Vitamin A can be derived from animal source (retinol) or plant source (carotenoid). It is stored mainly in the liver, which is why consuming fish liver oil has been in practice since ages and ancients observed that consuming this animal source of Vitamin A (retinol) helped their retina. When a plant source of Vitamin A (carotenoid) is consumed, it is first converted into Retinol during digestion process before the body can use it.
To enhance the absorption of Vitamin A, it is important to consume it with fat (oil). For example, Palak (Spinach) is a great source of Vitamin A (carotenold). However, it has to be lightly cooked in some fat/oil for maximum absorption of Vitamin A. When you gently heat the food, the carotenoid gets released in the fat/oil, helping in better absorption of the Vitamin A. Even when you are taking any Vitamin A supplement, it has to be taken with a fat containing meal. It is important that all sources of vitamin A are not overcooked, as this can reduce the vitamin A content. Study reveals that when any Vitamin-A food is cooked without oil, the absorption of Vitamin A is 60% lesser.
- In other cultures too, salad leaves and carrots have always been consumed raw along with olive oil (Fat) dressing. This enables much better absorption of the Vitamin A.
For the Vitamin A to travel to the required parts of the body, like Retina at the back of the eye, it has to partner with another mineral- Zinc. Zinc is absolutely necessary for transporting Vitamin A stored in liver to different parts of the body. Any deficiency in Zinc will hinder with this process and will impact Eyesight.
Vitamin A also maintains the health of our body cells and is the first defense agent against infection. Respiratory issues and skin dryness are common signs of Vitamin A deficiency in children. Kids need a diet that is rich in vitamin A (carrot, dark green leafy vegetables, orange sweet potato) plus a little bit of fat to aid absorption. They are always at a higher chance of fighting an infection and hence end up using more of this Vitamin A. While its always good to consume a moderate amount of Vitamin A food source everyday, the upside of this Vitamin is that it is fat-soluble and hence stocked-up in the body for much longer.
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