Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is important for vision, growth, and development. This includes the formation and maintenance of skin, hair, bones, and teeth; reproduction; and immune function. You might have been told as a child to eat carrots to make sure you have good vision. Although carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, there are many other foods that provide similar benefits.
Other sources with vitamin A are:
• Sweet potato
• Red peppers
• Romaine lettuce
• Winter squash
• Dairy products
There are two types of Vitamin A:
• Retinol (preformed Vitamin A) – derived from animal sources like beef, chicken, liver, dairy
• Beta-carotene (provitamin A) – found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant based products
The daily recommended dosage for adult males is 900 micrograms and adult females is 700 micrograms. If you are unsure of the amount of Vitamin A in a food item, the percent daily value can be found on a nutrition label.
Most people in the US are getting enough Vitamin A from their diet. Deficiencies are rare, but the most common side effect of a Vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. If not treated, it can cause damage to the retina or total blindness. Premature infants, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with cystic fibrosis are more likely to have trouble getting enough Vitamin A. In these cases, consult with your primary care physician about supplementation.
Possible side effects of too much Vitamin A can be dryness and cracking of the skin, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and liver disease. When excess Vitamin A is consumed, a strain is placed on the liver which is usually a result of supplement misuse. Like previously stated, most individuals are getting adequate amount of Vitamin A from their diet, so supplementation is rarely needed.
For more information on Vitamin A please visit https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/.