Vitamin A – The Glow-in-the-dark Vitamin
by Hamoon Arbabi
The ancient Egyptians had a
cure for "night blindness". They fed the patient lots and lots
of liver. Perhaps they thought they were appeasing the Gods of
sight. In 1930, the first fat-soluble vitamin was
discovered - vitamin A - which, it turns
out, does indeed appease the Gods of sight.
Vitamin A is best known for improving eyesight, particularly at
night, which is one of two reasons we call it the
glow-in-the-dark vitamin. But the
eyes are not the only part of your body grateful for your
generous consumption of vitamin A.
Your skin also benefits. And your hair. And mucous membranes.
And nails. In fact, almost any surface lining your body can
Your immune system benefits, too, giving you added resources to
ward off infections. Bones and teeth are strengthened with
proper amounts of vitamin A, and even the risk of some cancers
can be reduced with vitamin A.
And there are more confirmed and suspected benefits.
The other reason we call Vitamin A the glow-in-the-dark vitamin
is because it is best known as the bright orange color in so
many foods we enjoy. Like pumpkins, pumpkin pie and my
favorite: pumpkin cheesecake. And, of course, carrots, squash,
peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, sweet potatoes and the
rest of the orange-spangled veggie gang.
But again, vitamin A is much more than meets the eye, because
it is not actually vitamin A that turns the fruit and
vegetables orange, but a precursor to vitamin A called beta
carotene. Beta carotene does not become vitamin A until your
body processes it.
And vitamin A is just as likely, if not more so, to come from
protein sources such as most dairy products, egg yolks and some
fish. And the queen of all vitamin A sources is liver, that
ancient Egyptian God of sight. Calves liver. Chicken liver.
Pork liver. Any liver you can sink your teeth into.
The vitamin A in protein sources is real vitamin A, no
Other great sources of vitamin A are dark green vegetables,
such as Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach and beet greens.
As important as it is to glow with vitamin A, don't glow too
brightly. An overdose can be harmful to bones and skin, causing
weakness and brittleness, even leading to fatigue and
It is advisable not to take a vitamin A supplement except under
the supervision of a physician. In most cases, it is much
better to take a liquid multivitamin such as Essential Nectar
in recommended daily doses. There is very little chance of
getting an overdose that way.
Also, increase your intake of beta carotene sources to avoid an
overdose. Whereas your body absorbs all the vitamin A it takes
in directly, it converts only the beta carotene it needs (talk
So get glowing and get the vitamin A you need.
About the Author: Hamoon Arbabi - For more information
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