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Vitamin A Health


Vitamin A is the collective name for a group of fat soluble vitamins which includes carotenes (mainly beta carotene) and retinoids. Retinol is the active form in the body and thus also known as the preformed vitamin A. Beta carotene and other carotenoids can be converted to vitamin A in the body in the liver and thus are referred as provitamin A carotenoids. Our body can store vitamin A in the fat tissue as it is a fat soluble vitamin.
Vitamin A is considered as one of the most versatile vitamin because of the diverse functions it offers to sustain a good health.

Vitamin A promises different health benefits from vision, immune function, reproduction, to maintenance of the skin and blood lining, body growth, bone, and normal cell development.


Sight and vision - Vitamin A plays an important role to maintain healthy eyesight in such a way that compounds of vitamin A are required in the transformation of the lights reception in the retina and send a message to the brain to generate picture. Retinol, the active form of vitamin A is required to adjust the eye from bright to dim light. Night impaired sight is one of the earliest sign of vitamin A deficiency.
Immune system - Vitamin A helps to boost the immune system and plays a key role in preventing any infections. It works by stimulating the function of the white blood cells and increasing the activity of antibodies to ward off the infections. Beta carotene is a potent antioxidant which helps to scavenge the free radicals (by-products of oxygen when body cells burns oxygen) which causes oxidative damage to the body cells.
Epithelial cell - All the epithelial cells require vitamin A, it helps to protect the skin and tissues from both inside and outside of the body. Epithelial cells act as important barriers to bacteria and infection. Vitamin A not only helps to protect the skin but also protects the linings of the eyes, lungs, intestines, stomach, urinary tract bladder and vagina. Vitamin A is often known as an 'anti-infective vitamin' as it plays a vital role in protecting the body from infections.
Cancer - The retinoids and vitamin A have been found to inhibit the development of a cancer tumor especially that of an epithelial origin. Carotenoids especially beta carotene and vitamin A have also been associated with decreased risk of cancers like breast, colon, cervical and esophageal. Vitamin A and beta carotene may protect the cell membranes and the DNA against damage and thus prevent abnormal cell formation and also halt or slow the tumor growths.
Pregnancy - In pregnant women vitamin A helps with postpartum tissue repair along with maintaining a normal vision and fighting off the infections. Lack of vitamin A during pregnancy can cause problems like night blindness in the mothers, other problems with placenta and low birth weight babies. Adequate vitamin A is essential to ensure proper cell development and differentiation in the cells and tissues of the developing fetus. However a higher dose (beyond the recommended levels) is not advisable without a specialist’s supervision or recommendation.

Submitted on September 4, 2008