Vitamin A

This week I’m going to do a series of posts on individual vitamins; covering uses, sources and recommended intakes. We will start right at the beginning, with vitamin A

  • Chemical name: retinol or beta-carotene
  • RDA: 800 micrograms
  • Top sources: calves liver, butter, egg yolk, cream cheese, oysters, whole milk, herring and mackerel
  • Absorption: best with some olive oil or fat
  • Cautions: avoid high intakes or supplements during pregnancy
  • Use in sport: vitamin A enhances iron absorption so will help to promote oxygen transport round the body. Athletes on a particularly low-fat diet may be prone to fat-soluble retinol deficiency

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in the body’s immune response and maintaining mucous membranes (in mouth and lungs). It also promotes good night vision and healthy skin. It comes in 2 forms: retinol and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a provitamin and is stored under the skin and converted to active retinol only when needed in the body. It is found in green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables for example apricots, sweet potato, broccoli, melon, pumpkin, carrots, mangoes and peaches. Vitamin A may also be required for the correct functioning of the reproductive system and development of a foetus.

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