Vitamin A is one of essential vitamins required for proper growth and development. It can be found in two forms in foods: retinoid (retinol) – that comes from animal products, and carotenoids – that comes from plants.
Retinol is very important for good vision. Retinol deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in children, and this is very serious health problem, especially in low income countries. Good sources of retinol are animal liver and whole milk.
There are more than 500 known carotenoids, and one well known is beta-carotene. Like all the other carotenoids, beta-carotene is an antioxidant and protects body from free radicals, lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. Beta-carotene is important for bone growth and for reproduction as well. Some of the best sources of beta carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens.