A for Vitamin A ... and Carrots

Other names:

  • Retinol-A
  • Pro-Vitamin A
  • Beta Carotene (technically, beta carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A)


Nutrient Family:

  • Vitamin


The most famous source of Vitamin A is the humble carrots. Throughout my life, my eyesight has been considered good. I never had myopia until quite late in life and even at my age now (50+), I do not suffer age related long-sightedness.

 

I attribute my good eye health to the raw carrots my mother used to feed me whenever she cooked carrots – to keep me occupied while she cooked the family's meals. With 8 children to feed, and carrots being one of those "regular" vegetables that we could afford in those days, I had plenty of raw carrots while I was young. The added blessing was, in those days, it was all organic; so, I had the maximum benefits of eating organic raw carrots. For the last couple of years, I have been on antioxidant eye supplements. All these helped to curb the degeneration of my eyes … due to age …


Vitamin A's Workings

Fat or Water Soluble Antioxidant: 

  • Fat Soluble

 

Other functions besides being an antioxidant, Vitamin A is required for:

  • (healthy) color and, black and white vision; exist in the rods and cones of the eyes
  • bone growth
  • tooth development
  • reproduction
  • cell division
  • gene expression (from retinoic acid, converted from Vitamin A)
  • regulation of the immune system
  • to keep skin, eyes, and mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs moist.

 

Examples of signs of deficiency :

  • Night blindness  
  • Very dry, rough skin
  • Decreased resistance to infections
  • Faulty tooth development
  • Lower bone growth.

 

Where Is Vitamin A Found Naturally?

Vitamin A can be sourced from :

  • animal products – fish oil, egg yolks, liver

                o   in Retinol form, ready to be used as Vitamin A

  • plants, in the forms carotenoids -  beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, cryptoxanthin, and  y-carotene

               o   which are converted into Vitamin A in the body

               o   also known as Pro-Vitamin A

 

Being a fat soluble vitamin, it is stored in our liver.

 

Examples of food sources  :


Health Benefits of Vitamin A

Examples the health benefits of Vitamin A :

  • Protects cell membranes
  • Protects fatty tissues
  • Boosts  immune System
  • 2 Fold health benefits against Radiation

                o   protects the DNA from radiation damages by neutralizing the free radicals

                o   retinol reduces the damages caused by radiation, to both the DNA and Immune system

  • Colitis (inflammation of colon and rectum)
  • Cancer

 

Possible Interactions

  • High or excessive  dosage of Vitamin A is known to be toxic.
  • High dosage of carotenoids, which converts into Vitamin A, is known to be harmless as the carotenoids are water soluble and in a healthy body, excess can be passed out of the body.

                o   However, studies have shown that in smokers, excessive beta carotene can be harmful.

  • Patients on chemotherapy and radiation therapy are advised to stop taking Vitamin A while on these treatments due to the effect that Vitamin A is able to neutralized the effects of chemicals and radiations


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