As we all know, our diet plays a very important role in our day to day life. More so, during pregnancy it is of utmost importance as it protects both the pregnant mother and her developing baby from immediate and long-term health risks. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which is stored in the liver and its daily requirements can be easily met from a healthy diet. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant and plays a critical role in the following:prevention of anaemia
building up a strong immune system
development of heart, lungs, kidney, bones, and eyes of the foetus.
building a strong resistance power to fight infections by promoting healthy fat metabolism
Warning signs of a Vitamin A Deficiency
If one is not getting enough vitamin A, you may experience the following:
1. Frequent and persistent skin infections
2. Acne, dry and scaly skin
3. Throat infections or mouth ulcers
4.Dandruff and dry hair
5. Sore eyelids and in extreme cases poor vision in the dark (night blindness)
Where to Get Enough Vitamin A From?
There are two types of this nutrient. The first one is called Performed Vitamin A which is also known as retinol and is found in animal products like milk, eggs and liver. These can be used up by the body directly. The other type, Provitamin A or the carotenoids, are found in fruits and vegetables and need to be converted by the body into retinols. Beta-carotene is the most important carotenoid as it converts more efficiently than others. The richest sources of beta-carotene are yellow and orange coloured fruits like mango, papaya, apricot and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli.
How Much Vitamin A Do You Need?
While the carotenoids can be consumed through fruits and vegetables, getting too much Preformed Vitamin A can increase the chances of birth defects in the foetus. Here are the daily requirements as per the National Institute of Nutrition in India:
Males: 900 mcg/day (3000 U/day)
Females:700 mcg/day (2330 U/day)
Pregnancy: more than 18 years: 750-770 mcg/day (2500-2600 U/day)
Breastfeeding: more than 18 years : 1300 mcg RAE (4330 U)
Most people whose staple diet only consists of rice are at a higher risk of developing a Vitamin A deficiency. It can also occur if the body is unable to make use of the vitamin A in the diet. The most common health concerns that will cause malabsorption of vitamin A include liver cirrhosis, crohn’s disease, coeliac disease, gut infection, or else if there is an obstruction of flow of bile from your liver and gall bladder into your gut.
Vitamin A deficiency can be prevented with increasing the regular intake of vitamin A-rich foods as long as one does not have any long-term condition preventing your body from using the vitamin A in your diet.