Vitamin is an essential nutrient that an organism needs in small amounts. That means, vitamin is very important for the smooth functioning of our body. There are so many types of vitamins that our body needs such as Vitamin A, C, D etc. Among them one of the most important vitamins for our body is Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutrients which has different forms such as retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. This vitamin is very important for almost all parts of our body and their functions. Vitamin A is good for growth and development of our body cells, maintenance of the immune system and good vision. Vitamin A is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of retinal which is necessary for both low-light and colour vision. Vitamin A functions as retinoic acid which is an important hormone-like growth factor for cells.
Below mentioned the benefits of vitamin A:
- The preformed this vitamin, that is, retinol not only creates the necessary pigments in the retina of the eye but also is integral for good vision, especially night vision and overall eye health.
- It helps for skin growth and repair skin.
- It helps in the formation and maintenance of teeth, bones, soft tissues, white blood cells, the immune system and mucus membranes. The beta-carotene of Vitamin A also acts as an anti-oxidant for protecting cells from free radical damage.
- Moreover the natural intake of beta-carotene through vegetables and fruits has been found to helpful in preventing cancer in many studies.
The main symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency:
- Usually mild forms of deficiency may cause no symptoms or just tiredness (fatigue).
- Severe forms of deficiency may cause an increased risk of throat and chest infections and gastroenteritis, delayed growth and bone development in children and teenagers, Infertility and Miscarriage in adults.
- More severe forms of deficiency may cause ‘night blindness’. If it is ignored, results in permanent blindness. Some of the other deadliest forms of this deficiency are measles and pneumonia.
- Other eye problems detected due to Vitamin A deficiency are thinning and ulceration of the cornea on the surface of the eyes, dryness of cornea on the surface of the eye, oval or triangular foamy patches on the white of the eyes, perforation of the cornea, severe sight impairment due to damage to the retina at the back of the eye.
- Other common symptoms are dry skin, dry hair and itching.
One of the main cause of vitamin A deficiency in adults is ‘alcohol consumption’. They should include more vitamin A based foods in their daily diet. Since Vitamin A usually stored in our liver, the damage of liver due to alcohol consumption results in severe deficiency of this vitamin.
- Preformed Vitamin A; retinol is found in animal products such as fortified milk, eggs, meat, cheese, liver, fish oil, cream and kidneys.
- Pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, apricots, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, dark green and leafy vegetables and broccoli.
- The grains such as Soyabean, Masur Dal, Chana Dal, Red Gram Dal, Pearl Millet, Bengal Gram Dal, Green Gram, Moong Dal, Maize, Peas, Horse Gram, Wheat, Ragi, Black Gram Dal etc.
The dosage of Vitamin A is little tricky. Very less can make a person more susceptible to disease and vision problems while too much can create many health problems as well. The dietary intake depends on age, gender and reproductive status. According to studies, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for adult woman is 700 micrograms (mcg) and for adult men is 900 mcg per day.
Overdose of this vitamin causes from skin and hair loss to neurological problems, to gastrointestinal complains. Too much dose can cause to liver injury also. Some symptoms of excess intake is nausea, vomiting, fatigue, balance problems, liver problems, muscle pain, confusion, higher risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture.