Vegetarians told to increase intake of vitamin A

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Vegetarians told to increase intake of vitamin A

Apparently carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables thought to be good sources of Vitamin A may not have as much of the nutrient as originally thought. Vegetarians may have to increase their intake of Vitamin A and iron as a result.

2 Responses to “Vegetarians told to increase intake of vitamin A”

  1. JAK

    This must be a result of our soil being repeated depleted of nutrients. The carrots, broccoli etc they grew 100 years ago aren’t the same as we grow now interms of nutrionional value.

  2. Ruth

    Although fruit and veg is often deficient in various minerals because of the depletion of soils and agricultural practices, beta carotene (precurser to Vit A) is abundantly available in many fruits and veg.

    Vitamin A is only found in animal products, and is toxic in high doses. Synthetic Vitamin A, often recommended to vegetarians, may be even more toxic. Beta-carotene (the precurser of vit A) is found abundantly in many vegetables and leafy greens, particularly those pigmented yellow, red and dark green. The leafy greens have the most beta carotene. And there is no significant indicators that it is toxic when foods rich in it are consumed abundantly. (Of course no-one is recommending anyone get a 20 kg sack of carrots and live on just carrot juice for a week!)

    There are some factors that need to be taken into account regarding the amount of Vitamin A vegetarians finally have available from the beta carotene foods they eat and that is:

    1. Beta carotene is not as easily absorbed by the body as vitamin A, however, it is not difficult to get enough beta carotene if the diet includes enough fruits and veg which have beta carotene.

    2. The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A in the liver, this requires bile salts, thyroid hormone and dietary fats. Therefore the general health of the person is important as well as the availability of the ingredients.

    Researches also believe that there are genetic differences in humans as to their body’s ability to convert beta carotene to Vit A. However, generally about half of the beta carotene absorbed will be converted to Vitamin A and the rest stored in the body in fat.

    Taking beta carotene supplements increases the load on the liver and so is not the ideal method of getting beta carotene which is to get it from food, especially in it’s raw state or lightly steamed. My recommendation for those who need more beta carotene—Carrot juice alone or mixed with other vegs such as spinach, celery, beetroot (twice a day).

    Iron is more easily absorbed in the gut with the presence of vitamin C, so using a lemon dressing with leafy green salads should assist in the uptake of iron. Females in particular because of blood loss through menstruation should have their iron levels checked, vegetarian or not. I take iron supplements on and off throughout the year. Zinc for vegetarians also a concern and can easily be supplemented, zinc can be toxic too if too overdosed.

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