VITAMIN – A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it does not dissolve in water and hence cannot be excreted in the urine. They stored in the body. This plays a very important role in keeping our vision good.
Its deficiency can lead to blindness but at the same time its toxicity can also cause blurred vision.
Toxicity means too much of accumulation of the vitamin in the body.
The deficiency of it is mainly seen in growing children and in women of reproductive age. Its deficiency also lowers down the ability to fight other infections which can be fatal.
ROLE OF VITAMIN A
- Maintains a strong immune system.
- Growth and development.
- Maintains good and proper vision.
- Important for healthy teeth.
- Good for healthy pregnancy and breast feeding.
- Functions in a different role as a hormone for growth of epithelial and other cells throughout the body (skin and cellular health).
- Contributes in bone metabolism.
- Responsible for healthy mucous membrane.
- Contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN A
It is found in the diet in two forms.
- Performed vitamin A ( found in animal products like poultry, meat and dairy products)
- Pro- vitamin A ( found in plant based food like fruits and vegetables)
They can also be take as supplements.
The main sources of it are non- vegetarian foods and orange and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables like:-
- Livers of beef, pork etc.
- Cod liver oil
- Cheese/ butter/ ghee
- Sweet potato
- In beta-carotene vegetables like broccoli, leafy vegetables, spinach etc.
- Fortified milk and breakfast cereals.
The structure of vitamin A is as follows:-
VITAMIN A DEFICIENCY (VAD)
The deficiency of vitamin A occurs in blood and tissues. Night blindness is the first sign of VAD. It is mainly seen in children and women of reproductive age in especially poor or developing countries.
The symptoms of vitamin A deficiency are:-
- Loss of vision/blindness (Xerophthalmia)
The first symptom is night blindness (unable to see in the dark). This can be reverse by early treatment.
If it is untreated, it leads to complete vision loss or blindness.
- Immune disorders
- Birth defects
- Follicular hyperkeratosis (excessive keratin in the hair follicles leading to rough hair)
- Depleted vitamin A levels leads to further infection. It is seen that after Xerophthalmia there is often an outbreak of measles.
Excessive dosage of it can be dangerous. It can lead to toxicity (illness). As it is fat soluble so it remains stored and cannot be excreted in urine.
One has to be very cautious while taking supplements of it. recommended daily dose of it is 900mcg for men and 700mcg for women.
Toxicity will lead to following illness:-
- Blurred vision
- Skin disorders
- Liver abnormalities
- Joint pain
- Bone fracture
- Birth defects
- Poor appetite
- Hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry skin
- Itchy skin
In present scenario where corona virus pandemic has created havoc worldwide, it has become necessary that we all should take a healthy and well balanced diet.
In fact, This will keep our vitamin levels balanced thereby increasing our immunity.
Here I would like to share my personal experience with it.
Having preterm twins I had to be on my toes each time I prepared their meals.
It was tough to fortify their food with essential vitamins and minerals. When I faced some growth issues, I visited my pediatrician. He explained to me the importance of the cheapest injectable vitamin i.e. vitamin A.
Somewhere we all know its importance but happen to miss it at the time of need. The role of it is cannot be ignored.