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February 17, 2020 04:39 PM
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What Makes Beta Carotene The Safer Vitamin A.
November 15, 2013 11:24 PM
What is the Main Source of Beta Carotene
Vitamins are essential ingredients for a healthy living. A good example of a very essential vitamin is Vitamin A, which consists of a group of fat-soluble retinoids, including retinol, retinal, Retinyl esters [1-3] and retinoic acid. The main sources of vitamin A, retinoids, that comes from animal products and Beta carotene, which comes from plants are essential for not only treating deficiency syndromes but also boosting the immune system.
What are the Importance of Vitamin A
The most important type of vitamin A, is in no doubt beta carotene, a type of carotenoid. The main source of beta carotene is carrots. Carotenoids act as anti-oxidants and anti-inflamatory nutrients. Beta carotene is considered a safe vitamin A source because its sources are vegetables, for instance carrots, meaning that it is low in fat content.
1. Most animal products are rich in cholesterol. Once inside your body, cholesterol molecules bind together forming plaques which then attach themselves on the walls of blood vessels. This restricts the flow of blood resulting to high blood pressure. Plant products, unlike animal products, have less cholesterol and, vitamin A (such as beta carotene), keeps the cholesterol molecules in your body from binding together. It also prevents it from attaching itself on the walls of the arteries.
2. It facilitates normal growth of healthy cells and cell division. A normal replication of DNA requires presence of vitamin A. This vitamin, therefore, inhibits multiplication of cancerous cells and slows tumor growth down. Abnormal cell devision, as found in cancer victims, is a sign that there is deficiency of vitamin A.
3. Studies show that levels of vitamin A are very low for people suffering from viral diseases. When these people receive additional levels os the vitamin, they are said to recover faster since the defences are now restored. This shows that vitamin A is very important in causing retreats of viruses for instance those that cause measles, respiratory viruses, and even HIV.
4. Stroke victims, on the other hand, are encouraged to take vegetables and fruits (they are very good sources of beta carotene). The reason for this is because vitamin A in stroke patients helps reduce chances of the victim suffering from disabilities or in some extreme cases, death.
4. Apart from being very helpful in improving eyesight in dim light, beta carotene helps relieve the dry-eye disorder. When the lubrications of the eyes reduces, mainly due to reduction in tear production, the eyes can be very uncomfortable. Vitamin A eyedrops improve the cell fuctions in your eyes and restores their moistness.
Beta Carotene Is The Safe To The Liver Form Of Vitamin A
March 19, 2008 08:17 AM
The fact that beta carotene is stated to be a safe form of vitamin A suggests that vitamin A is in some way unsafe. In fact an overdose of vitamin A can lead to any one of a number of conditions, including nausea, jaundice, vomiting, abdominal pain and headaches. This vitamin is fat soluble, and so any excess is not easily washed out of the body but can build up in the tissues.
Toxicity in the liver can occur at fairly low concentrations, and the toxicity of the vitamin is increased by excessive alcohol intake. However, toxicity only occurs with vitamin A already formed such as that obtained from liver.
There are several forms of vitamin A, including the retinoid form originating from animal sources and the carotenoid forms that have a vegetable origin. Carotenoids are converted to vitamin A in the liver, but the higher the concentration of beta carotene in the body, the smaller the percentage that is converted to vitamin A, so beta carotene is a safer source of vitamin A than retinoids. It is only the finished form of vitamin A that is toxic, and beta carotene is therefore self-regulating in its production.
This vitamin is stored in the body in the form of the alcohol (retinol) and of Retinyl esters. Studies have indicated that as much as 95% if the stored vitamin is in the form of the ester. The liver is responsible for releasing vitamin A to the body as it is required. One of its better known effects is on vision, and the old wives tale that carrots help you to see in the dark has an element of truth in it.
In order for it to aid vision, retinol is oxidized to the aldehyde, retinal, that forms a complex with a molecule of opsin, a light sensitive protein found in the retina. Rhodopsin, as the complex is called, is an essential component of the biochemical chain of events that lead to the perception of light. It is extremely sensitive, and enables you see in very low levels of light. In other words it is essential for good night vision, so carrots do help you to see in the dark! When a photon of light hits a molecule of rhodopsin, it leads eventually to an impulse being sent up the optic nerve to the brain.
One of its properties is its reaction to white light. When rhodopsin is exposed to white light it loses its pigmentation, and hence its photoreceptor properties and can take 30 minutes to regenerate. That is why you lose your night sight if your retina is exposed to bright light. The more rhodopsin you can generate the quicker you develop night sight.
The other biochemical processes of the vitamin include the synthesis of some glycoproteins and maintenance of normal bone density. Without vitamin A, calcium is not properly absorbed by the body and glycoproteins are involved in this process. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to the abnormal development of bone and other health problems, so there are limits between the levels of vitamin A in the body that must be maintained: above or below these limits will lead to health problems, some of which can be extremely serious.
Most of the biochemistry of vitamin A in the liver is initiated by the presence of alcohol, and otherwise it is though to passively store the vitamin until needed when it is released into the blood. There are several ways in which the presence of alcohol allows the liver to deplete its store of retinol, but generally there are a number of enzymes that, in the presence of ethanol, can render vitamin A into a water soluble form that is excreted by the urine.
The benefits of vitamin A other than its effect on night sight and the healthy development of bone tissue, includes a powerful antioxidant effect that neutralizes free radicals that can destroy body cells. These free radicals are generated by the body’s metabolism in generating energy from blood glucose, and are also created through exposure to pollutants such as cigarette smoke and traffic fumes. They are electron deficient, so when they are generated they grab an electron from tissue close by which destroys the cells involved. This can lead not only to the appearance of premature aging as the skin cells are damaged but also to serious health problems such as atherosclerosis and some forms of cancer. Vitamin A helps to protect against these by destroying the free radicals before they can do damage. It also helps build up resistance against infections by supporting the immune system.
Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A either by cleaving at the center of the molecule, or by breaking it down from one of the ends. This latter process is carried out in the small intestine, and the resultant vitamin stored in the liver in the ester form. Only a proportion of what you eat is converted to retinol ester in this way, and the more beta carotene you consume, the less is converted, so you can never suffer from an overdose of beta carotene-derived vitamin A. It might turn you yellow, but you won’t suffer from excess vitamin A since the excess beta carotene is stored in your body fat, including the subcutaneous fat reserves.
Alpha carotene can also be used in the synthesis of vitamin A, but not as actively as beta carotene. The best natural sources are fruits and vegetables, especially the red, yellow and orange varieties such as carrots and apricots, and also the leafy green vegetables, although supplements are also a convenient way of maintaining your beta carotene uptake. It is a much safer supplement than straight vitamin A for the reasons explained earlier. The supplement is not useful just for its antioxidant effect, but also for its ability to protect you from excessive exposure to the sun. While not as effective as a good sun blocker, beta carotene does provide some protection.
There is no doubt that beta carotene is a safer way to maintain an adequate vitamin A uptake due to the fact that you cannot take an overdose, since an overdose of beta carotene does not translate into the same dose of vitamin A, and the change is self-regulating. It is therefore safer to obtain your vitamin A needs from colored fruits and vegetables or beta carotene supplements than from eating liver, from which the retinol is in a form that can cause damage in the event of consuming an excess.
The old adage that you should never eat polar bear livers is a true one, and certainly has a provable scientific basis, so use beta carotene as your main vitamin A source for maximum health benefits in the safest possible way.