What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A—the first letter of the alphabet—can sometimes go overlooked. It is an antioxidant. One of the many daily nutrients vital for a flourishing lifestyle. The benefits of having Vitamin A in your life include having healthy skin, having proper immune system functions, and maintaining healthy eyesight. Overall this vitamin helps increase longevity.
Two Different Types
It is important to note there are two different types of Vitamin A—active Vitamin A and beta-carotene.
The active form comes from animals and is ready to be used once it enters the body.
Beta Carotene is eaten through a rainbow of fruits and vegetables or carotenoids. These convert to the vitamin once the food is ingested.
What Vitamin A Does for the Immune System
While we all know Vitamin C boosts the immune system and is often times thought of for fighting colds, others come into play too in the body’s natural defense. Among these includes Vitamin A; this vitamin helps fight more serious conditions such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. Beta-carotene is the antioxidant that helps in the prevention department of chronic diseases.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, aging results in the immune system response being “reduced,” ultimately leading to more infections as well as cancer. Taking vitamins, including Vitamin A, can help the immune system in this process.
How Vitamin A Benefits the Skin
Without vitamin A, the sky can become dry and scaly. Who wants this?
In fact, Vitamin A plays a role in the healing of the skin, such as with wounds, and the re-growth of the skin. The science behind this is that Vitamin A is necessary to create glycoproteins (this is a concoction of protein and sugar) that attaches cells together and shapes soft tissue.
All around, this vitamin helps the skin’s health. It can help the fight of acne and reduce wrinkles in the skin by creating more collagen—this plays a vital role in keeping the skin appearing young. Not only does Vitamin A help the skin, but it creates healthy hair as well!
A 2012 study by Oregon State University points out that Vitamin A has been used for decades to treat skin conditions. The study concluded that applying the vitamin topically on the skin for over six months results in “significant improvement” in fine wrinkles and roughness.
Vitamin A & Eye Health
If your eyes do not get enough vitamin A this can lead to sight problems. This is because when there’s a deficiency of vitamin A, the cornea can thicken. This can even lead to a person going blind! As expected, this can affect both of the eyes.
Early signs of this include extreme dryness of the eyes and blindness at night. A molecule in the eye knowns as the rhodopsin molecule helps when light shines in the retina and tells the brain which is what creates vision. Vitamin A assists with this and prevents blindness as we age.
The National Eye Institute conducted two Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS) and both determined that taking vitamin A along with zinc, vitamin C, and copper, can make people not as susceptible to an eye disease that occurs from the result of aging.
An article published in the Clinical Intervention in Aging said many people over 45 view eyesight as “the most important of the five senses.” Vitamin A among other nutrients are important to eye health and problems that occur as a person ages.
Vitamin A in Vegetables & Other Foods
Taking a supplement is not the only way to get lots of Vitamin A into your diet—many vegetables and foods are a great source of this vitamin.
Beef Liver — This is absolutely one of the richest sources of Vitamin A. In just three ounces you can get over three times the amount of Vitamin A needed in one day, 305% to be exact.
Apricots — If beef liver is not your thing and you want a sweeter way to get this vitamin, try eating some apricots. One cup of apricots has 63% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A.
Carrots — As most people know, eating carrots is a great way to meet those Vitamin A needs. In fact, one medium-sized carrot alone contains 203% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A. In one half a cup, or 12 baby carrots, there is 190% of your daily value of Vitamin A.
Kale — This superfood has quite a bit of vitamins in it; Vitamin A is no exception! Much like carrots, kale packs twice the daily value of Vitamin A as well.
Sweet Potato — If sweet potatoes are not already a staple of your diet, consider making them one. In just one half a cup of sweet potato, you can get 189% of your Vitamin A intake.
Having more Vitamin A in your life can have many benefits. If you want to reduce wrinkles, slow down the onslaught of eye problems, and a boosted immune system, consider getting more of this vitamin!