In the year 1912, an English biochemist named Frederick Gowland Hopkins found unknown factors present in the milk that were neither fats, proteins nor carbohydrates, but aided in the growth of rats. Later in 1929 Frederick Gowland Hopkins was awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery. Lafayette Mendel and Thomas Burr Osborne from Yale University along with Elmer McCollum from the University of Wisconsin Madison discovered one of these substances while researching the role of dietary fats. It is only in the year 1920 these “accessory factors” were described as fat soluble and were referred to as vitamin A. The common structural thread in vitamin A is of ionone ring and isoprenoid chain. Vitamin A activity is linked to the above two structural features. In food, vitamin A is found in two forms, retinols and carotenoids. The combination of the both of the entities can be considered as vitamin A. The body functions that are influenced by vitamin A include immune function, cell growth, skin structure and health, and the activity of adrenal and thyroid hormones. Vitamin A is found in the body and its deficiency can also be covered through various supplements available in the form of Vitamin A capsules, softgels, tablets, etc.
Why is Vitamin A essential and how critical is its deficiency?
A fatsoluble vitamin, Vitamin A was discovered in the year 1906. It is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds, that particularly includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamin A carotenoids, and and beta carotene. It is considered an essential vitamin for the proper functioning of your metabolic and physiologic activities. From the growth and development of our body to the maintenance of the immune system, Vitamin A is available in a number of dietary supplements. Some of the rich source of Vitamin A is egg, meat, fortified milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, cod and halibut fish oil. The deficiency of vitamin A can lead to a number of health issues, including reduced vision in low light or night blindness, poor or impaired immunity and an increase in common infections.
The deficiency of vitamin A may have some serious effects on your health which include the few mentioned below:
Deficiency of vitamin A occurs due to inadequate intake of vitamin A in one's diet or due to some secondary reason which may inhibit its absorption, transportation and storage in the body. The lack of vitamin A can lead to some serious health conditions.
· Even a slight deficiency of vitamin A may lead to a marked increase in the mortality rate.
- Lack of Vitamin A is responsible for suppressed immune function that leads to reduced ability of an effectiveanti body to response and further lowers the level of helper Tcells. This makes a person prone to infectious diseases, such as chicken pox, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), measles, pneumonia, sinusitis, AIDS, colds and other respiratory infections.
- The body's stores of vitamin A are depleted during the course of an infectious disease further contributing to a vicious circle of an increased infection rate.
- Insufficient Vitamin A may cause visionrelated issues like night blindness and dry eyes (cornea and conjunctiva). In extreme cases, an eye disease called xerophthalmia may also occur, it is a condition which is seen in millions of Asian children annually.
The richest sources of preformed vitamin A include liver, kidney, butter and whole milk. Good sources of provitamin A are dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and collards; yellow orange vegetables like carrots, yams, squash, and sweet potatoes; plus other foods like apricots, green peppers and dandelion root.