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Function of Vitamin A

Updated on September 30, 2014

Carrots Vitamin A

Importance of Vitamin A

Strangely enough vitamin A is not just one component, but a collection of organic compounds that come together to make what we know of as vitamin A. This includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and a collection of provitamin and carotenoids one of which is beta-carotene. Vitamin A is an oil based vitamin, which means that it cannot be processed by the body without eating some fats.

Vitamin A has many different functions in the body, it is important for maintaining the immune system, good vision, and growth and development.

Retinoid in vitamin A is found in the animal foods that we consume, carotenoids in vitamin A are found in the plant foods that we eat. These two forms are chemically different and give us different health benefits. The retinoid form is especially important during pregnancy and childbirth, infancy, childhood growth, red blood cell production, night vision, and it helps our bodies to resist infectious diseases.

Carotenoids also provide us with unique health benefits; they work as antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents in the body.

This leads us to believe that we must eat plants and animals to get the vitamin A that we need for our bodies, but under certain circumstances that may not be the case. This may not apply to everyone, but some people’s bodies are capable of converting carotenoids to retinoids.

Plant foods high in Vitamin A:

  • Sweet potato

  • Carrots

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Collard greens

  • Turnip greens

  • Swiss chard

  • Winter squash

  • Mustard greens

  • Romaine lettuce

  • Cantaloupe

  • Papaya

  • Bell peppers

  • Tomatoes

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Leeks

  • Grapefruit

  • Green peas

  • Asparagus

  • Watermelon

  • Green beans

  • Apricot

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Parsley

  • Broccoli

Animal foods high in vitamin A:

  • Cow’s milk

  • Shrimp

  • Eggs

  • Salmon

  • Halibut

  • Cheese

  • Yogurt

  • Scallops

  • Sardines

  • Tuna

  • Cod

  • Chicken

  • Beef

  • Turkey

  • Lamb

How does vitamin A support your health?

When we think of vitamin A we think about its role in vision, but that is not all this great vitamin does for us. It supports our immune system, inflammatory system, helps to maintain our mucosal and epithelial tissues along with our growth, reproduction, creation of red blood cells, and bone development.

Vision

Vitamin A ~ retinal participates in the synthesis of rhodopsin which is a series of chemical reactions that supports our day vision. On the other hand, vitamin A ~ retinal, helps with low light or night vision. It supports the rod cells of the retina and helps them to be able to detect small amounts of light.

Supports the Immune System and Inflammatory System

Vitamin A supports our immune system and helps it to prevent us from being harmed by unwanted substances. We are exposed daily to things that may harm us; things like pesticides in foods, micro-organisms like bacteria and vitamin A play a huge part in helping our immune system to protect us from adverse affects of these things.

Cell Growth Support

Vitamin A is required for normal cell growth and development, which is one of the reasons it is needed so much during pregnancy. We don’t fully understand everything about this yet, but we do know that vitamin A is very important.

Did you know that vitamin A is important to reproduction as well as growth and development? It is essential for men and women’s reproductive systems. It is a requirement for proper sperm production and regulation of genetic events in the body.

Carotenoids

Recent research suggests vitamin A has a great impact on anti-cancer and anti-aging compounds of the body. It is believed that this is closely related to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the vitamin.

What might cause a vitamin A deficiency?

  • A diet that is extremely low in fat

  • A medical condition that reduces the ability of the body to absorb dietary fat, such as Chrohn’s disease, celiac, gall bladder disease, liver disease, removal of part or all of stomach.

  • Chronic diarrhea caused by gastrointestinal infections

  • Intestinal parasites

  • Viral infections such as measles

  • Exposure to certain toxic chemicals

  • Digestive problems

  • Bacterial imbalances

  • Excessive smoking, drinking

  • Certain over the counter and/or prescription medications

Toxicity

It is almost impossible to eat enough vitamin A to become toxic, however; it can occur if you take a vitamin A supplement. You should check with your doctor if you are considering taking a vitamin supplement, it’s important that you take only what you need.

Thanks for reading Velzipmur aka Shelly Wyatt






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    • velzipmur profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelly Wyatt 

      4 years ago from Maryland

      Thanks jpcmc! I am happy to share with others, but I do realize how hard it can be to incorporate new or different things into your routine! Happy and Healthy New Year to you.

    • velzipmur profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelly Wyatt 

      4 years ago from Maryland

      Thank you Alphadogg16. Health is important to me as well! Glad that I could share and help others, I hope you have a happy and healthy New Year!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      This is very informative. The only thing now is to remember it and actually do something about my routines to make good use of the info. :)

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      4 years ago from Texas

      This was a very well written and informative hub on the benefits of Vitamin A velzipmur. I'm kind of a fitness freak/health nut to begin with. Thanks for sharing. Voted up on your hub.

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