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Vitamin A is a nutrient that plays an essential role in proper growth and functioning of many parts of the body. Discover one of the most important vitamins here.
Vitamins are essential to maintaining nutrient levels of skin health, appearance and the function of crucial body parts. There are so many benefits associated with this vitamin that you may wonder what is vitamin A and what does it do? In this article we’re looking at why our bodies need vitamin A and why it’s important to make sure we get enough of this nutrient.
Vitamin A (also known as retinoic acid) is a supplement important for vision growth, cell division, reproduction and immunity. Vitamin A is found in many foods, such as spinach, dairy products and liver. Other food sources of vitamin A are foods which are rich in beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, this can be found in foods such as green leafy vegetables, carrots and yellow oranges.
We’ve all been told that carrots help us see in the dark, and you may be surprised to know that it’s only a semi-myth. Carrots main nutrient is beta-carotene, an antecedent to vitamin A which helps your eyes to adjust to dim conditions. One of the first symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency can be nyctalopia, known as night blindness, as vitamin A is a major component of the pigment rhodopsin which can be found in the retina of your eye. People who have this condition can see clearly during the day, but have limited vision in the darkness as their eyes struggle to pick up light at lower levels. Eating sufficient amounts of vitamin A prevents the development of nyctalopia and may also help to prolong age-related decline of eyesight.
Studies show that eating higher amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene has been linked to the decline in risk of certain types of cancer including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cervical, lung and bladder cancer. Vitamin A plays an important role in the growth and development of your cells and cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow or divide in an unbridled way. Sufficient intake of vitamin A from whole plant foods may help reduce your risk of certain cancers, however the relationship between vitamin A and cancer is not fully understood.
Vitamin A plays an essential role in maintaining your body’s natural defences. Which included the mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, gut and genitals which help clear bacteria and other infectious mediums as well as supporting the production and function of white blood cells. Having a deficiency in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and can slow your recovery when sick. Having sufficient amounts of vitamin A in your diet will help to keep your immune system healthy and functioning at its highest level.
Skin is a retinoid-responsive organ, which is ready to absorb vitamin A when applied. Retinol is used to stimulate the production of new skin cells, and without it, skin can become extremely dry. Research shows that a lack of retinol can also cause follicular hyperkeratosis, a condition caused by too much keratin in the hair follicles, causing pimples to form on the skin. Acne is a chronic skin disorder, that affects most people. Those that suffer with acne will often develop painful spots and blackheads, most commonly on the face, back and chest. These spots occur when the sebaceous glands get clogged with dead skin and oils from the skin, which are found in the hair follicles on your skin and produce sebum, a waxy substance that keeps skin lubricated and waterproof.
The exact role that vitamin A plays in the treatment of acne remains unclear, but it has been suggested that vitamin A deficiency may increase one’s risk of developing acne, as it kick-starts an overproduction of in your hair follicles. Vitamin A based medications are often used to treat severe acne, as well as preventing sun damage by interrupting the process that breaks down collagen.
Eating enough vitamin A is also necessary, among other nutrients, for proper bone growth and development. A deficiency in vitamin A has been linked with a decline in bone health and people with lower blood levels of vitamin A are at higher risk of bone fracture than people with healthy levels of the nutrient. Eating your recommended amount of vitamin A may help protect your bones and reduce your risk of fractures, however, the connection between vitamin A and bone health is not yet fully understood.
Vitamin A is a vital nutrient for maintaining a healthy reproductive system in both men and women, as well as ensuring normal growth and development of embryos during pregnancy. Studies have also shown that a deficiency in vitamin A can block the development of sperm cells, resulting in infertility.
In women vitamin A plays a vital role in the growth and development of the many major organs and growth of the unborn child. Vitamin A contributes to the development of one of the most important and complex parts of the infant’s body – their eyes, as well as helping to develop the millions of tiny air sacs in their lungs. A healthy supply of vitamin A during pregnancy builds up the baby’s natural stores in preparation for the first few months of life. Adequate amounts of vitamin A in the diet are essential for reproductive health and the healthy growth of babies during pregnancy.
Want to learn more about how to keep your immune system happy and healthy? Read our article on Vitamin C next.