Vitamin A or Retinol is an essential vitamin for visual health. It is also found in the form of provitamin A or beta-carotene.
Description of vitamin A and beta-carotene
It is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. It is found in foods of animal origin directly in the form of retinol. It can also be ingested as carotenoids, mainly beta-carotene or provitamin A. These vitamin A precursors are present in plants. However, all consumed beta-carotene is not converted to retinol. Therefore, in order to obtain an equivalent vitamin activity, it is necessary to count 6 times more beta-carotene than retinol
Roles of vitamin A and beta-carotene in the body
It is essential for vision, involved in the onset of nerve impulses to the optic nerves.
It is essential for growth, since it is involved in cell differentiation.
It also stimulates cell renewal and is therefore important for the skin and the mucous membranes.
It contributes to the functioning of the immune system.
Beta-carotene has an antioxidant action: in synergy with other micro-nutrients (vitamins C and E, selenium …), it helps to protect the organism from premature aging.
Food sources of vitamin A and beta-carotene
The foods richest in retinol are cod liver oil and animal livers and among the most commonly consumed products are butter, cream, cheeses and eggs.
The most beta-carotene-rich foods are orange or green vegetables: sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, apricot, mango, melon, romaine salad, spinach, lettuce …
Vitamin A or retinol and beta-carotene are not very sensitive to cooking. They can, on the other hand, be degraded by oxidation, hence the advantage of keeping the foods cool, protected from air and light