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The First Vitamin Officially Named

Jeannie Peck, sDNM, LCT, March 28, 2012

The First Vitamin Officially Named

I’m certain most would not be surprised to know Vitamin A was the first vitamin officially named. Here are some facts about Vitamin A.

Vitamin A is essential for bone growth, reproduction and embryonic development. The most active form is retinol, or preformed vitamin A, and is found in fish liver oil. Retinol was so named because of its importance in vision. Deficiency has long been known to result in night blindness, in which the ability of the eye to see in dim light is impaired. The rods of the eye, which are located within the retina, contain rhodopsin, or visual purple, and need vitamin A for proper vision.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and is absorbed primarily from the small intestine. Absorption is reduced with alcohol use, vitamin E deficiency, use of cortisone medication, excessive iron intake or the use of mineral oil, as well as with exercise. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it can be stored in the body and used when there is decreased intake. About 90% of the storable vitamin A is in the liver while the remainder is stored in the kidneys. The storage of vitamin A is decreased during times of stress or illness unless intake is increased. The body needs the mineral zinc to help release stores of vitamin A for use.

It is estimated that the diets of approximately 25% of the people in the United States are supplying less than the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A. This commonly occurs in those who avoid the carotene-containing fruits and vegetables or when the diet is filled with processed foods that are depleted of vitamins. Three groups of people who are most commonly deficient are the elderly, teenagers and alcoholics. When vitamin A is deficient in the body, vitamin C seems to be lost more rapidly from the body. In addition to the lowered immune function and increased infection rate associated with deficiency, periodontal disease, kidney stone formation, ear problems, and acne may occur more frequently.

Vitamin A Benefits: Eyesight Growth and tissue healing Healthy skin Anti-oxidation and pollution protection Cancer prevention and lowering cancer risk Infections

Several pigments found in foods, mainly yellow and orange vegetables and fruits, can be converted to vitamin A in our body. Beta-carotene is the most available and also the one that yields the highest amount of A. Carotene, a pigment in some plants can be converted in the human body to vitamin A. People with diabetes, low thyroid activity, and those who use a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) without antioxidants such as vitamin E have lowered ability to convert beta-carotene.

The Optimum Daily Intake (ODI) of Vitamin A is 5,000 -25,000 IU’s for men and women. The ODI for Beta-carotene is 11,000 – 25,000 IU’s for men and women. Therapeutic doses can be even higher, depending on the health condition. Since Vitamin A can be toxic in larger amounts, always seek advice from your qualified health care professional before supplementing.

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