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Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin – what that means is that this vitamin is stored in the body for long periods of time. If a person takes too much of a fat-soluble vitamin, this could be potentially dangerous due to the condition known as hypervitaminosis. You may be deficient in some fat-soluble vitamins if your fat intake is low or if your fat absorption is compromised. This could be something to watch for if you are cutting weight or preparing for a bodybuilding competition.
Vitamin A is utilised in immune function, vision, reproduction, and of course cellular communication. It also supports cell growth and differentiation which makes it very important in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys and many other organs.
In a general human diet, we eat two forms of Vitamin A: Preformed Vit A (such as retinol and retinyl ester) and Provitamin A (Such as carotenoids and xanthophylls). Preformed Vitamin A is found in animal food sources such as dairy products, fish, and meat, whereas Provitamin A is found in plant foods. The safest way to intake vitamin A is in the form of Provitamin A which are derived from carotenoids such as beta-carotene found in carrots.
To clarify, vitamin A’s two forms are listed below:
- Biologically active form: Retinoids which are found in animal sources and fat soluble.
- Has to be converted to active form: Carotenoids which are found in plant sources and water soluble. These need to be converted into retinol to be properly utilised in the human body.
Here’s something to note: Provitamin conversion efficiency is dependent on each individual and is important in maintaining and achieving appropriate Vitamin A status. So eat a proper balance between meat and vegetables.
Are you at a risk for Vitamin A deficiency? It is rare to be deficient in Vitamin A in a first world country. Signs of deficiency include:
- Night blindness
- Lowered immune function
- Hormonal imbalances
- Mood disorders
- Skin problems such as eczema and acne
- Thyroid dysfunction.
Strict vegans and vegetarians who avoid all animal-derived foods, as well as alcoholics, are at higher risk than normal. Medical conditions which interfere with the digestion of fat including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, gallbladder and liver disease, infants and diabetics could also be at higher risk of Vitamin A related diseases.
Supplementation Advice: When taking supplements, most vitamin A supplements/multi-vitamins will supply Vitamin A in the form of preformed Vit A such as retinol or retinoic acid which in large prolonged doses is toxic. High dosages may increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and all causes of mortality, synthetic Vitamin A should be avoided. Signs of toxicity includes hair loss, confusion, bone loss and even liver damage. However, when eating natural Provitamin A such as carotenoids, an excessive intake will result in a yellow-orange appearance of the skin like an Oompa Loompa. When taking supplements, look for a supplement that contains plant-derived Vitamin A such as beta-carotene or ‘mixed carotenoids’ as they carry a much lower risk of toxicity. Beta-carotene is the most efficiently converted in the human body.
Vitamin A’s partner in crimes include:
- Vitamin A + Zinc maintain eye health.
- Vitamin A + Vitamin D regulate Vitamin K-dependent proteins which lead to better bone and teeth health, protect arteries, soft tissues and protect against cell death.
- Vitamin A + Magnesium support protein production.
- Vitamin A + Dietary Fats is needed for absorption.
The Australian RDI’s for Vitamin A are listed below:
- Men 19-70+: 900µg/day
- Women 19-70+: 700µg/day
- Pregnancy: 700-800µg/day
- Lactation: 1100µg/day
10 Sources of Vitamin A in order of highest to lowest:
- Baked sweet potato
- Fried beef liver
- Boiled spinach
- Raw carrots
- Raw cantaloupe/rockmelon
- Raw red peppers
- Raw mango
- Boiled black eyed peas
- Dried apricots
- Boiled broccoli
To read more about Vitamin A, head to – https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
To see/purchase the GMP pharmaceutical grade, NSF, TGA, FDA, Informed Choice and potency guaranteed approved products that I have trusted for my personal supplementation for the last 15 years, click here.
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