Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps combat free radicals, waste products that are continuously formed by various systems of the body. Antioxidants, like vitamin A, help neutralize free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, decrease cellular damage, and strengthen immunity.
Active form A1 Found in animal sources, contains retinoids, retinal, and retinoic acid. Retinoids are known as preformed or “active forms” of vitamin A, which means that they are bioactive and can be used by the body as they are. When stored in the blood, the most abundant form of vitamin A is retinol. Retinol is a form of vitamin A often used in skincare formulas to promote healthy skin cell formation and boost collagen production.
Provitamin A Provitamin A, found in plants, is referred to as the “inactive” form of vitamin A. This form is made up of compounds including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. (1).
Five health benefits of vitamin A 1. Enhances bone health Consuming enough vitamin A is essential for bone health. It influences the production of osteoblasts (cells that create new bone) and osteoclasts (cells that break down bone tissue). People who have lower concentrations of vitamin A are more prone to bone fractures. One study showed that the risk for bone fractures drops by 6% in people who have higher volumes of vitamin A in their blood.
2. Supports skin health Vitamin A has been used by people suffering from acne. Vitamin A can help remove excess skin, sebum, and oils that build up in acne-prone skin. Some medical acne treatments contain retinoids, which are compounds of vitamin A that help regulate skin cell growth.
3. Optimizes reproduction & growth Vitamin A plays a key role in reproduction and the formation of a healthy human fetus. Both male sperm production and female egg quality require adequate amounts of vitamin A for optimal fertility
4. Strengthens the immune system Vitamin A reduces susceptibility to disease by optimizing your body’s natural immune defenses. Conversely, lower levels increase the risk of death from diseases like malaria, measles, and other diseases, and impairs your ability to recover quickly.
5. Improves eyesight It’s no coincidence that the name retina, referring to the part of your eye that receives light, and retinol (vitamin A1) sound similar. Vitamin A is critical for healthy eyesight, and helps protect the cornea. It’s anti-inflammatory processes may play a role in decreasing vision loss from the deterioration of the central part of the eye (the macula). Beta-carotene improves, and may even prevent night blindness and slow the progression of age-related sight issues.
How much vitamin A do we need? The recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin A is 900 mcg for men, 700 mcg for women, and 300-600 mcg in children. Please note mcg=micrograms, not milligrams. It’s important to remember active A1 is a fat soluble vitamin, which comes with a higher risk for toxicity. Whereas, provitamin A is water soluble, and the body will only convert what it needs into active Vitamin A. Because beta carotene has a propensity for the skin, if you like carrot juice for an example, you might see an orange tinge to your skin if you consume a lot over a couple of weeks.
Animal based sources Liver – beef 338% DV per 100g Cod liver oil 90% DV per tsp Bluefin Tuna 44% DV per 100g Mackerel 15% DV per 100g Salmon 2% DV per 100g
Plant based sources Sweet potato 284% DV per 100g Turnip Greens 232% DV per 100g Winter squash 213% DV per 100g Collards 100% DV per 100g Kale 96% DV per 100g
The primary reason behind vitamin A deficiency is complications from another illness such as leaky gut, or following the standard American diet. In both cases, the body has trouble obtaining enough vitamin A, even though it is abundant in a wide range of foods. However, each person is unique and there are many individuals with conditions such as acne, thyroid dysfunction, eye diseases, and weak immune systems, that may benefit from vitamin A supplementation.