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Nutrition 101: Understanding Vitamin A

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Take your vitamins! We’ve all heard this phrase several times in our lives. Our parents, friends, and doctors want us to take vitamins and eat vitamin-enriched foods as often as possible. Yes, vitamins are essential to healthy body functioning, but does anyone really understand exactly why we need each vitamin – or what it really does for the body?

Vitamin A is known by a few different names, including retinol, retinoic acid, retinal, and carotene. Some of those names may seem a bit more familiar to you as you’ve likely heard them mentioned as active ingredients in commercials for supplements and medications.

So what does Vitamin A actually do for the body? Vitamin A is responsible for a number of very different functions. It’s important to maintaining proper vision, especially when you’re trying to see at night or in the dark. Vitamin A aids in the repair of your bones and other body tissues and plays a huge part in the development of the fetus during pregnancy. Last, but certainly not least, Vitamin A works with other vitamins and minerals to aid the immune system in countering the myriad of viruses and bacteria that attack our bodies regularly.

Vitamin A can be found in a number of different foods including eggs, beef liver, and dairy products. The dairy products you choose should be either low-fat or fat-free because these are most often fortified with extra vitamin A in order to replace what is lost when the fat is removed from the milk. You’ll also want to seek out dark greens or fruits and vegetables that are yellow or orange in color – for example, sweet potatoes and carrots.

The average woman over the age of 20 needs approximately 700ug per day of Vitamin A. Be sure to consult your nutritionist or physician if you aren’t sure you’re getting the right amount of Vitamin A from your diet alone!

Deborah Dera is a full-time freelance writer, massage therapist, martial artist, and student of life. She spends most of her time studying the human body, musculature, nutrition, and both traditional and alternative therapies.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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