According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin found in fruits and vegetables. The most common form of vitamin A is alpha-carotene, found in dark yellow or orange produce. Beta-carotene, the most common form of vitamin A, is usually used as a food coloring agent. Vitamin A can be measured by retinol activity equivalent (RAE), micrograms (mcg), and international units (IU). IUs represent one mcg of retinol, whereas RAE equals one mcg of all-trans-retinol or six mcg of all-trans beta-carotene.
Why does our body need it?
Vitamin A helps with eye health, promotes a healthy immune system, and is needed for growth in children. It also helps protect the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose, throat, and lungs to prevent infections. Vitamin A is also needed to produce sex hormones and red blood cells. According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin A is stored in the liver and released into circulation as needed by the body.
Foods rich in vitamin A
One cup of raw carrots provides 431 mcg of vitamin A and only 45 calories. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which can be converted into retinol by your body. Beta-carotene has been linked to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and certain types of cancer.
One 3.5-ounce serving of canned tuna provides 96 mcg of vitamin A. According to the NIH, this is equivalent to the RAE retinyl palmitate used in most commercial foods and supplements.
One cup of cooked spinach provides 8.1 mcg of vitamin A. One serving contains seven calories and is rich in folate, which is involved in developing red blood cells and fiber.
- Sweet potatoes
One-half cup of baked sweet potato with the skin provides 455 mcg of vitamin A. This is equivalent to 69% of the RDA for vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also have fiber, potassium, and manganese.
- Bell peppers
One cup of raw bell peppers provides 456 mcg of vitamin A. According to the NIH, the RAE for this form of vitamin A is 65% of all-trans beta-carotene or 67% of all-trans retinol. Bell peppers also contain folate and fiber.
One 3.5-ounce serving of liver provides 35 mcg of vitamin A. The RAE is 73% of all-trans beta-carotene and 33% of all-trans-retinol. The liver contains reasonable amounts of vitamin B12, high in folic acid and selenium, essential for cancer prevention and heart health.
Two eggs provide about half the daily recommended vitamin A value, at 47 mcg. According to the NIH, this is equivalent to some all-trans beta-carotene or 60% of all-trans-retinol. Eggs are high in essential nutrients such as zinc and choline, suitable for brain health.
One cup of raw cantaloupe provides 5.6 mcg of vitamin A. NIH says this is equivalent to 0.3 mcg of retinoic acid or 0.2 mcg of beta-carotene. Cantaloupe is also a good source of potassium, which helps maintain blood pressure, and helps boost the immune system.
One cup of raw mango provides 4.5 mcg of vitamin A. According to the NIH, the RAE for this form of vitamin A is 0.3 mcg of retinoic acid or 0.2 mcg of beta-carotene. Mangos are also a great source of fiber which promotes healthy skin and helps protect against colds and diseases.
One cup of cooked broccoli provides 6.4 mcg of vitamin A. RAE for this form of vitamin A is 0.3 mcg of retinoic acid or 0.2 mcg of beta-carotene. Broccoli is also rich in fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and regulates blood sugar levels, and folate plays a role in red blood cell development.
Diseases vitamin A deficiency can lead
A deficiency in vitamin A can lead to low sperm counts and decreased fertility in both men and women. A study published in the journal of reproductive science found that male infertility was Hgh for men, associated with low vitamin A levels.
- Delayed growth
Vitamin A is essential for growth in children and pregnant women. Low vitamin A levels in a child’s diet can lead to short stature and delayed development. Children who don’t get enough retinol (true vitamin A) don’t grow as well as their peers who eat more of this nutrient.
- Poor wound healing
Vitamin A is essential in the process of cell division and cellular repair. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to slow healing of cuts, wounds, and skin infections. People with a low level of vitamin A may have reduced immunity and be more prone to infections.
Vitamin A plays a role in sebum production, an oil skin cells release. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to acne, especially in young people and men. Low vitamin A levels have also been associated with increased skin cell turnover.
- Dry skin
Vitamin A is essential in producing skin cells, especially in areas with dry skin, such as the nose, mouth, ears, and hands. Low levels of vitamin A can lead to dry skin and irritation.
There is definite evidence that supports that vitamin A deficiency is a severe health concern. More studies are needed to determine how to help supply the body with this vital nutrient. It is important to note that while vitamin A deficiency may be severe, total fat consumption should not be avoided or cut down to meet recommended dietary allowances. This can lead to other nutrients such as zinc, copper, thiamine, and magnesium deficiencies.