Overview of Vitamin A

Vitamin A was given the alphabet's first letter for a name, because it was the first vitamin to be detected. Vitamin A has been found to have a wide variety of uses in the body including maintaining healthy skin, improving cell growth and even helping improve the immune system. Vitamin A, however, is not only directly absorbed but is also produced by the body by transforming beta carotene into vitamin A.

Vitamin A itself is present in many foods, including eggs, milk, liver, and meat. Beta carotene that the body can convert to vitamin A is found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those colored in red, orange and green. Bearing in mind that eating too much pure vitamin A can be harmful. It is vital that the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A is not exceeded. The actual prescribed vitamin A allowance varies according to the age, sex and other factors of a individual. Although the actual amount of vitamin A consumed that be harmful if the daily dose prescribed is exceeded, there is a much higher limit on how much beta-carotene may be ingested. It is therefore best to focus on acquiring the greatest amount of beta-carotene that the body can then convert to vitamin A, rather than eating large quantities of pure foods rich in vitamin A.

Many people can recall being told that eating loads of carrots helps you see in the dark and that's down to the vitamin A created from the high levels of beta-carotene found in the vegetables. Tomatoes and dark green leafy plants, such as spinach, are other foods that have high levels of beta carotene that can be converted to vitamin A. Not only is beta carotene used to produce vitamin A but it is also a strong antioxidant in itself. None of the beta carotene that is consumed is lost as any excess is used to counter the dangerous free radicals within the body after conversion to vitamin A. Vitamin A also helps to combat infections and diseases by helping to develop and repair tissues that line various parts of the body, including the eyes, mouth, nose, throat and lungs, if damaged to avoid infection. In addition, children need plenty of vitamin A to help their bones and teeth grow properly.

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