Why Vitamin A is Essential for Women
What is vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble compounds responsible for healthy bone growth; cell differentiation and division; reproduction; immune system health, dental health, and vision. Healthy bone growth is important for women because of the threat of osteoporosis as they grow older. Vitamin A also helps to improve production of hormones in women. Commonly thought of as an anti-infection vitamin, vitamin A is essential to help the immune system function normally. Vitamin A properties can be lost during food preparation, cooking, and storage.
Sources of vitamin A
The two common sources of vitamin A are beta-carotene and retinol. Beta-carotene is a needed forerunner of vitamin A. Retinol is needed to convert into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is found in plant sources. Specifically, beta-carotene can be found in carrots, dark green fruits and vegetables, kale, mangos, orange fruits and vegetables, and sweet potatoes. Retinol enters the body as vitamin A. You can find retinol in animal sources. Specifically, retinol can be founding eggs, fatty fish, and liver. Beta-carotene and retinol are both stored in the liver, where it's drawn when vitamin A is needed.
Vitamin A and pregnant women
Vitamin A, when used in excess or inadequately, has been linked to cause birth defects. For pregnant women, it is advised to not consume liver to meet vitamin A requirements because it has been linked to health complications in women and their babies. It is estimated that almost 20 million pregnant women in third world countries are deficient of vitamin A. Further, one-third of these pregnant women have night blindness, a side effect of vitamin A deficiency.
How much vitamin A should we consume?
It's estimated most Americans get more than twice the recommended dosage daily. Men generally consume about 6,065 IU (international units) daily and women generally consume about 5,256 IU daily. The recommended daily allowance for men is 3,000 IU daily and for women, it's 2,300 IU. For pregnant women younger than 18 years of age, 2,500 IU of vitamin C is recommended. For pregnant women older than 19 years of age, 2,567 IU of vitamin C is recommende.
What are some outstanding sources of vitamin A?
The following foods are excellent sources of vitamin A:
- 1/4 cup egg substitute contains 1,355 IU
- 1 cup fat-free milk contains 500 IU
- 1 cup whole milk contains 305 IU
- 1 medium whole egg contains 280 IU
- 1 ounce cheddar cheese contains 300 IU
- 1 thin slice of cheese pizza contains 380 IU
- 3 ounces beef liver contains 30,325 IU
- 3 ounces chicken liver contains 13,920 IU
What are other vitamin A options for women?
Women can find adequate sources for vitamin A if she likes dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
Sources: http://www.niams.nih.gov/bone/hi/vitamin_a.htm http://www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/articles/nutrition/vitamin_12/ http://www.harvestplus.org/vita.html http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminA/index.html#function