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Vitamin A is the name of a group of fat-soluble retinoids, including retinol, retinal, and retinyl esters. Vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.
Vitamin A help to provide healthy skin, hair, body tissue, boosts immunity, aids vision, promotes bone and tooth growth.
You can get vitamin A from these plant sources such as apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, guava, kale, mango, papaya, peaches, spinach, squash, sweet potato.
When you don’t get enough vitamin A, it will lead to colds, infections, dry skins, rashes, acne, night-blindness, poor bone growth, weak tooth enamel.
Vitamin A is critical for vision as an essential component of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors, and because it supports the normal differentiation and functioning of the conjunctival membranes and cornea.
Vitamin A also supports cell growth and differentiation, playing a critical role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
Two forms of vitamin A are available in the human diet: preformed vitamin A (retinol and its esterified form, retinyl ester) and provitamin A carotenoids.
Preformed vitamin A is found in foods from animal sources, including dairy products, fish, and meat (especially liver).
By far the most important provitamin A carotenoid is beta-carotene; other provitamins A carotenoids are alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. The body converts these plant pigments into vitamin A.
Both provitamin A and preformed vitamin A must be metabolized intracellularly to retinal and retinoic acid, the active forms of vitamin A, to support the vitamin’s important biological functions.
Other carotenoids found in food, such as lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, are not converted into vitamin A.
The various forms of vitamin A are solubilized into micelles in the intestinal lumen and absorbed by duodenal mucosal cells. Both retinyl esters and provitamin A carotenoids are converted to retinol, which is oxidized to retinal and then to retinoic acid.
Most of the body’s vitamin A is stored in the liver in the form of retinyl esters.
Retinol and carotenoid levels are typically measured in plasma, and plasma retinol levels are useful for assessing vitamin A inadequacy. However, their value for assessing marginal vitamin A status is limited because they do not decline until vitamin A levels in the liver are almost depleted.
Liver vitamin A reserves can be measured indirectly through the relative dose-response test, in which plasma retinol levels are measured before and after the administration of a small amount of vitamin A.
A plasma retinol level increase of at least 20% indicates an inadequate vitamin A level. For clinical practice purposes, plasma retinol levels alone are sufficient for documenting significant deficiency.
A plasma retinol concentration lower than 0.70 micromoles/L (or 20 micrograms [mcg]/dL) reflects vitamin A inadequacy in a population, and concentrations of 0.70–1.05 micromoles/L could be marginal in some people.
In some studies, high plasma or serum concentrations of some provitamin A carotenoids have been associated with a lower risk of various health outcomes, but these studies have not definitively demonstrated that this relationship is causal.
Intake recommendations for vitamin A and other nutrients are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences).
DRI is the general term for a set of reference values used for planning and assessing nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender, include:
RDAs for vitamin A are given as retinol activity equivalents (RAE) to account for the different bioactivities of retinol and provitamin A carotenoids, all of which are converted by the body into retinol
Refer to the table below: One mcg RAE is equivalent to 1 mcg retinol, 2 mcg supplemental beta-carotene, 12 mcg dietary beta-carotene, or 24 mcg dietary alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin.
|0–6 months*||400 mcg RAE||400 mcg RAE|
|7–12 months*||500 mcg RAE||500 mcg RAE|
|1–3 years||300 mcg RAE||300 mcg RAE|
|4–8 years||400 mcg RAE||400 mcg RAE|
|9–13 years||600 mcg RAE||600 mcg RAE|
|14–18 years||900 mcg RAE||700 mcg RAE||750 mcg RAE||1,200 mcg RAE|
|19–50 years||900 mcg RAE||700 mcg RAE||770 mcg RAE||1,300 mcg RAE|
|51+ years||900 mcg RAE||700 mcg RAE|