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Vitamin A: For Healthy Vision and Immune System

Table of Contents

Vitamin A is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal health. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for various functions in the body, including vision, growth and development, immune function, and reproduction. In this article, we will explore the importance of Vitamin A, its sources, functions, and risks associated with deficiency.

Brief history of the discovery of Vitamin A

In the early 20th century, scientists discovered that certain foods could prevent night blindness, a condition that results in impaired vision in dim light. Further research led to the discovery of Vitamin A, an essential nutrient for vision and other bodily functions. Vitamin A was first isolated in 1913 and was named for its role in promoting vision or “retina-“.

Sources of Vitamin A

There are two types of Vitamin A: preformed Vitamin A, which is found in animal sources such as liver, eggs, and dairy products, and provitamin A carotenoids, which are found in plant-based foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and kale. Preformed Vitamin A is more easily absorbed by the body than carotenoids.

Functions of Vitamin A in the body

Vitamin A plays a crucial role in various functions in the body, including:

Vision

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy vision. It helps form the light-sensitive cells in the retina, which are responsible for vision in low light conditions. It also helps prevent night blindness and dry eyes.

Immune Function

Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system by supporting the production and function of white blood cells, which help fight off infections and diseases.

Growth and Development

Vitamin A is essential for the growth and development of cells and tissues in the body, including bone growth, reproduction, and embryonic development.

Skin Health

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy skin. It helps regulate cell growth and turnover, preventing dry, flaky skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Risks due to deficiency

Deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to various health problems, including:

Night Blindness

Night blindness is a condition in which a person cannot see in dim light. It is the first sign of Vitamin A deficiency.

Xerophthalmia

Xerophthalmia is a condition in which the eyes become dry and damaged, leading to blindness. It is caused by severe Vitamin A deficiency.

Increased susceptibility to infections

Vitamin A deficiency can weaken the immune system, making a person more susceptible to infections and diseases.

Recommended daily intake

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin A varies depending on age and gender. Adult men need about 900 micrograms per day, and adult women need about 700 micrograms per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need higher amounts of Vitamin A to support the growth and development of the fetus and newborn.

Recap and Conclusion

Vitamin A is a crucial nutrient that plays a vital role in various functions in the body, including vision, immune function, growth and development, and skin health. It is essential to consume enough Vitamin A from dietary

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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