Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is greatly needed by the retina of the human eyes. It’s very vital for the enhancement of color and low-light vision. It’s also a generic term for related compounds such as retinal and retinol. The vitamin also has alternative names such as Retinol, Retinoic acid, Cartenoids and Retinal.
Functions of Vitamin A
• Vitamin A helps a lot in the maintenance of a healthy skin, mucus membrane, teeth and other soft tissues of the body.
• It helps a lot in enhancing vision since it produces enough pigments for the retina. Usually when light passes through the lens of the eyes, it’s picked up by the retina and then converted to a nerve impulse by the brain. Vitamin A or Retinol is usually transported to the retina through a circulation process whereby it accumulates as pigments in the retina. This helps a lot in vision enhancement.
• Vitamin A enhances breastfeeding in women and the process of reproduction.
• It also helps in the regulation of gene expression.
• It promotes immunity and also prevents your body system from diverse illnesses.
• The vitamin is also required for growth and development. It’s very essential for the development of the embryo in the uterus. During fetal development, vitamin A helps a lot in the growth of the limbs and other parts of the fetus. It also helps in the formation of the fetal eyes, ears and heart.
• Vitamin A helps a lot in the production of Red Blood Cells. It facilitates the mobilization of iron from various storage locations for the development of the red blood cells.
• Vitamin A interacts with various body nutrients with the aim of promoting good health. For instance, Zinc deficiency interferes with Vitamin A metabolism is various ways. Vitamin A deficiency may also enhance iron deficiency in the human body. When Vitamin A works hand in hand with Iron, anemia is greatly reduced in the human system.
Various Sources of Vitamin A
Vitamin A can be derived from various sources such as Beef liver, Cheddar Cheese, Egg yolk, fortified milk, sweet potato, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, Apricots, Broccoli, Collard greens, pink grapefruit, leafy vegetables and Spinach. It can also be gotten from animal sources such as kidney, cod, and halibut fish oil and so on.
Vitamin A Deficiency
When you lack Vitamin A, you’re sure to suffer a lot of deficiencies in your body systems. Discussed below are some of the deficiencies that will show when the vitamin is lacking.
• Vitamin A Deficiency and Vision
Vision impairment is inevitable when Vitamin A is lacking in your system. In most cases, the issue of vision impairment abounds in the lives of children and even adults who don’t take foods rich in Vitamin A. When such is the case, the individuals involved will encounter series of vision problems such as night blindness, dry eye and so on. In most cases, mild deficiency of Vitamin causes bitots’ spots or changes in the conjunctiva. When the deficiency is very severe, dry eye will showcase.
• Infectious Diseases and Vitamin A Deficiency
When you lack enough supply of Vitamin A, lots of infectious diseases will have inroad in your body systems. Vitamin A is known for boosting the immune system when it’s present in full scale. However, when it’s completely or partially lacking, you’re bound to contact lots of dangerous diseases. Children who lack the vitamin easily develop respiratory impairments and diarrhea. There’s also a high rate of infant mortality when the vitamin is lacking in children.
Again, pregnant women living with HIV who lack Vitamin A are very much likely to transfer the virus to their kids without delays.
Other Side Effects of Vitamin A deficiency
When you lack enough Vitamin A in your system, you’re prone to fall sick often. Your immune system is drastically reduced. You’ll be very susceptible to any air-bone diseases that fly across your direction. Again, you’re sure to have vision problems when the vitamin is lacking. You might even become blind if care is not taken.
The side Effects of Excess Vitamin A
It’s quite clear that deficiency of Vitamin A comes with lots of health challenges. In the same vein, there are also health challenges when the vitamin is in excess. If you have too much of it, you’re likely to become very sick. Large doses of the vitamin can lead to birth defects in the lives of infants.
There’s also what is known as “Acute Vitamin A poisoning”. This occurs when you take large amounts of vitamin A sources. This can be very dangerous to your health. Children who also get involved in the poisoning are likely to encounter several health challenges.
Recommendation for Taking Vitamin A
Since excess of vitamin A and its deficiency are both dangerous, there’s every need for you to know the right dosage required. It’s generally recommended that women should take 800 mcg of Vitamin A daily, while men should take 1000 mcg on daily basis.
However, the best way to get a balanced Vitamin A dosage for better health is to consume specific fruits and vegetables on daily basis. You also need to take legumes, whole grains, lentils and other vitamin sources on daily basis.
Meanwhile, certain recommendations concerning the proper intake of Vitamin A has been made by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine as follows:
• Infants within 0 – 6 months are required to take 400 mcg per day
• Infants within 7 – 12 months are to take 500 mcg per day
• Children within 1 – 3 years are to take 300 mcg per day
• Children within 4-8 years are to take 400 mcg per day
• Children within 9 – 13 years are to take 600 mcg per day.
• Males from 14 years and older are to take 900 mcg per day
• Females from 14 years and older are to take 700 mcg per day.
How to know when you have too much or too little of Vitamin A?
It’s always important you get to know about the right dosage for Vitamin A in your body system. However, it might be very difficult to actually know exactly when you’re having too much of it or too little of it. You don’t really need to worry too much. All you need is to watch out the reactions from your body system. If you begin to notice traces of night blindness or eye irritation, you ought to know that Vitamin A is lacking. When you begin to fall sick often, you’ll notice that your immune system is weak. This may also be a sign of Vitamin A deficiency.
However, when you begin to notice nausea, blurred vision or irritability, this may be a sign of overconsumption of Vitamin A. Again, when you take too much of Vitamin A, the palms of your hand and the bottoms of your feet may turn orange in color. Your skin may also turn yellow.
On the other hand, excess lack of Vitamin A may lead to hair loss, enlarged spleen, liver damage, increase risk of bone fractures and growth retardation.
Having seen the above pieces of information concerning Vitamin A, there’s every need for you to take adequate precaution. The vitamin can make or mar you. When you take excess of it, your health is endangered. When it’s lacking in your system, your health is also endangered. There’s need for you to strike a balance here. You need to make sure you have the right dosage for vitamin A at any point in time.
The right precaution to take is to make sure you consult a dietician to help you arrange the right quantity of food sources that can give you the right dosage of Vitamin A. Your dietician should be able to let you know the right kind of food to go for per time.
Again, when you begin to notice unusual symptoms in various sections of your body, you need to go for proper check up. If you begin to notice some forms of eye problems, that may be an indication of lack of Vitamin A. You need to consult an oculist to help you out. It’s always important you go for regular medical checkup at the hands of a good doctor in order to know your health status per time.
In the final analysis, Vitamin A still remains a very vital vitamin the body requires for healthy growth. It’s very important you know the right sources of the vitamin and make the most out of them. You don’t need to look very far when looking for suitable sources for the vitamin. You can always have the best of the vitamin from the local fruits and vegetables you take on daily basis. All you need to do is to exercise some caution when eating and drinking. You’re sure to enjoy a better life when you have adequate supply of Vitamin A on daily basis.