Unlock the Power of Vitamin A for Optimal Health

The expression “Eat carrots to see better” is not just about convincing your child to eat a healthy vegetable. The main nutrient in carrots, beta-carotene (responsible for the characteristic orange color of this root vegetable), is a precursor to vitamin A and helps your eyes adapt to low light conditions.

You can’t expect to have night vision by eating carrots, but Vitamin A is essential for eye health.

Vitamin A Properties

  • Fat-soluble vitamin
  • Antioxidant
  • Beta-carotene is a provitamin A found in plants. In the human body, it is converted into vitamin A.
  • Retinol is found in animal products.
  • Resistant to alkali and heat.
  • Unstable to ultraviolet rays, acids and air oxygen. Under their influence is inactivated.
  • Deposited in the liver.

As part of products of animal origin, containing its active forms – retinal and retinol. These active forms without additional chemical reactions are immediately included in metabolism.

Vit A is synthesized in our body from carotenoids, which are found in many fruits and vegetables of yellow and orange color. There are very abundant in carrots. These include a, b and d-carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin. The best known of the carotenoids is b-carotene. The other carotenoids (about 500) have no provitamin activity, but have independent importance as lipid-soluble antioxidants and singlet oxygen traps.

Singlet oxygen is a damaging agent against structural proteins, enzymes and nucleic acids. It can lead to the formation of various pathologies – diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, etc. At the cellular level, cell membranes are the “target” of singlet oxygen effect.

The Role of Vitamin A in the Body

  • Participates in cell growth
  • Participates in redox processes, regulation of protein synthesis
  • Protects brain cell membranes from the damaging effects of free radicals, with b-carotene neutralizes the most dangerous types of free radicals
  • Ensures the integrity of surface cells that form the intestinal mucous membranes and epithelial cells, reducing the risk of peptic ulcers
  • Is a means of preventing cancer; being a powerful antioxidant, prevent recurrence of tumors
  • Activates receptors for calcitriol (active metabolite of vitamin D). Promotes the growth and strengthening of bones and teeth
  • Essential for the normal functioning of the immune system
  • Increases the barrier function of mucous membranes, increases the activity of leukocytes and other immune factors
  • Participates in the synthesis of enzymes of epithelial tissues that prevent premature keratinization – the process of dying and keratinization of cells in the epidermal layer of the skin. Slows down the aging process
  • Increases attention and accelerates reaction speed

Lutein and zeaxentin are the main carotenoids that protect the eyes, help prevent cataracts, reduce the risk of degeneration of the yellow spot (the most important organ of vision), which is the cause of blindness in one in three cases. Participate in the synthesis of rhodopsin in the rods of the retina, necessary for twilight vision.

Vitamin A Deficiency

  • Slow wound healing
  • Papules, flaking, early skin aging, seborrheic dermatitis
  • Increased susceptibility to infectious diseases
  • Increased sensitivity of tooth enamel
  • Brittleness, slow growth of nails
  • Dandruff, dull hair, hair loss
  • Decreased visual acuity, chicken blindness, impaired perception of blue and yellow colors, dry eyes, a feeling of sand in the eyes, the development of conjunctivitis
  • Inflammation of the genitourinary system, burning and itching when urinating
  • Insomnia and exhaustion
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decreased libido, infertility, diseases of the urogenital area.

Vitamin A Deficiency Reasons

  • Insufficient amounts in foods, especially in the winter-spring period
  • Unbalanced nutrition (long-term deficiency of high-quality proteins disrupts the absorption of vitamin A)
  • Limitation of fat intake (vitamin A is fat-soluble)
  • Insufficient intake of vitamin E. This vitamin is an antioxidant and prevents the oxidation of vitamin A, thus improving its absorption
  • Zinc deficiency leads to impaired conversion of vitamin A into the active form, as well as to slow its flow to the tissues. These two substances are interdependent: vitamin A promotes the absorption of zinc, and zinc, in turn, promotes the absorption of vitamin A
  • Diseases of the pancreas
  • Diseases of the liver and biliary tract
  • Intestinal diseases, significant small intestinal resections, malabsorption syndrome.

Vitamin A Excess

Vitamin A excess:

  • Can occur with very high doses taken daily for months
  • Hypervitaminosis due to increased carotene levels in foods is impossible

Signs of excess include:

  • Drowsiness, lethargy, irritability
  • Facial redness, itchy skin, cracks at the corner of the mouth. Night sweating. Loss of tooth sensation
  • Bleeding gums
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Gait disturbance
  • Bone pain in the lower extremities
  • Increased intracranial pressure, headache
  • Hair loss, brittle nails
  • Menstrual irregularities up to cessation of menstruation
  • Enlargement of the liver and spleen.

Top Foods Containing Vitamin A

  • Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli)
  • Orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squashes)
  • Tomatoes
  • Red bell peppers
  • Cantaloupe, mango
  • Beef liver
  • Fish oil
  • Milk
  • Eggs
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