In which foods do we find retinoid (preformed vitamin A) and how significant is it?

Chicken livers with penne - Photo By Thanasis Bounas
Chicken livers with penne - Photo By Thanasis Bounas

Retinoids, also known as preformed vitamin A, are a type of vitamin A found in animal-derived foods. Unlike carotenoids, which are found in plant-based foods and are converted into active vitamin A in the body, retinoids are already in a form that the body can readily use.

Here are some foods that contain retinoids:

Liver: Liver is one of the richest sources of retinoids, particularly beef liver, chicken liver, and pork liver.

Fish Liver Oils: Cod liver oil is a well-known source of retinoids. It is often consumed as a dietary supplement.

Egg Yolks: Egg yolks contain retinol, a form of preformed vitamin A.

Dairy Products: Some dairy products contain retinoids, particularly whole milk, cheese, and butter. However, the levels are generally lower compared to liver and fish liver oils.

Retinoids are significant for several reasons:

Bioavailability: Retinoids are already in the active form of vitamin A, so they are readily absorbed and utilized by the body without needing conversion. This makes them highly bioavailable and efficient in meeting the body’s vitamin A needs.

Critical Roles in Health: Retinoids play essential roles in various physiological functions, including vision, immune function, reproduction, and cellular communication. They are particularly important for maintaining healthy vision and supporting immune system function.

Higher Potency: Retinoids are generally more potent than carotenoids in their biological activity. This means that smaller amounts of retinoids may be sufficient to meet vitamin A needs compared to carotenoids, which require conversion in the body.

Suitable for Certain Populations: Some individuals, such as those with certain genetic variations or health conditions that affect the conversion of carotenoids to retinoids, may benefit from consuming preformed vitamin A from animal sources.

However, it’s essential to consume retinoids in moderation, as excessive intake can lead to toxicity. Vitamin A toxicity is more likely to occur from consuming large amounts of retinoids from supplements rather than from dietary sources. Therefore, it’s generally recommended to obtain vitamin A from a balanced diet that includes a variety of food sources, rather than relying solely on supplements.

Chicken livers with penne - Photo By Thanasis Bounas
Chicken livers with penne – Photo By Thanasis Bounas

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