Vitamin A is an essential nutrient and fat-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in many bodily functions. Although it is often associated with vision, vitamin A may benefit the entire body, our metabolism (Cleveland clinic). Vitamin A can help support our skin, the immune system, reproduction, mucus integrity, and the production of new blood cells.*
Vitamin A can be found in many foods, including carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach. The body stores the vitamin A it doesn't need to use immediately in the liver or fat tissue for future use.
Different forms of vitamin A
There are several different forms of vitamin A. The three most common forms are retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. Retinol is the most abundant form of vitamin A in the body and can be obtained from animal sources such as dairy, eggs, and liver.
Retinal is found in algae and some fish, while retinoic acid is found primarily in plants. Vitamin A also exists in a chemical form known as provitamin A carotenoids. These carotenoids are found in foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy green vegetables.
Carotenoids derivates like β-carotene, retinol astaxanthin, or lycopene possess antioxidants properties and have been shown to offer potential photoprotective functions (study).
Vitamin A for vision
Vitamin A is best known for its benefits for vision. It can help support the retina, cornea, and other parts of the eye to function properly and protects against infections for some populations of people (study). Vitamin A can also play a role in night vision. A lack of vitamin A may lead to dry eyes, photosensitivity, and in particular cases, to blindness (WHO).*
Vitamin A for skin health
Vitamin A and retinol can also play a role in skin health (study). It may help promote cell turnover, which can help support overall skin health. Vitamin A may also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines when used in specific formats or with the addition of other compounds. In addition, vitamin A may help protect the skin from sun damage and therefore play a role in some signs of aging for some specific use cases (study).
Vitamin A for immunity
Vitamin A is essential for the immune system (study).* It can help white blood cells function properly. Vitamin A is also a well-known antioxidant, which could help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are believed to contribute to many chronic conditions.
As you can see, vitamin A is an essential nutrient with many vital functions in the body. If you think you may be deficient in vitamin A, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement or eating foods rich in this nutrient.
You should also talk to your doctor before taking supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Vitamin A is an important nutrient that has many benefits for the body. However, too much vitamin A can be harmful. Be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin A by including carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach in your diet. You should also talk to your doctor before taking supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a vitamin A supplement or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.