Learn All About Vitamin A: The Importance Of Retinol & Carotene
Vitamin A is made up of a broad group of related nutrients that provide the body with certain health benefits. The most common and most important group of nutrients are Caritenoids (including Carotene and Xanthophyllis compounds), also known as Provitamin A. The second most common group of compounds are Retinoids (Retinol or Retinoic acid), also known as preformed vitamin A.
This very important vitamin aids in growth and repair of body tissue to assist with vision, night vision and immunity. It also plays a part in helping the heart, lungs, kidneys and reproductive system to function properly.
Carotene, also known as Provitamin A, is found in plant products such as green, yellow and orange vegetables (including legumes, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, pumpkin, carrots and squash) and yellow and orange fruits (rockmelon, apricots and mangoes). Retinol, also known as preformed vitamin A, can be found in animal products such as beef liver, salmon, tuna, whole milk, ice cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt and egg yolks.
RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)
The recommended daily intake for children 8-11yrs is 500mcg, where as older children aged 12-15yrs may require up to 725mcg. Men 16ys and over should aim to consume 900 mcg on a daily basis. The RDI for females aged 16yrs and over is 700mcg. Lactating women should consume a lesser quantity of approximately 450mcg and the recommended daily dose for pregnant women is nil. While some vitamin A is likely to be consumed via natural food sources, it is strongly advised that pregnant women do not take extra supplements unless under guidance from their doctor.
Food Portion Guide
Adequate levels of this vitamin can usually be achieved through natural food sources by including some of the common food sources into a healthy balanced diet. For example, just 1 cup of carrots will provide approximately 1020mcg of carotene. 50g of cheese can provide up to 160mcg of retinol to contribute to the total intake.
Possible Symptoms of Deficiency
Reduced levels of vitamin A in the body may cause eye dryness, conjunctivitis and night blindness. The body will also be more prone to infections and illnesses.
Possible Side Effects Of Overdose
In intake of over 30000mcg per day may cause dry or peeling skin, nose bleeds, dyspepsia, headache or even ATS (Acute Toxicity Syndrome). This vitamin is stored in the liver, so excessive overdose over a long period of time may also affect liver function.
Vitamin A Summary
The two main groups of nutrients, retinol and carotene, are made up of many different compounds that all have unique health benefits and anti-oxidant properties. To achieve optimal levels of these nutrients through natural food sources, a diet including a variety of both plant based and animal based food sources is recommended.
Many factors may influence the body’s ability to absorb vitamin A (including digestive problems, excessive alcohol use, exposure to toxins or other medications). If you think there is a chance you may be suffering from a deficiency, consult with your local doctor promptly. As with any vitamins, there is a potential that vitamin supplements may interact with other medications, so you should always consult with your doctor prior to taking any form of over-the-counter vitamin A supplements.