Vitamin A may not sound as exciting as kimchi or bee pollen, but it gets the job done. It’s an amazing vitamin that takes care of countless systems in the body, including your immune system, eyes, muscles and bones. Why is it important for your health?
1. Preventing Night Blindness
Do you remember how your mom always told you that eating carrots would help you see better at night? She was right, in a way. Carrots have a lot of beta-carotene, which the body turns in vitamin A. This vitamin helps make your eyes sensitive to tiny amounts of light in darkness.
When someone has night blindness, there’s a good chance they have a deficiency of vitamin A. Night blindness is when you can see fine during the day but have a hard time seeing in the dark. This condition can be dangerous if you try to drive at night.
2. Slowing Down Age-Related Eyesight Problems
Of all the senses that I want to protect, I think my eyes are most important to me. The thought of losing my vision or having eyesight problems really scares me. It turns out that making sure you get enough beta-carotene can help keep your eyes safe.
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant. It protect your cells against free radicals, dangerous molecules that come from toxins. Scientists believe that free radicals play a part in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or retina damage. Beta-carotene may lower your risk of this serious eye problem by a whopping 25%!
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3. Keeping Your Skin and Hair Hydrated
Who doesn’t want smooth, supple skin and lustrous, vibrant hair? I sure do. You can imagine how happy I was to find out that vitamin A helps with that, too!
This super vitamin helps maintain healthy levels of natural moisturizing oils for your skin and hair. It can even help you avoid acne breakouts.
4. Strengthening Your Immune System
Vitamin A is like the top general of your body’s germ-fighting army. It’s responsible for both offense and defense, supporting the systems that trap viruses and bacteria before they get you sick. Vitamin A also helps increase the number of white blood cells in your body, which hunt and destroy microbes during an infection.
What does this mean for you? Having plenty of vitamin A can increase your defenses against invaders, reduce the severity of infections, help you recover faster and even heal injuries more quickly.
Who Needs Vitamin A Supplements?
There are two forms of vitamin A: one that’s ready for your body to use and another that needs to be “activated." The first type is what you get in vitamin supplements. The second includes beta-carotene, which gets turned into active vitamin A as the body requires.
Only take a supplement for vitamin A if you have a deficiency. Your doctor can help you find out if that’s the case.
Including more beta-carotene in your diet, on the other hand, is perfectly safe. Look for orange, yellow and green leafy vegetables:
- Sweet potatoes
- Romaine lettuce
- Butternut squash
- Bell peppers
Vitamin A is essential for good health. It’s like olive oil — you use it in so many recipes that the kitchen just isn’t complete without it.