Vitamin A actually is a group of antioxidant compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth and health of the immune system. They occur naturally in both plant and animal tissues.
In general, there are two types of vitamin A, depending on the type of food source it comes from:
- Vitamin A from animal-derived foods is called retinol. This “pre-formed” vitamin A can be used directly by the body. Good food sources of retinol vitamin A include beef and chicken liver, whole milk and cheese.
- Vitamin A obtained from colorful fruits and vegetables is in the form of “provitamin A” carotenoids, which are converted to retinol by the body after the food is ingested. Good food sources of provitamin A carotenoids include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and cantaloupes.
Beta carotene is one of the most prevalent and effective provitamin A carotenoids.
Vitamin A plays a vital role in bone growth, reproduction and immune system health. It also helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses more effectively. It is essential to healthy vision, and may slow declining retinal function in people with retinitis pigmentosa.
A vitamin A deficiency in adults can provoke an ocular disease, reduced resistance to infections and / or dryness of the skin.
Foods rich in vitamin A are cod liver oil, egg yolk, carrots, spinach, tomatoes and beans. Supplementation with vitamin A or cod liver oil can also be provided