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  • Vitamin A in Fruits, Vegetables and Seaweed

    Estimated mean requirement and safe level of intake for vitamin A, in Retinol Equivalents (RE) (1 RE = 1 mcg. of retinolor 6 mcg. of beta-carotene):

    • Adolescents, 10–18 years: 330–400 (mcg RE/day, mean requirement), 600 (mcg RE/day, recommended safe intake)
    • Adult females, 19–65 years: 270 (mcg RE/day, mean requirement), 500 (mcg RE/day, recommended safe intake)
    • Adult females, 65+ years: 300 (mcg RE/day, mean requirement), 600 (mcg RE/day, recommended safe intake)
    • Males: 300 (mcg RE/day, mean requirement), 600 (mcg RE/day, recommended safe intake)

    Food sources, examples (RE per 100 grams).

    Fresh fruits and raw and cooked fruit vegetables:

    • Mango - 523
    • Apricots - 260 (dry - 730)
    • Cantaloup 322
    • Squash, cooked 714
    • Red pepper, raw - 580

    Root (tubers) and green vegetables, flowers:

    • Carrots, raw - 2574
    • Sweet potato, cooked - 2180
    • Dandelion, raw - 1400
    • Spinach, raw - 674

    Seaweed:

    • Spirulina - 28333
    • Nori - 4895
  • Indicator of Vitamin A Deficiency Night Blindness

    The most frequently occurring clinical indicator ofvitamin A deficiency is night-blindness, which is the earliest manifestation of xerophthalmia. 

    In its mild form it is generally noticeable after stress from a bright light that bleaches the rhodopsin (visual purple) found in the retina. Vitamin A deficiency prolongs the time to regenerate rhodopsin, and thus delays adaptation time in dark environments.

    Night-blind young children tend to stumble when going from bright to dimly-lit areas and they, as well as night-blind mothers, tend to remain inactive at dusk and at night.

  • Vitamin A from Common Plant Sources and Rare Fruits

    Provitamin A carotenoids are found in green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, amaranth, and young leaves from various sources), yellow vegetables (e.g. pumpkins, squash, and carrots), and yellow and orange non-citrus fruits (e.g. mangoes, apricots, and papayas).

    Red palm oil produced in several countries worldwide is especially rich in provitamin A.

    Some other indigenous plants also may be unusually rich sources of provitamin A: 

    • palm fruit known in Brazil as burití, found in areas along the Amazon River (as well as elsewhere in Latin America), 
    • fruit known as gac in Viet Nam (used to colour rice). 
  • All Known Essential Vitamins

    Vitamins are a group of substances that are needed for normal cell function, growth, and development. There are 13 essential vitamins:

    • Vitamin A (retinol, retinal, 4 carotenoids)
    • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
    • Vitamin D (D3 - Cholecalciferol, D2 - Ergocalciferol)
    • Vitamin E (tocopherols, tocotrienols)
    • Vitamin K (phylloquinone, menaquinones)
    • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
    • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
    • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
    • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
    • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)
    • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
    • Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
    • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

    Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's fatty tissue: vitamins A, D, E, K

    Water-soluble vitamins - the body must use almost all water-soluble vitamins right away - vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and C.
    Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the liver for many years.

  • Vitamin A

    Retinoids retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid - 3 active forms of vitamin A - "preformed" vitamin A.

    Beta carotene can easily be converted to vitamin A by the human body. 

    Large amounts of supplemental vitamin A (but not beta carotene) can be harmful to bones.

    Vitamin A keeps tissues and skin healthy, plays an important role in bone growth. Diets rich in the carotenoids alpha carotene and lycopene seem to lower lung cancer risk. Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against cataracts. Essential for vision lycopene may lower prostate cancer risk.

    Recommended daily amount: 700 mcg - 900 mcg or 3 mg - 6 mg beta-carotene (~ 1 cup of raw cantaloupe or sweet red peppers, or 2 mangoes, or 1/5 of one baked sweet potato). 

    Because the body converts all dietary sources of vitamin A into retinol, 1 mcg of physiologically available retinol is equivalent to the following amounts from dietary sources: 1 mcg of retinol, 12 mcg of beta-carotene, and 24 mcg of alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin. From dietary supplements, the body converts 2 mcg of beta-carotene to 1 mcg of retinol.

  • Carotenoids

    Carotenoids are a class of more than 750 pigments synthesized by plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria. These richly colored molecules are the sources of the yellow, orange, and red colors of many plants. Fruit and vegetables provide most of the 40 to 50 carotenoid phytonutrients found in the human diet.

    The most common carotenoids in North American diets are α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. 

    Provitamin A carotenoids - α-carotene, β-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin - can be converted by the body to retinol (vitamin A), but not lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. 

    Dietary lutein and zeaxanthin help maintain optimal visual function - they absorb damaging blue light that enters the eye.

    The results of observational studies suggest that diets high in carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables are associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. But high-dose β-carotene supplements did not

  • Beta-Carotene Supplements and Cancer

    Plant foods have an important preventive influence in a population at high risk for lung cancer. However, persons who use beta-carotene supplements do not benefit from the protective compounds in plant foods.

Marcel Proust

The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. 

Overnutrition

Overnutrition, a type of malnutrition, is emerging with rates of obesity and related chronic diseases associated with urbanisation, aging populations, technological development and globalisation of food supplies and industry. Billions of dollars are spent annually by the food industry to promote the consumption of highly refined, high-calorie foods with little or no nutritional value. 

At least 35 million overweight children are living in developing countries and 8 million in developed countries. Children are increasingly exposed to high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods which tend to be cheaper than healthy foods. General imbalance in energy intake compared to physical activity levels is driving the obesity epidemic. In industrialised countries, child obesity risk is associated with lower household income, women with less education, and single parent households.

Obesity is increasingly prevalent among adolescent girls and women, as access to a greater quantity of inexpensive, tasty, and convenient foods increases. 

Taxation on high-calorie, low-nutrition foods can play a significant role in reducing the consumption of such products. Population-wide weight-control campaigns that raise awareness among medical staff, policy-makers and the public at large can also help to reduce obesity. Particularly important is the promotion of health literacy. Additional measures include restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks to children, and controls on the use of misleading health and nutrition claims; mandatory front-of-pack food labelling helps consumers to identify healthier options. 

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