Vitamin A
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Vitamin A, a Fat Soluble Vitamin, also called retinol, has many functions in the body. In addition to helping the eyes adjust to light changes, Vitamin A plays an important role in bone growth, tooth development, reproduction, cell division and gene expression. Also, the skin, eyes and mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs depend on vitamin A to remain moist.

The best way to ensure your body gets enough vitamin A is to eat a variety of foods. Vitamin A is supplied primarily by certain foods of animal origin like dairy products, fish and liver.

In the United States, Vitamin A deficiency is rare. Night blindness and very dry, rough skin may indicate a lack of vitamin A. Other signs of possible vitamin A deficiency include decreased resistance to infections, faulty tooth development, and slower bone growth.

Toxic levels of Vitamin A, are actually more of a concern in the United States. The upper intake level for adults is 3,000 mcg RAE which is difficult to achieve by consuming food alone. But some multivitamin supplements contain high doses of vitamin A. If you take multivitamins, read the label to ensure the majority of vitamin A provided is in the form of beta-carotene, which is safer.

Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include dry, itchy skin, headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite. Signs of severe overuse over a short period of time include dizziness, blurred vision and slowed growth. Vitamin A toxicity also can cause severe birth defects and may increase the risk for hip fractures.

Smart Kitchen’s information on Vitamin A was drawn from Fat Soluble Vitamins  by J. Anderson and L. Young of  Colorado State (their original article “Fat Soluble Vitamins” can be found on the Colorado State College web site).  

Varieties

Some foods of plant origin contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts to vitamin A. Beta-carotene, or provitamin A, comes from fruits and vegetables. CarrotsSquash, dark green leafy vegetables and Apricots are rich sources of beta-carotene.

Nutrition

Vitamin A, is a Fat Soluble Vitamin, that is Good For the Eyes and Found in Carrots.