Have you ever wondered how our bodies grow or develop? What substances are present in food that aids our body for daily functioning and growing!
“Nutrients” -the compounds that are responsible for developing our body are present in our food. Some foods consist of higher amounts of nutrients while some are extremely low in nutrients. Nutrients are substances that are essential to health and life, providing us energy, the building blocks of the body.
Nutrients are of many types such as carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, minerals, fats, etc. All of which work together for the overall well-being of the body. But the most important class of nutrients is Vitamins.
We often listen to various types of vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, etc. These vitamins ensure our physical and mental growth along with the strengthening of the immune system. Each type of vitamin is responsible for particular body functions.
In this segment, we will discuss Vitamin A, its functions, benefits, and sources from where you can get this health beneficial compound.
WHAT IS VITAMIN A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin required in our body for performing a variety of functions and improving body health especially in providing healthy vision and preventing eye-related issues.
This necessary vitamin is found naturally in the foods we eat in our daily life and can also be taken through supplements.
Vitamin A is often referred to as a singular nutrient, it’s really the name for a group of fat-soluble compounds, such as retinyl esters, retinal, and retinol. We get two forms of vitamin A in our food.
Preformed vitamin A- retinyl esters and retinol- found exclusively in animal products including fish, liver, and dairy products while provitamin A carotenoids are found in vegetables, oils, and fruits.
BENEFITS IN YOUR BODY
Here are some health benefits of the Vitamin A in our body:
Provitamin A carotenoids like beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are the precursors of vitamin A and are packed with high antioxidant properties.
Carotenoids invade free radicals present in the blood. These free radicals can harm your body by inducing oxidative stress which can further results in chronic diseases including heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, etc.
Consuming a diet that is rich in carotenoids will protect you from diabetes, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disorders.
Improving eye health
The major benefit of Vitamin A is to improve eye health and vision. Taking sufficient quantities of Vitamin A is very helpful in protecting the eye from being diseased.
Several studies have shown that higher blood levels of beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are effective in minimizing the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Protect against certain cancers
Being rich in antioxidants, foods with Vitamin A are highly beneficial in protecting the body from certain types of cancer.
Various researches have proven that smokers whose blood has beta-cryptoxanthin and alpha-carotene in enough quantities are at very low risk of dying with lung cancer.
Improve fertility and fetal development
For both males and females, Vitamin A is important for preventing fertility-related disorders. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in sperm, egg development, regulating placental health, fetal tissue development, and fetal growth as well.
Thus, Vitamin A is integral to both fetal and maternal well-being.
Strengthen immune system
The immune system is the defending mechanism of the body that provides protection to the body from various disease-causing micro-organisms.
To boost the immune system and stimulating mechanisms that protect the body from illnesses, Vitamin A is highly advantageous.
Vitamin A is also involved in the production of certain cells such as B and T cells which are a central part of the immune system.
SOURCES TO GET VITAMIN A
You can get provitamin A carotenoids and preformed Vitamin A from the following mentioned sources. All these sources consist of sufficient amounts of Vitamin A. By consuming these foods, you can easily fulfill the requirements of Viamin A in the body.
Foods rich in provitamin A carotenoids such as beta-carotene are:
- Collard greens
- Red peppers
- Swiss chard
- Dandelion greens
- Sweet potatoes
Foods rich in preformed Vitamin A include:
- Butternut squash
- King mackerel
- Liver sausage
- Cheddar cheese
- Chicken liver
- Cod liver oil
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
For staying healthy, you should take all the vitamins in a balanced quantity. All vitamins are required by the body for healthy daily functioning. Above mentioned list of Vitamin A sources will assist you in fulfilling the Vitamin A levels in the body and prevent a wide range of diseases induced due to deficiency of Vitamin A.