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Vitamin A Overview

Vitamin A overview: A is an essential vitamin that is important in eye health and healthy immune function. Found in plants in the form of carotenoids, and in animals as retinols, vitamin A can assist with the absorption and regulation of other fatsoluble vitamins. There are definite limits to vitamin A intake, so dosage and form are important. See text below for more information on vitamin A.

Vitamin A in Human Nutrition:

Vitamin A is important in eye health as it helps form pigments of the retina

It plays an important role in maintaining color, night vision, and helping your eyes adjust to changes in light levels

It helps to maintain a healthy immune response

Often recommended by dermatologists for acne, vitamin A encourages the turnover rate of skin cells

Vitamin A essentially comes in two forms: betacarotene and retinol

Betacarotene, an antioxidant found mainly in plants, can be converted to vitamin A by the liver, though it is largely inefficient compared to retinol, a source of vitamin A found in animal proteins

Vitamin A is necessary for healthy teeth and bone development

This vitamin is stored in the liver and readily used when needed

Vitamin A needs vitamin D, magnesium and zinc in order to be properly assimilated in the body. Zinc in particular helps with the transport and utilization of vitamin A within the body, in addition to absorption

It plays a major role in both preventing vitamin D toxicity as well as preserving vitamin K from being depleted

Proper ratios of vitamins A, D3 and K2 are needed to ensure proper assimilation in the body. Though these ratios are undetermined, less vitamin A:D is preferable since too much vitamin A can lead to a depletion of D3

Vitamin A Deficiency:

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in most countries, though it does exist if a diet is deficient in animal proteins like liver, eggs and butter

Vitamin A deficiency may be the result of liver or digestive disorders, fat malabsorption, zinc deficiency, or inadequate dietary intake. Vitamin A deficiency can result in:

An inability for the eyes to adjust to changes in light levels, often darkness

Depressed immune system leading to an increase in infections (this is very serious in young children, and may lead to an increase in death for children in developing countries who experience this deficiency.)

In young children, a vitamin A deficiency may also lead to impaired growth, dry skin, hair, eyes and nails

In severe cases of prolonged vitamin A deficiency, blindness can occur

Low levels of vitamin A may cause poor assimilation of vitamin K2 proteins

Caffeine may interfere with the absorption of vitamin A, rendering supplements useless

Forms and Sources of Vitamin A:

Alpha and betacarotene, as well as betacryptoxanthin are carotenoids that can be converted to vitamin A by the body, though shouldn’t be relied upon as the primary source of vitamin A. Moreover, large quantities of these foods need to be consumed in order to acquire the proper amounts of vitamin A

Foods containing carotenoids include:

Orange foods like carrots (9,000 IU/1/2 Cup), squash (191 IU/1/2 Cup), sweet potatoes (28,000 IU/1 med.), mangos (2,200 IU/1 med.), cantaloupe (2,700 IU/1/2 Cup), peppers (2,300 IU/1/2 Cup), and pumpkins

Spinach (11,400 IU/1/2 Cup)

Broccoli (1,200 IU/1/2 Cup)

Others:

Dried Apricots

Dandelion Greens

Papaya

Artichokes

Buckwheat

Garlic

Okra

Parsley

Kale

Collar Greens

Retinol is a much better source of vitamin A and, despite some claims, is not dangerous when consumed in the proper quantity. Sources include:

Eggs (200 IU/ 1 med.)

Salmon (170 IU/3 oz)

Liver (beef or cod liver oil)

Grass

Fed Butter

If you do not consume these animals proteins on a regular basis, or are a vegan/vegetarian, consider supplementing with a vitamin A supplement.

Recommended Dosage:

Vitamin A is a fatsoluble vitamin, so it’s often recommended to take it with a good source of fat. Coconut oil is a great source of fat that, when taken with vitamin A, will help it be easily absorbed into the body

If your diet is severely lacking in vitamin A, then consider taking a supplement. Recommended intake of vitamin A is no more than 10,000 IU/day for people 20 yrs and older, though various sources recommend less than that, with women needing only 2,500IU/day and men needing 3,000IU/day

Consider taking this vitamin with D3 and K2, though aim for a 1:2 ratio for vitamin A and D, respectively. For example, I take 5,000IU of D3 daily, so my dose of vitamin A would be 2,5000IU, which is withing the parameters of recommended dosage. Because the ratio of K2 is difficult to determine, I did not include it in this example, and would consider taking the recommended dosage on the bottle

Magnesium and zinc are also good supplements to take with vitamin A, as they all seem to facilitate the absorption of each other

Cod Liver oil is an excellent vitamin A supplement, though does not adhere to vegan/vegetarian diets. Other vitamin A supplements are available, though many contain soy, which is a substance I warn against

Brands I recommend: As of now, I do not have any brands to recommend because they either contain soy, or their    dosage is too high (10,000IU+)