Vitamin A (Retinol) belongs to the fat-soluble vitamins group, and plays a key role in many vital processes in our body. This valuable vitamin is present in various forms, for example:
• alcohol – retinol
• ester - retinyl palmitate
• acid - retinoic acid
• aldehyde – retinal
The Health Benefits of Vitamin A
As we have said before, the health benefits of vitamin A are great. One good example is its function in maintaining good vision. Other examples are growth of our bones, the division and differentiation of our body cells. Additionally, it improves our natural immunity because it plays an important role in the production of white blood cells. As you may already know, these cells are valuable for the prevention of various infections. There are two types if vitamin A (retinol and retinoic acid) that are very important for the proper development of embryo.
Food Sources of Vitamin A
There are two main sources of vitamin A: plant and animal.
Retinol is the most valuable type of vitamin A and it is mainly found in animal food sources. It is usually changed to retinal and retinoic acid and the best animal sources of this vitamin are beef, cheese, chicken meat and eggs, fish, seafood. On the other hand, vitamin A is found in plant sources like fruits (apricot, mango, orange, watermelon, blackberry, peach) and vegetables ( carrot, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, wheat germ).
There is one thing we have to take care about when we prepare these foods. Food processing can severely affect the vitamin A levels in fruits and vegetables. To avoid this, we have to cover the fruits or vegetables while they are stored in the fridge. And also, eating raw fruits and vegetables will provide more vitamin A than cooked ones. If you have to cook them, always prefer baking or steaming, rather than frying.
In order to grasp all the health benefits of vitamin A and maximize its absorption, it is recommended to use it together with zinc and iron. Zinc plays an important role in the transportation of vitamin A from the liver to the other organs and tissues, and vitamin A is crucial for the metabolism of iron. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to numerous health problems like night blindness. In some unfortunate cases,night blindness can advance to complete blindness. Out immunity can be severely damaged if we are vitamin A deficient. This is especially bad for children because some cases have shown that vitamin A deficiency can cause various respiratory system diseases and bowel problems.
With this being said, we have to make sure that vitamin A rich foods are part of our everyday eating plan. And don’t forget to include some foods rich in zinc and iron to get the best out of these foods. Keeping your vitamin A levels at their optimal values, will help you lead a healthy and wholesome life. So adding more foods rich in vitamin A is not that difficult, but the benefits will certainly be visible in the future.