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Vitamin A: Importance, Real Causes of Deficiency & Food Sources

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What is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which means that it has the ability to travel through the fat, to be stored in the fat longer. It has the ability to go through cell walls because the layer around cells is fat lipid layers or fat layers. Vitamin A being fat-soluble vitamin can go right through the cell where water-soluble vitamins cannot go. So they can affect the deep parts of the cell, the DNA, the alteration of the DNA and that’s why Vitamin A deficiency can really affect your skin at the genetic level.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Skin: Vitamin A deficiency can affect your skin. You can have a lot of little flaking things on your skin, white little dots on the skin on the hair follicles, you can have little skin flakes on the scalp, you can have different types of acne like cystic acne, acne on your back.

Vision: Vitamin A deficiency can create a lot of problems with your vision because Vitamin A is necessary for your eye. So if you can’t see at night when you’re driving that’s a vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A helps in lubrication of the eye and the mouth and any glandular secretion. So if you feel dryness in eyes or mouth then its a Vitamin A deficiency.

Immune System: Because of Vitamin A deficiency, you can have infections like sinus infections, ear infections, lung infections and all can be triggered by a low vitamin A level. So it has a lot to do with your immune system. So vitamin A gives support to the eye, to the skin, to the immune system, to the inner skin. It keeps your nasal passages and throat healthy. So if you have sleep apnea or anything that’s going on with the inner skin of your throat that could be vitamin A deficiency.

Thyroid Gland: Most people consider that Vitamin A has only to do with your eyes and improving night vision issues and the immune system but it also has another function that’s related to your thyroid gland. As mentioned earlier, there are 2 forms of vitamin A. You have the inactive version of Vitamin A which is like beta-carotene that’s in all the vegetable family like carrots kale and spinach. And there is another Vitamin A which is in an active form called Retinol which is present in animal products like egg yolks, fish oils, butter, cheese, etc.

So we have beta-carotene that’s converted to retinol with the help of the Thyroid. So you need a good healthy thyroid to make this conversion. But most hypothyroid cases are vitamin A deficient even if they start consuming lots of beta-carotene because they can’t convert it and on the other side Vitamin A is needed to convert the inactive form of thyroid T4 to the active form thyroid T3.

So vitamin A is very necessary for the conversions of thyroid hormones and the thyroid is necessary for the conversion of beta-carotene into retinol. So in other words, if you want to help your thyroid you must start consuming more Vitamin A so you don’t just want to get beta-carotene from the vegetables you also want to get the active form of vitamin A if you have a thyroid problem. Make sure you get a high-quality one virgin cod liver fish oil,  grass-fed dairy, egg yolks since all of these are loaded with the active form of vitamin A which is called retinol. Even if you have a hyperthyroid it’s just as important to consume Vitamin A these foods here for that condition as it is for a hypothyroid condition.

Pregnancy: Vitamin A helps in preventing birth defects. Long ago there was a change in the RDA. The recommended amount of vitamin A in a prenatal now is 8,000 IU. But there’s another study that talks about the importance of having at least 20,000 to 25,000 IU of Vitamin A. There are 3 forms of active vitamin A, retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. out of all three of these forms, the retinoic acid is the most important form which helps in the development of the embryo. That’s why you need the vitamin A to be able to provide that raw material.

So here are some of the birth defects that can occur due to Vitamin A deficiency:

  • Kidney Malformation
  • Dysfunctional Ureter
  • Cleft Lip
  • Cleft Palate
  • Eye Defects
  • Brain located outside the skull
  • Short or Long mandible (Dental arch problem)

So these could be a vitamin A deficiency. Its simple to correct by just making sure the mother actually has a sufficient vitamin A. There is a good source of active Vitamin A and that is cod liver oil which must be virgin cod liver oil. It’s expensive but it’s worth because it gives the mother the natural form of Vitamin A.

Vitamin A Foods

Vitamin A is in cod liver oil, In liver, butter, it’s in eggs especially the yolk, it’s in cheese. That’s the active form of Vitamin A which is known as Retinol. It’s true that vegetables like kale, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, greens also have a lot of vitamin A but here’s what people don’t realize that it is a Pre-vitamin A. so any vegetable as a pre-vitamin it’s not an active form it’s not Retinol. It has to be converted into an active form. That conversion only takes place at certain parts of your body and in only certain percentages. So if you are lucky you might get between 4 to 6 percent conversions of Pre-Vitamin A to an active Vitamin A. So if you are consuming a hundred milligrams of vitamin A from vegetables you are only getting 4 to 6 percent of that. Just because you’re eating Kale doesn’t mean you are going to get enough Vitamin A.

What Causes Vitamin A Deficiency?

There can be few reasons that cause Vitamin A deficiency. It could be that you are not consuming enough of Vitamin A or maybe you are not converting these to active Vitamin A. But more likely you probably are consuming enough vitamin A but the deficiency comes from the ability to convert and that has to do with your gut. If your digestive system is damaged or you have a history of taking antibiotics or you have leaky gut or some type of digestive issue then chances are you can’t convert this Vitamin. So everything is going to dry out, your hair is going to dry out, your skin is going to dry, eyes dry, etc. So you will start manifesting vitamin A deficiencies.

The other cause of vitamin A deficiency is a lack of bile from the gallbladder. This is because the gallbladder helps you break down fats and breaks down the fat-soluble vitamins so your body can start utilizing them. So if you don’t have a gallbladder that means you probably don’t have enough bile to absorb vitamin A. You might have to take some bile as a supplement.

How To Know You Don’t Have Enough Bile?

Let’s say you have a congested liver and the symptoms of that would be bloating, burping, belching, right shoulder pain, constipation. Those are indications that you don’t have enough bile. It could be because your stomach is not acidic enough so you have heartburn. That means you don’t have enough acid because in order for you to release your own bile you need a very strong stomach. So it could be that the stomach is not releasing the bile to help you absorb vitamin A. You can get some formula which contains purified bile salt that helps reduce Bloating, Indigestion and Abdominal swelling.

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