Just so you guys know, I'm also learning this myself and am just getting the facts from databases and other reliable websites. :)
What does Vitamin A do?
Vitamin A does wonders in the body. The most commonly known one is that it helps improve eye sight-- I remember being told that I need to eat my carrots or else I would go blind.....so I can thank Mom for scaring the jeebers out of me and getting me to eat my vitamin A. In all seriousness though, there are health risks such as AMD which means that as you get older, your eye sight slowly deteriorates. Vitamin A can also decrease your risks against cancer. The vitamin helps stimulate white blood cells and also helps regulate how much cells split up (cancer is started mainly by an uncontrolled amount of cells splitting).
Vitamin A has also been known to help prevent lung cancers in non-smokers AND smokers. Smokers should not take straight beta-carotene though because it has been known to increase chances...keep Vitamin A in mind instead. (:
How much do I need?
There are two types of Vitamin A. There is preformed vitamin A and also beta-carotene. You can consume as much beta-carotene as you want without any major side effects, but preformed Vitamin A can lead to some birth defects, nausea, dizziness, etc. The precursor, beta-carotene can form itself into Vitamin A if needed, so if you are worried about not getting enough of the preformed Vitamin A--you really shouldn't :). The safest way to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of both is just to consume both!
Here are the recommended values:
|Life Stage||Upper Safe Limit|
|Birth to 12 months||2,000 IU|
|Children 1–3 years||2,000 IU|
|Children 4–8 years||3,000 IU|
|Children 9–13 years||5,667 IU|
|Teens 14–18 years||9,333 IU|
|Adults 19 years and older||10,000 IU|
*** chart from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-QuickFacts/
Now this chart seems kind of hard to understand, but I think that the easiest way to know that you are getting enough is by looking at the nutrition label where the vitamins are listed...it usually will show a percentage of how much of your daily values of Vitamin A are in the food. Again, don't freak out if you are over the percentages because your body will process what it needs and discard the rest. However, because it is a fat-soluble vitamin it will be stored for longer than water-soluble vitamins. So be more careful with over-doses of A, D, E, and K.
For most people in the USA, Vitamin A deficiency is not common. In developing countries, it is common though because most people do not have a great supply of foods full of beta carotene or Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency takes a toll on people is when they are just babies. It is usually diagnosed when children are not able to see in dim light or at night.
Where can I find Vitamin A and Beta Carotene?
Beta Carotene is found in yellow, orange, and leafy green fruits and vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and kale. According to the University of Maryland, the brighter the fruit or veggie is, the more beta carotene it has.
Vitamin A can be found in lots of different foods, but its most common spots are in sweet potatoes, liver, spinach, fish oils, milk, eggs, fortified cereals, and broccoli.
Thanks for Reading!
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