You won’t regret taking this class on the ABC of vitamin A

Nutritionist Greata Sherene Robinson writes about the role of Vitamin A in helping the body maintain all its functions, the effects of its deficiency and where to find it!
vitamin A
Add more vitamin A to your diet! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Greata Sherene Robinson Published: 31 Aug 2021, 07:00 am IST
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You probably already know that vitamins are needed in small amounts to help our body function and stay healthy. Out of these, vitamin A is very important. But, it is a fat-soluble vitamin which means that our body cannot manufacture it on its own. Hence, it must be an integral part of our diet to avoid any deficiency.

Types of vitamin A

There are two types of vitamin A. One is preformed vitamin A (retinol) which is basically found in animal products, fortified foods and vitamin supplements. The other is known as pro vitamin A (carotenoid). It includes lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin which are derived from plant products.

Vitamin A
The goodness of vitamin A can improve overall health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Let’s look at the predominant sources of Vitamin A

Animal sources
These include liver (beef, goat, chicken) , fish oil, fish, egg yolk, and dairy products such as milk, cheese and butter.

These are found in active form, i.e., retinol. They are directly absorbed.

Plant sources

These include fruits like mangoes, apricots, and papayas. Vegetable sources of vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, bell peppers, summer squash, and yellow maize. Green leafy vegetables like amaranth, spinach, fenugreek and agathi leaves are also a good source of vitamin A.

These are essentially rich in carotenoid which gets converted by the body into retinol during digestion. Vitamin A requires some fat in the diet which aids absorption. Malabsorption of vitamin A can occur due to celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, alcoholism, cirrhosis and cystic fibrosis.

vitamin A
Ensure you’re consuming vitamin A regularly through your diet. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Benefits of Vitamin A

The benefits of vitamin A are:

1. Function of surface tissues
It maintains the integrity and function of all the surface tissues like the skin, lining of the respiratory tract, the gut, the bladder and the inner ear and eye.

2. Antioxidant rich
The antioxidants present in vitamin A protects our body from certain types of cancer.

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3. Production of white blood cells
It helps in the production of white blood cells.

4. Strong immunity
It is important for developing a healthy immune system. In addition, it plays an important role in producing mucus which acts like a barrier against infections.

5. Good vision
Vitamin A is critical for vision and it also prevents age-related macular degeneration. It supports eye health.

6. Reproductive health
It plays an important role in sperm and egg development. In addition, it also helps in placental health, fetal tissue development and fetal growth.

vitamin A
Consuming vitamin A improves overall health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Deficiency of vitamin A

Mild deficiency can cause:
-Susceptibility to infection

Serious deficiency can cause:
-Night blindness
-Dry skin and hair
-Irregular patches on the white area of the eye
-Severe dryness of the eye

How to incorporate vitamin A into our diet?

Few ideas for dishes loaded with vitamin A are as follows:

1. Spinach, watermelon, melon salad
2. Yellow pumpkin and amarnath sambar
3. Carrot ,cucumber, broccoli and capsicum salad
4. Yogurt with slices of mango, papaya and apricots
5. Mexican corn salad
6. Methi carrot paratha

Including a food source of vitamin A to the diet can prevent our susceptibility to infections and also help build a healthy immune system.

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About the Author

Greata Sherene Robinson is executive nutritionist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Chennai. She has experience in diabetes care management with carbohydrate counting, insulin carb ratio and meal management. She specialises in making in diet charts according to a disease or a health condition. ...Read More

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