Sources of Vitamin A
When you take those long road trips from one end of the country to the other, you can thank vitamin A for your ability to drive through the night. Good vision, especially at night, is the result of vitamin A enabling proper function of the retina.
In fact, vitamin A, promotes healthy cellular growth throughout our bodies. It also is thought to
- discourage infections of the respiratory and intestinal tracts
- enrich and support the overall immune system
- repair damage DNA
- promotes healthy bones, teeth, skin, and hair
- maintain healthy mucus membranes
- expedite healing of rheumatic fever and infectious hepatitis
Even though we are highly dependent on vitamin A, neither plants nor animals actually contain it. Rather, plants comprise water-soluble beta carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Animal products consist of fat soluble precursor to vitamin A, called preformed or provitamin A. Once ingested, our bodies produce a chemical change to turn the precursors into vitamin A.
Beta carotene is the preferred source of vitamin A since it is both water soluble and an antioxidant. That means by eating apricots, asparagus, broccoli, cantaloupes, carrots, spinach, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, red peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, peas, and oranges, you will fight off those pesky free radicals, contributing to cellular demise, which often results in cancer and heart disease.
Among the animal products that provide fat-soluble version of the vitamin are beef, chicken, and fish liver, salmon, swordfish, sole, butter, cheese, and eggs. But if you need to supplement your intake of vitamin A, be sure to do so from a plant source rather than a fatty animal source. Rest assured, however, that most people are not low on A; the fat-soluble form of the vitamin is stored in your liver and usually contains about a 2-year supply.