Vitamin A and Carotene
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Vitamin A and Carotene

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Vitamin A, is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is considered to be crucial for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, the promotion of clear vision and maintainenance of healthy skin. Working in tandem, Vitamin A and carotenes, which are plant-based forms of fat-soluble Vitamin A, carry out many important functions together.

Of more than 600 carotenes that have been identified so far, 30 - 50 have been found to be involved in Vitamin A activity. This is the reason carotenes are included in this discussion.

What are Carotenes?

They are naturally-occurring, brightly colored plant pigments that are important in the photosynthesis process. Carotenes are what help protect plants, as well as the human body against the potentially damaging effects of free radicals. They are only available from plant sources and cannot be manufactured in the human body.

What Do Antioxidants Do?

By donating an electron, antioxidants are able to take away the power of free radicals, unstable molecules which contain a free electron seeking a connection. This means that the free radical's ability to oxidize cells is eliminated. Oxidation of the body's cells is more easily understood as being similar to what happens when rust appears on a car. Once the cells inside the body start becoming oxidized by free radicals, serious health complications often result.

Some of these adverse complications include opening the body up to attack by such age-related conditions as heart disease, macular degeneration, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and cataracts.

One important purpose of Vitamin A is that it is necessary to support healthy skin. For this reason alone, it's become popular as the 'anti-aging' vitamin because of its apparent ability to ward off wrinkles. It also helps keep the mucous membranes inside the throat, lungs, eyes, mouth, digestive tract, kidneys, bladder and reproductive system healthy. This is the reason it's believed that Vitamin A helps enhance the body's immune system.

Because of its ability to assist the body in healthy aging, it is often a major component in many anti-aging products such as the Vivix® line of products from Shaklee.

Specific levels of Vitamin A are important to keep blood healthy. Sufficient levels of Vitamin A are necessary to help increase the production of ribonucleic acid (RNA). RNA is the part of the cell that includes the instructions for life. When RNA is more rapidly reproduced it is able to help create new cells faster so that old and worn out cells can be efficiently replaced.

Vitamin A also lowers cholesterol levels and assists with the production of many important hormones.

Natural Sources of Vitamin A

Of all the natural sources of Vitamin A, fish liver oil is almost certainly one of the best. Fish itself, cod and halibut in particular are good sources as well. In addition, Vitamin A is found in many fruits and vegetables, eggs and milk. Fruits with high vitamin A levels include nectarines, cantaloupes, apricots, mandarin oranges, plums, watermelons and mangos.

Most dark green and brightly-colored vegetables such as kale, collard greens, escarole, chicory, endive, romaine lettuce, broccoli, peas, carrots, red pepper, pumpkin, squash, turnips, sweet potato (a good substitute for regular potatoes) and tomatoes are excellent sources of Vitamin A.

Ideally, adults should strive to get 5,000 IU of Vitamin A each day. This is not incredibly hard to accomplish for most of us, but many people who may have difficulty getting enough Vitamin A, preferably as beta carotene, may simply choose to take a daily multivitamin containing Vitamin A.

Vitamin A Deficiencies

When the body does not get a sufficient quantity of Vitamin A, the function first affected generally is vision. In particular, the ability to see clearly at night or in dim light is hampered. Night blindness and dry eyes are typical symptoms of a Vitamin A deficiency. In addition to eye trouble, various diseases of the skin including acne and psoriasis can result from insufficient levels of Vitamin A.

While not incredibly common, a vitamin A deficiency can happen to almost anybody. A poor diet is frequently the cause of this type of vitamin deficiency. Particularly vulnerable are the poor, the elderly and those living in parts of the world where poor diets prevail in general.

It is pretty much a quick fix, however. In the event you feel that you are experiencing a Vitamin A deficiency, simply taking a daily multivitamin, or adding some vegetables to your diet should take care of the problem in most cases.

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Vitamin A and Carotene - Copyright 2015 by Donovan Baldwin
Page Updated 2:35 PM Sunday 6/7/2015