VITAMIN A' AND OUR HEALTH

 

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which occurs in two forms in nature. It occurs in its true form (also called retinol) in animal foods such as fish oil and liver. In this form , it is readily used by the body. It is stored in and released by the liver. However, in order to be transported throughout the body, it needs a special protein carrier. Hence the importance of adequate protein intake when vitamin A intake is increased.

Vitamin A also occurs in vegetables in the form of Beta carotene, or provitamin A, which is the precursor of the actual vitamin. Beta carotene is abundant in root vegetables such as carrots and yams, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, and yellow fruits such as cantaloupe and mango.

Beta carotene cannot be directly used by the body as a actual vitamin A. it has to be converted into retinol in the presence of fats and bile before this can happen. This is why it is advisable, when eating a salad, to sprinkle a little salad oil on it. In this respect cooked carrots are better than raw ones, as the cooking of the carotene helps the liver to convert it to the retinol form of vitamin A.

Although it got most scientific attention in the past, beta carotene is now known to be only one of several hundred plant pigments known collectively as carotenoids. These plant pigments known collectively as carotenoids. This plant pigment which can absorb dangerous sunlight wavelength rays, were also found to act as antioxidants.
 
As such, they neutralize the destructive molecules known as free radicals. Carrotenoids protect plants from the damage caused by the free radicals which are formed when plants are exposed to sunlight. Without the protective carotenoids, the plants would shrivel quickly. People can acquire these antioxidant effects by eating carotenoids. This is important because free radicals are now considered to be the underlying cause for the degenerative diseases of aging such as heart disease and cancer.
 

Beneficial effects:

Vitamin A helps to fight colds and infections, particularly in the mucous membranes of the eyes, ear, nose throat, lungs and bladder. It increases the resistance of these tissues to bacterial infections. As for the eyes, Vitamin A is necessary for the formation of the photosensitive pigment known as visual purple; this contains beta carotene, vitamin A and protein, and maintains good vision.

Night vision depends entirely on vitamin A. this multirole vitamin also helps to maintain a healthy skin, preventing acne and dermatitis. It’s also known to prevent kidney stone.

 

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