Not Just for Skin Beauty: How Vitamin A Helps the Immune and Reproductive Systems, and in What Form It Should Be Taken

Vitamin A is for our body. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that mainly comes into our body with food, making us feel energetic not only to play at but also to work. Let’s understand in what quantities we need it, in what diseases it can be lacking, how it can manifest itself and whether an overdose of it can cause any harm.

A Whole Group

Vitamin A is a collective name for several compounds, which is used to refer to this vitamin in different forms.

In foods, vitamin A is found in two main forms:

  • Provitamin A – such as the pigment beta-carotene, which is found in plant foods. Provitamins are precursors of complete vitamins and are converted into them through biochemical reactions in the body.
  • Ready-made vitamin A – for example, retinol, which is found in animal foods: dairy products, fish, liver.

Our body knows how to get retinol from beta-carotene, and convert it to more stable forms – retinal and retinoic acid esters. Most of the vitamin A stores are in the liver, where the body stores them in the form of retinoic acid esters.

Why the Body Needs Vitamin A

Retinal is part of rhodopsin, a protein that is necessary for us to see at dusk and be able to distinguish colors. Another important function of vitamin A and its derivatives is to protect the cornea and conjunctiva, the outer layers of the eyeball.

This vitamin is important and necessary not only for vision. It helps ensure the smoothness of the skin, the integrity of mucous membranes and layers lining the internal organs. In addition, vitamin A is involved in providing immune protection – it builds a protective barrier that prevents the penetration of viruses and harmful bacteria. It’s also necessary for the normal functioning of the reproductive system. And both partners. In men, its deficiency inhibits the production of sperm. Women need to monitor its level particularly during the planning of pregnancy, and during its course. The vitamin increases the production of sex hormones and affects the ability to conceive, and provides normal pregnancy. Studies show that taking extra vitamin A with pregnant women reduces the risk of many abnormalities and delays in fetal development.

Vitamin A is also called the beauty vitamin. It’s a natural antioxidant that fights inflammation and premature aging.

Its presence helps fight acne, dry skin, fast healing of wounds and cuts, it improves skin conditions in eczema and even psoriasis.

What Are the Dangers of Its Deficiency and Excess

Chronic overdose can occur when consuming too much of vitamin A over a long period of time. It may occur not only due to improper nutrition or inadequate doses of vitamins, but also during treatment with certain drugs that contain retinoic acid.

The daily dose of vitamin A for adults should not exceed 100,000 IU (this is 3 standard capsules, one capsule contains 33,000 IU).

Acute vitamin A hypervitaminosis in children may be caused by accidental ingestion of larger doses, for example more than 300,000 IU (this is about 9-10 capsules of the drug).

In adults, acute hypervitaminosis with severe consequences was observed when polar explorers ate polar bear or seal livers, which contain huge amounts of vitamin A. Acute “poisoning” of vitamin A leads to increased intracranial pressure, there is a headache. Drowsiness, irritability, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting may occur. Sometimes skin peeling occurs.

An early symptom of excess vitamin accumulation in the body may be thinning of the eyebrows, dry, rough skin, dry eyes and chapped lips. Bone density decreases and fractures occur easily, especially in the elderly.

In children, itching, lack of appetite, and enlarged liver and spleen are noted.

Although the body converts carotene to vitamin A, the excessive consumption of carotene does not lead to hypervitaminosis of vitamin A. Excess carotene in the body leads to carotenodermia, a condition in which the skin turns yellow, especially the yellow hue is noticeable on the palms and soles of the feet and there is no yellow tint to the sclera of the eyes as in jaundice.

Where Is It Found?

Vitamin A is present in various forms in both plant and animal foods.

Ready-made vitamin A – retinol – is better and faster absorbed by the body. Most of the vitamin in this form is found in animal products: beef liver, egg yolks, butter, cheese, salmon.

Plant foods are rich in beta-carotene, which must undergo biochemical modifications before it can be used effectively by the body. This means that vegans and vegetarians need to be a little more careful with their diets – they have a slightly higher risk of vitamin A deficiency. The best sources of carotene are: pumpkin, carrots, spinach, red bell peppers, yams, cabbage.

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