Vitamin A , Benefits, symptoms of deficiency, and sources of this vitamin : Many foods naturally contain vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin. It is essential for healthy vision, the immune system, and reproduction. It also helps the body’s organs to function better, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and others.
We will discuss vitamin A and its effects on the body in this article.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that can be found in many forms in nature. Vitamin A is composed of different types. “Retinoids” are mostly found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products, while “carotenoids” are mostly found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant products. Beta-carotene is the most common carotenoid.
In the body, both of these vitamins are converted to “retinol” by the liver. The lymphatic system then delivers or stores retinol to the body’s cells.
How does vitamin A affect the body?
Nutritionally, this vitamin has many benefits for the body.
1. A powerful antioxidant
Antioxidants are molecules in the body that protect tissues from free radicals.
Free radicals are destroyed by antioxidants and damaged cells are repaired by antioxidants. In addition, antioxidants reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Essential for eye health
The conversion of light into electrical signals transmitted to the brain and the maintenance of vision require vitamin A.
Nyctalopia is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. Rhodopsin is a pigment found in the retina formed by this vitamin. Rhodopsin is very sensitive to light, so it can enable low-light vision.
A person with retinal detachment has normal vision during the day, but in the dark and low light because of rhodopsin deficiency, their vision is severely reduced and eventually goes blind.
Eating adequate amounts of beta-carotene may also prevent vision loss due to aging, in addition to preventing retinal detachment.
“Age-related macular degeneration” (AMD), also known as yellow spot degeneration (YSD), is the leading cause of blindness among people over 60 years of age. The exact cause of this disease is unknown, but oxidative stress may result in retinal cell damage.
Researchers have found that people over the age of 50 with “yellow spot destruction” who take antioxidant supplements are 25% less likely to develop the advanced form.
3. Reduces the risk of cancer
When cells divide or grow uncontrollably in the body, it is called cancer. As vitamin A plays an important role in cell growth and development, its effectiveness in preventing and reducing cancer risk has attracted the attention of scientists.
Beta-carotene intake has been shown to reduce the risk of cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cervical, lung, and bladder.
While high intakes of vitamin A through plant foods have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, animal foods containing active forms of vitamin A do not have the same effect.
Additionally, vitamin A supplements have not been shown to be as effective. Researchers have found an increased lung cancer risk among smokers taking beta-carotene supplements.
4. It is useful for infertility and fetal growth
Women and men alike need vitamin A to maintain a healthy reproductive system and ensure the fetus’s average growth during pregnancy.
An infertility problem in men is caused by a vitamin deficiency that reduces the growth of sperm cells. A deficiency of this vitamin in women also reduces the quality of the egg and hampers implantation in the uterus.
Pregnant women need vitamin A for the growth and development of many major organs and structures of the fetus, such as the skeleton, nervous system, heart, kidneys, eyes, lungs, and pancreas. On the other hand, overuse during pregnancy can cause congenital disabilities for the fetus.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid arbitrary consumption of foods containing large amounts of this vitamin and supplements containing it.
5. Increases the strength of the immune system
Immune system boosting is made possible by vitamin A. The presence of this vitamin in the body will protect the mucosa of parts of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, intestines, and genitals, from bacteria and infectious agents.
White blood cells are also produced and functioned by vitamin A. White blood cells are responsible for absorbing and clearing bacteria and pathogens from the bloodstream. As a result, this vitamin deficiency can increase your susceptibility to infection and delay your recovery if you are sick.
In countries where illnesses such as measles and malaria are common, correcting vitamin A deficiency in children has reduced the risk of death from these diseases.
6.Vitamin A is essential for the skin and its protection
The skin disease acne is chronic and inflammatory. People with this disease develop painful spots and blackheads on their faces, backs, and chests.
oils and waxes that keep your skin oily and waterproof. As a result of excess fat and dead cells blocking the sebaceous glands, acne occurs.
Scars from acne are not harmful to the body, but they can cause anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem in some people.
Vitamin A plays an unknown role in the development and treatment of acne. However, a deficiency in this vitamin may increase acne risk, as it causes the creatine protein to overproduce hair follicles.
Creatine protein overproduction can block hair follicles and make it difficult to drain dead cells.
Vitamin A also has a number of beneficial properties for the skin.
Retinoids are effective against wrinkles, which are the most obvious signs of aging. There are many gels and serums available on the market which contain this vitamin.
Retinoic acid (the active form of retinoids) effectively keeps the skin smooth, fresh, and moist. A vitamin A deficiency can cause dry skin, itching, and brittle hair.
Enhance skin pigments: Vitamin A induces pigment in the skin and promotes natural tanning.
Healing: This vitamin improves and softens the skin and regulates the body’s metabolism to regenerate skin cells.
7.Ensures bone health
Calcium is essential to a protein’s health throughout its lifespan, as you probably already know. A deficiency of vitamin A, however, can lead to osteoporosis since it is vital for bone growth.
The risk of bone fractures is 6% higher for people with vitamin A deficiencies than for people with normal vitamin A levels.
What foods are rich in vitamin A?
Among animal sources, liver and fish are the primary sources of thyroid and active vitamin A. Retinoids are also found in milk and chicken eggs, which contain a precursor to this vitamin.
In addition, green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes, fruits, and some vegetable oils are rich in vitamin A precursors, including beta-carotene.
Is high vitamin A intake harmful to health?
An overdose of retinoids (found in some supplements and medications) can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma, and even death.
As previously mentioned, a high intake of vitamin A during pregnancy can increase the risk of congenital disabilities in infants. Women who may be pregnant should not take high doses of vitamin A supplements.
Additionally, consuming large amounts of beta-carotene or other vitamin A precursors can lead to yellowing or orangeing of the skin. These complications are not harmful, but they may have other side effects.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide. In addition, this vitamin deficiency increases the severity and risk of death from measles and diarrhea.
Consult your doctor before taking vitamin A supplements, as high retinoid intake can cause food poisoning. Additionally, these supplements may interact with birth control pills, anticoagulants, and acne medications.