A guide to understanding Vitamin A’s significance and health risks
Are you having trouble with your eyesight or irregular growth and development of the body? It might be because you have a deficiency of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the 23 vitamins responsible for an individual’s overall health, along with the minerals and other essential nutrients. Let’s go through the importance of Vitamin A in human physiology and examine what its overdose and deficiency can do.
Knowing Vitamin A Better
Vitamin A is a cluster of fat-soluble nutrients called retinoids. It ensures that our immune system functions efficiently and is also charged with cellular communication. Vitamin A aids cell growth and differentiation, thus, playing a vital role in the formation and maintenance of numerous body organs, including our heart, eyes, and other organs. It also plays a critical role in human eyesight, as it is the essential component of rhodopsin, our body’s light-sensitive protein.
Foods Packed With the Daily Dose of Vitamin A
There are two forms of Vitamin A available in the human diet the preformed vitamin A in retinol and retinyl esters and the provitamin A carotenoids. The preformed vitamin A can be sourced from animal sources like dairy, eggs, fish and organ meat. Provitamin A carotenoids are plant pigments that the body converts into Vitamin A in our abdominal tract. Some of the leading sources of Vitamin A are:
Beef Liver – 713% RDI per serving
Beef Liver is a rich source of acquiring preformed Vitamin A. A single slice of beef liver contains 6421 mcg of vitamin A, which translates to 713% of your recommended daily intake. In 100-gram servings, beef liver has approximately 1049% of the RDI of retinol.
Sweet Potato (Cooked) – 204% RDI per serving
Among the commonly consumed vegetables, sweet potato reigns supreme when it comes to vitamin A contents. A cup of cooked sweet potato contains 1836 mcg of retinol contents, equaling 204% of the RDI. On the other hand, 100-gram servings of sweet potato translate to 116% of RDI for retinol per serving.
Mango – 20% RDI per serving
It is not wrong to say that mango is the king of the fruits because it contains higher amounts of vitamin A than any other fruit. A medium mango totals 181 mcg of retinol, making up 20% of the RDI. Hundred grams of mango equal to 6% of RDI of vitamin A.
Goat Cheese – 13% RDI per serving
It is one of the most impeccable dairy sources of retinol. A single slice of goat cheese contains 115 mcg, equalling 13% RDI of vitamin A. Hundred-gram servings contain 407 mcg, which totals 45% of RDI of retinol.
Why Shouldn’t You Go Overboard?
Since vitamin A is fat-soluble, the body stores the excess contents primarily in the liver, which can accumulate over time. Acute Vitamin A toxicity or hypervitaminosis A can occur within days or weeks after someone consumes extra vitamin A (over 100 times the RDI).
The results typically include severe headache, blurred vision, nausea and coordination problems, to name a few. In some extreme cases, the cerebral spinal fluid pressures can rise, leading to drowsiness, eventual coma, and sometimes even death. Chronic hypervitaminosis A can also cause dry skin, painful joints and muscles, depression, fatigue and abnormal liver test results.
Lack of Retinol and How to Identify It?
A deficiency of vitamin A is rare in developed countries. However, people from developing countries can develop a vitamin A shortage because of the lack of foods having preformed vitamin A and a diet lacking provitamin A carotenoid sources. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants and children are at the highest risk of retinol deficiency. Chronic diarrhea and cystic fibrosis can increase your risk of vitamin A deficit.
The signs of a vitamin A deficiency include – dry eyes and skin, throat and chest infections, acne and breakouts, and dismal wound healing. A retinol deficiency can lead to problems like night blindness, infertility, trouble conceiving, and impaired growth. If you frequently face the symptoms mentioned above, you must visit your doctor and get a complete diagnosis.
Since you are now aware of the importance of vitamin A in your body functions, ensure that you include foods with vitamin A for better body functioning. Excessive consumption of retinol is not recommended, as it can have serious health risks. And, if you experience any frequent symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency, consult your doctor at the earliest.