Most people may be aware of the incidence of vitamin A deficiency in Africa, Southeast Asia and some parts of Latin America, however surveys carried out in Great Britain on behalf of the Food Standards Agency highlighted that over 90% of women and 89% of men don’t get the EU Nutrient Reference Value of vitamin A in their diet.
The Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals notes that: ‘Vitamin A is used in the treatment of some skin disorders and is taken as an anti-oxidant dietary supplement. There is no doubt that vitamin A is a nutrient of paramount importance and it is vital for optimum health that everyone gets enough vitamin A. ‘
A rich natural source of vitamin A is found in liver. The body can also convert beta-carotene to vitamin A and many people believe that if you eat carrots, then your body will make vitamin A. However, a study published in 2010 found that people’s ability to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A varies greatly among individuals. It appears that your genetic make-up can determine whether you’re an efficient converter or not.
Researchers also found that Body Mass Index (BMI) can play a role, and those individuals with high body fat have a reduced ability to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. It is also important to note that this important conversion is dependent on co-factors which are nutrients that help the body in this case to make vitamin A. Both zinc and iron are needed for the body to take beta-carotene and make vitamin A.
Expert Group on Vitamin and Minerals. Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency.
National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2003). Food Standards Agency. Department of Health
National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2008/2009). Food Standards Agency. Department of Health.