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All About Vitamin A

We all know vitamins are good for you.

In this blog series, we will highlight one specific vitamin to look at. We will dig a little deeper so you can know what they do, why there important, and what foods they can be found in.

To kick things, off I want to introduce vitamin A!

Vitamins, such as vitamin A, cannot be made by the body, and thus, we must get it through our diet or supplementation.

Vitamins are deemed essential because they all play a crucial role in maintaining cell function and metabolism.

Some vitamins act as co-enzymes that help to power metabolic reactions within the cell and body. Co-enzymes work to upgrade an enzyme so that it is able to work better for a specific reaction.

While other vitamins help to maintain the structure, function, and development of the cells and systems of the body.

Now that you have some idea of what vitamins are, let's take a look at vitamin A.

What is Vitamin A

Vitamin A is fat soluble vitamin. Meaning that they need are best absorbed with dietary fat, and we can store them in our fat tissue, cell membranes and in our liver. Basically, with fat soluble vitamins, they don't need to be consumed every single day because in a well balanced diet, we should be able to maintain our storage.

Other fat soluble vitamins are vitamin D, E, and K.

Vitamin A comes in a few different forms.

Vitamin A from animal products can come in the form of

  • Retinol

  • Retinal

  • Retinoic acid

With retinol being the predominant form in our bodies. Retinol is then converted to 2 other derivatives: 11-cis-retinal and all-trans-retinoid acid, and these are the most bioactive forms of vitamin A that we use.

Whereas vitamin A from plant sources comes in the form of carotenoids.

These carotenoids are called pro-vitamins, and are converted by our bodies into retinol.

What is vitamin A used for?

The primary role vitamin A plays in our body is in mainting the visual system, maintaining cell integrity, red blood cell production, growth and development, and immune and reproductive functioning. There are definitely other roles, however, these are some of the most prominent.

Where can you get vitamin A?

There are many sources of vitamin A, however, the source will determine the form of vitamin A you are getting.

Animal based sources of vitamin A (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid)

  • Egg yolks

  • Liver

  • Milk and dairy

Plant based sources of vitamin A (carotenoids)

  • Dark leafy green vegetables

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Carrots

  • Squashes

  • Pumpkins

  • Yellow maize

  • Mangoes

  • Other red, orange, and yellow vegetables

  • Oranges

  • Mandarins

  • Bell peppers

  • Cantaloupe

As you can see, you can get vitamin A from a lot of places. Some of which I am sure many of you are already eating.

Even though you have more options to get vitamin A from fruits and veggies, the absorption isn't has high compared to animal sources.

This doesn't mean you have to choose one source or the other. Remember we store vitamin A for when we need it. So technically you don't need to have it every day. However it is wise to cover your bases and have a balanced diet so you consume a wide variety of vitamin A sources.

Vitamin A deficiency and toxicity

Determining deficiency in a vitamin and or mineral, is best done with a blood test and with your healthcare provider. There are symptoms that may be associated with deficiency with vitamin A such as:

  • Dry eyes

  • Difficulty seeing in dim light

  • Dry / rough skin

  • Acne

This does not mean if you have the above items that you should take a vitamin A supplement or eat nothing but carrots for a week. This are merely suggestive symptoms.

Because we can store fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, they are able to be toxic to our bodies. However, for most people, this will be rare and not a concern. If you are not feeling well, or are feeling nausea, headache, excessive rashes, dizziness, abnormal fetal development, liver problems, or other symptoms that make you feel off, check with your health care provider.

Disclaimer: this is not medical advice or to suggest that if you have these things you should get a vitamin A supplement. If you do suspect you are low in vitamin A or are taking in too much, consult with your doctor.

This snap shot on vitamin A should help provide you with some more detail on what vitamin A is, why it matters, and how to get in your diet.

If you have questions, leave a comment or email me at !

Lastly, if you want to schedule a call and go over what you should be doing with your nutrition to meet your goals, click the button below!

All the best!


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