VITAMIN A: ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE AND HEALTH
Do you know that Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most micro-nutrient deficiencies in the world? The young children and even the elderly are the most groups at risk most especially in the developing world, and that is why this article, Vitamin: A Essential For Life and Health is put together.
Vitamin A is an important nutrient necessary for proper functioning of the body system. It is a fat-solublevitamin majorly known as retinol.
The World Health Organization has listed retinol as one of the useful and essential medicineneeded for growth and well-being. Vitamin A is a very powerful nutrient because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Forms of Vitamin A
There are two major forms of vitamin A:
Retinol which is from Animal Products
Beta-carotene from a plant product
Retinol: this is called preformed Vitamin A. it is the best form and the most active form of Vitamin A which can be used directly by the body just as it is. It does not need any form of conversion by the body; WOW; isn’t that interesting?
Beta-carotene is also called Provitamin A. They are inactive Vitamin A because it can be converted into Vitamin A or retinol by the body system. This conversion takes place majorly in the small intestine.
Deficiency of Vitamin A
Vitamin A deficiency can either be primary or secondary.
It is primary when it occurs among children and adult who do not consume an adequate intake of vitamin A. it can also be caused by early weaning of a child from Breast milk.
Secondary deficiency is due to the body’s inability to make use of the available vitamin A. This can be due to impaired absorption, transport and metabolism of vitamin A. for example, zinc is essential for vitamin A synthesis in the body.
Furthermore, Vitamin A is fat-soluble; therefore chronic mal-absorption of lipids and bile can affect its usefulness to the body.
Sources of Vitamin A:
Vitamin A like every other food is from two sources; Plant and Animal.
Animal Based Products
Retinol which the preformed Vitamin A is from Animal-based products such as milk, liver, cheese, kidney, egg, cod liver oil and butter products. Generally, dairy products are rich sources of retinol.
Beta-carotene, the preformed vitamin A is from plant-based products, it is majorly found in brightly coloured food/fruits such as carrot, mango, tomato, papaw.
Benefits of Vitamin A
Essential for Eyesight and vision:
Vitamin A is vital for good eyesight. It protects the surface of the eye corneas In fact; the majorsymptom of Vitamin A deficiency is Night Blindness.
Adequate intake of Vitamin A reduces the risk of cataract and macular degeneration. It has been scientifically proven to b beneficially to those who already have glaucoma.
It has been proven that vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of childhoodblindness and if the deficiency is severe; permanent blindness can occur. Studies have shown that vitamin A eye drops are very effective in the treatment of dry eyes.
Vitamin A is listed alongside Vitamin B6, C, and E as an essentialnutrient which enhances the immunity of the body system.
Research by Mindy Hermann, a food and nutrition writer and communication consultant in metropolitan New York revealed that vitamin A impact T cells and B cells that play a role in the health of the mucosa and Vitamin A deficiency affects the immune system negatively.
The mucosa is the mucous barrier in the eye, lung, and guts which can trap bacteria and other infectious agents. Supplement manufacturer recommended Vitamin A for a wide range of skin and other disorder.
Promote Reproductive Health
Vitamin A is known to for aiding the health and functionality of the reproductive system. Vitamin A as an antioxidant that helps protects sperms from free radical damage which reduces infertility and miscarriage.
Vitamin A also promotes the production of cervical fluid in women; this fluid is nourishing to sperm and help their longevity to fertilize the egg.
Serves as Antioxidant
The antioxidant nature of vitamin A help in the following:
Prevent certain forms of cancer
It reduces degenerative diseases.
DO NOT APPLY TO THOSE WHO ARE TAKING VITAMIN A FOR MEDICAL SUPERVISION.
The following dosage recommendation was derivedfrom The national institute of health website.
Birth to 12 month 2,000 1U
1 – 3 months 2,000 1U
4 – 8 month 3,000 1U
9 – 13 month 5,667 IU
14 – 18 month 9,333 IU
19 years and older 10,000 1U
As important as vitamin A is, overdose should be avoided. Low and High dose of Vitamin A is detrimental to health.
High dose of Vitamin A can cause Vitamin A toxicity which is a danger to the body’s health system.
The safest way to get an adequate Vitamin A supply is through adequate food diet and an abundant consumption of fruits and vegetable.