by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient for human health. This vitamin is a group of compounds called carotenoids that are found in plants and animal products. It plays an important role in developing and maintaining human skin, eyes, and overall well-being.
In this article, we will talk about the benefits of vitamin A for your skin, vision, and general health. We will also discuss foods that are rich in vitamin A and the best sources to include in your diet to get sufficient amounts of it daily.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition or disease. You should always consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen to ensure you are healthy enough to do so and to ensure the supplements will not interact with any medications you may currently be taking.
Why Do We Need Vitamin A?
Many people believe that vitamin A is only helpful for eye health. But we need vitamin A for many other things, including the following:
- Vision: Vitamin A helps vision by promoting the growth of cells in the cornea, which are necessary for clear vision.
- Immune function: Vitamin A boosts your immune system by stimulating white blood cell production in the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. This means that it helps fight off infections and illnesses like colds and flu.
- Skin health: Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin because it promotes skin cell growth, helping to keep your skin smooth and wrinkle-free.
- Oral health: Specifically for dental health, vitamin A promotes tooth enamel formation in children and adults alike. It also helps prevent cavities from forming on teeth due to its ability to stimulate saliva production in your mouth (which naturally fights cavity-causing bacteria).
The Benefits of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that’s found in many of the foods you eat.
It’s crucial for your overall health — vision, immune function, skin health, reproduction, and growth.
Here are the main benefits of vitamin A:
1. Protects eyes from night blindness and age-related issues
Vitamin A is one of the most essential vitamins for your health. It’s particularly important to your eyes because it helps protect against night blindness and age-related decline.
Night blindness occurs when you can’t see well in low light conditions, like at night. It can happen because there is a lack of vitamin A in your body. Night blindness can lead to difficulty seeing at night or even driving at night.
The age-related decline is a condition that can lead to difficulty seeing fine details and reading small print as you get older. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of age-related decline, so it’s vital to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin A in your diet.
2. Provides a healthy immune system
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from harmful free radicals and supports healthy vision. It also improves the body’s ability to fight infections and helps maintain healthy skin, hair, teeth, and bones.
Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the developed world, but it can still occur in those who eat little or no animal products. In developing countries, vitamin A deficiency is a major cause of blindness and increased risk for death from infectious diseases.
3. Reduces risk of acne
Vitamin A is good for skin health. It’s an antioxidant that fights free radicals and helps reduce inflammation.
Research has shown that people with low levels of vitamin A are more likely to have acne than people with normal levels of vitamin A. This suggests that vitamin A may reduce acne risk by helping to regulate the skin’s natural oil production.
4. Supports bone health
Vitamin A is essential for healthy bone development during childhood and adolescence. It plays a role in making collagen, a fibrous protein that makes up about one-quarter of all bone material. Vitamin A also helps to build proteins that maintain bone strength and density as you age.
Adequate levels of vitamin A are essential for maintaining normal bone turnover rates throughout life because they help regulate the activity of osteoclasts (cells responsible for breaking down old bone tissue). When osteoclasts are too active, they can break down more bone than normal, causing weakness and an increased risk of fractures.
Foods That Are High in Vitamin A
While there are many different types of vitamin A-rich foods, here are some of the best sources:
- Egg yolks
- Canned tuna
- Dried apricots
- Sweet potatoes
- Cod liver oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Collard greens
How Much Vitamin A Should You Take Daily?
The RDA of vitamin A is 700 µg a day for men and around 600 µg for women.
If you’re taking more than the upper limit of vitamin A, talk to your doctor about how much vitamin A you should take — and when. Vitamin A toxicity can cause birth defects and liver damage.
The “tolerable upper intake levels” are the highest amount of a supplement that most people can take safely. In higher doses, it may be used to treat vitamin A deficiencies. But avoid taking more unless a doctor says so.