Vitamin A is important for good eyesight, healthy skin and and a strong immune system. Vitamin A also plays a role in growth and healthy reproduction. Because vitamin A comes in two forms, the term is sometimes used interchangeably with beta carotene, but technically, they are slightly different nutrients. There are other carotenoids too, but they are less studied than beta-carotene.
Preformed vitamin A comes from animal sources such as liver, cod liver oil, eggs and butter and can also be found in fortified milk products and breakfast cereals. This is the form that is used most efficiently by the body, however, it is a fat-soluble vitamin and can become toxic when taken in excess, so getting the correct amount is important. More is not necessarily better in this case.
Provitamin A, or carotenoids such as beta-carotene, are found in dark green leafy vegetables and orange-colored vegetables. Beta carotene has to be converted in your body to make vitamin A. This makes it more difficult to overdose on beta carotene; however, high doses from supplements, especially for smokers, may increase the risk of lung cancer. This is another example of why it is good to check with a registered dietitian nutritionist before starting a supplement.
To see if supplements are right for you, schedule your personal nutrition consultation today and start getting sound nutrition advice.