The Top 10 Vitamin A Rich Foods + Recipes
Why is Vitamin A important? How much do you need each day? What do deficiencies look like? Which foods and recipes contain it?
Why is Vitamin A important and what does it do in the body?
Vitamin A performs many purposes in the body, including:
Maintenance of good eye health: Poor adaptation to changes in light and diminished night vision may be symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency.
Growth and development and the synthesis of glycoproteins: These are very important for cellular communication and vital for a healthy immune system.
Maintains the secretions of our “wet membranes” including those in our gut, lungs, nasal passage and sinuses: It stimulates our immune cells and increases the antibody response against any ”bad guys,” like bacteria and viruses that invade us. It has demonstrated significant antiviral activity, especially against measles.
Vitamin A, especially in its form beta carotene, helps in the process of reproduction and the maintenance of the corpus luteum, a gland which produces progesterone (a hormone which is important for menstrual function and pregnancy). Deficiencies in Vitamin A are consequently associated with infertility and irregular menstrual cycles.
Vitamin A, especially the carotenes, have high antioxidant activity. This means that they protect our cells from free radical activity (unstable molecules that cause damage to cells) and may help to prevent premature aging. It has been shown that even though more beta carotene is converted to vitamin A, alpha carotene has higher antioxidant powers. Lycopene is one of the most powerful antioxidants available. It has double the antioxidant capacity of beta carotene.
Vitamin A is also helps to prevent skin disorders including the overproduction of keratin (hyperkeratosis) which can block pores and produce acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions. In treating skin conditions, Vitamin A works well with Vitamin E and Zinc.
Carotenes also play an important part in the prevention of cancer providing as they do antioxidant support.
What amount of Vitamin A do you need each day?
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored mainly in the liver and is utilized when the body requires it.
Daily dietary intakes for Vitamin A are:
- Infants birth - 6 months: 400 mcg
- Infants 7 - 12 months: 500 mcg
- Children 1 - 3 years: 300 mcg
- Children 4 - 8 years: 400 mcg
- Children 9 - 13 years: 600 mcg
- Boys 14 - 18 years: 900 mcg
- Girls 14 - 18 years: 700 mcg
- Men 19 years and older: 900 mcg
- Women 19 years and older: 700 mcg
- Pregnant women 14 - 18 years: 750 mcg
- Pregnant women 19 years and older: 770 mcg
- Breastfeeding women 14 - 18 years: 1,200 mcg
- Breastfeeding women 19 years and older: 1,300 mcg
Optimal Daily Allowance 700mcg/Day or 2,500 International Units (IUs)
What are possible Vitamin A (Retinol or Carotene) deficiency conditions and symptoms?
Frequent colds or infections especially of the respiratory tract
Low sperm count
Red pimples on the back of upper arms
Xerophthalmia (blindness in children)
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
Microcytic anemia (anemia manifest as small red blood cells)
Night blindness and/or sensitivity to bright lights
Rough or dry skin
Dry eyes or mucous membranes such as nasal passage, sinuses and vagina.
Poor sense of smell, taste and hearing
What prevents Vitamin A absorption and storage?
Low fat and low protein diets affect absorption
Liver, pancreas and kidney disease
The use of the certain drugs can cause depletion of Vitamin A;
Anti-Hyperlipidemia drugs - bile acid sequestrants: Cholestyramine (Questran) and Colestipol (Colestid)
Weight management drugs: Orlistat (Xenical) a- decrease exocrine output and reduces fat absorption.
TOP 10 Vitamin A (retinol or beta carotene) rich foods are:
1. Liver Pate 75,333iu/100g (Retinol)
Recipe: Make your own Chicken Liver Pate
2. Sweet Potato 19,218 iu/100g (beta Carotene)
Recipe: Rosemary Lemon Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potato
3. Carrots 16,706 iu/100g (beta Carotene)
Recipe: Carrot Cake
4. Kale 15,376iu/100g (beta Carotene)
Recipe: The BEST Kale Chips
5. Turnip Greens 12,230 iu/100g
Recipe: Bacon Braised Collard Greens
6. Butternut squash 11,155iu/100g ( beta Carotene)
Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash
7. Parsley 10,184/100g
Recipe: Cod in Parsley Sauce
8. Red and Green leaf lettuce 7,492 iu/100g
Recipe: Chopped Salad
9. Dried apricots 3,604 iu/100g
Recipe: Gluten-Free Apricot Power Bars
10. Cantaloupe Melon 3,382 iu/100g
Recipe: Cantaloupe and Avocado Salad
This article was written by Jonathan Tommey, clinical nutritionist and Bella Grace, NTP. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
Isabella Grace is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner focusing on toxin-free, natural living to its fullest extent. Her mission is to provide personalized integrative health solutions to create sustainable, lifelong change and enable you to live, love, and serve at your fullest health potential.
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