Do You Know Your Vitamin ABCs?

Vitamin A

A daily dose of vitamins is essential to maintaining a healthy body, and knowing what to eat will help you plan meals throughout the day to optimize your diet. This week, I am starting with Vitamin A. It is an essential vitamin required for healthy vision, gene transcription, great skin, and for boosting your immune system. If you aren’t getting enough Vitamin A you may experience problems with your vision, night blindness, and an increase in viral infections may occur. If you are getting too much, it can lead to hair loss, irritability, appetite loss, even jaundice. (Table 2)

Because Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, your body readily stores it, especially when it is consumed with other fats. So how much should you and your family consume daily? (See Table 1). In order to get the daily amount, you should try to eat foods rich in vitamin A. Below is a slide show of foods high in vitamin A, along with a few favorites.

 

How the food is prepared and served has a great deal to due with the quantity of nutrients obtained. So does the source of food from which you get the vitamin. It can get a bit confusing. It’s no wonder the vast majority of people in the US don’t eat the recommended daily amount. Although it isn’t significantly low enough to cause health issues, there are a few groups at risk, girls and African-American children.

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin A from food source (Data shows preformed vitamin A found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products; followed by beta-carotene/alpha-carotene found in fruits and vegetables)

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months ** 1,333 IU;   8,000/16,000 IU 1,333 IU;   8,000/16,000 IU
7-12 months ** 1,667 IU; 10,000/20,000 IU 1,667 IU; 10,000/20,000 IU
1-3 years 1,000 IU;   6,000/12,000 IU 1,000 IU;   6,000/12,000 IU
4-8 years 1,333 IU;   8,000/16,000 IU 1,333 IU;   8,000/16,000 IU
9-13 years 2,000 IU; 12,000/24,000 IU 2,000 IU; 12,000/24,000 IU
14-18 years 3,000 IU; 18,000/36,000 IU 2,333 IU; 14,000/28,000 IU 2,500 IU; 15,000/30,000 IU 4,000 IU; 24,000/48,000 IU
19-50 years 3,000 IU; 18,000/36,000 IU 3,000 IU; 14,000/28,000 IU 2,567 IU; 15,400/30,800 IU 4,333 IU; 26,000/52,000 IU
51+ years 3,000 IU; 18,000/36,000 IU 3,000 IU; 14,000/28,000 IU

** Equivalent to mean intake of vitamin A in healthy, breastfed infants. Source:http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

TABLE 2: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for preformed Vitamin A (vitamin A added to products like eggs and milk)

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-12 months 2,000 IU 2,000 IU
1-3 years 2,000 IU 2,000 IU
4-8 years 3,000 IU 3,000 IU
9-13 years 5,667 IU 5,667 IU
14-18 years 9,333 IU 9,333 IU 9,333 IU 9,333 IU
19+ years 10,000 IU 10,000 IU 10,000 IU 10,000 IU

Source:http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/