Vitamin A is a key nutrient highly important for optimal health. Although it rarely gets the spotlight compared to vitamins B and C, it supports many processes in our body including our vision, skin health, immune system and even reproduction.
On a daily dose, it is recommended that men get 900 mcg, women 700 mcg and children 300 mcg.
And while it exists in many foods that we eat, it can also be consumed through supplements if needed.
What Is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin along with vitamins D, E and K. Meaning, leftover amounts that are not absorbed by the body are stored in the liver as reserves for later use.
There are two forms of vitamin A found in food: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A.
Preformed vitamin A usually comes from animal food sources like meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. On the other hand, provitamin A but are made from compounds found in plants called carotenoids that are converted in the body into retinol, an active form of vitamin A.
Why You Need Vitamin A
Although vitamin A is best known for its role in vision and eye health, it is also of utmost importance to our immune function, cell growth, and other processes in our body.
Here are 4 reasons why you ought not to miss vitamin A in your diet.
It supports eye health.
Vitamin A won’t give you superpowers to see in the dark and become completely immune to vision problems. But, it can help protect your eyes from night blindness and vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration.
It plays a role in your vision by maintaining a clear cornea, which is the protective layer of your eyes. Furthermore, vitamin A is also a component of rhodopsin, a protein that is crucial for vision especially in dim light.
It reduces your risk of acne.
If you are aiming for clear skin, then you shouldn’t miss vitamin A in your diet. It does so many wonders to your skin!
You may have heard of retinoids as topical formulas that treat and prevent acne directly. Meanwhile, vitamin A-rich foods fight acne from the inside out.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant which helps fight inflammation and free radicals in our skin that contributes to the development of acne. Additionally, it also speeds up healing and helps normalize oil production in your hair follicles.
It boosts your immune system.
Vitamin A is one of the most widely studied nutrients related to immune function. It is involved in the creation of certain cells called B- and T-cells which play critical roles in stimulating immune responses that guard our body against diseases.
It promotes reproductive health.
In both men and women, vitamin A is essential for reproductive health as well as the healthy development of babies during pregnancy.
In males, vitamin A deficiency can block the development of sperm cells causing infertility. Likewise in females, it also reduces egg quality and affects egg implantation in the womb.
In pregnant women, vitamin A is critical for the normal growth and development of many organs of the unborn child. Moreover, vitamin A deficiency can be extremely harmful to your baby and may lead to birth defects.
Best Food Sources to Get Vitamin A
Vitamins and minerals found in food sources are easier to absorb than those in supplement form.
Thus, here are 5 foods for upping your vitamin A intake the healthiest way possible.
One whole sweet potato provides 1,403 mcg of vitamin A. Plus, it is low in calories and high in fiber. Bake it in its skin with a salad for a perfect healthful meal!
As you may have known already, carrots are rich in beta-carotene. A half cup of raw carrots goes a long way with 459 mcg of vitamin A.
Like humans, animals also store vitamin A in the liver which makes animal livers among the richest sources of vitamin A. In fact, a 3-ounce serving of beef liver contains 6,582 mcg of this vitamin.
Along with iron and magnesium, spinach is also rich in vitamin A. A half cup of it boiled contains 573 mcg of vitamin A. Bonus points for being an easy ingredient to incorporate in any recipe.
A half fillet of this fatty fish contains 229 mcg of vitamin A. It is very low in saturated fat and a good source of protein.
Perhaps vitamin A is most notable for a healthy eyesight. But its benefits do not just stop with a fine vision. If truth be told, it extends to nearly every important process in our body.
Take note, however, that while deficiency causes so many complications, so is exceeding its daily limit of 3,000 mcg. Eat a balanced meal to ensure you get a healthy amount of vitamin A along with other vitamins and minerals in your diet.
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