If there is a lack of Vitamin A, vision is the first thing that is affected. In addition, the skin and mucous membranes are affected, the immune system simply weakens and agitates because of the germs. Children, adolescents, and adults face a deficiency in sex hormones, estrogen, and testosterone because our metabolism uses Vitamin A as a precursor to hormones, which affects bone growth.
What is Vitamin A and in what foods is found?
Vitamin A includes several fat-soluble substances such as retinol, retina, retinoic acid, or retinol palmitate, among others. Retinol is the best-known form.
It is also interesting that Vitamin A consists exclusively of the elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, elements that are freely available in almost unlimited quantities on earth.
For example, retinol is composed of 20 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen and an oxygen atom.
The good news for vegetarians and vegans is that by eating colorful vegetables such as carrots, kale, and squash, they can get fat-soluble carotenes, a precursor that our metabolism can convert into Vitamin A (Retinol).
But meat lovers can also be happy, because many foods of animal origin, especially those of which the liver is used, are blessed with the bulky retinol palmitate. This fat-soluble substance also serves as a precursor to Vitamin A.
For the content of the various precursors of plant and animal foods to be comparable, the so-called retinol is usually administered in micrograms per 100 grams of the food.
What benefits does vitamin A have?
Vitamin A is necessary for so many different metabolic processes that it cannot have harmful side effects in healthy people. Similar to Vitamin C, which is also required for many metabolic processes, the healthy area and free of side effects are within a relatively wide tolerance band.
Vitamin A (Retinol) is a type of multipurpose tool for our metabolism, an SUV so to speak. Catalytically interferes with many metabolic processes and ensures a healthy structure of the skin and mucous membranes. This also applies to the digestive tract and the urinary and respiratory tract.
The decisive influence of retinol, on bone formation, and embryonic growth is also well known. In addition, also supports the storage of iron in hemoglobin, the red blood pigment in red blood cells.
Vitamin A is also of particular importance for developing nerve pathways and maintaining healthy nerves.
In a process of conversion and degradation of the material, the vitamin serves as the basis for the formation of the visual pigment, which gives the rod-like photoreceptors in the retina its high sensitivity to light in the peripheral visual field.
This means that monochromatic vision is particularly promoted. In another metabolic pathway, it forms the starting substance for the body’s production of the sex hormones: estrogen, and testosterone.
How much retinol do we need?
The need for a healthy adult of Vitamin A is estimated at around 800 to 1,000 micrograms daily (ER). This corresponds to 2,600 to 3,300 international units (IU). Women who are breastfeeding should take between 1,200 to 1,300 (ER).
The actual need will vary slightly depending on activity and food. Our metabolic system, for example, “consumes” significantly more Vitamin A than normal foods to process protein-rich foods.
Because the supply of Vitamin A in natural nutrition is subject to high fluctuations, the body has developed its own storage mechanism. Retinol that is not required is converted into retinol palmitate which is stored in the liver and can be converted back into bioactive retinol if necessary.
The content of Vitamin A in industrially processed foods is not always clearly recognizable. The consumption of dietary supplements enriched with retinol makes ensuring a sufficient supply is quite simple and uncomplicated.
Contraindications of Vitamin A
Our metabolism normally guarantees an optimal supply of retinol to the body, provided there are enough precursors or that stored retinol palmitate can again become the active vitamin.
Only an extreme overdose of around 7.5 times the normal daily requirement can overwhelm our metabolism. Then hypervitaminosis occurs. It manifests as vomiting, diarrhea, and headache. Likewise, there may be an increase in intracranial pressure, a decrease in bone density, and an enlargement of the liver and spleen.
Consuming large amounts of carrots cannot trigger hypervitaminosis, because our metabolism simply no longer converts carotene into retinol. It can only lead to a slight harmless yellowing of the skin, which does not need treatment.
Vitamin A deficiency
The risk of a Vitamin A deficiency (hypovitaminosis) is significantly higher and more frequent than the risk of an overdose because the supply through food is insufficient or is diminished by daily routines.
This is the case, for example, with smokers, with chronic stress, with liver problems or taking certain medications such as cholesterol reduction and in many other situations.
Vitamin A deficiency leads to a series of symptoms, such as susceptibility to infections, reduced vision, dry skin, and mucous membranes, and an impaired sense of smell and touch. An effective and direct way to avoid vitamin deficiency is to ensure an adequate supply through dietary supplements.
Providing the correct dose is very easy.