Posted on June 05 2019
Have you ever wondered how your eyesight works? It is a fascinating subject, though it can be a bit complex! However, one thing you should know about your vision is that it exists thanks to Vitamin A. This vital nutrient is an essential component of healthy eyes that plays a major role in your eyesight. Not only this, but Vitamin A can support a healthy immune system and prevent chronic inflammation. Supporting your wellbeing with Vitamin A is a smart move!
Without Vitamin A, your vision and eye health would be non-existent. This is because the primary roles of Vitamin A all concern the eye and your sight. This is the main reasons to consider the benefits of taking care of your Vitamin A needs. Can you imagine how difficult life would be if your eyes were weak and useless? You need healthy vision to help yourself perceive the world around you, and enjoy life. Supporting healthy eyes, as well as healthy vision, can be difficult. But with Vitamin A you can ensure that your eyes are getting all they need to function at their best.
Uses of Vitamin A.
In order to understand the value of Vitamin A, you need to understand a bit about how your eyesight works. In the human retina, there are four different types of photo pigments. These substances store compounds of Vitamin A for use. Each of these photo pigments uses Vitamin A for a different function. For example, one of these pigments is known as rhodopsin. It is found in the rod cells of the retina, and allows these rod cells to pick up even the smallest traces of light. This means that it helps you to see in places with limited light, thus playing a key role in your natural night vision. So if you are wondering how Vitamin A supports good night vision, now you know!
There is a form of Vitamin A known as retinal. This name is similar to retina, so you can probably guess what part of the body it supports! Retinal plays a part in the synthesis of photo pigments like rhodopsin. It is also essential to processes of chemical reactions that allow for proper vision. It helps to activate the function of the night vision photo pigment rhodopsin. It also supports the function of iodopsin, the other 3 photo pigments that allow you to see in strong light such as day light.
All of this information is rather complex, but essentially what it means is that Vitamin A is essential to your vision. People with Vitamin A deficiency often suffer from poor vision. In particular, they are prone to Night Blindness. This is a condition characterised by an inability to see in any environment with little light. This might sound like a strange concept, since it is already difficult to see at night. But when you turn off the lights and look around, usually you can see at least a little. If there is any kind of light source around, even if it offers very little light, you can usually determine different shapes and objects. But people with Night Blindness are unable to perceive anything at all when there is little light. This can make driving in the dark a big problem, and can be very debilitating. Vitamin A deficiency is known as one of the primary causes of this condition.
In various clinical trials and studies it has been noted that a lack of Vitamin A in the diet can lead to an increased risk of eye diseases and impaired vision. Cataracts, a condition characterised by a clouded lens and limited vision, can become a great risk if you don’t get enough Vitamin A. Similarly, Age related Macular Degeneration is more likely to occur if you are lacking in this vital vitamin. Since nearly all the Vitamin A in your body can be found in the retina, it makes sense that your eye health and vision deteriorates if you are lacking in this nutrient. Stocking up on Vitamin A rich foods in your diet can promote and support healthy vision throughout your adult life.
So what else does Vitamin A do for you? Well this important nutrient also supports your immune system. Your immune system is a complex network of biological defences that protect your body from illness and disease. Whenever something threatens your health or wellbeing, your immune system is sure to take action to try and protect you as effectively as possible. Not only does Vitamin A help the immune system work properly, but it also monitors the inflammatory responses of the body. Inflammation occurs to protect threatened or damaged areas, but when it gets out of control it can have a significantly negative impact on your health.
One of the key areas where Vitamin A plays a role in the body is the digestive tract. Your immune system and inflammatory system needs to be constantly vigilant when it comes to the digestive process. Your digestive tract is exposed to a huge number of different substances on a daily basis, and not all of them are good for you! The food you eat can often contain unnoticeable chemicals and bacteria that could put your health at stake. Pesticides and bad bacteria can be consumed with your food all the time. And it is up to your immune system to prevent these substances from causing you harm. Without Vitamin A, this process would be ineffective and your health would be at serious risk.
T cells and B cells are produced by your immune system to target and kill potentially harmful substances in the body. Vitamin A allows these powerful cells to be synthesised correctly. Vitamin A also allows the responses of the immune system to potential threats to be activated correctly. So this humble vitamin is actually playing a major role in your immune system! Not only does it manage this, but it also helps to prevent overactive inflammatory responses. Inflammation can protect you at the right times, but when it goes out of control it can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. Vitamin A actively plays a role in ‘braking’, or preventing this over-activity. This is important, because it means that Vitamin A can protect you from harmful substances whilst also preventing the development of chronic conditions. Overall, this is one hard working vitamin!
Vitamin A and Your Diet.
Have you ever been told that carrots help you to see in the dark? You may have scoffed at this idea as simply being an urban legend. Usually it is assumed that this was just something parents say to children to get them to eat their vegetables. But did you know that there is some actual truth to this saying? This is because carrots are simply packed full of Vitamin A. Since Vitamin A is known to support healthy night and day vision, carrots can also help to support good vision, even at night! Just one medium sized carrot can provide you with almost 200 per cent of your Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin A. So when you are looking for a healthy snack try a raw carrot, or cook carrots at least twice a week with your main meals. This is a great way to ensure you have plenty of reserves of Vitamin A in your diet.
As an alternative to traditional potatoes, why not try sweet potato? Sweet potatoes make for a unique change and are packed full of essential nutrients. One sweet potato can offer you an incredible 400 per cent of your RDA for Vitamin A. And whilst it provides you with all this nutrition, it still only amounts to around 100 calories per potato! So it is well worth considering sweet potato as a change to normal potato. Try making mash or curries with sweet potato, or make them into spicy wedges for a filling savoury treat.
If you take the popular supplement Cod Liver Oil, then you may already be getting enough Vitamin A. This supplement is praised for its Omega-3 essential fatty acid content. But it is also dense in Vitamin D and Vitamin A. In both capsule and liquid form this supplement can provide you with 280 per cent of your RDA for Vitamin A in just 1 tablespoon. But it is not just fish liver that contains a concentrated amount of Vitamin A. beef and poultry livers also are rich in this essential vitamin. As an addition to stuffing and gravy, liver can add some potent flavour as well as a whole host of nutrients. Although be aware that liver can be very fatty and high in calories. Consider adding liver based foods like pate into your diet as an occasional source of Vitamin A, as well as Zinc and Iron.
Herbs and spices can be a staple for a good chef. But they should also be a staple of the health conscious too! These flavoursome plant foods are renowned for their various nutritional benefits and therapeutic uses. Adding certain spices and herbs in your diet could help to boost your wellbeing whilst ensuring you get all the Vitamin A you need. In terms of spices, Paprika is a good option. Per tablespoon you can get up to 70 per cent of your daily need of Vitamin A. As a bonus, it is rich in Vitamin C and Calcium too! With a fiery yet smoky flavour, Paprika can be an excellent culinary resource and health aid.
As for herbs, you can rely on both dried Basil and dried Marjoram. Marjoram provides more than your daily requirements of Vitamin A in just 100 g, whilst Basil provides about 15 per cent in the same portion size. Try adding these popular herbs into various meals throughout the week. This way you will have a regular source of Vitamin A in your meals without having to worry too much about the main ingredients being rich in this nutrient.