The Versatility of Vitamin A
The Versatility of Vitamin A
Staying topped up on your Vitamin A stores are an important part of maintaining overall health. As a fat soluble hormone, Vitamin A has the ability to dissolve in fat, allowing it to hang out in the body’s tissues for long periods of time. Vitamin A is used throughout the body for a wide array of different functions:
- Vitamin A is used in the eye in the process that allows us to see
Vitamin A is an integral component of the system that translates incoming light into a signal that our brains can recognize, understand, and process into vision. The Vitamin A molecule teams up with another protein called opsin that registers dim light. For this reason, people who are deficient in Vitamin A generally have a difficult time seeing at night.
- Vitamin A helps stem cells differentiate and form all the different types of body cells.
Vitamin A plays an important role in directing protein production in the cell, including enzymes, blood carrier proteins, and structural proteins found in the skin. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to hard, bumpy, scaly skin that doesn’t go away unless Vitamin A levels are restored. This happens because the skin epithelium, the layer of skin that produces the skin, stops producing new cells, and the tough protein keratin builds up and plugs the skin’s hair follicles.
- Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy mucous membranes and a robust immune system
Vitamin A is important for immune function too. Because Vitamin A is an important component to skin formation, Vitamin A deficiency leads to a weakening of the skin, the first line of defense against microorganisms. What’s more, once pathogens get through the skin, immune cells that use Vitamin A to multiply and respond to the threat are less able to defend against the attack.
- Vitamin A is a crucial ingredient needed for healthy bone formation.
Lastly, Vitamin A helps to produce the bone cells (osteoblasts and osteoclasts) that reshape and remodel our skeletons through life. As we grow, bones aren’t just enlarged in size, they are reshaped, and Vitamin A is an important part of the process. Without sufficient levels of Vitamin A, both children and adults can become misshapen and deformed in the severest cases.
Some foods that contain Vitamin A include:
- Beef liver
- Sweet potato
- Chicken liver
- Bran cereals
One note about Vitamin A toxicity; because Vitamin A can be stored in the body, megadoses are potentially harmful since the body does not break down and remove Vitamin A as quickly as water soluble vitamins. Therefore, supplements that contain Vitamin A should contain reasonable levels, and certainly n more than the RDA value of 900 micrograms for males and 700 micrograms for females per day.
Check our products that contain Vitamin A:
1) Insel P, Turner RE, Ross D. Discovering Nutrition. 3rd ed. Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury Massachusetts. pp 326-335.