Vitamin A or as it is chemically called ‘retinol’ is a fat soluble vitamin which is essential for the body in many aspects. It is available in animal foods. The plant sources contain beta-carotene which acts as a precursor of the vitamin. The body produces vitamin A from it. Vitamin plays an important role in the visual cycle in humans. You might be shocked after knowing that Vitamin A deficiency is the root cause of preventable blindness across the world especially in economically weaker section. The vitamin A can be aptly incorporated in the diet but most of the newborn children in the world are deficient and suffer from diseases like night blindness, bitot’s spot, corneal ulceration etc.
Proper consumption of vitamin A helps the body in several ways and keep the body from complications like dermatosis and blindness.
Vitamin A is required in the visual cycle in the form of rhodopsin which makes us see the objects clearly. It protects the eyes from night blindness.
it plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s defense mechanism and immunity. The deficiency of vitamin A increases the susceptibility to infections and delays recovery.
Vitamin A is vital for maintaining good reproductive health. The deficiency affects the development of sperm which ultimately causes infertility. Children born with its deficiency also suffer from impaired immunity and malnutrition. It is the main cause of skin related problems in children causing rough skin and dermatosis.
The foods rich in vitamin A are mostly animal foods like milk, egg, meat, liver etc. the plant sources are all the yellow and orange colored food items like papaya, carrots, mango, pumpkin. Vitamin A is also fortified in some food products. The biofortification of vitamin is known as ‘golden rice’. Oral doses of it are also given to the deficient children and are measured in terms of IU (international units). Being a fat soluble vitamin it is not necessary to take supplements daily as it can cause toxicity. Infants should be given 400-600 micrograms/day while adults are advised to take 900 microgram/day. For females the values are lower but during pregnancy and lactation 1200-1300 micrograms/day should be given daily ensure the good health of mother as well as the foetus.