Veterinarian Reviewed on June 5, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
In order to remain healthy, your body needs vitamins and minerals in your daily diet. Unfortunately, many of the fruits and vegetables coming from the large production oriented farms have fewer nutrients than those that great grandma and grandpa had in their veggies. The life style of Americans includes many foods that offer empty calories or just a scant of the necessary nutrients. Because of this, the use of a supplement is important.
One of the key nutrients for the body is vitamin A. Vitamin A found in carrots and other orange or yellow fruit or vegetable plays an important role in the maintenance of health. New studies show that a shortage of vitamin A can lead to serious conditions. Other studies show that supplementing the diet with vitamin A or beta-carotene, the precursor and natural source of the vitamin, can help to correct health conditions once believed incurable.
What Contains Vitamin A
If you’re looking for a food source that contains vitamin A, check for one that’s orange. However, some colorful red, green or yellow fruits and vegetables also contain this substance. The beta-carotene gives the fruit of the plant its color and is a carotenoid, which is a natural pigment as well as being a source for vitamin A. The body changes the beta-carotene to vitamin A and therefore, it’s difficult to overdose. Some plant sources are cantaloupe, carrots, spinach and broccoli.
Plants aren’t the only place you’ll find vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and stored in animal bodies. You’ll find it in fish oil, chicken liver, eggs, shellfish and butter to name a few places. Eating a well balanced diet can help but often people omit sources or face exposure to pollution and other toxins that deplete the body of the vitamins they consume.
Common and Historical Uses
People hold the popular belief that carrots are “good for the eyes.” This isn’t just folk lore but holds truth. Carrots contain high amounts of beta-carotene that the body changes to vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiencies can lead to problems with vision and night blindness. There are also studies that show that vitamin A can help prevent age related macular degeneration. It also may help people with glaucoma.
Vitamin A is also vital in the formation of strong bones and teeth. It plays a part in maintaining healthy skin and may play a role in preventing acne or psoriasis. Cosmetic companies include it in many creams and foundations because it can help reduce or fade age spots and eliminate fine wrinkles.
The body uses vitamin A as a powerful anti-oxidant. The body needs to have an adequate amount to fight off cancer and various other diseases and viruses that occur if there’s exposure to free radicals. It helps protect against heart disease, lowers the blood cholesterol levels and helps prevent stroke.
Recent discoveries on lab mice show that vitamin A helps reverse the effects of COPD. While the labs haven’t explored the effects on humans, it’s well known that children with respiratory problems benefit from vitamin A supplements or foods high in vitamin A.
You can take too much vitamin A. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin so the body stores the excess rather than eliminating it in urine. Ironically, the symptoms of overdose are similar to those you have when you have a deficiency of the vitamin. You’ll feel nausea, loss of appetite, have a headache and skin conditions. You might experience hair loss and if you’re a woman have irregularity in your menstrual cycle. Doctors may note you have an enlarged spleen or liver.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan