The health benefit of vitamin A.
What is vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a critical component of your diet. There are several health benefits to Vitamin A consumption. This fat-soluble vitamin plays vital roles in bone growth and vision. It also aids in the development of healthy skin, mucous membranes, hair, reproductive functions, and more and helps maintain the surface linings of the eyes and the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts. Another health benefit of vitamin A is that it plays an important role in regulating the immune system – therefore helping to prevent or fight off infections by making the white blood cells that attack and destroy harmful viruses and bacteria.
How much do I need to reap the health benefit of vitamin A?
Although many people embrace the health benefit of Vitamin A, not everyone knows how much they need. One of the most usable forms of vitamin A is called retinol – which cab be found in animal foods such as liver and eggs. Retinol is measured in RAE (retinol activity equivalents). An orange pigment found in food, called carotene, is divided by the body to become to active units of Vitamin A. This carotene is important in calculating the amount of vitamin A that the body needs. The U.S.R.D.A. (recommended daily allowance) for Vitamin A is 700 RAE for women and 900 for men. Good sources of the vitamin contribute at least 10% of the USRDA in each serving, so it's relatively easy to incorporate into your diet.
Most Americans do take in enough Vitamin A, but if you are uncertain, you can monitor your intake. If you want to make sure to take advantage of the health benefit of Vitamin A, work plenty of carotene and Vitamin A into your diet by eating fortified foods such as fortified breakfast cereals. Dark colored fruits are abundant in provitamin A carotenoids, such as carrots, leafy greens, cantaloupe, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, and peas. Most fat free milk is also fortified with vitamin A. Even though vitamin A is stored in the liver, it is important for you to regularly eat foods that provide vitamin A to help meet needs when intake of provitamin A carotenoids or preformed vitamin A is low.
Are there any safety issues with Vitamin A?
Too much vitamin A can be toxic. Hypervitaminosis A, or high storage levels of vitamin A in the body, can lead to toxic symptoms, including three major ones - birth defects, liver abnormalities, and reduced bone mineral density that may result in osteoporosis. Toxic symptoms also may arise if a large amount of preformed vitamin A is consumed over a short period of time. Signs of acute toxicity include nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, and muscular un-coordination.
High doses of vitamin A taken over time can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Levels can build up in the body due to the fat-soluble nature of the vitamin.
It's important to remember that to reap the health benefit of Vitamin A intake you want to eat foods that retain Vitamin A. It can be lost during storage, cooking, or preparation of foods. Some tips to preserve the Vitamin A in your foods are:
- Opt for raw fruits and vegetables whenever it is feasible.
- Steam rather than frying. Vitamin A can be lost in fat during the frying process.
If you are health conscious and ready to embrace the health benefit of Vitamin A, don't rush out to the store to purchase a dietary supplement. The truth is that most American's acquire enough of the vitamin on a daily basis, and too much of a good thing can be a bad thing in this case. Excessive levels of Vitamin A can actually be toxic.
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