Vitamin A rich foods are essential for a variety of body functions. There are two types of vitamin A and they are derived from different sources. Vitamin A from animal sources is available in ready form and is called retinol or its derivatives such as retinal or retinoic acid. This is a fat-soluble vitamin but too much of it can lead to toxicity and should therefore be avoided. Good sources of vitamin A obtained from animal sources are eggs, dairy, fish oils and liver. Beef liver is one of the best sources of animal-derived preformed vitamin A.
Vitamin A derived from plant-based sources such as fruits and vegetables is called provitamin A of which carotenoids are the most popular and readily available form. The body stores vitamin A in the liver and uses it as needed for various functions. Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli, leafy greens like kale, mustard greens and spinach are some of the best sources of vitamin A. Fruits high in vitamin A are cantaloupe, mango, papaya, pink grapefruit and apricots.
Insufficient or excessive consumption of Vitamin A can cause various side effects and sickness. A deficiency of vitamin A in the diet can cause vision problems and also make the body susceptible to infections, whereas high doses of vitamin A can lead to birth defects and other health problems caused by toxicity.
Vitamin A supplement use is not recommended and it is best to derive this nutrient from natural food sources.
Vitamin A is essential for the normal functioning and performance of the human body. It is therefore vital to consume food sources containing sufficient vitamin A on a daily basis to obtain the required amounts of retinoids and carotenoids.
Vitamin A Essential for Healthy Eyes
Vitamin A keeps our eyes healthy by delaying the onset of macular degeneration and protecting the cornea. It also helps delay and prevents the formation of cataracts and glaucoma and can often counteract these conditions. Vitamin A also keeps the eyes hydrated and helps us see better at night. Deficiency of vitamin A in severe cases can also cause blindness.
Vitamin A Keeps Skin Healthy
Vitamin A along with other antioxidants keeps the skin safe from free radical damage. It keeps the skin supple and hydrated. It is also helpful for treating skin conditions such as psoriasis. Vitamin A keeps the skin safe from acne by reducing the excess production of sebum. A diet high in vitamin A foods can keep the skin looking soft and healthy and also delay the onset of wrinkles.
Vitamin A Keeps Liver Healthy
Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that keeps the liver free from cellular damage. Antioxidants are needed for good liver health as it processes all food consumed and comes into contact with many harmful products and chemicals that might lead to toxicity over a period of time. Liver problems can slow digestion and lead to many other health problems. Therefore eating vitamin A nutrient rich foods can help keep the liver safe from harm.
Vitamin A for a Healthy Heart
Vitamin A decreases bad cholesterol and reduces the chances of cardiac disorders. Vitamin A nutrient dense foods can also prevent strokes and keeps the heart young.
Vitamin A for Immunity
Vitamin A strengthens the immune system by aiding the lymphocytic response in the body. It also helps white blood cells perform better and keeps the mucus membranes well-hydrated.
Other Health Benefits of Vitamin A
Vitamin A aids cell development and overall growth. It is beneficial for the health of the reproductive system. It also strengthens teeth and helps bone growth.
Vitamin A Rich Food Recipes
Fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin A are much better sources of this essential nutrient than animal sources. While most of these fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw they can also be used in the recipes below to make tasty, wholesome and healthy dishes.
Make this recipe for breakfast for a great start to your day. Mix oatmeal and rice flour and add water to make a paste. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Add salt and grated carrots and make pancakes using coconut oil. Eat this with fresh coconut chutney. Add fortified grains or other vegetables like spinach to load the dish with extra vitamin A.
Grate carrots and chop spinach, onions and peppers. Add these into whisked eggs with salt and pepper. Egg yolk by itself contains plenty of preformed vitamin A. This is your omelet fortified with extra vitamin A. Add as many vegetables into your omelet as your taste permits.
Grate fresh pumpkin and add it to low fat yogurt with salt, fresh coriander leaves and other herbs like chives and mint. Eat as a snack or use as a dip for your salad. Dip carrot sticks into this pumpkin yogurt for a double dose of vitamin A. Vary the yogurt flavor by substituting pumpkin with carrots or spinach.
Vitamin A Smoothies
Make low fat breakfast smoothies using low fat yogurt or soy milk with mango or apricots. Use fresh fruit pulp. Do not add sugar. If you feel the need for extra sweetness add honey or dried fruits such as soaked figs or raisins.
More ways to eat vitamin A rich foods for everyday meals:
- Add carrots to your rice and egg dishes.
- Make healthy salads with ingredients such as spinach, grapefruit, carrots, apricots and eggs.
- Make delicious pumpkin and carrot soup for dinner.
- Grill broccoli as a side dish and eat it with carrot dip.
- Boiled eggs can be used with many vitamin A rich vegetables to make tasty salads.
- A whole grain pasta salad or dish can be made healthier using vitamin A rich vegetables such as spinach and carrots.
- Use carrots, pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, oranges in baked dishes such as cakes and cookies. Spinach and broccoli go very well with cheese dishes that are baked.
- Top your breakfast cereal with delicious mango for a vitamin A start to your day.
Latest Publications and Research on Vitamin A Rich FoodsCarotenoids in human nutrition and health. - Published by PubMed
Recent advances in banana (Musa spp.) biofortification to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. - Published by PubMed
Stagnating trends in complementary feeding practices in Bangladesh: an analysis of national surveys from 2004-2014. - Published by PubMed
Improving Blood Retinol Concentrations with Complementary Foods Fortified with Moringa oleifera Leaf Powder - A Pilot Study. - Published by PubMed