What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is actually a generic term for organic compounds related to each other and are known as retinoids. Vitamin A is also fat soluble, meaning the vitamin can be stores in the fat cells of the body. This makes it possible for your body to store too much of the vitamin.
There are two forms of vitamin A: preformed or retinol vitamin A which is found in animal meats, and provitamin A or carotenoid vitamin A which is found in fruits and vegetables. Preformed vitamin A is easier for your body to absorb because it is able to convert into retinol by itself while the body must use energy to convert provitamin A into retinol. Both forms will eventually become retinoic acid, the retinoid most used by the body.
What Does Vitamin A Do?
Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin, immune function, reproduction, cellular communication and reproduction, bone, teeth, mucus membranes and other soft tissue. Vitamin A is known as a retinoid because it helps form pigments in the retina of the eye which help with low light vision. A sign of deficiency is being unable to see at night.
Though not proven, a diet with good vitamin a levels can help prevent measles in children and certain cancers like: breast, colon, cervical, esophagus cancer plus melanoma. There are also topical versions of vitamin A that can help prevent acne and moisturize skin.
How Much vitamin A Do You Need?
The National Institute For Health recommends these doses for healthy vitamin A levels:
|0–6 months*||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|7–12 months*||500 mcg||500 mcg|
|1–3 years||300 mcg||300 mcg|
|4–8 years||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|9–13 years||600 mcg||600 mcg|
|14–18 years||900 mcg||700 mcg||750 mcg||1,200 mcg|
|19–50 years||900 mcg||700 mcg||770 mcg||1,300 mcg|
|51+ years||900 mcg||700 mcg|
Foods that contain high levels of vitamin A are: Cod Fish liver, eggs, fortified cereals and milk, orange and yellow fruits, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and other dark leafy greens.
Consult your doctor and have your vitamin A levels checked to get a dose made specifically for your body.
Overdose and Deficiencies
Overdosing on vitamin A, or Hypervitaminosis A, is possible because of its fat soluble nature. Acute toxicity is when one ingests large amounts of vitamin at one time while chronic toxicity is the slow buildup of the substance over time. Acute symptoms are bone pain, skin changes, and vision changes, drowsiness, irritability, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and increased pressure in the brain.
Chronic symptoms include these along with possible liver disease, osteoporosis, calcification of tissues, kidney damage, and pressure change in the brain. Also confusion, respiratory infection, hair loss, jaundice, ulcers, changed vision, inflammation of bones, bone pain, poor appetite, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sunlight sensitive, rough, dry, itching,or peeling skin, and cracked fingernails.
These conditions can worsen in children and infants including: softening of bone, double vision, bulging eyes, stunted growth, measles and coma.
Be sure to take your vitamins recommended for your body to live a healthy life.