Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin the body needs for many body processes. The most notable requirement of vitamin A is for the eyes and good night vision (how well your eyes adjust to seeing in low light levels or darkness).
Vitamin A comes in two types. The easiest way to understand this is to recognize the source.
- Retinol Vitamin A comes from animal sources and is considered preformed and is readily taken up by the body tissues, fat and processes. However, in rare cases, too much of it can cause toxicity and birth defects. Excessive amount, either by eating too much animal liver products or supplementation, can create severe conditions and take a long time to clear the body.
- Beta-Carotene, or Pro-Vitamin A Carotenoid, comes from plant material. The way in which it comes, and levels in plants and the process it converts in the body is not as efficient as Retinol vitamin A but still is an important source to humans. There is no known recorded incidents of toxicity of beta-carotene known, however, too much can turn your skin an orange colour though not cause adverse health effects.
How Much Do I Need?
A typical Healthy Australian Diet of naturally present animal products and fresh fruit and vegetables, including selected grains, comes with sufficient dietary vitamin A the body needs. There are very few cases of vitamin A deficiencies unless you live in impoverished nations or have been suffering from malnutrition or starvation from inadequate food supply over a period of time, in particular during child development and infancy.
Illnesses and Conditions Associated with Vitamin A:
People with Cystic Fibrosis develop a condition of the pancreas and the process of pancreatic enzymes that absorb fat (Vitamin A is fat soluble). Any condition that effects the function of the pancreas that releases fat absorbing enzymes will affect vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins essential for the body.
Top Foods for Vitamin A:
- Lean meats, liver, poultry, oily fish
- Leafy green vegetables including other bright coloured plants
- Legumes and beans
- Fruits, including tomatoes
- Selected grains (be conscious of gluten if you are intolerant or allergic to it)
- Nuts and seeds
- Butter, diary, yogurt, cheese
- Coach Stephen