Vitamin A and fetal development

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Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient. It plays an important role in vision, maintenance of epithelial cells, immune functions, and participates in the processes of growth, development and reproduction. Vitamin A is characterized into two chemically distinct yet structurally related forms. The first form is retinoid, which is present only in foods of animal origin, such as fish and organ meats. “Retinoid is also known as 'preformed vitamin A' because it can be metabolized directly into compounds that exert the biological effects of vitamin A” (Ross, 2005, p. 329). Preformed vitamin A retinoids are found in liver, fish, fish oils and eggs. A second form of vitamin A is β-carotene, which is synthesized only by plants, but can be turned into vitamin A in the body as needed. These carotenoids are also termed as 'provitamin A.' Provitamin A caretinoids are mainly found in carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apricots and mangoes. Hence, the nutritional requirements for vitamin A can be met by retinoids, carotenoids, or a mixture of both from plant and animal sources. However, deficiency and excessive intake of vitamin A could lead to serious consequences. Deficiency of vitamin A could lead to eye diseases such as bitot's spot, keratomalacia, night blindness and ultimately xerophthalmia (complete blindness), if not treated on time. Vitamin A deficiency could cause skin disorders like hyperkeratosis, phrynoderma. Vitamin A deficiency could even cause insufficient mucus production in the intestines and lung cells. It reduces the activity of immune system cells, leading to greater risk for infections. Also, in children, vitamin A deficiency could result in growth retardation and affect the gene expression. On the contrary, excessiv... ... middle of paper ... ...Amsterdam: Elsevier. Retrieved from Ross, A. C. (2005). Physiology. In B. Caballero, L. Allen, & A. Prentice (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition (2nd ed., Vol. 4, pp. 329-339). Amsterdam: Elsevier. Retrieved from Stanner, S. (2005). Safe Diet for Pregnancy. In B. Caballero, L. Allen, & A. Prentice (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition (2nd ed., Vol. 4, pp. [1]-8). Amsterdam: Elsevier. Retrieved from Wardlaw, G. (2013). Contemporary Nutrition. New York: Mc-graw Hill Companies Inc.
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