Vitamin A is really an important vitamin that most of us simply do not get enough of today. Vitamin A is different than beta-carotene, and don't let anything you read convince you that they are the same! While it is true that beta-carotene can be converted to Vitamin A in the body, many of us do NOT convert it very well. So you may be eating lots of carrots and orange vegetable and fruits, and thinking you are getting plenty of Vitamin A, but that is not necessarily true. Read on to find out how important getting enough vitamin A is and how you can do that.
Benefits of Vitamin A
Vitamin A's scientific name is retinol, because of its presence in the retina of the eye, where it is essential for good eyesight. However it is used in far more functions that just that of the eye. Vitamin A is crucial for strong bone and tooth development, proper reproduction, cell differentiation and also in proper immune system function. This vital nutrient is also needed for the growth and repair of body tissues and is a major factor in the health of skin, hair, teeth and gums. It also helps protect mucous membranes of the throat, mouth, nose, and lungs and it helps in the proper digestion of protein. It also seems to lower the risk of many different types of cancers, and it aids in the production of RNA. Wow! What a powerhouse of a vitamin!
Vitamin A and Cancer Prevention
There has been much vitamin A research on its role in cancer prevention. Dr Max Gerson, for example, successfully treated many so-called terminal cancer patients with raw liver juice, which is a very concentrated natural source of vitamin A. Other researchers have also had success treating cancer with vitamin A, but these findings have been largely ignored by the medical community.
Traditional Diets and Vitamin A Content
According to Weston A. Price, the diets of healthy traditional peoples that he studied contained at least ten times as much vitamin A as the American diet of his day, which was back in the 1930's. We almost certainly get even less vitamin A today in our diets. Dr. Price's work showed that vitamin A, along with several other fat-soluble activators, are present only in animal fats, but are necessary for the assimilation of minerals in the diet, amongst other things. So this means that if you don't get enough vitamin A and D, no matter what you do to try to get enough minerals like calcium and magnesium, such as eating right and taking supplements, your body will not be able to use those minerals properly!
In addition, because of the way we raise animals today in confinement factory farms where they are fed unnatural diets, there are drastically reduced amounts of vitamin A in most of our dairy products and eggs today. Research has shown that animal fats will contain lots of vitamin A if the animals had a high amount of carotenes in their diet, like cows get from green pasture, and chickens from insects, for example. However, this is not the case for most of our dairy cows or chickens today – rather they are in confinement and being fed a very unnatural diet. It is worth it to search out sources of pastured animals, one good reference is the Eat Wild website.
Weston Price thought that all basic biological processes depended on getting enough of the fat-soluble vitamins in the diet, especially vitamin A. His research showed that in order for the body to use the water-soluble vitamins, like B and C, and also minerals, people needed to have enough vitamin A in their diets. He found that primitive peoples especially valued vitamin A-rich foods for pregnant mothers and children.
Vitamin A in Animal Fats Cures Night Blindness
A physician named Bloch found out that a diet containing foods like whole milk, butter, cod liver oil and eggs can cure night blindness. He conducted an experiment where he fed one group of children margarine as the only fat and the other group got whole milk. Those receiving the butter fat in the form of whole milk stayed healthy while half of those fed margarine got corneal problems. Now, of course, we know that those in the healthy group were receiving lots of vitamin A, which only occurs in animal foods full of animal fat.
The a lot more information on the Weston Price Website about animal fats and why we need to stop being scared to include them in our diets as long as we search out the right sources.