Where can we find the true vitamin A?
Vitamin A, influencing over 600 genes, is very important for many aspects of normal kids’ growth and development, especially for their eyes, immune system functioning, prevention of inflammation, skin health and repair of different tissues and bones.
It is important to differentiate between true vitamin A and carotenes. Nutrition labels which mention vitamin A in the list almost always refer to synthetic carotenoids such as beta-carotene. Even vegetables promoted as important sources of vitamin A such as carrots contain natural beta-carotene.
Retinol is the real biologically active form of vitamin A, and is ONLY found in animal products such as liver, cod liver oil, milk, animal fats such as lard and tallow, eggs, and butter. On the other hand, beta-carotene is not biologically active. It has to be converted in the body to retinol to become active. However, studies have shown that the conversion rate is very poor, didn’t exceed 3% in some studies, and almost half of the people can’t make any conversion at all because they lack the enzymes necessary to do the conversion from beta-carotene to retinol.
High consumption of synthetic vitamin A whether coming from supplements or fortified foods can be problematic. Most probably you heard about the warnings of the risk of birth defects if vitamin A is taken by pregnant women in excess. This is different than consuming moderate amounts of the true vitamin A from real food sources. Make sure to support your kids’ growth and development by providing the right foods that will supply their bodies with the natural bio-active vitamin A.
Dr. Riham Nasereddin (A Canadian licensed pharmacist, diabetes educator and holistic health and nutrition counselor)