Vitamin A: Seeing the Benefits
Healthy eating is a reasonable goal that each of us sets for ourselves. We eat at restaurants or shop at grocery stores, trying to make the best nutritional decisions to support our overall health. But which essential nutrients are we looking for and what is already present in our foods?
Vitamin A naturally occurs in many foods we usually choose during a dinner date or to prepare at home. Luckily, this is one of those nutrients we do not have to give much thought to and still receive the many benefits of vitamin A. You may even be surprised at the foods you are currently eating that provide the benefits of vitamin A, and you don’t even know it.
Before congratulating yourself on great food choices, starting your keto diet, or outstanding nutritional supplementation, let’s take a deeper dive into vitamin A, the benefits of vitamin A, and the possibility of a vitamin A deficiency. The benefits of vitamin A will be easy to see (spoiler alert on better vision!); this is one low-stress addition to your daily vitamin allowance.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally occurring in many foods. There are two different forms of Vitamin A that occur in foods. Either one provides outstanding benefits and is easy to introduce into your diet if you haven’t already. The two forms are:
- Preformed vitamin A
- Provitamin A
Preformed vitamin A is found in foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.
Provitamin A naturally occurs in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products.
The most common form of provitamin A found in foods and dietary supplements is called beta-carotene.
What Foods Contain Vitamin A?
Studies suggest that eating a variety of foods rich in vitamin A will meet the daily recommended requirement. But what foods, specifically? From your morning cereal to your evening meal, you will consume food options that are fortified with vitamin A.
Foods that Contain Vitamin A
- Leafy green vegetables
- Orange and yellow vegetables
- Red bell pepper
- Beef liver
- Fish oils
What are the Benefits of Vitamin A?
There are so many benefits of vitamin A! From vision to normal organ function, the benefits of vitamin A are often obtained through food choices you are already making. For example, you may already be starting your day with a common source of vitamin A – milk and cereal.
The benefits of vitamin A are important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs function properly. There are at least five important health benefits of vitamin A.
5 Health Benefits of Vitamin A
- Preserves your eyesight from night-blindness and age-related decline
- May lower the risk of certain cancers
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Reduces the risk of acne
- Supports bone health, healthy growth, and reproduction
In short, the benefits of vitamin A positively affect your body from head to toe! You can experience the benefits of vitamin A with little to no change in your current lifestyle. Your eyesight, skin, immune system, and overall growth and development benefit from a proper diet that includes vitamin A.
What are the Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency?
The good news is that vitamin A deficiency is rare in North America and other developed countries. Individuals at the highest risk of vitamin A deficiency are pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children. If you have any of the following seven signs and symptoms, just check in with your doctor.
7 Common Symptoms and Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency
- Dry skin
- Dry eyes
- Night blindness
- Infertility and challenges with conceiving
- Delayed growth in children
- Throat and chest infections
- Poor wound healing
It bears repeating that vitamin A deficiency is rare in America and other developed countries. If you think you have a vitamin A deficiency, it is best to speak with your personal health care provider. Correcting a vitamin A deficiency can be simple with supplements and the right foods.
How Much Vitamin A is Safe Daily?
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A varies among adults and children. Adult men (19 years of age and older) can take 900 mcg per day. Adult women can take 700 mcg per day, and children and adolescents are recommended not to exceed 600 mcg per day.
Vitamin A toxicity is more common in developed countries than vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so any amount not immediately needed by the body is stored in fat tissue and the liver. If too much is stored, it can be toxic.
Signs of Vitamin A Toxicity
- Vision changes like blurry sight
- Bone pain
- Dry skin
- Bright light sensitivity
If you have beef liver or liver pate regularly on your diet, you may experience vitamin A toxicity. Toxicity may occur because beef liver contains a high level of vitamin A and, if eaten too often, it can build up toxic stores of vitamin A in the body. Potential toxicity doesn’t mean you have to eliminate that favorite meal from your routine; just limit how many times you enjoy it per week!
Eat Your Carrots
Remember when your mom told you to always eat your carrots? Carrots have their beautiful orange color because of their main ingredient – beta-carotene. In contrast to vitamin A, beta-carotene is not toxic even at high intake levels, but you still don’t want to get too crazy!
We often start our year committing to make healthier choices, creating a workout routine, and struggling to insert these commitments into our daily lives. Making the healthy choice to keep vitamin A in daily recommended doses will not be one of those struggles! Vitamin A is one essential vitamin that you can put on the bottom of the list to worry about in your daily routine.
Making good choices regarding your nutrition and adding quality supplements when needed is all about staying informed. Increase your knowledge by researching reputable sources and staying on top of your daily nutrition. There are essential vitamins, like vitamin A, that are working for you even without daily attention!