Vitamin A: General Info
Vitamin A is fat-soluble vitamin that is also known as retinol and carotenoids. Vitamin A serves a variety of functions including immunity, growth, development, and the production of red blood cells. Vitamin A is essential to the immune system and virus prevention. There are a few reasons why vitamin A is so important to the immune system. First, vitamin A helps to maintain the function of the cells that line the airways, digestive tract, and urinary tract; this is important because these paths are lined with mucosal cells that act as a barrier to germs. Without sufficient vitamin A, these cells would not function properly. Vitamin A is also important to maintaining a healthy immune system, as it is integral to white blood cell production. Pregnant women should be careful to regulate their Vitamin A intake because both deficiencies and an excess of this vitamin can be detrimental to the developing fetus. Vitamin A plays a part in the development of the limbs, eyes, ears, and heart of the embryo. Too much and too little of this vitamin have been associated with birth defects. For more information on taking too much vitamin A see the following article Vitamin A: How Much is Too Much?
Deficiency in Vitamin A
A deficiency of vitamin A can have damaging effects on your vision as well as your susceptibility to infectious diseases. Vitamin A is readily available and, in industrial nations, deficiencies in it are very rare. However, deficiencies in Vitamin A are prevalent in third world nations where resources are scarce. A severe vitamin A deficiency can result in corneal ulcers, scarring, and blindness. In its mildest forms, vitamin A deficiencies can lead to poor night vision. Resistance to infectious diseases is also linked to insufficient intake of vitamin A. Children who are even mildly deficient in vitamin A are more susceptible to respiratory disease and diarrhea.
Products containing vitamin A
Consuming products that contain Vitamin A, such as eggs, milk, carrots and spinach, should help to prevent vitamin A deficiencies.