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Micronutrients Nutrition Vitamins

Vitamin A-(Beta-Carotene)

Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of our diet. These are the micronutrients that play an initial role in various metabolic processes of our body. Vitamins are divided into fat-soluble and water-soluble categories that help us to differentiate among all the kinds of vitamins. Vitamin A is one of the main fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for the human body to promote health.

Vitamin A has diverse roles in human health. The compounds found in vitamin A are called retinoids- similar to that of retinol in terms of activity. Carotenoids are pigments and are present in food that we get through plants. Beta carotene’s absorption is less than retinoids. Our cells can convert retinol (the alcohol form of vitamin A) and retinal to active substances. Vitamin A’s every form serves different functions. After absorption, vitamin A reaches the liver for storage. Cells have special receptors to use vitamin A.

Forms of Vitamin A:

Retinol

The alcohol form

Retinal

The aldehyde form

Retinoic acid

The acid form

Beta carotene

A precursor

 

Benefits of Vitamin A in the Body:

  • It promotes vision
  • Supports reproduction
  • Helps in growth
  • Maintains healthy cell

Retinol is the storage form of the vitamin. Retinoic acid is responsible for embryonic development. Cell differentiation (immature to mature cell type) is also done by vitamin A. protein synthesis is also done by the vitamin. Vitamin A also helps protect the skin from sun damage. The integrity of the mucus membrane (having mucus-secreting cells) is maintained by vitamin A. Mucus protects the epithelial cells from damage. It is very interesting to know that in the retina (the innermost membrane), more than 100 million cells are present which contain 30 million vitamin A molecules. Rhodopsin is a light-sensitive pigment having retinal.

Beta Carotene- An Anti-oxidant:

Along with vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium, vitamin A has a precursor that acts as an anti-oxidant. Not all beta carotene converts to active vitamin A. fruit and vegetables are rich in beta carotene. Vitamin A has a supportive role in infections. A large dose of vitamin A reduces the risk of certain infections. Vitamin A supplementation is recommended for measles. This supplementation reduces complications.

Deficiency of Vitamin A:

The deficiency of vitamin A causes many disorders. Some of them are as below:

Night-blindness

The deficiency of vitamin A is responsible for causing many problems like night blindness-slow recovery of vision (at the back of the eye). In dim light, rods are responsible for vision. Having vitamin (A) inadequacy, people remain blinded for many seconds in dim light.

Xeropthalmia

Xerophthalmia is also caused by vitamin A deficiency. It occurs in stages and is also called as the spectrum of ocular disease. The deficiency of vitamin A in the body hinders the essential functioning of the eye which leads to the development of ocular signs and symptoms. Severe Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) can affect the conjunctiva, cornea, and retina which all come under Xerophthalmia.

Keratinization

It is also caused by vitamin A deficiency. Keratin (water-insoluble protein) is hard and inflexible protein. Not having vitamin (A) leads to loss of goblet cells.

Xerosis

It is also caused by vitamin A deficiency in which abnormal dry skin is observed around the mouth and conjunctiva of the eye. Xerosis leads to the formation of abnormal dry, itchy, and scaly skin on the areas of arms and legs.

Toxicity of vitamin A

On the other hand, excessive intake of vitamin A leads to defects in bones. It suppresses bone-building activity. So, multivitamins should be taken with precautions. Abnormal cell death during pregnancy is also caused by excessive intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A is also not suitable for acne (chronic inflammation of follicles). Accutane is chemically different from vitamin A but this medication is prepared from vitamin A. Additive toxic effects can be reduced by taking precautions while taking supplements. The excessive intake of beta carotene leads to discoloration of the skin.

Vitamin A recommendation:

1 microgram of retinol counts as 1 RAE. Ten thousand international units are equal to three thousand micrograms of vitamin A. one international unit of retinol is equal to 0.3 micrograms of retinol. One international unit of dietary beta carotene is equal to 0.05 microgram RAE.

Foods Having Vitamin A and Color of Foods:

Carotene-rich sources should be a part of a balanced diet. Green, yellow, red, and orange colors are prominent in foods having beta carotene and vitamin A. dark green leafy vegetables have beta carotene masked by chlorophyll (green pigment of plants). So, colorful vegetables and fruit should be part of one’s plate. Vitamin A is found in deep orange vegetables. Some foods are rich in vitamin A and provide RDA in single servings.

