Alan Reed | The Sun
Ruth Kraper, a registered dietitian at Western Baptist Hospital, serves Jamie Hill, a radiography technician, a meal with a side of carrots. Carrots include vitamin A which a body needs for healthy skin and skeletal cells and for good vision, especially at night. Kraper recommends people get vitamin A from foods like carrots, green leafy vegetables and orange foods like cantaloupe, carrots and squash.
By Alan Reed
Vitamin A is a needed dietary supplement but can be toxic if the recommended daily allowance is exceeded.
Michelle Lowe, pharmacist at Lone Oak Pharmacy, said vitamin A is fat-soluble, meaning excess amounts can be stored in fat tissues of the body.
“Excesses of vitamin A can lead to liver problems, and you would not want to use it with certain drugs like Accutane, some antibiotics and anti-coagulants like Coumadin. If you are considering supplementing vitamin A, you might want to have the supervision of a physician. Above all, check your levels and find out if you have a deficiency before starting supplementation,” Lowe said.
Ruth Kraper, a certified dietitian at Western Baptist Hospital, said vitamin A is needed for healthy eyes and promotes good night vision. The body also needs vitamin A to maintain healthy skin and skeletal tissue.
Lowe said her customers often take supplements to improve immune function, vision and to combat skin conditions like acne or sunburn. She suggested a vitamin A supplement may be needed for patients on birth control pills, hormone replacement and some blood pressure drugs as these may impair the body’s ability to absorb fats and fat soluble vitamins.
“Getting vitamins from servings of fruits and vegetables is the best way to go,” Kraper said. “We’ve found that foods have nutrients that work together to be absorbed and used by the body more efficiently than just one nutrient on its own.”
Lowe said five servings per day of fruits and vegetables contain 50 to 65 percent of recommended vitamin A levels.
“Vitamin A plays an important role in women of child-bearing age and development of unborn children and the reproductive age,” Kraper said. “Women considering getting pregnant should think about a vitamin A supplement.”
Kraper said the U.S. recommended daily allowance of vitamin A is 700 micrograms for an adult female, 900 micrograms for an adult male, and 400 micrograms or more for children depending on age. High levels of plant-based vitamin A like beta carotenecould cause a discoloration of the skin, especially if sources are supplements and juices. Animal-based sources like liver oils and refined vitamin A supplements have a greater chance of accumulating to harmful levels in the liver.
Denise Wooley, McCracken County extension agent for consumer science, said fruits and vegetables with bright orange or red colorings or leafy vegetables colored deep green are good sources of vitamin A. Some meats and organ meats like liver are also sources, along with fortified milk and eggs.
“Look for orange fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes and cantaloupes,” Wooley said. “Broccoli and spinach are good sources, and romaine lettuce has 10 times the level of iceberg. We have some choices, but the darker, the better. If you are not getting enough yellow, orange, red or dark green vegetables, you may have an increased risk of cancer or heart disease.”