- Amount of Vitamin A
- Vitamin A Deficiency
- Deficiency Symptoms
- Excessive Vitamin A Intake
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin rich in nutritional value, which can be found in various food sources, including spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and dairy products.
- Preformed vitamin A found in animal products, such as fish, meat, dairy products and poultry.
- Provitamin A found in plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
The most common form of provitamin A is beta carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin, as the body converts carotenoids into retinol. Food sources of beta carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin pie.
Proper nutrition requires the right amount of vitamin A to promote healthy skin and mucous membranes, good eye vision and health and boosting your immune system.
Below is a table of rich sources of vitamin A and carotenoids:
|Food category||Food sources|
|Meat||Beef liver and other organ meats|
|Seafood||Herring, salmon and tuna|
|Dairy||Milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream|
|Poultry||Eggs, chicken breast and skin|
|Vegetables and beans||Leafy greens, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, summer squash, baked beans and peppers|
|Fruits (yellow-orange fruits)||Mangoes, cantaloupe, tomato and apricot|
|Miscellaneous||Fortified breakfast cereals, pistachio and fish oils|
How much vitamin A do you need every day?
Your vitamin A requirement may vary according to your age, gender and special situation, such as pregnancy and lactation (breastfeeding). This vitamin intake may be expressed as a recommended dietary allowance (RDA). RDA is defined as the average amount of vitamin A one needs to consume every day to sufficiently meet its requirements in nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals.
|Age group||RDA (micrograms or mcg RAE*)|
|Zero to six months||400|
|7 to 12 months||500|
|One to three years||300|
|Four to eight years||400|
|9 to 13 years||600|
|14 years and above (men)||900|
|14 years and above (women)||700|
|RDA of vitamin A in special situations (mcg RAE)|
|Pregnant women (14 to 18 years)||750|
|Pregnant women (19 to 50 years)||770|
|Lactating women (14 to 18 years)||1,200|
|Lactating women (19 to 50 years)||1,300|
*Micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE). One microgram of RAE is equivalent to 1 microgram of retinol, 2 micrograms of supplemental beta carotene, 12 micrograms of dietary beta carotene or 24 micrograms of dietary alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin. Expressing vitamin A requirements in the RAE form helps decipher the requirements for different vitamin A precursors.
Who is at risk of vitamin A deficiency?
Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States because most people get a sufficient amount of vitamin A through their diet. However, certain conditions may put an individual at risk of a vitamin deficiency (such as vitamin D and vitamin C).
Some of the high-risk groups for vitamin A deficiency include:
- People with conditions that interfere with vitamin A absorption from the gut such as Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis
- People who consume excessive alcohol
- Premature or preterm babies (babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- People with chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis
- People with increased vitamin A requirements such as pregnant and lactating women, infants, children and adolescents
- Picky eaters or followers of restrictive nutritional patterns such as vegans
- People who have undergone intestinal surgeries for weight loss or other reasons
What are the symptoms of low vitamin A?
Some of the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Frequent infections
- Xerophthalmia (a severe eye condition that causes corneal damage and may lead to blindness if left untreated)
- Bitot’s spots (small patches on the white of the eyes)
- Night blindness or nyctalopia (inability to see in dim light)
- Dry, scaly skin
- Rough or dry hair
What are the harmful effects of excessive vitamin A intake?
Excessive intake of vitamin A can lead to various health issues. Symptoms may vary depending on whether the excessive intake occurred over a short period (acute poisoning) or a long period (chronic poisoning).
Some of the symptoms of vitamin A poisoning include:
- Birth defects (when high doses are taken during pregnancy)
- Yellowing of the skin (due to excessive intake of vitamin A precursor such as beta carotene)
If any signs of vitamin A toxicity are observed or if you accidentally consume a large amount of vitamin A, consult your doctor immediately. Untreated cases may lead to serious complications and may even turn fatal.
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