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Nutrient Spotlight: Vitamin A

There are two main sources of Vitamin A: animal sources (retinol) and plant sources (carotenoids).  It is the vitamin A in plants that give it a green hue to greens, and red or orange color to some vegetables (think sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots).   It is no surprise that a diet lacking whole foods is low in Vitamin A.  Also, since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, diets substantially low in fat can cause malabsorption issues (no fat, no absorption. Simple as that).

What is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that the body needs to get from food (i.e. our bodies do not manufacture it). It is a major game player in skin health and cell renewal, which is why it is a popular addition to skincare items. Vitamin A is integral to gut lining, eye health, a healthy immune system, and reproductive wellbeing. It can even help reduce acne.

Vitamin A deficiency symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes, skin, and/or mouth
  • Night blindness
  • Skin issues
  • Infertility

How Much Should Be Consumed?

The US recommended daily amounts for vitamin A for adults is between 700-900 mcg daily.  Remember, that everyone may need different daily amounts in order to be in optimal health, especially women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Things to consider in order to determine if you are absorbing enough vitamin A in your diet include:

  • Are you consuming enough fats with your vitamin A-rich foods?
  • Are you dealing with digestive issues (leaky gut, IBS, even gluten sensitivity) that may hinder absorption?
  • Is severe alcohol consumption causing malabsorption?

Ways to Incorporate Vitamin A-rich Foods:

  • Kale (6,693 IU per cup): make chips with it, add to salads, sauté it, include it in smoothies – you name it.  
  • Beef Liver (8,881 IU per 1 oz. serving): turn it into a pate or the classic liver and onions. 
  • Spinach (2,813 IU per 1 cup serving): add to egg scramble, make it the star of a salad or a soup.
  • Grass-fed Butter (500 IU per tablespoon): add to coffee or use as your fat while cooking.

Progress, Not Perfection

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