Vitamin A - For Vision, Skin, And Anti-Aging
Vitamin A has many functions, including keeping skin in good shape, improving night vision, as well as working to keep our bones and teeth strong.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is found in:
Fish liver oil is one of the best naturally-occurring sources of Vitamin A. Cod and halibut are good sources as well. In addition, Vitamin A is found in fruits and vegetables, eggs and milk. Fruits with high vitamin A levels include nectarines, cantaloupes, apricots, mandarin oranges, plums, watermelons and mangoes.
Dark green and brightly-colored vegetables such as kale, collard greens, escarole, chicory, endive, romaine lettuce, broccoli, peas, carrots, red pepper, pumpkin, squash, turnips, sweet potato and tomatoes are excellent sources of Vitamin A.
Adults should try to get around 5,000 IU per day, though more detailed recommendations are found here:
- Woman's RDA
- Pregnancy RDA
- Breastfeeding RDA
- Men's RDA
- Teen vitamins
- Infants 0-6 months
- Infants 7-12 months
- Child vitamins 1-3 years
- Children 4-8 years
- Children 9-12 years
Because it is a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin A should not be taken in excess as it can build up in our body and cause toxic symptoms. This is generally not a problem if you are using food to get your vitamin A. But don't exceed safe levels when taking supplements.
The carotenes are interesting because 30 to 50 of them have been found to be involved in vitamin A activity. Carotenes are plant based forms of vitamin A, and they have an antioxidant effect. They are associated with the bright colors in plants, like red, orange and yellow.
Antioxidants have a protective effect on the body. By donating an electron, antioxidants are able to take away the power of free radicals to harm the body. In other words, the free radical's ability to oxidize cells is eliminated. Oxidation of the body's cells is very similar to what happens when rust appears on a car. Once the cells inside the body start becoming oxidized, serious health complications often result. Some of these adverse conditions include heart disease, macular degeneration, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and cataracts.
Vitamin A has often been called an anti aging vitamin because of its ability to prevent wrinkles. However, it does much more. Vitamin A helps keep the mucous membranes of the body healthy. This includes those found in:
the reproductive system
Vitamin A is also believed to support the body's immune system.
Vitamin A also works at the level of our DNA. To keep blood healthy, sufficient levels of Vitamin A are necessary to help increase the production of RNA. RNA is the part of the cell that includes the instructions for life. When RNA is rapidly reproduced it's able to help create new cells faster so that old and worn out cells can be efficiently replaced.
Vitamin A also lowers cholesterol levels and assists with hormone production.
Vitamin A Deficiencies
When the body doesn't get enough Vitamin A, our vision is first affected. Night blindness and even dry eyes are typical symptoms. In addition to eye trouble, various diseases of the skin including acne and psoriasis can result from inadequate levels of Vitamin A.
Vitamin A deficiencies are generally caused by a poor diet. Those most at risk are the elderly, and those living in parts of the world where poor diets are common, perhaps as a result of poverty.
More information on vitamin A and other supplements is available here.