Function of Vitamin A:
Vitamin A plays an essential role in vision (particularly night vision), normal bone and
tooth development, reproduction, and the health of skin and mucous membranes.  It
also acts as an antioxidant.  Antioxidants are nutrients that provide some protection
against various health conditions such as heart disease, arthritus, and cancer.  Like
other antioxidants, vitamin A blocks some of the damage that is caused by free
radicals.  Free radicals are by-products that occur when our bodies transform food
into energy.  Antioxidants also help to reduce damage to the body that is caused by
toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.


Deficiency of Vitamin A:
Vitamin A deficiency is common among children in many developing countries.  It is
usually caused by malnourishment.  Iron deficiency can affect vitamin A uptake,
excess alcohol consumption can deplete it, and a stressed liver may be more
susceptible to vitamin A toxicity.  Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness and diminishes
the ability to fight infections.  There is some concern that taking fish oil for many
months may induce a deficiency of vitamin E.   

Night blindness is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency.  When children are not
immunized, infectious disease like measles have relatively higher fatality rates.  Some
health care providers believe that even mild deficiency can be a problem because it
may increase children's risk of developing respiratory and diarrheal infections,
decrease growth rate, slow bone development, and decrease likelihood of survival
from serious illnesses.

Note: A variety of medical conditions can lead to the symptoms mentioned above.  Therefore, it is
important to have a physician evaluate them so that appropriate medical care can be given.


Toxicity (Vitamin A Overdose):
Too much vitamin A can be harmful or fatal, resulting in what is known as
hypervitaminosis A.  Excess vitamin A has also been suspected to be a contributor to
osteoporosis.  Excess preformed vitamin A during early pregnancy has also been
associated with a significant increase in birth defects. These defects may be severe,
even life-threatening.   For some, since vitamin A is stored in the fat cells, when too
much is stored one can begin to itch from the inside out (a kind of tingling, itchy
sensation).


Caution: Eating natural foods that are high in vitamin A is the safest and healthiest
way to get an adequate supply of the nutrient.  Due to risk of toxicity, individuals
should always consult with a knowledgeable health care provider before starting
doses of supplements.  Before giving supplements to children, it is recommended that
you first consult with their pediatrician.  Also, some supplements may interfere with
medications.  If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you consult with
your physician before taking any supplements.  All supplements should be kept in
childproof bottles and out of children's reach.


Vitamin A Food Chart (List of Foods High in Vitamin A):

Cod liver oil, 1 teaspoon - (4,500 IU)
Sweet potato, baked, 1/2 cup - (3,203 IU)
Pumpkin, canned 1/2 cup - (3,177 IU)
Squash, butternut, cooked, 1/2 cup - (1,907 IU)
Sweet potato, mashed, canned 1/2 cup - (1,848 IU)
Carrots, raw, chopped, 1/2 cup - (1,793 IU)
Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup - (1,572 IU)
Cantaloupe 1/2 medium melon - (1,555 IU)
Kale, cooked, 1/2 cup - (1,475 IU)
Collards, cooked, 1/2 cup - (1,285 IU)
Fortified breakfast cereals 1 serving - (500-767 IU)
Egg 1 large - (303 IU)
Mango 1 fruit - (263 IU)
Whole milk 1 cup - (227 IU)
   



Sources:

American Dietetic Association: Complete Food And Nutrition Guide (2nd Edition)
Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS

Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and More
Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH

University of Maryland Medical Center - umm.edu

Linus Pauling Institute - oregonstate.edu

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
Eating foods that are good
sources of vitamin A can help
prevent conditions such as
cancer, skin disorders, and vision
problems.  Foods high in vitamin
A include: cod liver oil, eggs,
carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe,
mangoes, collard greens,
broccoli, spinach, and sweet
potatoes.


What is Vitamin A?
The dietary form of vitamin A is
called retinol.  It is a fat-soluble,
antioxidant vitamin.
Copyright © EveryNutrient.com
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The content on
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