Dietitian Zoya Faisal is a Gold medalist in Doctor of Nutrition and Sciences (UMT), and did her M.Phil in food and nutrition (UVAS), Pakistan. She can be reached at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended as sound medical advice for your particular illness; rather, it is meant to increase awareness of common health issues. Before implementing any recommendations made in this article or choosing a treatment plan based on its contents, you should always speak with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Categories
Health Disease Food Habits Nutrition

Eating Disorders Types and Treatment

(EDs) means “persistent eating disturbance.” In other words, unhealthy eating habits to develop is known as eating disorders. Eating disorders are serious mental disorders. The patient may eat very less or the patient may eat a very large amount of food. Many people disengage from treatment. All the conditions including eating disorders are medical conditions. Heart and kidney issues arise and the patients may also suffer death. The causes of these disorders are vague. Some causes may include:

  • Genetic causes
  • Biological causes
  • Causes related to behavior
  • Psychological causes
  • Social factors

Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the condition. In binge eating, the patient may eat a very large amount of meals. During binge periods, the patient may eat very fast. The patients may eat alone due to fear of embarrassment. Frequent dieting may be a characteristic of these patients. Throwing food or use of laxatives comes under symptoms of bulimia nervosa. Fasting is also a symptom of bulimia. In bulimia nervosa, sore throat is also present. Teeth become scary (decay). Gastro problems arise. Imbalance in electrolytes is also present. In anorexia nervosa, excessive exercise is a common symptom. There is a fear of gaining weight. Chronic health problems may also arise. Anemia is also present. Nails become brittle. The patients may present with fine hair over the body. Hypotension persists. Internal body temperature falls. Fatigue persists. The function of the heart becomes poor with organs malfunctioning. Some patients may also die of suicide. In severe circumstances, it can cause serious health problems and result in death if it is left untreated. We all should know the term that is diabulimia. It’s when people reduce taking insulin to lose weight.

Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

(two subtypes are: restrictive eating only and restrictive eating with purging)

Severity based on current body mass index in adults and body mass index percentiles in children. This condition is more common in industrialized countries. Genetic, physiologic, environmental, and temperamental factors are the major risk factors. Inefficiency in executive functioning is common in these people. Many changes occur during anorexia nervosa. Organs become damaged especially the heart, nervous system, and kidneys.

Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

(uncontrollable eating of food)

Self-induced vomiting, laxatives overuse, diuretics, the use of thyroid hormones, fasting, and overburdened exercise are the compensatory methods. There are the following levels of the condition: mild, moderate, severe, and extreme. It is found in women (2%) and men (0.5%). The diagnosis rate is 10-15% of cases. It is also prevalent in industrialized states. Genetic, physiologic, environmental, and temperamental factors are the major risk factors.

Binge Eating Disorder

(a clinical disorder; characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating)

Mild, moderate, severe, and extreme are the severity levels of the condition. It is more in women (3.5%) and men (2%). The rates are found in Caucasians, Asians, and Americans. There is no crossover between BED to other eating disorders. It has an official diagnosis.

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (subclinical AN, BN, and BED)

This category is used in situations in which doctors select to communicate a particular reason.

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder

This category is used in situations in which doctors select not to communicate the particular reason.

Avoidant or Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

(lack of interest in eating apparently)

There is weight loss. There is a need for oral nutrition supplements. The disease is not explained by a lack of available foods. This is not associated with any other adjacent medical condition.

Pica

(eating of nonfood substances)

Additional clinical attention is a need in the condition.

Rumination Disorder

(repeated regurgitation of food)

It is not associated with other complex medical conditions. Additional clinical attention is needed.

Table:

Diagnosis

Environment

Temperament

Physiologic

 

 

 

 

Anorexia nervosa

Modeling

Disorders of anxiety

A range of brain abnormalities

 

 

 

 

Bulimia nervosa

Increased concerns regarding weight. Childhood physical abuse.

Reduction in self-esteem. Social anxiety problems/disorder.

Early pubertal maturation. Genetic vulnerability. 

(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

(American Psychiatric Association 2013)

Treatment:

Treatment for eating disorders is done by doctors, nutritionists, therapists, and nurses. Individual or family psychotherapy is a treatment to change behavioral patterns. Nutritional counseling is also very potent. Anti-depressants are prescribed forms of medications. Some patients may need hospital treatment.

 

Dietitian Zoya Faisal is a Gold medalist in Doctor of Nutrition and Sciences (UMT), and did her M.Phil in food and nutrition (UVAS), Pakistan. She can be reached at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended as sound medical advice for your particular illness; rather, it is meant to increase awareness of common health issues. Before implementing any recommendations made in this article or choosing a treatment plan based on its contents, you should always speak with a qualified healthcare professional.

Sharing is caring