Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining good healthincluding vision health, immune function and bone health. For people who participate in sports or regular physical activity, getting sufficient amounts of vitamin A is especially important. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of vitamin A for sports performance, what happens when you get too low, and where to find vitamin A in food.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble nutrients that includes retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. These compounds are essential for a number of bodily functions, including maintaining healthy vision, immune function and bone health.
There are two main types of vitamin A: the preformed vitamin Afound in foods of animal origin, ei provitamin A carotenoids, which are found in foods of plant origin. Preformed vitamin A is absorbed directly by the body, while provitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A in the body.
Why is vitamin A important for sports performance?
For people who participate in sports or regular physical activity, consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin A is especially important. Here are some of the reasons:
Immune function: During physical exercise, the body undergoes physiological stress, including oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect the body from oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals, thereby helping to reduce muscle damage and promote muscle recovery. Additionally, vitamin A is essential for maintaining a healthy immune response, especially important for athletes who are more susceptible to infection and disease.
Vision: Vitamin A is a component of the pigment rhodopsin found in the retina of the eye and helps us see in low light conditions. A vitamin A deficiency can lead to vision problems, including night blindness, which can affect performance in low-light conditions.
Bone health: Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy bones, which are constantly subjected to stress during physical activity. A vitamin A deficiency can increase the risk of bone fractures, with a significant impact on sports performance.
Muscle recovery: Vitamin A is essential for muscle growth and repair. A vitamin A deficiency can impair muscle growth and repair, making recovery after strenuous exercise more difficult. This can lead to prolonged muscle soreness and decreased performance. You can learn more about this aspect by reading the 5 tips to recover faster after a workout.
What happens in case of low vitamin A intake?
Without sufficient vitamin A intake, the body may undergo an alteration of the immune response, making athletes more susceptible to infections and diseases, which can affect training and performance. A vitamin A deficiency can also lead to vision problems, including night blindness, which can affect performance in low-light conditions.
Also, a vitamin A deficiency can increase the risk of bone fracturesimpair muscle growth and repair, and make recovery after strenuous exercise more difficult.
Where to find vitamin A in food?
vitamin A it is found in foods of animal and plant origin. Some of the main sources of vitamin A are:
- Liver (beef, chicken, pork and fish liver)
- Dairy products (milk, cheese and butter)
- Fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna)
- Meat (such as beef, chicken, and pork)
- Sweet potatoes
- Black cabbage
It is important to note that the vitamin A contained in plant-based foods is in the form of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Animal-based sources of vitamin A contain preformed vitamin A, which is readily available for absorption by the body.
We recommend consume a variety of animal and plant-based foods to ensure adequate vitamin A intake. Additionally, cooking methods can affect the availability of vitamin A in foods. For example, boiling can cause a loss of vitamin A, while steaming, baking, or baking can help retain it.
Photo by engin akyurt / Farhad Ibrahimzad / Farhad Ibrahimzad on Unsplash