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, 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.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil 1 cup white onion, diced 2 heads broccoli 1 clove garlic, minced 1 can (15-oz) northern beans, drained and rinsed 2 cups vegetable stock 4 sprigs fresh thymeSea salt, to taste ¼ cup pine nuts* **Blood type B (secretor and non-secretor) swap for chopped almonds or walnuts Instructions: Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat, and sauté onion, 5 to 6 minutes.Trim woody stems off broccoli and discard. Rough chop broccoli. Add broccoli to the onions along with garlic, beans, stock, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a fork but not falling apart.Puree soup using an immersion blender, or in batches using a stand blender. Soup should be thick and creamy, but easily run off a spoon. Add water or additional stock if you prefer a thinner consistency. Season with sea salt, to taste.
When we become stressed, our brains signal to the adrenal glands to make nonstop cortisol. This causes a serious ripple effect throughout our bodies as it communicates to our different systems. The slightest imbalance in cortisol can cause digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, immune system flares, and issues with our nervous system such as sleep, headaches, and yes, anxiety. This perfect storm becomes an internal stress signal back to our brain, creating a vicious cycle of stress, that can continue for hours after the stressor. It can be stopped, with careful attention to stress recovery. The calming neurotransmitters, serotonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), “buffer” the impact of stress and adrenaline in our bodies—similar to the role of shock absorbers in a car. When we are stressed, we use up GABA and serotonin faster than our bodies can make it. With depleted or imbalanced serotonin and GABA, we’ll feel every bump along our road of anxiety. What you won’t often hear (especially from standard medical approaches) is that we can help our bodies to get out of stress mode. We can use stress recovery activities, nutrients, and herbs to bring cortisol and adrenaline back to the level we need it to be to send healthy signals out to our cells, hormones, digestion, immune and nervous systems. In essence, our awareness helps to calm us down . Once we realize it's watching the new's, a trip to the grocery store, or fretting over our bank accounts thats causing the stress repose, we can make the conscience decision to limit those activities (easier said than done right?). The alternative is allowing ourselves to get so caught up in the fear and anxiety that it snowballs into MORE fear and anxiety… sound familiar? Remember, We become what we think, or, As we think so we become, which ever you prefer. Try to stop obsessing about the things you have no control of, and enjoy all the things you do...naps, watching the sun rise, or the stars at night. Get plenty of sleep, exercise (there's no way around it people), and eating healthy foods. This is a really good time to start taking an adaptogen each day like; licorice, ashwagandha, holy basil, and l theanine, just to name a few.