Vitamin A

Vitamin+A

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Overview

Vitamin A is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble vitamins. The most usable form is retinol. The carotenoids are precursors to vitamin A and are converted only when necessary.

Importance

Vitamin A has many functions in the body including:

  • Formation of visual pigments
  • Synthesis of proteins
  • Immune function and wound healing
  • Embryonic development
  • Stem cell differentiation
  • Red blood cell development.

Food Sources

Vitamin A can be found in several foods including:

  • Red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables (e.g. yams, pumpkin, squash, carrots, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, mangoes, melon)
  • Green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, kale, mustard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, bok choy)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products (e.g. cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt).

Deficiencies

Common symptoms and resulting conditions of vitamin A deficiency include:

  • Difficulty seeing in dim light
  • Rough/dry skin.

However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or deficiency in certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.

Excess/Toxicity

Common symptoms of vitamin A excess/toxicity include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Birth defects when pregnant.

However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or an excess of certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.

Note: Hypervitaminosis is caused by consuming excessive amounts of preformed vitamin A (retinal palmitate), not the plant carotenoids. Preformed vitamin A is absorbed rapidly but only cleared slowly from the body.

Recipe

For recipes rich in vitamin A, check out any of the Encyclopedia of Food entries for food items listed above!

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At a Glance

Vitamin A is actually the collective name for a group of fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin A has many essential functions, including helping with the formation of visual pigments (i.e. eyesight), assisting with immune function and wound healing, helping with embryonic development, and more. Vitamin A is perhaps best associated with red and orange vegetables like carrots and red peppers. But it can also be found in green leafy vegetables, eggs, and dairy products.