Vitamin A: Now you see it July 25 2014, 0 Comments
It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 malnourished children worldwide become blind each year due to a vitamin A deficiency that could have been prevented by a proper diet. It is still the number one cause of blindness worldwide. Although severe vitamin A deficiency is rare within the United States it is still seen in affluent communities in varying degrees. Most of us could certainly benefit greatly from adding more of it either through Vitamin A rich foods, or through supplementation.
Vitamin A is a group of antioxidant compounds that play a vital role in our vision, skin health, bone growth, and in the health of our immune system. It is our anti-infection vitamin, along with the help of zinc. It presents in two types, depending on the source, be it from animal derived foods (retinol), or from colorful fruits and vegetables (provitamin A carotenoids) which are converted to Retinol by the body after consumption.
Vitamin A in the form of Retinol is a critical component in the formation of the protein Rhodopsin, which is what absorbs light in the retinal receptors of our eyes which helps us see at night. If we are exposed to excessive light at night, it requires more Vitamin A. So if you are driving at night with bright lights shining at you, this would be the case. Night blindness is usually the first sign of Vitamin A deficiency. A lack of vitamin A can also cause dry eye syndrome, which is why many eye drops contain vitamin A. Some studies have even shown that taking Vitamin A supplements in certain amounts can reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Vitamin A is an important factor in the formation and repair of epithelial cells, of which skin and mucous membranes are composed. It can help prevent skin disorders such as acne and other inflammatory skin disorders. It is also known to slow down the aging process. Applied topically as Tretinoin, (the main ingredient in Retin-A and Renova) it reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and helps to fade age spots.
By forming and repairing the mucous membranes throughout our body including the lining of the bladder and uterus, Vitamin A helps to strengthen our immunity against viruses and bacteria. If you are having a lot of mucous drainage or coughing, you will also lose more Vitamin A and require more of it to replenish this loss. It is a powerful antioxidant, which means that it seeks out and destroys free radicals in the body, thereby helping to prevent cancer and other diseases.
As humans, we cannot produce Vitamin A in any form in our bodies. It has to come from food or supplements. It is vital that we pay closer attention to whether or not we are getting sufficient amounts of Vitamin A and other essential vitamins and minerals that will aid in a healthier life.
Great sources of Vitamin A include:
Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Kale, Squash, Romaine lettuce, Apricots, Cantaloupe, Red peppers, Mangoes, etc.
By: Katherine Wallace