Nutrition and Information Guide: Vitamin A

About vitamin A, nutritional information guide, uses, effects of deficiency, overdoses, good sources of vitamin A.

Vitamin A

Use in the Body: Promotes healthy complexion and good eyesight. Essential to the formation of visual purple, a substance in the eye which is especially important for night vision. Protects the epithelial tissues, such as the thin skin of the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs, thereby increasing resistance to infection. Aids in growth and repair of body tissues.

Deficiency May Lead to: Inability of the eyes to adjust to darkness (night blindness). Slow growth in children, particularly of bones and teeth. Aggravation of infections in the air passages, sinuses, or lungs. Rough, dry, scaly or prematurely aged skin; diaper rash or eczema in infants. Xerosis--itching and burning of the eyes, redness of the lids, and some inflammation. Xerophthalmia--severe eye infection characterized by dry, thickened, lusterless eyeballs.

Overdose May Lead to: Fatigue, dry skin, hair loss, headaches, loss of appetite, irritability, insomnia, vitamin B deficiency.

Notes: Stored in the liver, so daily intake is not necessary. Does not dissolve in water and remains stable at normal cooking temperatures, so little is lost in cooking. However, exposure to air and sunlight can cause a serious loss of the vitamin, so vitamin-A-rich foods are best stored in the refrigerator. Excessive intake of mineral oil (such as salad dressings) causes poor absorption of A.

Best Sources: Hot red pepper, dandelion greens, dock (sorrel), kale, collard greens, cress, parsley, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, and other dark green vegetables. Carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, and other yellow vegetables (carrots should be juiced, blended, grated, chopped, cooked, or extremely well chewed in order to release the vitamin A). Egg yolk, whole milk and its products including butter and cheese. Apricots, mangoes, papayas, nectarines, peaches, liver, fish liver oil. Alfalfa sprouts, cantaloupe, green onions, tomatoes.

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