Vitamin A is a generic term used to describe a group of fat-soluble vitamins essential to the function of many bodily processes and organs including the heart, liver, and immune system. The recommended daily intake of vitamin A sits at 900 mcg for men, 700 mcg for women and 300–600 mcg of vitamin A per day for children and adolescents. In the following short article, we discuss the many benefits of vitamin A which include, cancer reduction, immune system health, and bone density. We also cover a few of the best dietary sources of vitamin A. Read on to learn more about why you should increase your daily vitamin A intake.
Vitamin A compounds are found in both meats and plant based foods. In meats, vitamin A is known as preformed vitamin A and can be ingested by your body as it is. Vitamin A in vegetables and fruits is known as provitamin A and later becomes preformed vitamin A after it is digested. The health benefits of vitamin A included reduced acne, improved bone density, antioxidant properties, and a reduced risk of cancer.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin A allow it to protect against harmful free radicals that may cause cancer. Recent studies have revealed the potential for vitamin A to help prevent multiple types of cancer, including that of the stomach, colon, and esophageal variety. A further study conducted by researchers at the Brown University School Of Public Health discovered that increased vitamin A intake may decrease a persons’ risk for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer.
As an antioxidant, vitamin A is known to prevent free radical elements from entering the skin. This can both help prevent acne from breaking out and work to decrease skin aging. The way by which vitamin A treats acne depends on the form of vitamin A you use. Topical creams that contain vitamin A can help close wounds and prevent lesions from acne. On the other hand, consuming foods rich in vitamin A treats acne by improving the overall health of the immune system.
Along with calcium and vitamin D, vitamin A is one of the best nutrients for bone and cartilage health. Studies and meta analysis of bone structure has found that those who consume a diet high in vitamin A are at a lower risk for bone fractures and breaks. Both bone building cells (osteoblasts) and cells that break down bones (osteoclasts) need vitamin A to function properly.
An adequate daily intake of vitamin A, which most nutritionists peg at 900mg for men and 700mg for women, has been shown to ward off age-related macular degeneration within the cornea of the eye. In fact, multiple studies have shown that vitamin A may be able to reduce the risk of cornea degeneration by as much as 25%.
Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant known to reduce oxidative stress and help heal serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Furthermore, vitamin A contains carotenoids which help protect the body from harmful free radicals.
Evidence suggests that topical creams which contain vitamin A may be able to reduce the appearance and frequency of wrinkles by boosting collagen production. A diet high in vitamin A and carotenoids can also protect skin from environmental factors, including sun, one of the leading causes of skin disease and cancer in the United States.
The American Association Of Dermatology even recommends using vitamin A supplements to treat and heal acne and blisters. It is thought that the elastin and collagen production that vitamin A facilitates allows it to expedite the healing process of skin cuts, lesions, and pores. Lastly, vitamin A may be able to treat psoriasis, a skin condition that causes the appearance of rashes and itchy, pale patches of skin.
Vitamin A supports the secretion of sebum, an oily substance which keeps hair from drying out and breaking. All cells need vitamin A to grow, especially hair follicles, which are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. Vitamin A deficiency, or hypovitaminosis A, has been shown to contribute to multiple types of hair loss, including alopecia areata.
It is possible for most people to get enough vitamin A without the use of supplements. Doing so, however, may require slightly modifying your diet to include foods high in vitamin A such as mangoes, salmon, and apricots. In the following few paragraphs we discuss the best vitamin A sources and their many benefits.
Sweet potatoes are perhaps the best source of vitamin A among all vegetables, with one large sweet potato providing more than 1400mg of vitamin A. Some studies have found that daily consumption of sweet potatoes can significantly decrease the chances of developing prostate cancer. In addition to vitamin A, sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B 6, and fiber. They also have a very low glycemic index reading, making them a fantastic snacking option for those looking to lower blood sugar.
Carrots are some of the most nutritious vegetables, high in both beta carotene, vitamin D and vitamin A. One serving of carrots contains 459mg of vitamin A, or 51% of the recommended daily value.
Spinach contains a wealth of nutrients and vitamins, including 573mg of vitamin A, which accounts for 64% of the daily value. It also provides a high dosage of iron and magnesium, which plays a role in hundreds of processes within the human body.
Multiple studies have shown that the vitamin A in black eyed peas to your diet can work to reduce blood pressure and mitigate the risk of heart disease. Other research has even shown black eyed peas to be able to prevent type 1 and 2 diabetes. One serving of black eyed peas contains 7% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A.
One whole raw mango contains 12% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A. Mangoes are also rich in other antioxidants and dietary fiber, allowing them to aid in digestive health and support the function of the gut.
Broccoli is a popular and relatively cheap source of vitamin A, with one serving containing 7% of the daily recommended value. Also low in calories, broccoli contains high amounts of vitamin A and K. The vitamins and antioxidant properties of broccoli make it a solid snack choice for those looking to reduce cancer, improve immune system function, and ward off harmful free radicals.
Fans of sweet foods and fruits should look to apricots when they are in need of more vitamin A. A serving of ten dried apricots contains 63mg of vitamin A, which accounts for 7% of the daily value.
Tomato juice is a lesser-known source of vitamin A. While it may contain less vitamin A per serving than some of the other foods on this list, it can be a great way to get a quick dose of vitamin A when you need it. One serving of tomato juice contains 42mcg of vitamin A, which accounts for 5% of the daily recommended value.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin vital to immune function, eye health, bone density, skin health, and reproduction. Its antioxidant properties also allow it to help lower the risk of cancer and ward off harmful free radicals.
The best sources of vitamin A include fruits and vegetables like spinach, apricot, tomato, mango, and black-eyed peas. Sweet potatoes are also one of the best sources of vitamin A, containing over 100% of the daily value in just one serving.