Vitamin A – not only for vision

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai.

The immune system has been described as a function of our body’s defence and as a major communication system between tissues, organs, and organic systems.

Immunity is the balanced state of multicellular organisms having adequate biological defences to fight infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion, while having adequate tolerance to avoid allergy, and autoimmune diseases.

How can you improve your immune system?

  • Increase immunity with healthy habits- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Stress and immune function – A review published, In NCBI ,2015 Oct 1st By Jennifer N. Morey, concluded that; stress, immunity, and disease can affect each other in reciprocal ways, but these relationships can be moderated by life stage, other ecological pressures and goals, stressor duration, and protective factors such as good sleep, Regular exercise, meditation.
  • Improve immunity with herbs and supplements.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is a micronutrient that is crucial for maintaining vision, promoting growth and development, and protecting epithelium and mucus integrity in the body. Vitamin A is known as an anti-inflammation vitamin because of its critical role in enhancing immune function (1). Vitamin A is involved in the development of the immune system and plays regulatory roles in cellular immune responses and processes. It has also demonstrated a therapeutic effect in the treatment of various infectious diseases. (2)

Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.

There are two different types of vitamin A. The first type, preformed vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. The second type, pro-vitamin A, is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products. The most common type of pro vitamin A in foods and dietary supplements is beta-carotene. (3)

This study is funded by J Rodrigo Mora; available in PMC 2010 Jul 20, concluded that; Vitamins are essential constituents of our diet that have long been known to influence the immune system. Vitamins A have received particular attention in recent years as these vitamins have been shown to have an unexpected and crucial effect on the immune response. (4)

Vitamin A deficiency is a nutritionally acquired immunodeficiency disorder that primarily affects infants, preschool children, pregnant women, and lactating women. Healthy adult men and women of military age represent the lowest risk group for the development of vitamin A deficiency. However, under certain conditions such as chronic infection or prolonged dietary deprivation, the risk of vitamin A deficiency and associated immune abnormalities may be significant. Under such circumstances, daily supplementation with the RDA for vitamin A would be expected to minimize such risk. Individuals who meet the RDA of vitamin A per day would be likely to avoid the risk of vitamin A deficiency under normal circumstances. Because of the capacity of the adult liver to store several months or more of vitamin A, adults are generally buffered against developing vitamin A deficiency. (5)

How much vitamin A need?

The amount of vitamin A you need depends on your age and sex. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below as per Indian Standard. (7)

Life StageRecommended Amount (μg/d)
RetinolB- Carotene 
Birth to 6 months350—– 
Infants 7–12 months3502800 
Children 1–3 years4003200 
Children 4–8 years4003200 
Children 9–13 years6004800 
Teen boys 14–18 years6004800 
Teen girls 14–18 years6004800 
Adult men6004800 
Adult women6004800 
Pregnant teens8006400 
Pregnant women8006400 
Breastfeeding teens9507600 
Breastfeeding women9507600 

Food Sources provide vitamin A.

Vitamin A is found naturally in many foods. (3)

  • Dairy products-Milk & milk product  which are among the major sources of vitamin-A
  • Some types of fish, such as salmon, Meat.
  • Green leafy vegetables and other green, orange, and yellow vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and spinach, fenugreek leaves, kale.
  • Fruits, including, apricots, and mangos, orange, papaya, guava.
  • Fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin-A Supplement.

Vitamin A Supplement is used to treat vitamin A deficiency like bone loss, night blindness, skin deficiency, cancers, reproduction development & maintenance and lack of immunity(6)

Vitamin A is available in dietary supplements, usually in the form of retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate   (preformed vitamin A), beta-carotene (pro vitamin A), or a combination of preformed and pro vitamin A.

Most multivitamin-mineral supplements contain vitamin A.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6162863/#:~:text=Vitamin%20A%20(VitA)%20is%20a,role%20in%20enhancing%20immune%20function.
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327494044_Role_of_Vitamin_A_in_the_Immune_System
  3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906676/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230968/
  6. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/strengthen-your-immune-system-with-simple-strategies/
  7. http://cbseacademic.nic.in/web_material/Curriculum/Vocational/2018/Food%20Nutrition%20&%20Dietetics_XI.pdf

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