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Vitamin A Rich Foods

fruits and vegetables

This article will discuss the many benefits of Vitamin A rich foods. You know you need a balanced diet to stay healthy. What does that really mean? What you eat determines your overall health, along with exercise, healthy weight, environmental exposures and genetics. One of the greatest things you can do for your health is to eat a variety of foods that give your body what it needs to stay healthy, fight off disease, and keep organ systems running at peak performance. A balanced diet means getting your proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins that your body needs from your meals. These need to be in moderate and balanced amounts to keep your metabolic and cellular functions working properly.

The Science Behind Vitamin A

Vitamin A is used in cell growth and development. Vitamin A is also one of the antioxidant vitamins, which work to help protect the hair, skin, and nails from damaging free radicals. You may have heard Vitamin A referred to with different names. Retinol, beta-carotene, carotenoids are some other names that can be used in describing Vitamin A. There are two main types of Vitamin A that exist in foods. Preformed Vitamin A, which consists of the biological active forms such as retinol, retinal and retinoic acid (collectively known as retinoid). The second type is known as “provitamin A” and a well-known example of this is beta-carotene. On digestion of these foods, your body will convert this form of vitamin A into the retinoid form of (preformed vitamin A).

Preformed Vitamin A is generally found in meats, dairy products and fish. Pro vitamin A are found in plant sources and include for example carrots, sweet potatos, red peppers.

Most of the vitamin A in our body is stored in specific cells in the liver as retinyl palmitate, which is the same compound that we use as the source for vitamin A in our product. When our body requires vitamin A, it binds to a special protein and is transported through the bloodstream to where it is needed.

Foods Containing Vitamin A

What are some practical foods that are high in Vitamin A?

Yellow/orange fruits and vegetables
  • Carrot
  • Pumpkin
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Mango
  • Cantaloupe
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato products
  • Yellow squash
Leafy Greens
  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
Proteins
  • Goat cheese
  • Black eyed peas
  • Egg yolk
  • Beef liver
  • Salmon
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Pistachios
  • Baked beans
  • Pickled herring

Vitamin A deficiency is considered rare in the United States. Certain populations are at a greater risk of not receiving enough Vitamin A. Girls, African American children, Cystic-Fibrosis patients, restricted diets and any gastrointestinal absorption issues have all been identified as at risk for receiving lower amounts of Vitamin A in their everyday diets.

Food Preparation

The preparation method of various Vitamin A rich foods has come under scrutiny in the past. Is raw better than boiling? What happens if you overcook your roasted broccoli because that's the only way you will eat broccoli? The different cooking methods can make the different forms of Vitamin A convert into different related chemical structures, but that is not always a bad thing. Cooking a tomato can release greater amounts of Vitamin A, but the same is not true for carrots. In general, cooking may cause changes to vitamin content but it depends on vegetables and the cooking process.

Useful tip: For maximum absorption while eating Vitamin A you need a small amount of fat to be ingested at the same time. This can be a part of the food itself (goat cheese) or another food eaten at the same time.

A balanced diet of proteins, fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin A is important to your overall health.

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