Vitamin A: Best in Small Doses
Vitamin A ranks on the Dean’s List of nutrition: It plays a key role in vision and the development and growth of cells. It also keeps skin healthy, assists the immune system and may even help protect you from cancer.
Potential Healing Power:
- Keep immunity strong
- Promote healthy skin
- Protect against cancer
- Prevent vision problems associated with aging
- Protect against poor night vision
- Speed wound healing
But when it comes to this necessary nutrient, too much of a good thing can be bad. In fact, excess vitamin A can be downright dangerous, and vitamin A supplements are rarely recommended. It is possible to get enough vitamin A in a balanced diet or by taking a multivitamin.
Good for sources: orange, yellow, and green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow fruits.
Who’s at risk for deficiency: Poverty-stricken people with extremely poor diets and people with certain diseases of the liver, pancreas or intestines.
Possible signs of deficiency include: Night blindness, trouble focusing in changing light and glare sensitivity.
A Host of Benefits
Vitamin A has many virtues. It stimulates wound healing, especially in people taking steroid drugs. (Steroids are often prescribed to control inflammation, but this makes skin slower to heal). So if you’ve been wounded or severely burned, or are either planning for or recovering from surgery, it’s important to get plenty of vitamin A.
Vitamin A has also long been linked to a lower risk of certain eye diseases that can result from the natural aging process. Researchers found that people who fail to get enough vitamin A in their diets are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration, a condition that causes vision problems in many people over 60. Vitamin A is also important for younger people, as a deficiency can impair vision.
Vitamin A is being intensely researched as a possible cancer fighter. Additionally, it may protect the lining of the lungs-one reason that it’s especially useful to smokers.
You can get vitamin A from your diet by eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene. The advantage of this form is that it’s turned into vitamin A inside your body is needed. In fact, many experts recommend that you concentrate on getting your vitamin A from produce such as sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots and cantaloupe because there’s little chance of toxicity.