What foods contain vitamin A and how to make up for its deficiency
Foods rich in vitamin A:
In 1913, scientists found out that the yolk of a chicken egg and oil contain a substance necessary for life. Laboratory mice that were fed an unbalanced diet, frequently suffered from inflammation of the eyes and diarrhoea. After adding eggs, butter, or cod liver oil to their diet, their condition improved. In this way, the “fat-soluble factor A” was discovered, which was later renamed vitamin A.
There are two types of vitamin A:
- Beta-carotene (provitamin A), which enters our body only with plant foods and is synthesized into vitamin A. This powerful antioxidant prevents hair loss, gives them shine and density, prevents the development of cardiovascular diseases, and lowers cholesterol.
- The actual vitamin A which is found in animal products. It is responsible for skin renewal, regulates twilight and color vision, improves the condition of the mucous membranes, which significantly increases the resistance to seasonal flue, strengthens bones, and improves metabolism.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin A for men is 900 mcg, for women—700 mcg, for children and adolescents—300-600 mcg.
Vitamin A accumulates in the body, so it is not recommended to choose food supplements yourself without consulting a doctor—an overdose is possible.
Vitamin a deficiency is most common in poor developing countries due to poor diets. To maintain a normal vitamin level, sometimes it is enough to review your daily menu.
As in humans, in animals, vitamins that enter the body with food accumulate in the liver. That is why beef, lamb, chicken liver is one of the richest sources of this important element. One serving of roast beef liver (approximately 85 g) contains 6582 mcg of vitamin A, other nutrients, trace elements, iron, and folic acid.
In addition, this product also contains vitamin E, which also acts as an antioxidant, supports the normal condition of the skin, fights early aging, and promotes fat absorption. Vitamins A and E are both fat-soluble, so they combine well.
In 1831, the German chemist Heinrich-Wilhelm-Ferdinand Wackenroder isolated beta-carotene from carrots. This vegetable is recommended to eat regularly, because it is a rich source of provitamin A. Carrots are good for vision and skin, and also contain only 26 calories, which allows you to include it in various diets. 125 g of raw carrots contain 459 mcg of vitamin A.
Carrots are also rich in dietary fiber, which contributes to a comfortable digestion, minerals and B group vitamins, vitamin E and other useful substances.
Spinach contains a huge amount of useful substances, and in addition to vitamin A (573 mcg per 125 g), it is rich in iron, magnesium, iodine and other important minerals and trace elements.
Spinach also contains more lutein than other vegetables. This substance is useful not only for the eyes, but also for the cardiovascular system.
Not everyone likes this type of cabbage, but the ancient Roman writer Pliny the Elder called it blessed. Later in other countries it was called Italian asparagus.
Today, broccoli is considered a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, while it is considered a low-calorie product. So, it is great for those who watch weight.
This vegetable comes from the tropical regions of America. A whole potato baked in the skin contains 1,403 micrograms of vitamin A, which is 561% of the daily value.
Eating sweet potatoes will enrich your diet with vitamins B6, C, and potassium, while the high fiber content and low glycemic index will help control your blood sugar levels.
The history of pumpkin dates back from 5 to 8 thousand years—even the Aztecs grew it. Now, we are used to traditional pumpkin dishes like cream soup or pie. Previously, it was used as a medical raw material: various ointments and other medicinal products were prepared on the basis of pumpkin.
Pumpkin contains many minerals, trace elements and vitamins, including C, E, K, and almost all B vitamins. In addition, pumpkin contains about five times more carotenes than carrot.
Cod liver oil
Fish oil is a proven source of omega-3 and vitamin A—5 ml contains about 150% of the daily value. But keep in mind that there are contraindications to fish oil intake.
Salmon contains not only vitamin D, fatty acids, vitamin E and other important elements. It is also rich in vitamin A. 100 g of the product contains 149 mcg (17% of the daily value).
However, salmon is not suitable for daily consumption, since this fish can accumulate harmful substances from the external environment.
