As summer winds to an end, kids will be going back to school, and before we know it, the holiday season will be here. This time of year can also bring back the cold and flu season, yuk. Having had respiratory flu last year, I am determined to keep my immune system as strong as possible. By following an Eating for Health Diet, I am giving my system the best tools to fight off sickness.

Vitamin A is one of those nutrients that can help with this battle.

What is vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in many foods. There are two different types of vitamin A.

  1. Preformed vitamin A is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. This is the most concentrated form. Retinal and retinol are referred to as preformed Vitamin A.
  2. Provitamin A is found in yellow-orange vegetables, dark leafy vegetables, and fruits. Beta-carotene and carotene are the provitamin A forms.

 

What does it do?

Vitamin A is essential for a healthy body and it has many beneficial properties, such as:

Boost Immunity: Vitamin A enhances the body’s immunity against infections. It not only prevents the germs from entering your body, but also helps to fight the infections once the germs gain entry into the body.

Improves Vision: Vitamin A can aid in improving vision. It enables your eyes to adjust to light changes, keeps the eyes moist, and also improves night vision. It can also significantly cut down the risks of cataracts and macular degeneration, which is commonly associated with aging. It ensures healthy and beautiful eyes. It is also thought to be beneficial for people suffering from glaucoma.

Skin Care: Vitamin A helps to keep your body free from free radicals and toxins, which might cause damage to your skin. It helps to keep the skin soft and supple by ensuring moisture retention and protecting the skin from conditions like psoriasis.

Strong Bones and Teeth: Vitamin A strengthens the bones and teeth. It helps in the formation of dentin, a layer of hard material just below the surface of the teeth, thereby enhancing their strength.

Slows Aging Process: Vitamin A is famous for its wrinkle-eliminating properties, which can reduce age spots and fine lines. It can slow down the aging process by enhancing the overall health of the skin.

Lowers Cholesterol: Vitamin A lowers blood cholesterol levels, thereby protecting you against the serious risks of heart disease and stroke.

Prevents Cancer: Vitamin A is also a powerful antioxidant, which can prevent certain forms of cancer such as colon, lung, and prostate.

 

Vitamin A content for some foods: (per 3-1/2 ounce serving)

  • Liver, Beef – 43,900 IU
  • Chili Peppers – 21,600 IU
  • Carrots – 11,000 IU
  • Collard Greens – 9,300 IU
  • Sweet Potato – 8,800 IU
  • Mango – 4,800 IU
  • Squash – 4,300 IU
  • Cantaloupe – 3,400 IU

 

Supplementation: The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for adult males is 5,000 IU and for adult females is 4,000 IU. Children need 2,000 to 5,000 IU, depending on age. Vitamin A (retinol) should be limited to 10,000 IU total, with no more than 5,000 IU coming from supplements. Vitamin A has a potential of toxicity from supplementation but beta-carotene has no toxicity. When supplementing, it is best to avoid synthetic forms such as acetate or palmitate. A food-based supplement is often the best form when supplementing.

Remember it is best to obtain our nutrients from whole food sources, this way our bodies are better able to absorb and use the nutrients.

For our family, I try to eat a variety of colors throughout the week (eating the rainbow!). We have sweet potatoes at least twice a week; I often bake or roast them. Roasting vegetables is very easy: Cube/cut the vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, radishes, onions, green beans, and etc.), lightly coat with olive oil, season with your favorite seasoning, and roast for 20 to 35 minutes in oven at 400 degrees (the size of the cubes will determine the time).

Do eat vitamin A rich foods on a regular basis? What is your favorite vitamin A rich food?

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Sources:

Health Benefits of Vitamin A or Retinol. Organic Facts. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vitamins/health-benefits-of-vitamin-a-or-retinol.html

Murray, M. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. New York. Atria Books

Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institute of Health.Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/.

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