Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient that we need to stay healthy, but it’s not one that we tend to hear much about, with vitamins B, C and D often hogging the limelight! Our bodies don’t create vitamin A for us, so it’s important to factor it day-to-day, as part of our diets. Below, we look at some of the places you will find vitamin A and why it’s so important for our long-term health.
How much vitamin A do men & women need
Men: 900 – 3000mcg
Women: 700 – 3000mcg. Pregnant women will need to add a little to the base figure of
To give some context to these figures, here are some examples of foods containing vitamin A:
- Medium-sized sweet potato: 1100
- Tuna 75g: 530
- Medium-sized carrot: 510
- Dried apricots 115g: 380
- Goats cheese 50g: 240
- Lamb’s liver 75g: 5700
So we’ve looked at food sources we can turn to for this essential vitamin, but why exactly do we need it?
Vitamin A & your eyes
One of the most important roles of vitamin A is to preserve your eyesight. It converts the light that makes contact with your eye, into an electrical signal that’s sent to your brain. One of the first symptoms of serious/chronic vitamin A deficiency is night blindness, scientifically known as nyctalopia.
Those suffering from nyctalopia can see normally in daylight but have noticeably reduced vision in darkness. This is because their eyes aren’t effective at detecting light at lower levels. Eating foods containing high levels of beta-carotone (such as those listed above) can help to slow the onset of night blindness as you begin to age.
Reduce signs of acne
Vitamin A products such as retinol are frequently used to treat acne, as they’re effective in reducing inflammation across the skin.
Retinol can also stop skin cells from gluing and in turn, clogging your pores. Topical creams (not supplements), are recommended if you’re keen to boost your vitamin A intake to tackle acne.
Promotes bone health
Whilst the main nutrients for ensuring your bones stay healthy are calcium, vitamin D and protein, vitamin A is also essential for bone development.
In fact, research has found correlations between low vitamin A consumption and poor bone health; those with lower levels are more prone to fractures.
Supports your immune system
Vitamin A aids your body’s natural defences, such as the mucous barriers in your lungs, gut, eyes and genitals which help to corner bacteria and other potentially infected agents.
It also plays a part in the function and creation of white blood cells, the role of which is to clear pathogens and bacteria from your bloodstream.
With this in mind, lack of vitamin A can render you susceptible to infection and expose you to longer recovery time when you’ve been unwell.
Make sure you’re getting your vitamin A fix each day, to keep the doctor away!