Vitamin A has a multiple role to play in a diversity of bodily functions, such as, vision, immune functions, bone metabolism, antioxidant activity,
skeletal and soft tissues and skin and cellular health. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is also popular as retinol since it fabricates the pigments in the retina of the eye.
Vitamin A is generally found in two principal forms in food depending on whether the food source is an animal or a plant, the retinol and the carotenes. Retinol is commonly present in animal liver, whole milk and some prepared foods; whereas there are more than 500 known carotenoids which are found in plant foods that turns into a form of vitamin A.
Beta –carotene is an antioxidant carotenoid that provides the body cells a huge protection from the damages caused by free radicals that play a major role in the ageing processes and certain chronic diseases.
Vitamin A is found in abundance in animal sources like, eggs, meat, cheese, cream, liver, kidney and fish oil, however these sources are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, unlike vegetable sources of beta-carotene which are fat and cholesterol free.
Some of such fruits and vegetables are oranges, apricots, pink grapefruits, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables. How much of vitamin a particular person requires in his daily diet is majorly dependant on the age and gender. The best recommended way to get the sufficient intake of daily vitamins is to eat wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products.
Vitamin A should be taken in proper dosages. Excess of it can lead to liver abnormalities, reduced bone mineral density, central nervous system disorders and birth defects. Consumption of large amount of vitamin A over a short time duration leads to toxic symptoms.
At the same time if the body does not absorb the required amount of vitamin A, it can result in infectious diseases and vision problems. Night blindness is a common sign of vitamin A deficiency. Deficit of this vitamin in the body diminishes its capacity to fight infections.
Apart from inadequate intake, deficiency of vitamin A also results as a lost through chronic diarrhoea and excess alcohol intake. Healthy individuals generally have a reserve of stored in vitamin A and temporary fat malabsorption do not harm them easily.
People who are totally vegetarians and do not consume eggs and dairy foods should include five servings of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet.