Vitamin A is an Essential Nutrient
Vitamin A is regarded as an essential nutrient in many bodily procedures, such as in vision and skin health. However, recently, this vitamin has also been credited to be involved in maintaining good heart health. Vitamin A is said to be significant for heart development of embryos, so that deficiency of this vitamin in the course of being pregnant leads to heart abnormalities and prenatal death.
However, recently a new study published in American Journal of Physiology’s Heart and Circulatory Physiology has reported that the heart needs vitamin A to function effectively and that the quantity of Vitamin A in the diet affects outcomes. But, whether or not the results are worthwhile or are detrimental remains to be answered.
According to the lead author of this study, “While it is abundantly clear that we cannot live without vitamin A, it is intriguing that in certain circumstances, the mammalian body may manipulate vitamin A in ways that are not beneficial”.
We are already aware that vitamin A is derived from food and in this way is assimilated by the body. Inside the body, vitamin A is modified into retinaldehyde which is being utilized by the eyes for vision. It is also converted into retinoic acid which is utilized by other bodily processes. Retinoic acid creates these effects through activating proteins on cells known as retinoic acid receptors. Vitamin A is also converted into retinyl esters which can be saved in the liver for later use.
Vitamin A and The Heart
The researchers of this study investigated the role of vitamin A in heart health by examining whether the heart has retinoic acid receptors and what happens to it when the body is deficient in Vitamin A. They discovered that cells within the heart have retinoic acid receptor proteins, indicating that it can use vitamin A. To induce Vitamin A deficiency, the researchers fed vitamin A-deficient meals to genetically modified mice that are not able to store vitamin A in their livers.
According to the lead researcher, “These approaches are more physiologically relevant than others where animals were dosed with retinoic acid to see how this affects the heart…from an outside vantage point, we cannot precisely tailor the timing, amount or route for retinoic acid administration…by letting the animal’s system regulate the production and release of retinoic acid from available dietary sources of vitamin A, we can get a more accurate picture of how the body responds to vitamin A deficiency.”
In this study, it was further known that decreasing the stores of Vitamin A changed how it maintained itself. The hearts of the genetically modified mice were identical in measurement and form to ordinary mice however expressed extraordinary genes. Consuming a Vitamin A-deficient diet also changed the genes expressed.
The study found out that the genetically modified mice had more cells that might substitute damaged coronary heart cells and showed much less heart damage after an induced heart attack, even when they had been furnished with vitamin A in their diet.
There was a previous study in rats which have shown how the supply of vitamin A saved in the liver was forwarded to the heart after a heart attack and concluded that the damaged heart may have experienced benefits from the antioxidant properties of Vitamin A. The lead author further commented, “Our study suggests a surprising alternative outcome for vitamin A mobilization,” she says. Instead of being beneficial, the increased use of vitamin A after a heart attack “may actually impair the heart’s ability to generate new cells that could provide needed repair factors or cells that could prevent tissue damage.”
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