Food sources of Vitamin A:
Animal meat - liver, cod liver oil, egg
Dairy products - ghee, butter, cheese
Food sources of beta carotene:
Fruit - rockmelon, apricot, papaya, mango
Vegetables - sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, kale, dandelion, spinach, pumpkin, capsicum, tomato, peas
Beta Carotene is NOT Vitamin A. The carotenoid family is a provitamin. In the right conditions, it can be converted to Vitamin A but these days with genetic testing it has been discovered that more and more people are missing specific enzymes necessary for this conversion and need to supplement with actual Vitamin A. Gene to consider here is the BCM01 gene.
Deficiencies can be due to low-dietary intake/vegetarian, inability to convert beta carotenoid to Vitamin A, inadequate fats in diet or fat malabsorption, chronic exposure to toxins such as cigarette smoke and alcohol or zinc deficiency as zinc is required for metabolism of Vitamin A. Obese women are found to have lower levels of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A.
* Essential for vision, especially night vision, also needed for eye lubrication. Severe deficiency can lead to blindness.
* It has an important role to play with immune health and preventing autoimmune conditions especially thyroiditis.
* Important for healthy looking skin. Vitamin A deficiency has a role to play in acne and Keratoinosis pilosis (white lumps on hair follicles on the back of your arms)
* Enamel issues in teeth can be due to lack of Vitamin A
* Needed for gene transcription
* Essential for healthy mucous membranes (think vagina, digestion, sinus)
* Helps keep the brain young and flexible
* Needed for cellular proliferation and tissue remodeling
* Associated with improved hormonal status (estrogen and testosterone)
* Helps maintain bone mass
Hypervitaminosis A can be lethal, but highly unlikely unless you are an Arctic explorer eating the liver of polar bears.
* Vitamin A can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners eg warfarin
* Don’t take Vitamin A with other retinoid drugs as they can increase your risk of toxicity.
* Medications that inhibit fat absorption such as Xenical, block the absorption of all fat-soluble nutrients including Vitamin A
Exciting research is looking into the possibility of using Vitamin A as a cancer treatment in the future.