Best way to take vitamin A
Vitamin A is fat-soluble. For better absorption in the intestines, it should be combined with vegetable oils, as well as vitamin E and zinc. Vitamin C, in turn, will become a natural catalyst that will enhance the action of vitamin A.
Your daily diet should be varied and balanced, consisting of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean proteins.
How to determine vitamin A deficiency
The first and most accurate way to determine vitamin a deficiency is to conduct a laboratory blood test to detect hypovitaminosis. Hypovitaminosis is a condition that occurs when there is insufficient intake of vitamins. This phenomenon is rarely isolated. As a rule, we are dealing with a lack of certain groups of vitamins. If a person refuses to eat animal products, there is usually a deficiency of vitamins A, D, E and Biotin. If a person does not have enough plant food, then there is a deficiency of vitamins C and B group.
But there are also indirect signs of vitamin a deficiency. If there is a lack of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin A, you should pay attention to the condition of the skin and skin derivatives: mucous membranes, hair, nails. Cracked or flaky lips, the sudden appearance of acne, cracks and sores in the corners of the mouth, or an unusual reaction to metal jewelry may indirectly indicate a lack of vitamin A in the diet. It is also possible to change the nail plate—the nails become more brittle, deformations, pigmentation in the form of spots or stripes may occur.
The main sign of a lack of vitamins on the part of the hair is increased brittleness, dryness and a tendency to fall out. It is worth thinking about hypovitaminosis A and the sudden appearance of itching, dandruff, ulcers and pimples on the scalp.
The most obvious sign is decreased twilight vision. This is a serious disorder that indicates a chronic deficiency of vitamin A. in Addition, hypovitaminosis can cause redness and swelling of the eyelids, itching and discharge from the eyes, and frequent inflammatory diseases. There may also be uncomfortable sensations from bright light, glare, double vision.
A decrease in the body’s immune functions may also be an indirect sign of vitamin a deficiency, but more often it occurs against the background of general hypovitaminosis.
When should I take vitamin A from the pharmacy?
With a balanced diet, the liver tends to store vitamin A for up to five years. If your diet is rich in foods containing vitamin A, there is no need to take dietary supplements for prevention. In large doses, vitamin A is toxic. It is recommended to pass a test to determine the level of vitamin A.
How do I know if I’ve overdosed on a vitamin?
We have already mentioned that vitamin A is toxic in high concentrations. And since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it has the property of actively accumulating in the organs and has a longer period of excretion. In this case, an overdose of carotenoids is not as dangerous as an excess of retinoids: in the first case, ochrodermatosis develops, i. e. the skin turns orange-yellow, but unlike hepatitis, the sclera (eye whites) remain white. This condition is reversible, and its manifestations gradually disappear with the normalization of the intake and metabolism of carotenoids.
Signs of hypervitaminosis A also include: nausea, vomiting, redness of the face, itching, drowsiness, possible pain in the joints and bones, increased excitability.
Infants are characterized by protrusion of the Fontanelle against the background of increased intracranial pressure, hyperthermia, vomiting, and appetite disappear. If these signs are detected, you should immediately consult a doctor.
Under what cooking conditions is vitamin A best preserved in foods?
Vitamin A is resistant to high temperatures, but it is easily oxidized when exposed to air and the sun. Therefore, it is quite resistant to heat treatment, but not to light and oxygen exposure: foods rich in vitamin A should be stored in dark vacuum containers in a cool place, cut into large pieces. Air and light destroy the vitamin slowly, starting from the surface. By making the cut larger, we save more vitamins.
Should I take vitamin A separately or will it be enough in multivitamins?
If your diet is balanced, you eat a sufficient amount of vegetables and fruits, and have animal products in your diet, you can limit yourself to taking multivitamin complexes, since they contain only a small percentage of the daily dose. When vitamin A deficiency is detected in the laboratory, your doctor must prescribe therapeutic dosages.