Why Your Blood Needs Vitamin A (Find Out Here)
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In today’s world, vitamin A deficiency is one of the main causes of blindness in children. Frequent infections, poor immune system and poor nutrition is as a result of vitamin A deficiency.
Vitamin A is necessary for the normal function of all your body’s cells. It is a retinoid found in fish liver oil, egg yolks and butterfat.
Vitamin A, also known as retinol is obtained from carotene. While you may think that vitamin A is only good for your skin, this is not true. Vitamin A is also good for the blood.
This blog will explain why your blood needs vitamin A, the benefits, functions, and how you can get enough from the diet.
Summary: The blood needs vitamin A to maintain healthy skin, eyes, and cells. Vitamin A is found in many foods such as liver, eggs, milk, and some dark green vegetables. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin obtained from carotene.
What is vitamin A and what does it do in the blood?
Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin aids growth and development, supports the immune system and helps maintain vision.
Vitamin A also helps your heart, lungs, and other organs function properly. Carotenoids are pigments that give yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables their color.
When you eat foods containing carotene, your body converts it into vitamin A.
There are two types of vitamin A, namely; retinoids and carotenoids.
Retinoids are found in fish, liver, dairy products and eggs. While carotenoids come from plant sources such as carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach.
The most common provitamin A
carotenoid in foods and dietary supplements is beta-carotene.
Benefits and Functions of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a micronutrient required in small amounts by the blood to perform multiple metabolic functions.
Functions of vitamin A in the blood:
- Growth and development of cells
- Maintaining immune system
- Maintenance of epithelial cells
- Normal eyesight
- Lipid metabolism
Vitamin A is also an antioxidant, a property shared with vitamins E and C respectively.
New biological functions of vitamin A such as lipid metabolism, insulin response, energy balance and the nervous system are continuously being discovered.
Why Vitamin A is Good For Your Blood
Your blood needs vitamin A to carry out certain biological functions that are necessary for the body’s daily activities. Now here are the reasons.
The retina is located at the back of your eye. When light passes through the lens, it is sensed by the retina and converted to a nerve impulse for interpretation by the brain.
When vitamin A is absorbed into the blood, blood vessels transports retinol to the retina and pile up in retinal pigment epithelial cells.
Inadequate supply of retinol to the retina results in impaired dark adaptation, known as “night blindness” which mostly occur in children.
Vitamin A is known as the anti-infective vitamin, because it is required for normal functioning of
the immune system.
The skin and mucosal cells
function as a barrier, and forms the body’s first line of defense against infection.
Retinol and it’s metabolites are
needed to maintain the integrity and function of these cells.
Vitamin A and retinoic acid play a central role in developing and differentiating white blood cells, such as lymphocytes, which play critical roles in the immune response.
Activation of T-lymphocytes, the major regulatory cells of the immune system requires trans retinoic acid binding of retinoic acid receptor.
Growth and development
Both vitamin A excess and deficiency are known to cause
birth defects. Retinol and retinoic acid are essential for embryonic development.
During fetal growth, retinoic acid functions in limb development and formation of the heart, eyes, and ears. Retinoic acid has been found to regulate expression of the gene for growth hormone.
Red blood cell production
Red blood cells, like all blood cells, are derived from precursor cells called stem cells. Stem cells are dependent on retinoids for normal differentiation into red blood cells.
Additionally, vitamin A appears to facilitate the mobilization of iron from storage sites to the developing red blood cell for incorporation into hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier in red blood cells.
In developing countries where vitamin A deficiency is common, children with measles are more likely to have severe symptoms and may die from the disease.
In these children, giving them high doses of vitamin A supplements might help prevent new cases of measles and might lower their risk of dying of measles.
What foods provides vitamin A?
Vitamin A is found naturally in many foods such as milk and cereal.
You can get recommended amounts of vitamin A by eating a variety of foods, including:
- Beef liver
What about vitamin A supplements?
Vitamin A is available in dietary supplements, usually in the form of retinyl palmitate and beta-carotene.
Dietary supplements that contain only vitamin A are available. Also, there are other multivitamin supplements that contains vitamin A with other nutrients. An example is forever Ivision.
Are you getting enough vitamin A?
Vitamin A deficiency is rare because most people get enough vitamin A from the foods they eat.
However, vitamin A deficiency is common in young children. Certain groups of people have trouble getting enough vitamin A, including:
- Premature infants
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
- People with cystic fibrosis
- People with crohn’s disease
- People with ulcerative colitis
- People with celiac disease
How much vitamin A do you need?
The average daily recommended amounts of preformed vitamin A and provitamin A carotenoids are
listed below in micrograms:
- Birth to 6 months: 400 mcg
- Infants 7–12 months: 500 mcg
- Children 1–3 years: 300 mcg
- Children 4–8 years: 400 mcg
- Children 9–13 years: 600 mcg
- Teen boys 14–18 years: 900 mcg
- Teen girls 14–18 years: 700 mcg
- Adult males: 900 mcg
- Adult females: 700 mcg
- Pregnant women: 770 mcg
- Breastfeeding women: 1,300 mcg
What happens if you don’t get enough vitamin A in your blood?
The most common sign of vitamin A deficiency is an eye condition called xerophthalmia. Xerophthalmia is the inability to see in low light, and it can lead to blindness if it isn’t treated.
A long-term deficiency of vitamin A can also lead to a higher risk of anemia, pneumonia, measles and diarrhea.
Is vitamin A toxic to the blood?
Yes, high intakes of some forms of vitamin A can be harmful. Taking too much preformed vitamin A can cause:
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision
- Muscle aches
- Problems with coordination
If you take too much preformed vitamin A while pregnant, it can cause birth defects in your baby, including abnormal eyes, skull, lungs, and heart.
If you are pregnant, you should not take high-dose supplements of preformed vitamin A.
High intakes of beta-carotene do not cause the same problems as preformed vitamin A. Consuming high amounts of beta-carotene can turn the skin yellow-orange, but this condition is harmless and goes away when you eat less of it.
However, several studies have shown that smokers, and people exposed to asbestos who take high-dose beta-carotene supplements have a higher risk of lung cancer and death.
The daily upper limits for preformed vitamin A include intakes from all sources, and are listed below.
- Birth to 12 months: 600 mcg
- Children 1–3 years: 600 mcg
- Children 4–8 years: 900 mcg
- Children 9–13 years: 1,700 mcg
- Teens 14–18 years: 2,800 mcg
- Adults 19 years and older: 3,000 mcg
Does vitamin A interfere with medications?
Yes, vitamin A supplements can interfere with medicines you take. Here are some examples; Orlistat, Acitretin, and Bexarotene.
Taking these medicines together with vitamin A supplement could cause dangerously high levels of vitamin A in the blood.
Vitamin A is essential for the body to function properly. It keeps your blood cells healthy and plays a vital role in helping the immune system to fight off infection.
There are many foods that are rich in vitamin A, so it is easy to get the recommended daily amount.
While you can get vitamin A from the diet, it is important to supplement with this nutrient if you want to maintain optimal health.
A research on whether high intakes of dietary vitamin A increases the risk of deaths is not known.
However, extreme overdose of vitamin A supplements is harmful, when combined with certain medicines.
Always remember to check any medication that interferes with vitamin A supplements before ingesting and follow the recommended daily allowance to avoid excessive intakes.
If you are worried about not getting enough vitamin A in your blood talk to your doctor.
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