Vitamin A is an important nutrient that helps primarily with our vision, immune system and reproductive capabilities. It is also known to be highly beneficial for the heart, lungs, kidneys and various other organs. Generally, there are two types of vitamin A: preformed and provitamin. The former is typically found in animal products, while the latter is derived from plant based sources.
Since it is found in so many different types of food, vitamin A deficiencies are rarely a problem in the United States. However, premature infants, pregnant women, young children and individuals with cystic fibrosis are at higher risk for lacking this essential nutrient. Anyone who falls into this category should consider consuming foods rich in vitamin A such as liver, green leafy vegetables and dairy products.
Supplements exist for this crucial nutrient, but be careful not to put too much in your system. Excess vitamin A can lead to various problems with nausea, diarrhea and headaches. In extreme cases, too much of it can put an individual in a coma, or even cause death. Taking this into account, adults should make sure not to intake more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A daily.
Preliminary research has shown some potentially promising health benefits that can be derived from vitamin A. To start, experiments with lab mice have shown that this nutrient may be able to stop the development of diabetes type 1. However, tests still need to be conducted on human subjects to see if it can function in the same manner for our species. Aside from this, vitamin A is also thought to be effective in preventing the worsening of eye disorders, and can be used to lessen the symptoms caused by measles.
Adults should be looking to get 5,000 IU daily of this essential nutrient. Although as we mentioned before it is rare to have a deficiency in vitamin A, when one does it can begin to lead to complications with vision. As such, one wants to always ensure that they are obtaining enough of it from a mix of animal and plant sources.