Immunity Essential: Vitamin A
In this current climate we are all concerned about being infected with Coronavirus ourselves, or spreading it to others, and we hear constantly that those with low immunity are much more vulnerable to the effects of the virus. A healthy immune system won't necessarily stop us from getting infected, but it will definitely help fight off the ensuing illness, COVID-19.
In addition to supporting a healthy immune system, Vitamin A is vital for lung health to the extent that chronic deficiency can lead to lung tissue dysfunction and respiratory diseases. Some key symptoms of deficiency are poor night vision (remember our mum's used to tell us to eat carrots so we could see in the dark?), mouth ulcers, frequent infections, dry flaky skin, dandruff, thrush, cystitis and diarrhoea.
Top foods containing Vitamin A are: Beef liver, carrots, watercress, cabbage, squash, sweet potato, melon, pumpkin, mango, tomato, broccoli, apricots, papaya, tangerine.
Other nutrients like Zinc, Vitamin C (covered in yesterday's blog), and Vitamin E help us absorb and utilise Vitamin A more efficiently. If you saw the Vitamin C blog you may notice that many good food sources of Vitamin A also contain Vitamin C - all those lovely orange and green plants!
As with any nutrients from foods or supplements, there are factors that can destroy or hinder Vitamin A: Smoking, alcohol, coffee, heat (so try to incoporate some raw foods in your diet) and light are the main ones. If these apply to you, and you're not eating enough of the Vitamin A foods or you feel you may have any of the deficiency symptoms, taking a supplement may be beneficial.
I'm always happy to advise on an individual basis, but in any case, as with any supplement, please check with your doctor or pharmacist for interactions if you have any medical conditions or take medication. In particular, one type of Vitamin A known as Beta-Carotene, may not be suitable for smokers or those that have been exposed to asbestos, so its vitally important that you check with a professional.
Take care and keep safe.
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates