Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is heat-resistant, but easily altered when it comes into contact with air or light! It’s stored in large qualities within the body, either in the form of retinol (its free, active form) or in the form of provitamin A (the precursor to vitamin A), which the body then converts to vitamin A as needed. The most well-known form of provitamin A is bêta-carotène.
Vitamin A is a crucial component in several bodily processes:
- It keeps our vision sharp as it plays a key role in normal retina function. It’s essential to our perception of shapes and colours and, most importantly, helps our eyes adapt to darkness.
- It contributes to cell regeneration as well as the production and protection of skin and mucosal tissues, playing an important role in the wound healing process.
- It regulates several glands such as the endocrine glands (which produce hormones), the sebaceous glands (which produce sebum), and the sweat glands.
- It boosts the immune response
- It allows bones and teeth to grow normally.
- Beta-carotene, the best-known precursor to vitamin A, is recognised as a powerful antioxidant, meaning it helps neutralise free radicals to slow the natural ageing process.
Vitamin A in the form of retinol can be found in animal products, particularly butter, dairy, egg yolk, offal and fish liver oil.
Provitamin A, especially beta-carotene, can be found in colourful fruits and vegetables: carrots, apricots, sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower and broccoli), etc.
Note: Beta-carotene absorption is much higher when fats are included in the meal!
DID YOU KNOW?
Vitamin A was discovered in 1913 by an English researcher named Hopkins. It was the first vitamin to be discovered; that’s why its name was given the first letter of the alphabet!
SUPPLEMENTS & CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Dietary supplements containing vitamin A (as retinol) are not recommended for anyone who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, because an excess of the vitamin in these stages may be associated with birth defects. High doses are also not recommended for smokers.