Vitamin A is a very reliable organic compound which has a lot to offer. For starters, this vitamin is one of the leading contributors to the body’s growth and development functions. It also plays a major role when it comes to boosting the body’s immune system. So, never underestimate this vitamin and make it a point to eat more vitamin A foods.
Plus, your beauty will thank you later once you stock up on your vitamin A, because this vitamin also provides benefits for the eyes; like good eyesight. Other functions of vitamin A is it aids in the neurological functions, it promotes healthy skin, it provides healthy hormonal production and also boosts the functions of the reproductive system, and it also gives support for the functioning of organs like lungs, liver, kidneys, and other digestive organs.
Two Major Categories of Vitamin A
Vitamin A can be categorized into two forms: carotenoid or provitamin A and preformed vitamin A.
The preformed vitamin A is what we call the vitamins present in animal-produced foods. A few examples of preformed vitamin A are meat products and organs like liver, seafood like fishes in particular, and animal byproducts such as dairy products.
Carotenoid, on the other hand, can be provided by plant-based produces. One typical example of carotenoid is the beta-carotene that can be found in colorful vegetables like carrots.
Both performed vitamin A and carotenoid are converted into vitamin A through some forms of metabolism process performed in the body.
Vitamin A Deficiency and Vitamin A Toxicity
Vitamin A Deficiency
Experiencing vitamin A deficiency is dangerous. When a person does not intake the required amount of vitamin A, they can experience various symptoms which range from increased viral infection to possible blindness. The term used for this condition is called xeropthalmia.
Vitamin A deficiency does not only happen when the required daily intake of vitamin A is not met, it can also be because of the body’s lack of functioning ability in terms of converting the sources into the vitamin.
The people who have a high chance of getting vitamin A deficiency are those that have problems with absorbing the vitamin A due to issues in the intestines, people who eat foods that are very low in fat, and even alcohol drinkers; especially alcoholics since the toxicity in their body messes up with the vitamin A levels. In absorbing vitamin A, fats are necessary because they carry out the role of binding together with vitamin A so they can be properly absorbed.
Deficiency Due to Malabsorption
Some of the health problems that can lead to vitamin A deficiency due to malabsorption are:
- Alcoholism or alcohol dependence.
- Gut sensitivity (which is mostly caused by stress)
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis
- Problems with the pancreas or lack of bile production in the gallbladder
- Problems in the liver; and many others
Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
Severe vitamin A deficiency results in quite a number of symptoms. Some of them are:
- Blurred vision that may possibly lead to complete blindness; be sure to immediately seek professional help once you experience unexpected changes in your eyesight in order to diagnose which caused the change immediately.
- Possibility of the cornea getting thick; this is experienced together with blurry vision
- Dryness of the eyes, hair, and mouth
- The person is more prone to developing viral infection such as sinus infections, lungs and respiratory problems, and even ear infections
- Skin issues may also arise if one is vitamin A deficient; severe acne with chance of turning into cysts or cystic acne, flaking of the skin, and dryness of the scalp that results to dandruff.
Too much vitamin A
Also, one must be aware of the consequences of getting too much vitamin A. All vitamins are important for the body, but they are only needed in limited amounts. People usually overdose on vitamin A through supplements or medications, and this causes vitamin A toxicity in the body which can lead to nausea and headaches; and can even lead to coma and death.
Fret not, as long as you get just enough vitamin A in your body, you’re good to go!
Since vitamins are mostly provided by the food we eat, being knowledgeable about which food contains which vitamin is important. There are also available supplements that can be the source of our body’s vitamin needs.
Top 13 Vitamin A Foods
Almost hundreds of foods contain vitamin A, but only some of them are rich with this vitamin.
1. Winter squash
Winter squash is a type of squash that can also be categorized into many other varieties. It has seeds and skin that serve as indicators when the produce must be harvested; wherein once the seeds fully mature and the skin turns really hard, that is when it is ready for harvest. 100 grams of baked winter squash contains about 5,223 international units (IU) of vitamin A.
2. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are a variety of potatoes that are are really sweet in taste and loved by many as a delicacy. 100 grams of deliciously baked sweet potato contains 19,218 IU of vitamin A.
Kale is a green leafy vegetable that is commonly associated to wild-grown cabbages. However, some kale leaves can also be seen to have purplish variants. 100 grams of kale contains 9,990 IU of vitamin A.
It is hard to believe if someone says they don’t know what carrots are, since these vegetables are seen and can be eaten almost anywhere. Their vibrant color makes them worth looking at. They also have a delicious taste that can sometimes be a little sweet, plus every bite of carrot sticks is really crunchy. Carrots can be eaten either cooked or raw, and they are one of the most well-known vitamin A-rich foods. 100 grams of raw carrots contain 16,706 IU of vitamin A.
5. Beef Liver
Beef liver somehow tops the list when it comes to animal products that are high in vitamin A content. 100 grams of beef liver contains about 17,997 IU of vitamin A.
Spinach is another green leafy vegetable that is rich in vitamin A. It also contains a lot more of the other essential nutrients. 100 grams of spinach contains about 8,439 IU of vitamin A.
7. Dried apricots
Apricots are nutritious fruits that are packed with lots of vitamins and minerals, and one of their most abundant vitamin in vitamin A. Apricots can be eaten in a different way, from raw to dried. An amount of 100 grams of dried apricots contain 3,604 IU of vitamin A.
Broccoli is the cousin of cauliflower. They both look the same, but they differ in color. Broccoli has a darker green shade compared to cauliflower. However, the two are just as healthy as their relative. 100 grams of boiled broccoli has 1,548 IU of vitamin A.
Another animal byproduct that tops the list of foods rich in vitamin A is the butter. Butter is a dairy product that is derived from fermented cream or milk. 100 grams of butter contains a count of 2,499 IU.
10. Egg yolk
The healthiest part of the egg is the egg yolk. It contains some of the most beneficial nutrients an egg has. 100 grams of raw egg yolk contains about 1,442 IU of vitamin A.
11. King salmon
King salmon or chinook salmon is a native fish of the Pacific Northwest, mostly by the Alaskan bodies of water. About 100 grams of king salmon boasts an IU of 3,140 of vitamin A.
12. Camembert cheese
Camembert cheese is a cheese product that is made from cow’s milk and was made popular in Camembert, Normandy which is a place in northern France. 100 grams of Camembert cheese contains 820 IU of vitamin A.
Caviar is a common delicacy that is made from fish eggs or roe. They are then added with additional flavorings and spices so they can be eaten. 100 grams of fish caviar contains 905 IU of vitamin A.