Vitamin A- Much more than just healthy bones
It is quite a well known fact that Vitamin A is essential for bone health but what is often overlooked is that this family of compounds also has many other benefits to offer. When we talk about this group of Vitamins, there are two sources to consider, retinol and beta carotene. Retinol or the ‘true vitamin’ is in a form that is nearly ready for use by our body whereas beta carotene is the precursor to the vitamin, which needs to be converted by the body before it can be used.
How does Vitamin A help?
Apart from ensuring that your bones are healthy, these fat soluble compounds also play a key role in supporting proper reproductive functions, cell division and cell differentiation and maintaining good vision.
Vitamin A inadequacies have been linked to several serious ailments including cancer, macular degeneration in advancing age and it is believed that the lack of this vitamin increases the risk of contracting measles. Good eyesight also requires Vitamin A as does great skin, an efficient immune system and adequate production of red blood cells.
The vitamin also helps gene regulation. When you fall short of this vitamin, you tend to be more susceptible to infections, so, a deficiency not only makes you sickly, it can also impair your sight, your strength and your overall appearance, quite significantly.
While it is critical to ingest adequate Vitamin A to maintain perfect health, studies also reveal that too much of this nutrient can have some detrimental effects too. In fact, physicians say that excessive Vitamin A can actually lead to bone loss and even increase your risk of fractures.
This happens because the Vitamin A triggers an excess of cells that cause bone break down and it also impairs the beneficial effects of Vitamin D which is critical for preserving bone. This is why, it is important to be aware of the amount of Vitamin A you need and to ensure that you ingest only as much as is necessary.
According to the NHS, daily requirement of Vitamin A is:
• 0.6 mg for women
• 0.7 mg for men
Foods rich in Vitamin A
There are several food stuffs that are great sources of Vitamin A and these include dairy products like cheese, milk, yoghurt and eggs. Calorie conscious individuals can opt for fortified low fat spreads, oily fish, yellow/ red/ green leafy vegetables or yellow fruit like mango, and papaya.
Liver is an excellent source of Vitamin A but to avoid ingesting too much of this nutrient, you should limit this food source to once a week.
• Retinol and Beta carotene are the two sources of vitamin A
• Vitamin A is essential for healthy bones, proper reproduction, cell functions
• Too much Vitamin A can have detrimental effects