Vitamin A and Carotenes – Why We Need Vitamin A in Our Diet


Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is essential to the healthy development of strong bones, teeth, healthy skin and also helps to maintain clear vision. Working together, Vitamin A along with Carotenes which are plant based forms of Vitamin A, carry out many important functions.

Although there have been close to 600 types of Carotenes that have been identified, research has found that at least 30-50 of them have been found to involve Vitamin A activity and hence they share a direct positive relationship with Vitamin A.

Carotenes are naturally-occurring, brightly colored plant pigments that are vital to the process of photosynthesis. They are also what help protect plants as well as the body against the potentially damaging effects of free radicals.

The ability of the free radicals to oxidize cells gets eliminated by antioxidants which are found mainly in milk, fruits and vegetables. Once the cells in the body get oxidized it can lead to fatal health complications that include heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and arthritis among others.

Consumption of adequate levels of Vitamin A can help delay the signs of aging. It has the ability to ward of wrinkles and so has been rightly labeled the ‘Anti-aging’ Vitamin.

It also helps enhance the body’s immune system which in turn keeps the mucous membranes inside the throat, lungs, eyes, mouth, digestive tract, kidneys, bladder and reproductive system healthy. Vitamin A has also been known to lower cholesterol levels and assists in hormone production.

Vitamin A also helps in the production of Ribonucleic Acid(RNA). When RNA reproduces in large amounts it assists in the creation of new cells so that the old and worn out cells can be efficiently replaced.

Fish liver oil is one of the most commonly found natural sources of Vitamin A. Cod and halibut have the highest concentration of this vitamin. Other sources include eggs, milk and fruits such as nectarines, cantaloupes, apricots, mandarin oranges, plums watermelons and mangoes.

Among vegetables the dark green and brightly colored ones like kale, collard greens, escarole, chicory, endive, romaine lettuce, broccoli, peas, carrots, red pepper, pumpkin, squash, turnips, sweet potato and tomatoes are all excellent sources of Vitamin A.

The ideal amounts of vitamin A people should have is between 500 to 800 micrograms daily. The recommended amounts are 600 micrograms for males, 500 micrograms for females . However during pregnancy women need to consume around 800 micrograms a day and roughly around 850 micrograms while breast feeding.

Vitamin A deficiencies :

Deficiency of Vitamin A affects ones vision, in particular the ability to see clearly at night or in dim light. Night blindness and dry eyes are typical symptoms of this deficiency. In addition to vision problems it can also lead to skin problems like acne and psoriasis.

A poor diet is usually the cause of Vitamin A deficiency. Particularly vulnerable are the elderly and those living in parts of the world where poor diets prevail.

The Author:

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