Vitamin A

Micronutrient Infographic

A certain few friends from college would poke fun at my putting this on my website because in school I created a massive vitamin and mineral chart (sources, recommended intake level, upper limits, consequences of deficiency, etc.) and put it on my ceiling to study. So here's a nice infographic with sources of vitamins and minerals listed as well as the body systems these micronutrients individually support.


Blue Ribbon Vegetables

As a Registered Dietitian I find that my counseling often emphasizes adding vegetables and fruits in.  Although it sounds simpler that it is, the truth is that it is easier for us to eliminate the bad by utilizing the good.  This leads to satisfying and nutritious meals.  Not to mention, a pattern of intake that our bodies were meant to experience.

Take a look at all of the wonderful nutrients you can get from the following foods.  Use this 'Blue Ribbon' produce in as many meals as possible!

Top Vegetables for Various Nutrients:

Vitamin A - Pumpkin, Collard Greens, Sweet Potato, Kale, Carrots

Vitamin C - Red Pepper, Oranges, Strawberries, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Broccoli

Vitamin K - Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Collard Greens, Broccoli, Green Cabbage

Vitamins B1 and B2 - Peas, Spinach, Mushrooms

Vitamin B6 - Prunes, Banana, Sweet Red Pepper, Baked Potato, Spinach, Zucchini

Folate - Asparagus, Spinach, Cauliflower, Endive

Potassium - Baked Potato, Kale, Avocado, Sweet Potato, Cantaloupe, Bananas, Tomato, Cabbage

Phosphorus - Green Peas, Corn, Baked Potato, Broccoli

Magnesium - Spinach, Banana, Arugula, Pineapple, Swiss Chard

Manganese - Pineapple, Spinach, Blackberries, Strawberries, Peas

Nutrients that are Impacted by Stress

And Vice Versa!  Is it the chicken or the egg?

Stress is an oxidative process in the body, during which micronutrients are used to help fight off further damage to cells from this oxidation.  That's why it is important to maintain regular intake of all of those colorful fruits and vegetables.  Each one contains different phytonutrients that help to fight off stress, which in turn means they need to be replaced thereafter.  So whether you feel it is before, during, or affter a stressful period in your life, you need these nutrients!  Here are some ideas for food sources.

  • Tomatoes, watermelon, papayas are sources of lycopene (a carotenoid, or provitamin A)
  • Oranges, apricots, bell peppers, and broccoli are all sources of vitamin C
  • Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes are sources of beta-carotene (a carotenoid, or provitamin A)
  • Spinach, whole grains, and milk/yogurt are all sources of B vitamins

 
Photo courtesy of healthy-eating.org/uk

 

Spotlight: Vitamin A

What is it?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential to growth (particularly cell division and differentiation), reproduction, bone development, and vision.  

Sources

Animal sources: liver, milk, cheese, egg substitute

Plant sources: carrots, kale, cantaloupe, tomato juice, peaches, red peppers, spinach, peas, mango, papaya

Deficiency 

Symptoms include poor night vision, higher risk of infections, and dry skin.  Deficiency is rarely seen in the United States but if so it is often paired with a zinc deficiency.  

Since Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, fat malabsorption in the body can lead to deficiency over time.  Conditions that see fat malabsorption include Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and some pancreatic disorders.

Questions and Controversies

Smoking and Lung Cancer: Several studies have shown that Vitamin A supplementation has led to increased rates of lung cancer among individuals that already smoke.  

Osteoporosis: Several studies have shown that excessive intake of Vitamin A can block proper absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D into the bones and negatively affects bone mineral density. 

The Bottom Line

Don't look to supplements for Vitamin A, look to whole foods.  Vary your vegetables so that your plate is always very colorful, as these will contain different sources of Vitamin A and phytochemicals.