What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, which is either found ready formed – for example in animal products such as meat and dairy – or as pro-vitamin A, beta carotene, in fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene is then converted into Vitamin A in the body, with the help of the hormone thyroid.
Vitamin A is crucial for many functions, such as vision, reproduction, breast feeding and in maintaining healthy skin, teeth and bones.
Liver is a great source of vitamin A. For beta carotene, the more intensely coloured the fruit or vegetables – the higher the amount of beta carotene it provides. Supplements wise, cod liver oil is an excellent source (just make sure you check the ingredients and choose a good quality supplement).
Vitamin A Toxicity
If you don’t get enough vitamin A you can experience immune and vision issues – but conversely it is equally problematic getting too much. In fact excess vitamin A has even been shown to result in birth defects. Excessive consumption of beta carotene is not so serious, but it will make your skin turn yellow or orange, which would look rather alarming! Fortunately the skin will return to it’s normal colour once intake of beta carotene is reduced.
Another issue with excessive levels of vitamin A, are that it appears to reduce the bodies ability to utilise Vitamin D. As people tend to be deficient in Vitamin D (perhaps more so than Vitamin A), this could be a real problem. As with so many vitamins and minerals, it appears having a good balance is crucial.
Have you had your levels checked? How were they? Are you concerned about toxicity? Please share your experiences in the comments below.