What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a group fat-soluble vitamins that are present in many different foods. Many people don’t realize that Vitamin A is not just one singular compound. They are important for vision, the immune system, reproduction, and the normal function of many organs. There are two types of Vitamin A: preformed Vitamin A (retinoids) and Provitamin A (carotenoids). Retinoids help control immunity and inflammation, maintain cell growth, keep healthy eyes, and sperm production. Carotenoids act like an antioxidant and have anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing capabilities. They also help with cell communication and plays a key role in female fertility.
Where can I find Vitamin A in my diet?
Preformed Vitamin A is found in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Provitamin A is found in fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene can be found in bright yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. It can also be found in dark green vegetables. The more intense the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more beta-carotene is in it.
How does Vitamin A work?
Carotenoids can be converted to retinoids in your body. Therefore, vegetarians/vegans are still able to get the retinoids in their body. However, sometimes this process is compromised due to genetic tendencies, digestive problems, bacterial imbalances in the gut, exposure to toxins, and an imbalanced intake of Vitamin A and D in supplement form. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor to see what kind of Vitamin A your body needs and how best to get those nutrients.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant?
Yes. Many people don’t realize that Vitamin A is an antioxidant. Particularly, beta-carotene is a carotenoid which is found in plant foods. Research shows that food sources of carotenoids such as beta-carotene can reduce risks of cancer. Supplements do not have the same effect, in fact too many supplements can cause other adverse effects such as lung cancer, studies have shown.
REFERENCES: 1. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/ 2. Hamrick I, Counts SH. Vitamin and mineral supplements. Wellness and Prevention. December 2008:35(4);729-747.