November Newsletter: Vitamin A for Immunity

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for many bodily functions, some of which include: healthy vision, a strong immune system, and glowing skin. Learn more about its two forms and good food sources to get your daily recommended amount.

Vitamin A Sources and Benefits

There are two forms of vitamin A found in food: preformed vitamin A (or retinol) in animal products and provitamin A carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables. Retinol from animal sources can be used by our body without any modifications. The form of vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables are the carotenoids, the most common being beta-carotene. These carotenoids must be converted to retinol by the body before they can be used.

Now that we are in cold and flu season, it is important to focus on nutrients that help boost the immune system or aid in keeping it in tip-top shape. Vitamin A is one of those nutrients that plays an important role in immunity. It is vital in maintaining your body’s natural defenses including the mucous barriers that protect your eyes, lungs, and gut. This barrier is one of your first lines of defense and helps to trap bacteria and other infectious agents from entering the body. And equally as important, vitamin A is involved in the production and function of white blood cells which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from your blood stream. Being deficient in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and delay recover when you are sick.

There are many excellent food sources of vitamin A, especially foods that are seasonal to fall. It is easy to consume enough vitamin A by eating a balanced diet and supplements are rarely used or needed. While deficiency is rare in developed countries, many people in developing countries suffer from vitamin A deficiency.

Since vitamin A is fat-soluble, what we consume daily tends to be stored in the liver and used by the body when needed. Therefore, the daily recommendations are based off the amount needed to replenish our liver stores. It is recommended that men get 900 mcg, women 700 mcg, and children and adolescents 300-600 mcg of vitamin A per day.

Food Sources of Preformed Vitamin A (Retinol)

Cod Liver OilButter
Goat Cheese

Food Sources of Provitamin A Carotenoids

Sweet PotatoSpinachGrapefruit
Winter SquashCarrotsPaprika
KaleRed PepperCayenne

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About Organic Beth

Beth Blessing (Organic Beth) has a Masters in Nutrition and is the co-founder of Green Bean Delivery. She is a mother of three who loves supporting family farms and searching for unique, artisanal products. Her goal is to help others eat better and live a more natural, holistic life through healthy recipes and practical tips.