The ABC’s of Vitamins

Have you had your vitamin today? When taking vitamin A – how much should you take?

"Children deficient in vitamin A develop measles and other contagious infections quite rapidly. Some cases can also suffer from blindness if this deficiency prevails for a long time. In adults, taking lots of vitamin A supplements can prove poisonous occasionally."

Vitamin A, alternatively known as Retinol, is a very important nutrient found in our regular diet. It is a fat-soluble vitamin. The body can not only store it but can also produce it occasionally in adequate amount. This vitamin is known for the well-being of eyes. Vitamin A starts influencing the human body from the time of birth. Therefore, it is highly recommended that this vitamin should be a regular component of our daily diet.

Vitamin A is generally believed to come from two different sources; the group obtained from animal sources is called retinoids while the group procured from plants is called carotenoids. Both these groups are used differently by the human body and are likely to create different effects respectively.

Effects of Vitamin A

Vitamin A, like all other vitamins, produces uncountable positive effects on the human body. Some of the most prominent effects of vitamin A are as follows:

  • Better vision is the most prominent effect produced by vitamin A. Eating more vitamin A enriched foods prevents many eye ailments and infections. Cataracts and macular degeneration can also be prevented by increasing vitamin A intake.
  • Many skin problems can be kept away by using vitamin A regularly. Vitamin A creams and tablets are available for treatment of visible acne and prevention of early aging. Quick healing of wounds and other skin bruises or ruptures is another good effect of this vitamin.
  • Vitamin A reduces the chances of different types of cancer but only up to a certain limit.
  • It helps the immune system function more efficiently and protect the body against more diseases.
  • Vitamin A also improves the condition of mucous lining covering most of the organs in the body.

Sources of Vitamin A

vitamin-a rich foodThere is a complete range of food items that offer a good percentage of vitamin A. Chicken, beef, fish, liver and milk products are renowned sources of vitamin A. Among the vegetables and fruits, the ones having yellow and orange colours and the leafy vegetables are considered good sources of this vitamin. Most vegetables and fruits provide beta-carotene which is easily processed by the body and vitamin A can be obtained out of it.

Influence of Vitamin A on different age groups

In general, vitamin A affects all age groups equally, but the way it is incorporated into the bodies is different. Children respond to the vitamin quite evidently and quickly as their bodies are delicate as compared to the adult bodies.

Children deficient in vitamin A develop measles and other contagious infections quite rapidly. Some cases can also suffer from blindness if this deficiency prevails for a long time. In adults, taking lots of vitamin A supplements can prove poisonous occasionally.

Some common symptoms of vitamin A poisoning are fatigue, muscular pain, dry eyes and skin, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes hair loss in severe cases. Liver failure and death are also probable in these cases. But if vitamin A is taken as prescribed by your doctor, it produces such wonderful effects no other vitamin can offer.

Required Dosages of Vitamin A

Vitamin A intake is different for different age groups. It is always advised that whatever vitamin you are taking; always consult your doctor or dietician before you do it. They can guide you about the right amount of vitamin to be taken and when. Below is a complete account of dietary intake of vitamin A for both adults and children:

Starting from the infant stages of 6 months and between 7-12 months, 400 mcg and 500 mcg of vitamin A should be given respectively.

Children between the ages of 1-3, 4-8 and 9-13 should take in 300, 400 and 600 mcg of this vitamin respectively on a daily basis.

For male teenagers of 14-18, 900 mcg is required while for females of this age limit, 700 mcg are required.

Adult males of 19 or older require 900 mcg and adult females of same age limit require 700 mcg of vitamin A daily.

Pregnancy calls for different requirements related to the vitamin A intake. Pregnant women between 14 and 18 years need 750 mcg while those ages 19 or older require 770 mcg of vitamin A daily.

Breastfeeding women need a still higher daily intake of vitamin A. Those between the ages of 14 and 18 are required to take 1,200 mcg while the older ones going through this stage are advised to take in 1,300 mcg of vitamin A regularly.

By: Liya Das

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