Vitamin A deficiency can occur in some individuals. It is important to note that vitamin A is vital for good vision, normal reproduction and regular cell division. Luckily, vitamin A is readily found in various foods.
Sources of vitamin A
The variety of vitamin A present in foods from animal sources is known as retinol. This is the most dynamic form and the body is capable of converting it into retinoic acid or retinal which are 2 supplementary active variants of vitamin A. The sources of retinol include eggs, dairy products, fortified foods and liver.
The plant-based vitamin A is called provitamin A carotenoids. The popular carotenoids include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. The body converts these to retinol and also considered as antioxidants that protect the body from free-radical damage. The ideal sources of carotenoids include bright and dark green vegetables including spinach, carrots, kale and fruits such as papaya, apricots and mango.
Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency
When it comes to vitamin A deficiency, it can lead to night-blindness which is diminished ability to see under dim light conditions. Another symptom is weakened immune function in which the body has difficulty fighting off infections.
A deficiency due to a poor diet is rare in developed countries and likely due to inflammatory diseases that can damage the digestive tract as well as prevent absorption such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
Alcoholism, pancreatic diseases and zinc deficiency can also affect the amount of vitamin A absorbed in the body. If an individual has any of these symptoms, a doctor should be consulted so that blood tests are ordered to determine if the deficiency is the issue or there are other possible causes.
What happens if there is excess vitamin A?
Anyone can acquire too much vitamin A if not careful. As one of the fat-soluble vitamins that the body can store, supplements are rarely needed and can be dangerous. The tolerable limit of vitamin A in adults is 100 mcg. Consuming large amounts of supplements can trigger headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and visual issues.
Hypervitaminosis A is a condition that develops once the body accumulates enough vitamin A after some time and result to liver issues, birth defects and even weakened bones.
The carotenoids are available as dietary supplements that are believed to work as antioxidants and relatively safer than the pre-formed vitamin A supplements since the body will delay the transformation from carotenoid to vitamin A as the body supplies are filled up.
Nevertheless, substantial amounts of carotenoids can provide the skin with an orange tinge. Based on studies conducted, it revealed mixed results on the safety and effectiveness of the carotenoid supplements. With this in mind, it is best to acquire carotenoids from a healthy diet instead of using dietary supplements.