Vitamin A Foods & Benefits

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which means it can be absorbed and stored in the fat cells in your body for up to 6 months. A build up of too much vitamin A can pose serious health risks such as toxicity leading to enlarged spleen and liver, hair loss, growth retardation, birth defects and bone fractures. Of course this is very rare if you only eat vitamin a foods but something important to keep in mind if you take more than your daily dose of vitamin a supplements which is of course something not natural for your body.

However, vitamin A benefits (retinol) play a critical role in many functions of the body, probably the most important one being vision, particularly night vision, and color recognition. Vitamin A deficiency leads to night blindness and as you can see it is arguably of the most important of all vitamins for eyes. In fact, the popular knowledge of carrots being so good for your eye vision comes from the fact that it’s an important source of vitamin A.

Other important vitamin A benefits are that it helps to maintain moisture in your mucous membranes, skin and eyes and for this reason is often thought of as slowing the aging process by smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines, and fading age spots.

It has valuable antioxidant properties to neutralize free radicals (how do antioxidants work) and is effective in fighting viral and bacterial infections,

vitamin a foodsBecause of the role it plays in skin care, vitamin A is often used as a vitamin for acne treatment and many other skin conditions such as psoriasis. (Read here for helpful vitamins for skin)

Some other important roles vitamin A plays in our body are in reproduction, bone metabolism, new blood cell formation, as an important immune system vitamin, and gene transcription.

The recommended dosage for vitamin A in women is 800 mcg daily and 1,000 mcg for men daily.

Most vitamin A comes from animal food products however beta-carotene in some plant foods can be converted by your body into vitamin A.

Vitamin A foods include sources such as cod liver oil, beef liver, egg yolks, cheddar cheese and fortified milk. Foods containing beta-carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, broccoli, apricots, spinach, kale, and collard greens. These foods have the potential to be converted to vitamin A in your body.

Vitamin A is easily destroyed in poor storage and overcooking situations so it is important to store your foods at the correct temperature and lighting conditions as well as proper cooking techniques to make the most of the value of the vitamins in the food.

As with any vitamin or mineral, in order to provide your body with enough of these substances to keep healthy and fit, a well balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and grains is the best way to acquire your basic needs, but when diets fall short of providing our bodies with these, a supplement is an option you may consider. Just don’t forget that taking more than one supplement pill does not directly correlate into taking more advantage of the vitamin A benefits because as mentioned above some side effects can happen in high doses!

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