Eat More Fruits & Veggies For Enough Vitamin A

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It takes twice as much broccoli, cantaloupe and carrots--and other carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables--as previously thought to satisfy the body's vitamin A requirement, says a panel of experts from the National Academy of Sciences.

That's because a recent review of the research reveals that the amount of carotenoids like beta-carotene needed to create a unit of retinol, the active form of vitamin A, is twice what scientists thought was needed. The amount of carotenoids in yellow, orange and dark green vegetables and fruits hasn't changed, only the conversion factor for turning beta-carotene into retinol. The scientists caution that carotenoids should be obtained from fruits and vegetables, not supplements.

The panel set upper limits on vitamin A, iron and several other nutrients plus established requirements for copper and molybdenum. More next month.

Dietary Reference Intakes. Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science, January 9, 2001.

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