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Why Vitamin A is important for health

Морковь - Carrot

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Vitamin A is the name of a group of compounds that include retinol, retinoic acid, and retinal. As with most vitamins, it cannot be made in the body and can only be obtained through food and supplements.

There are two main forms of vitamin A, depending on food source. Vitamin A from animal sources is absorbed as retinol, which can be converted into retinal and retinoic acid in the body. Retinol can be toxic in large doses.

Plants do not provide vitamin A. Instead they contain pro-vitamin A carotenoids that can be made into vitamin A by our bodies. Unlike retinol, carotenoids are not toxic in large amounts. They are potent antioxidants and aid in cancer prevention. Of all the carotenoids, beta-carotene is the most common, and most easily converted to retinol.

Vitamin A is probably best known for its role in preventing night blindness and other vision problems. What is less known is that it is also important for bone growth, reproduction, and cell division.

It helps the immune system to fight infections by making the white blood cells that destroy viruses and bacteria. It also promotes healthy skin and mucous linings that act as a barrier against the viruses and bacteria.

Vitamin A benefits and functions

  • essential for healthy eyes, and prevents night blindness and weak eye sight
  • studies indicate a protective effect against common eye disorders such as cataracts
  • found to protect against macular degeneration of the eyes that leads to loss of vision in the center of the visual field
  • promotes normal working of the reproductive system in both males and females, including during pregnancy and lactation
  • important in the development of bones and teeth
  • powerful antioxidant that protects body cells and tissues against cancer and cardiovascular disease, by neutralizing the free radical damage that is believed to lead to the diseases; studies have shown that high intake of vitamin A and/or carotenoids may help lower the risk of some cancers
  • known to have strong anti-viral activity and to enhance the function of white blood cells and strengthen the immune system against colds, flu, and infections of the kidneys, bladder, lungs and mucous membranes
  • promotes healthy surface linings of the eyes and respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts, as a protective barrier against viruses and bacteria entering the body and causing infection
  • promotes healthy hair and nails 10. may prevent skin problems like acne, promote healthy wrinkle-free skin, and help remove age spots
  • slows the aging process (anti-aging)
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