What is Vitamin A and How Was it Discovered?

One of the most important nutrients for human being, and the most overlooked is Vitamin A. Vitamin A is associated with a family of molecules that have similar shape called retinoids. The major form of this substance, in digestible of animal origin is ester. When the ester is converted to an alcohol or retinol, it is absorbed by the small intestine. It can exist as an alcohol or acid and is present in food that comes from plants. The orange color a carrot is made up of two rings of retinoid groups and is represented by its name beta-carotene. This group when attached to a particular protein becomes a basic light absorber during the process of seeing when related to the retina.

Vitamin A can be found is many forms. It can be found as retinol when you eat foods from animals. It can be absorbed by fat and has a yellow hue. This is important for bone growth and your vision. When you take the vitamin by capsule, you are taking it in retinol form because the acidic version is too unstable. Retinoids are another form of the nutrient and it is related chemically to the substance and is used in the medical field.

It was discovered in 1906 by Lafayette Mendel and Thomas Osborne. During research in which they discovered that other things besides carbs, proteins, and fats were needed to keep cattle healthy, they concluded that since Vitamin B (which had just been discovered) was water soluble, anything that was absorbed by fat in this form would be Vitamin A.


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