What is Vitamin A? What are its functions in the body?

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin. The amount of vitamin A you need will depend on your age and your reproductive state. Vitamin A is commonly known as the vitamin that promotes vision. Vitamin A is very essential for good health. Vitamin A deficiencies are not common in developed countries but is a call for concern in some developing countries. Vitamin A deficiency can not only cause poor vision but increase susceptibility to infectious diseases.

Vitamin A exist commonly as:
Beta-carotene: This form of Vitamin A is found naturally in plants such as carrots, and sweet potato. When it is eaten, the body has to convert it to retinol before it is used in the body. It is stored in the liver.

Retinol: This form of vitamin is ready for use. It is sometimes referred to as the “real” Vitamin A because it is already ready for the body to use. Retinol can be found in animal products such as egg, liver and fish. It is also found in supplements. When eaten it is absorbed or stored in the liver and used when the need arises.

Functions of Vitamin A in the body

1 Vitamin A aids in night vision
Vitamin A is very important for vision, especially at night and in dark places. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to poor vision when in dark places. This is known as night blindness.

2 Vitamin A helps in fortifying the immune system
Retinol helps nourish and improve the function of cells that act as barriers to our immune system. This cells constitute the lining and surface of the respiratory, urinary and digestive system.

3 Vitamin A helps in the production of red blood cells
Red blood cells are specialized stem cells. Vitamin A aids in the specialization of stem cells into red blood cells.

4 Vitamin A helps in the growth of bones

Vitamin A is necessary for healthy bones. However, an excess of vitamin A leads to bone degeneration and weakness which can make an individual more susceptible to fractures and weak bones. 

Some foods that contain vitamin A
What will happen if I don’t get enough Vitamin A and what will happen if I take Vitamin A in excess?

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