Vitamin A : Top Benefits And Deficiency Complications

Vitamin A or retinol is essential for average growth, healthy skin, hair and nails, and proper functioning of the eyes and immune system. An excess of vitamin A can be harmful to children and pregnant women.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A is found in animal products and mainly in the liver. The body also makes its own vitamin A from carotenoids. These substances are found in plant products.

What is vitamin A?

Vitamin A is fat-soluble and essential for average growth, healthy skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin A is also necessary for proper eye function and the immune system. You can find vitamin A in animal products, and it is added to low-fat margarine and baking and frying products.

Forms of vitamin A

In animal products is vitamin A in the form of retinol or retinyl esters. In fruits and vegetables are carotenoids. Carotenoids are also called provitamin A because the body can convert these substances into vitamin A. There are several forms of carotenoids: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.

In supplements, vitamin A occurs as retinyl acetate or palmitate. There are also supplements on the market with only beta-carotene.

Absorption in the body

For proper absorption of vitamin A in the body, fat is needed. The body absorbs 70 to 90% of the retinol, and the carotenoid,s only 9 to 22%—the body stores vitamin A in the liver. Excess vitamin A is also partially stored in fat.

What is vitamin A in?

Vitamin A is found in animal products, such as meat and meat products, dairy products, fish, and egg yolk. It is also an additive in margarine, low-fat margarine, and cooking products. This is then on the label. The liver contains a lot of vitamin A. A piece of beef liver of 100 grams, for example, has more than 27,000 micrograms of vitamin A. Liver sausage contains about 800 to 900 micrograms of vitamin A per sandwich, and liver pate about 1,000 to 1,200 micrograms of vitamin A per sandwich.

Carotenoids (provitamin A) are common in several vegetables, such as carrot, kale, spinach, and endive.
What is vitamin A good for?

Vitamin A Benefits

  • It is suitable for vision; vitamin A allows your eyes to adjust to the twilight.
  • Contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system
  • It plays a role in the development of the unborn child and the growth of children
  • It is involved in the production of skin cells and cells in your windpipe, hair, gums, and lung tissue
  • It helps keep skin healthy

Vitamin A deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency can cause skin problems, dull hair, night blindness, and even blindness.

Too much vitamin A

Too much vitamin A can occur if you often eat liver or take supplements high in vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can cause poisoning. The symptoms are headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and abnormalities of the eyes, skin, and skeleton—this concerns vitamin A from animal products and not carotenoids (provitamin A) from fruits and vegetables.

However, supplements with high doses of beta-carotene (more than 15 milligrams per day) can increase the risk of lung cancer.

In pregnant women, too much vitamin A increases the risk of congenital disabilities in the baby.

Dietary advice

If you eat a healthy and varied you get enough vitamin A.

How much vitamin A do you need daily?

The daily recommendation of vitamin A for an adult male is 800 micrograms, and for an adult female, 680 micrograms to stay healthy. For pregnant women and children, these numbers are different. Refer to the table below for all age categories.

How much vitamin A do you need daily?

To stay healthy, the daily recommendation of vitamin A for an adult male is 800 micrograms, and for an adult female, 680 micrograms. For pregnant women and children, these numbers are different. Refer to the table below for all age categories.

Category / age

 

Daily recommendation

 

Children
6-11 months 300
1-2 years 300
2-5 years 350
6-9 years 400
Men
9-13 years 600
14-17 years 900
18 years and older 800
Women
9-13 years 600
14-17 years 700
18 years and older 680
Pregnant women 800
When breastfeeding 1,100

Exceptional advice for pregnancy and young children

Too much vitamin A increases the risk of congenital disabilities. If you are pregnant, you are advised not to take vitamin A supplements and not eat liver (products). Liver, liverwurst, and pate have a lot of vitamin A. The liverwurst or pate for one sandwich contains about 1,200 micrograms of vitamin A.

Too much vitamin A increases the risk of congenital disabilities. Therefore, do not overeat smeared liverwurst or pate.

If you are pregnant, there is probably no health risk to the unborn child if you eat a slice of bread with pâté or oiled sausage. The safe level for vitamin A for adults is 3,000 micrograms per day, and most women get less than 1,200 micrograms per day through their regular diet.

The safe upper limit for children 1-3 years old is 800 micrograms per day. It is better not to give children up to the age of 4 years any spreadable sausage or pâté.

Can you get too much vitamin A?

Because too much vitamin A intake has adverse health effects, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set an acceptable upper limit for vitamin A.

Age Acceptable upper limit micrograms per day
1-3 years 800
4-6 years 1,100
7-10 years 1,500
11-14 years 2,000
15-17 years 2,600
18 years and older 3,000
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