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TRAINING SUCCESSFUL PRACTITIONERS

How to boost your Immune System

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Were you always told that eating carrots would help you see in the dark? It wasn’t just a tall tale to convince you to eat vegetables. Carrots contain beta-carotene, a pre-cursor of vitamin A, which is a nutrient not only vital for healthy vision in dim light, but crucial for the immune system to fight infection and maintain healthy skin.

Sourcing Vitamin A

Vitamin A is found in vegetables as a group of compounds called carotenes, which can be converted as needed by the body into active vitamin A. The active form of vitamin A is found in animal products such as liver, oily fish and dairy products.  However, it is stored in the body and can adversely interact with vitamin D when taken in excess, so it’s best to keep animal products to a minimum and just get most of what you need from vegetables. Yellow, red and green vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers, and fruits such as mango, papaya and apricots are all great sources of beta-carotene. Vitamin A levels in food are best preserved by grilling or baking, and avoiding frying in excess fats.

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Vitamin A Deficiency

Eating a wide range of foods will ensure that you are fulfilling your needs.  Vitamin A is fat soluble so even if you don’t eat these foods every day you’ll be able use the stores in your body. One of the signs of vitamin A deficiency is poor night vision and in deprived areas of the world deficiency can lead to blindness. As a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin A needs to be eaten with fat to maximise absorption, but there is usually sufficient fat in the natural food itself without the addition of extra.

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Treatment for Acne

Vitamin A is used in very high doses as a treatment for acne but the levels required are usually only available on prescription. Vitamin A toxicity is rare but excessive amounts can be acquired over a short period of time via supplementation and can cause symptoms such as blurred vision, sensitivity to light, liver inflammation and cracked lips and fingernails.

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Written by Nutritional Therapist Georgie O’Connor for the College of Naturopathic Medicine.

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