The importance of Vitamin A can often be forgotten for our health but it is vital for our immune system to function, for our vision, for healthy skin & also for reproduction. The vitamin A from animal sources is retinoids (retinol) while plant source vitamin A is carotenoids (e.g. beta carotene.) The body can directly use Vitamin A from animal sources, while Vitamin A from plant sources, needs to first be converted to retinol to be useful in the body. Although beta carotene in orange vegetables is an antioxidant, it is not true vitamin A. For a healthy person, the body requires at least SIX times the amount of carotenes to convert into ONE unit of retinol. If we have a low fat diet, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, poor thyroid function, diabetes, low bile production from the gall bladder, or other health problems, and as an infant we require even more carotene in the ratio to retinol for growth and repair. True Vitamin A (retinol) is high in animal liver meats, fermented and regular cod liver oil, egg yolks and butter from grass fed cows. Plant sources include sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, mango, apricot, spinach, kale and red peppers.
Symptoms of true Vitamin A deficiency include: poor immunity, mood disorders, hormone imbalance, weight gain, infertility, skin problems including eczema and acne.
To improve vitamin A levels, beware synthetic vitamin A supplements have been linked to birth defects and other health problems. As with many synthetic vitamin tablets, the body doesn’t really know how to use the fake vitamin, it collects in the body and can become toxic at moderate levels. Synthetic vitamin A is more of a toxin than a nutrient. Avoid multivitamins and fortified grain products to reduce exposure to synthetic A. Your best solution- REAL FOOD!
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, we can neither consume adequate vitamin A or absorb this vitamin A if we are on a low fat diet. Vitamins A and D work perfectly together: D helps the body use vitamin A and prevents toxicity of the natural vitamin A. Aim to get 20-30 minutes of sunlight everyday with at least a third of the skin on your body exposed the sunlight for optimal health.