General Practice 2022

Vitamin A: what é, what it is for and rich foods

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Vitamin A: what é, what it is for and rich foods
Vitamin A: what é, what it is for and rich foods

Vitamin A, found in plant foods such as pumpkin, tomato, watercress and spinach, and animal foods such as liver, egg yolks and fish oil, is responsible for maintaining vision he alth and promote the growth and renewal of the body's cells.

In addition, vitamin A also has antioxidant action, fighting free radicals, thus helping to prevent situations such as premature aging, cardiovascular diseases, flu, allergies and colds, for example.

Vitamin A can also be found in the form of supplements, which are sold in pharmacies or he alth food stores. However, vitamin A supplementation should only be done with the advice of a doctor, or nutritionist, because excessive intake of this vitamin can cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

What is vitamin A for

Vitamin A is essential for the growth of body cells, in addition to having antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties. Therefore, the main he alth benefits of vitamin A are:

1. Keep your eyesight he althy

Vitamin A maintains the he alth of vision, because it prevents the appearance of xerophthalmia, which is a disease caused by a deficiency of this vitamin and that can cause dryness, small white spots in the eyes, difficulty seeing in dark environments and blindness. Better understand the symptoms of xerophthalmia.

In addition, vitamin A, in the form of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, are present in large amounts in the eyes and help fight free radicals and protect the retina, preventing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

2. Strengthen the immune system

By having immunomodulatory properties, vitamin A participates in the growth, renewal and strengthening of the body's defense cells, helping to fight viruses, bacteria and fungi, and thus preventing the emergence of situations such as flu, allergy, cold and candidiasis.

3. Maintaining the he alth of mother and baby

Intake of adequate amounts of vitamin A helps maintain the he alth of mother and baby, because this vitamin is essential for the formation and functions of the placenta, for the growth and development of the baby, in addition to promoting good woman's recovery after childbirth.

4. Prevent premature aging

Vitamin A helps prevent premature aging, because it has potent antioxidant action, helping to neutralize excess free radicals in the body, which are responsible for the formation of wrinkles and sagging skin. See more foods that also help prevent premature aging.

5. Help treat measles

Because it has anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin A supplementation is indicated for the treatment of measles, reducing the duration of the symptoms of the disease, such as fever, pneumonia and diarrhea, especially in children who are deficient in this vitamin. Learn about other symptoms and see how measles is treated.

6. Promote weight loss

Vitamin A promotes weight loss, because it inhibits the formation of fat cells in the body, in addition to helping to increase brown adipose tissue, a type of fat that accelerates metabolism, stimulating the breakdown of body fat and weight loss.

7. Prevent cardiovascular disease

By having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, vitamin A helps increase levels of nitric oxide in the body, a substance that promotes relaxation of blood vessels, improving blood circulation and helping to control blood pressure.

In addition, this vitamin also neutralizes excess free radicals in the body, preventing the oxidation of fat cells and controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, preventing diseases such as heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.

Foods rich in vitamin A

Foods rich in vitamin A are mainly liver, milk, eggs, and fish oils.

Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, red peppers, mango and papaya, and dark green ones, such as spinach, kale and broccoli, are also good sources of this vitamin because they contain carotenoids, compounds that turn into vitamin A in the body.

Recommended amount of vitamin A

The recommended daily amount of vitamin A varies by gender and age, as explained below:

Age / stage of life

Recommended amount per day (mcg)

From 0 to 6 months

400 mcg

From 6 to 12 months

500 mcg

1 to 3 years old

300 mcg

From 4 to 8 years old

400 mcg

9 to 13 years old

600 mcg

Men from 14 onwards

900 mcg

Women from 14 years onwards

700 mcg

Pregnant women up to 18 years old

750 mcg

Pregnant women from 19 to 50 years old

770 mcg

In addition, breastfeeding women aged 18 and under need to consume 1200 mcg of vitamin A per day. For women aged 19 to 50 years, the recommendation for vitamin A is 1300 mcg per day.

Too much vitamin A

Excessive consumption of vitamin A, in the form of supplements, can cause symptoms and signs, such as headache, tiredness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, itching, peeling skin, and can also lead to coma and death.

Too much vitamin A can also diminish the benefits of vitamin D, which can lead to an increased risk of bone loss, falls, and fractures.

In addition, excess of this vitamin can also lead to defects in the formation of the baby's eyes, skull, lungs and heart. Therefore, the use of vitamin A supplements should only be done under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist.

Vitamin A deficiency

Low intake of food sources is the main cause of vitamin A deficiency in the body, which can cause signs and symptoms such as xerophthalmia, dry skin or hair, tiredness, infertility, delayed growth and development of children. Know all the signs and symptoms of vitamin A deficiency.

Because vitamin A needs fat from food to be absorbed, people with fat malabsorption, such as those who have had bariatric surgery, or with inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, or Crohn's disease, can also be deficient in this vitamin.

Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy can also cause defects in the formation of the baby's brain, eye, ear, heart and, in more severe cases, death.

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