Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that is necessary for good vision, to boost immunity and a healthy skin. Its deficiency can lead to reduced vision, frequent viral infections, pale skin and the like.
Vitamin A usually comes from animal food sources, but we can also make it from some compounds found in plant foods, called carotenoids. Carotenoids are phytonutrients found in different amounts in vegetables and fruit. Foods that are brightly coloured such as dark green, orange, yellow and red vegetables and fruit contain carotenoids.
There are many types of carotenoids with different functions in the body. For example, some carotenoids (like beta-carotene) can be turned into vitamin A in the body. It is recommends that we eat one dark green and one orange vegetable or fruit each day. The reason for this recommendation is because the carotenoids from these foods contribute to our daily intake of vitamin A.
It is not recommended that you take a vitamin A supplement. High doses of vitamin A are toxic. We can store vitamin A in our liver for long periods of time. This means we are not at risk for becoming deficient in vitamin A, even if we don’t eat vitamin A rich foods for a few days.
Eating a balanced diet will provide enough vitamin A for your daily needs either from animal food sources of vitamin A or the carotenoid rich dark green and orange vegetables and fruit.