Vitamin A Foods

The benefits and best sources

vitamin A foods vitamin D foods vitamin E foods vitamin K foods vitamin B1 foods vitamin B2 foods vitamin B3 foods vitamin B5 foods vitamin B6 foods folic acid foods vitamin B12 foods vitamin C foods

There are many important roles in the body that require vitamin A foods, as this vitamin is an anti oxidant and has hormone like properties.  An important point to remember is that vitamin A cannot be utilised without sufficient zinc and protein.

Vitamin A is fat soluble and therefore is not easily broken down by our body.  This then makes excessive intakes possibly poisonous.

What are the main benefits of vitamin A?

  • Vision - needed for day time vision but vitamin A makes vision possible in dim lighting (night vision).
  • Growth and development of cell membranes, especially during pregnancy.
  • May protect against cancer - especially lung, skin, colon and breast cancers for its involvement in cell adhesion, which is needed to prevent cancer spreading.
  • Production of steroid hormones such as the male and female sex hormones and stress hormones.
  • Fertility - needed for sperm production and maintenance of the menstrual cycle.
  • Bone growth - it is believed that vitamin A helps vitamin D to build fresh bone.
  • Immune defences - vitamin A is thought to be important in helping to fight viruses.
  • Blood clotting
vitamin A foods

The Best Vitamin A Foods?

Vitamin A is found in foods of animal origin in the form of retinol.  The body also converts beta-carotene, found in plant foods, into vitamin A. 

Food sources of beta-carotene:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Most orange vegetables and fruit such as: carrots, red pepper, pumpkin, sweet potato, cress, endive, kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, watercress, dried apricots, cantaloupe, mango, papaya.

Food sources of retinol:

  • Liver (the richest source of retinol)
  • Oily fish such as: mackerel, herring, pilchards and sardines.
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (milk, cheese and butter)

The following may contribute to a deficiency of vitamin A:

  • Alcohol, smoking, tea and coffee, stress and strenuous exercise
  • Viral infections, measles, gastro intestinal infections
  • Periods of fast growth
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive thyroid

Possible deficiency symptoms:

  • Night blindness
  • Eye ulcers
  • Eye pains, burning and itching
  • Dry skin
  • Eczema
  • Dandruff
  • Acne
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Poor hair condition
  • Food intolerances
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Infections such as: thrush, cystitis, kidney and lung infections and colds

Is it possible to eat enough to result in a vitamin A overdose?

It is possible to overdose on any vitamin if enough vitamin A foods are eaten but extremely large amounts need to be eaten for levels to be toxic, which is why an overdose is rare.

Vitamin A toxicity symptoms can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Peeling, redness or itching of skin
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Night blindness

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