Health Facts · Vitamins

Vitamin A & Carotenes

We’ve all heard the saying, “Eat carrots; they’re good for your eyes!” If you eat carrots, mango and squash, you’re getting plenty of Vitamin A, right? Unfortauntely, maybe not! Plants contain the carotene forms, such as beta carotene, which can be converted into Vitamin A in a healthy liver. Animal sources contain the true, pre-formed vitamin A, called retinol. To convert carotenes into true Vitamin A, one needs thryoid hormone, zinc and vitamin C. Hypothyroid, vegetarian/vegan, diabetics and those who are zinc and vitamin C deificient (very common) are typically vitamin A deficient.

Benefits/roles of Vitamin A and Carotenes:
*Antioxidants (Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium, Zinc are all major antioxidants)
*Necessary for growth and development
*Supports the immune system
*Counteracts night blidness, weak eyesight, and stregthens the optical system
*Helps develop strong bone cells
*Are a major factor in skin, hair, teeth and gum health
*Are critical to adrenal and steroid hormone synthesis (good for those with adrenal fatigue)
*Help prevent premature aging
*Supports reproduction
*In supplement form, may lower risk of many types of cancer, especially lung cancer

Optimal Daily Allowance: 6,600 IU
Recovering from illness (candida, immune disorders, smokers, birth control users, etc): 12,500 IU/day for 3-6 months until recovery (Biotics Research: Bio-Ae-Mulsion Forte is a good brand-consult your doctor first!)
Recovery from surgery: up to 75,000 IU/day short term (consult your doctor)

Pre-formed Vitamin A sources (retinol):
(Potentially toxic in large amounts but unlikely. Toxicity seen at 100,000 IU daily over 3-6 month period)
*Liver, kidney
*Organic Cheese
*Organic Butter/Cream
*Whole milk (grass fed)
*Cod liver oil (Green Pastures brand- see below)
*Wild Fish
*Organic egg yolk (leave a little runny to get full benefits of yolk!)

Pro-Formed Vitamin A sources (need to be converted):
(Not toxic at high doses. Safest form of Vitamin A. Body will convert to vitamin A as needed)
*Dark leafy greens
*Carrots, sweet potatoes, yam- other yellow and orange fruits n veggies
*Apricots, papaya, mango, cantaloupe, watermelon
*Micro algae (spirulina)
*Dandelion root
*Chili peppers

Symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency:
*Night blindness
*Skin disorders (eczema, acne, boils, dermatitus/dry skin, etc)
*Dry, bumpy skin on back of arms
*Wrinkles/pre-mature aging
*Low immune function/increased infection/slow wound healing,viral infections

A great supplement I recommend is Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil:

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2012). Foundations in Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College


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