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Vitamins & mineral series : Your A-z information

So this series is brought to you by Essential Health in the hope of clearing up some questions regarding the supplementation of Vitamins and Minerals. We want to take this information and give it to you to show you that just taking stuff off the shelf is not always the best option, and why getting some help before you take something may be a better option. So in this series we will be starting from A to Z and giving you the run down on it all. As always we are always happen to chat to you if you have any questions.

So let's go.......


Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, reproduction, and growth and development. Vitamin A also helps your heart, lungs, and other organs work properly.


Vitamin A also has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that might protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.


Here are some of the benefits of Vitamin A:


Ø Maintains healthy vision - One of vitamin A’s most important roles is to preserve and maintain your vision. It helps change the light that hits your eye into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain. Your body also uses vitamin A to make pigments for your retinas to work well, and moisture for your corneas.

Ø Aids immune system function - Vitamin A strengthens your immune system by supporting white blood cells and the mucus membranes in your lungs, intestines and urinary tract. This helps you ward off infection and toxins (also called free radicals) that cause inflammation and disease.

Ø Reduces your cancer risk - Vitamin A plays a key role in the healthy growth and development of your cells. But no one knows for sure if it also helps lower your risk of developing cancer. “It’s too early to say whether either form of vitamin A can help us prevent or treat cancer,” says Homan. “We need much more information to make that connection.”

Ø Keeps your skin clear - Many people claim vitamin A is an effective treatment for acne and age-related skin changes, including wrinkles and age spots. But it’s important to use vitamin A for skin health with care, whether you add vitamin A-rich foods to your diet or use vitamin A-based skin treatments like pills or creams. Eating too little vitamin A can lead to blocked sweat glands, increasing your risk of developing acne.

Ø Supports reproductive health - Adequate amounts of vitamin A in your diet are essential for healthy reproductive function. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to infertility and cause delayed growth and development in children.

Ø Keeps bones and teeth strong - Vitamin A helps maintain proper bone growth and development, lowering your risk of injury or disability


 Vitamin A is found in many foods:


·        Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli), orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other winter squash, summer squash)

·        Tomatoes

·        Red bell pepper

·        Cantaloupe, mango

·        Beef liver

·        Fish oils

·        Milk

·        Eggs

·        Fortified foods

The term "vitamin A" encompasses a group of chemically related organic compounds that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamin carotenoids, most notably beta-carotene.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed along with fats in the diet and are stored in the body's fatty tissue and in the liver. Because fat-soluble vitamins can accumulate in your body’s tissues, they can cause much more harm when taken at high doses, especially over long periods.


While vitamin A toxicity, or hypervitaminosis A, can occur from eating vitamin-A-rich foods, it’s mostly associated with supplements. Symptoms include nausea, increased intracranial pressure, coma, and even death.


Lets look at what low levels of Vitamin A can do to the body:



Although Vitamin A deficiency is rare in Western countries, conditions that interfere with normal digestion can lead to vitamin A malabsorption such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cirrhosis, alcoholism, and cystic fibrosis. Also at risk are adults and children who eat a very limited diet due to poverty or self-restriction.  Mild vitamin A deficiency may cause fatigue, susceptibility to infections, and infertility. The following are signs of a more serious deficiency:


·        Difficulty seeing in the dark or night blindness (Nyctalopia).

·        Dry corneas or the whites of the eyes (Xerophthalmia)

·        Bitot spots in the whites of the eye.

·        Sores in the corneas (Corneal ulcers)

·        Cloudy corneas (Keratomalacia) If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to blindness.

Vitamin A will be low when there are disorders in which the body does not absorb fat properly:


  • Fatty Liver/ Liver disease – bile is made in the liver and is very important in the metabolism of fat. If the liver is under stress, bile will not be able to do its job as efficiently in breaking up this fat soluble vitamin. It then gets stored in the liver making fatty liver disease worse.

  • Gallbladder issues/ Gallstones – bile is stored in the gallbladder and if the function of the gallbladder is impaired, again the metabolism of fat is compromised.

  • Digestion issues – gut inflammation will prevent the absorption of nutrients.

  • Iron deficiency – Iron and Vitamin A work very closely together. Vitamin A actually helps release stored iron from the liver. Anemia and Vitamin A levels are therefore linked.



Vitamin A toxicity may be more common than a deficiency, due to high doses of preformed vitamin A (retinol) found in some supplements. There is some evidence that too much vitamin A might increase the risk of bone loss, hip fracture, or some birth defects. Another reason to avoid too much vitamin A is that it may interfere with the beneficial actions of vitamin D. Signs of toxicity includes the following.


Symptoms of acute vitamin A toxicity include:



Symptoms of chronic vitamin A toxicity include:



In infants and children, symptoms may also include:



In a pregnant or soon-to-become pregnant woman, defects in their baby can result with too much vitamin A.


How do my genes affect my Vitamin A Levels?

Mutations in the RBP4 and TTR genes result in abnormally low Vitamin A levels. These genes are responsible for transporting retinol in the bloodstream. People carrying these two mutations need to pay more attention to their vitamin A intake to avoid deficiency.

People with variations in the BCMO1 gene may require more vitamin A, particularly in the form of retinol found in foods from animal sources. BCMO1 is the gene that encodes for an enzyme that converts plant-based carotenes (vitamin A precursors) to retinol that can be used by our cells.

Want to know what your genetics are telling you? Why not do our genetic testing? Genetic testing has potential benefits whether the results are positive or negative for a gene mutation. Test results can provide a sense of relief from uncertainty and help people make informed decisions about managing their health care. Understanding your genes can eliminate the need for unnecessary checkups and screening tests and can direct a person toward available prevention, monitoring, and treatment options.

If you are wanting information on your entire body, we would also advise you make a booking for an appointment for our full body analysis to get the holistic approach, especially if you are struggling with a specific health issue such as hormone imbalances, auto immune disorders, digestion issues, mental health disorders, allergies. Although genes play an important role in your body's workings, it is still important to support the body as a whole.

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