform their intended function, you need to take them in the recommended quantities every day.
Vitamins A is one of the less-heralded members of the vitamin family, known only for its contribution to improved eyesight. But there are many more reasons you should make vitamin A an irreplaceable part of your daily diet.
What is Vitamin A?
Before diving into its benefits, it will help to get an understanding of what this essential vitamin is and the components comprising it. Vitamin A is made up of several fat-soluble compounds known as retinoids, which include retinal and retinol. You can ingest this vitamin in two forms: provitamin A carotenoids and preformed vitamin A.
Both are present in a variety of different foods, not just carrots. Among the provitamin A carotenoids are alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, the latter of which is considered the most important. Both these elements are found in plants, and the body converts them to vitamin A when you ingest them. Preformed vitamin A is found in plants, meat, fish, and dairy products.
What Does it Do?
So you now know what vitamin A is composed of, but you’re probably more interested in what benefits this vitamin has in store. Chances are you heard your mom say that carrots are good for your eyesight; there’s a lot of truth to that. It forms a vital part of rhodopsin, the protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors. It also supports the development of the cornea and other parts of the eye.
But improving your vision is not vitamin A’s only role in your body. It also has a hand in the development of other organs, including your kidneys, lungs, and heart. Vitamin A plays a role in keeping life-threatening conditions like cancer and heart disease at bay. It has antioxidant properties that combat the harmful free radicals that bring about terminal illnesses.
Vitamin A has gained some prominence in the skincare world for its work in fighting wrinkles and acne. This vitamin is also thought to reduce the chances of birth defects in newborns.
Where Can You Get It?
If you’re not particularly fond of carrots, you’ll be glad to hear this root is not the only source of vitamin A. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are some of the dairy products where you will find vitamin A. The vitamin is also present in eggs and oily fish. Liver and liver products are known to be rich sources of vitamin A.
If you’re vegan, don’t worry, there are other vitamin A options available. You can find it in yellow and red vegetables such as carrots and red peppers. You can also get your vitamin A quota from sweet potatoes and leafy vegetables. Vitamin A can also be found in a selection of fruits, including papaya and mangoes.
Should these dietary sources not quite meet your daily vitamin A requirements, you can get it from various vitamin A supplements. If you find it hard to swallow capsules, you can consume a chewable vitamin A gummy once a day.
How Much Do You Need?
Beneficial as vitamin A is, there is such a thing as too much vitamin A; and it can be detrimental to your health. Taking too little of it, on the other hand, means you’re depriving yourself of the vitamin’s many benefits. Experts recommend that women take 700mcg and men take 900mcg of vitamin A every day. Taking more than 3,000mcg will put you at risk of suffering toxicity.
Since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the body, this toxicity can build up over the short or long term. Chronic vitamin A toxicity symptoms include joint pains, low appetite, impeded vision, dry skin, jaundice, and low appetite. If you rely on supplements or liver intake for your vitamin A, you need to be especially careful not to exceed the recommended quantities.
Vitamin A is Essential
Vitamin A is an essential component in the development of your body. It helps fight disease, boosts the growth of your organs, and helps give you good eyesight. You, therefore, need to ensure that your body gets vitamin A in the right quantities every day. If that means reaching for supplements, do so. The good news is that you can have your supplement in a palatable form.