Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the liver and essential nutrient for humans; it comes in two forms: retinol- found in animal products and beta-carotene found in plants food (especially brightly coloured fruits and vegetables) which the body converts into vitamin A. Both forms of vitamin A need some fat in the diet to aid absorption. Vitamin A has a number of important functions and is essential for a healthy skin, eyesight, growth and reproduction.
Fat-soluble vitamins do not dissolve in water; They are distributed in the body as fats and are stored in the liver and fatty organs.
Vitamin A promotes the growth of strong teeth and bones, and keeps the skin healthy. In the eye, vitamin A is essential for the formation of a visual purple (the pigment that allows us see in dim light). Vitamin A is a well-known immune system booster and helps the body fight infections. It also plays an important role in wound healing. Moreover, vitamin A helps to maintain fertility and is important for fetal development.
Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that destroys free radicals molecules that damage healthy cells, speed up the ageing process and can cause a number of serious diseases to develop.
Poor night vision
Dry, flaky skin
Frequent colds or infection
Vitamin A as a Remedy
● Acne, wrinkles and psoriasis
Many face creams contain vitamin A; Even drugs derived from vitamin A are used to treat severe acne. As an antioxidant, vitamin A neutralizes free radicals, substances that destroy collagen and are known to play a treatment role in inflammatory disorders of psoriasis.
● Viral infections
Vitamin A helps to protect against sore throats, colds and other viral infections, and shortens the duration of such illnesses. So Vitamin A plays a role in strengthening the immune system and improving resistance.
Main functions of vitamin A
- Immunity booster (vitamin A helps the body natural defense against illness and infection (the immune system work properly)
- Essential for vision
- Promotes a healthy skin
- Fertility (vitamin A helps to maintain fertility and is important for fetal development).
Sources of vitamin A
Retinol is found in meats, fish, eggs and dairy products.
Beta-carotene is present in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables; yellow, red and green (leafy) vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers; yellow fruit such as mango, papaya and apricots. One carrot alone should provide your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A (700mcg).
Any vitamin A your body does not need immediately is stored in the liver for future use.
Foods sources of vitamin A are:
● Cheeses, milk and yoghurt
● Oily fish and Cod liver oil
● Sweet potatoes
Retinol (a form of Vitamin A) can cause birth defects in an unborn child and should not be taken as a supplement by pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy. Pregnant women should also avoid cod liver oil and liver, as these also contain high amounts of retinol. Excessive amounts of beta-carotene turn your skin yellow, but your colour will return to normal if you reduce consumption.
Risk & Toxicity
Preformed vitamin A can be toxic when people consume too much, either through their diet or through supplementation.
Consuming too much preformed vitamin A can lead to vitamin A toxicity or hypervitaminosis A.
Symptoms can include:
● changes in skin color
● peeling on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
● cracked skin on the fingers
● allergic contact dermatitis
● ectropion, which affects the skins around the eyes
● dry lips, mouth, and nose, which can increase the risk of infection
● reduced sebum production.
Long-term overuse can lead to:
● changes in bone formation
● high cholesterol levels
● liver damage
● nervous system changes leading to headaches, nausea, and vomiting.