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Celiac Disease Nutrition Guide, 3rd Ed. (Single Copy)

Celiac Disease Nutrition Guide, 3rd Ed. (Single Copy)

This easy to read “survival guide” outlines essential information for people diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Vitamin A

Vitamin ABy Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD

Vitamin A is much more than just a vitamin that helps you see at night. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in immunity, the body's development and the maintenance of major organs.

Available in two sources, vitamin A is derived from animals and from plants. Vitamin A from animal sources is preformed vitamin A and is active immediately, and from plant sources it is provitamin A — including a group of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is the most common form of provitamin A and in plant foods it must be converted in the body to the active form of vitamin A.

Once active, both forms of vitamin A help preserve vision, fight infections, maintain healthy skin and bones and regulate cell growth and division. Without enough vitamin A, you may be at a higher risk for night blindness or experience skin disorders or infections. It is also a key structural component in the development and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.

Meet Your Vitamin A Needs

Fortunately, there are colorful and delicious ways to easily meet your vitamin A needs. Just one medium baked sweet potato provides more than a day's worth of recommended daily vitamin A. Other good plant sources of vitamin A include red bell peppers, carrots and cantaloupe.

While red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables often steal the vitamin A spotlight, leafy greens — such as collards, kale and turnip greens — are also an excellent source. You can get vitamin A from animal sources, including eggs, organ meats such as liver and milk fortified with vitamin A.

With abundant sources of vitamin A available, it's easy to meet your daily needs with food. Before taking a supplement, speak to your health care provider to see if it's necessary. Be aware that excessive intake of vitamin A from some supplements can cause more harm than good.

Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based in Atlanta, Ga.

Reviewed March 2014