6 Health Benefits of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is the generic term for a group of fat-soluble compounds highly important for human health. 6 health benefits of vitamin A are mentioned below.

They’re essential for many processes in your body, including maintaining healthy vision, ensuring the normal function of your immune system and organs and aiding the proper growth and development of babies in the womb.

It’s recommended that men get 900 mcg, women 700 mcg and children and adolescents 300–600 mcg of vitamin A per day (1Trusted Source).

Vitamin A compounds are found in both animal and plant foods and come in two different forms: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A.

Preformed vitamin A is known as the active form of the vitamin, which your body can use just as it is. It’s found in animal products including meat, chicken, fish and dairy and includes the compounds retinol, retinal and retinoic acid.

Provitamin A carotenoids — alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin — are the inactive form of the vitamin found in plants.

These compounds are converted to the active form in your body. For example, beta-carotene is converted to retinol (an active form of vitamin A) in your small intestine (2Trusted Source).

Here are 6 important health benefits of vitamin A.

1. Protects Your Eyes From Night Blindness and Age-Related Decline

Vitamin A is essential for preserving your eyesight.

The vitamin is needed to convert light that hits your eye into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain.

In fact, one of the first symptoms of vitamin A deficiency can be night blindness, known as nyctalopia (3Trusted Source).

Night blindness occurs in people with vitamin A deficiency, as the vitamin is a major component of the pigment rhodopsin.

Rhodopsin is found in the retina of your eye and extremely sensitive to light.

People with this condition can still see normally during the day, but have reduced vision in darkness as their eyes struggle to pick up light at lower levels.

In addition to preventing night blindness, eating adequate amounts of beta-carotene may help slow the decline in eyesight that some people experience as they age (4Trusted Source).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Though its exact cause is unknown, it’s thought to be the result of cellular damage to the retina, attributable to oxidative stress (5Trusted Source).

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that giving people over the age of 50 with some eyesight degeneration an antioxidant supplement (including beta-carotene) reduced their risk of developing advanced macular degeneration by 25% (6Trusted Source).

However, a recent Cochrane review found that beta-carotene supplements alone won’t prevent or delay the decline in eyesight caused by AMD (7Trusted Source).

2. May Lower Your Risk of Certain Cancers

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow or divide in an uncontrolled way.

As vitamin A plays an important role in the growth and development of your cells, its influence on cancer risk and role in cancer prevention is of interest to scientists (8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

In observational studies, eating higher amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene has been linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as cervical, lung and bladder cancer (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

Yet, though high intakes of vitamin A from plant foods have been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, animal foods which contain active forms of vitamin A aren’t linked in the same way (14Trusted Source15Trusted Source).

Similarly, vitamin A supplements haven’t shown the same beneficial effects (16Trusted Source).

In fact, in some studies, smokers taking beta-carotene supplements experienced an increased risk of lung cancer (17Trusted Source18Trusted Source19Trusted Source).

At the moment, the relationship between vitamin A levels in your body and cancer risk is still not fully understood.

Still, current evidence suggests that getting adequate vitamin A, especially from plants, is important for healthy cell division and may reduce your risk of some types of cancer (20Trusted Source).

3. Supports a Healthy Immune System

Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses.

This includes the mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, gut and genitals which help trap bacteria and other infectious agents.

It’s also involved in the production and function of white blood cells, which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from your bloodstream.

This means that a deficiency in vitamin A can increase your susceptibility to infections and delay your recovery when you get sick (21Trusted Source22Trusted Source).

In fact, in countries where infections like measles and malaria are common, correcting vitamin A deficiency in children has been shown to decrease the risk of dying from these diseases (23Trusted Source).

4. Reduces Your Risk of Acne

Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin disorder.

People with this condition develop painful spots and blackheads, most commonly on the face, back and chest.

These spots occur when the sebaceous glands get clogged up with dead skin and oils. These glands are found in the hair follicles on your skin and produce sebum, an oily, waxy substance that keeps your skin lubricated and waterproof.

Though the spots are physically harmless, acne may have a serious effect on people’s mental health and lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression (24Trusted Source).

The exact role that vitamin A plays in the development and treatment of acne remains unclear (25Trusted Source).

It has been suggested that vitamin A deficiency may increase your risk of developing acne, as it causes an overproduction of the protein keratin in your hair follicles (2627Trusted Source).

This would increase your risk of acne by making it more difficult for dead skin cells to be removed from hair follicles, leading to blockages.

Some vitamin-A-based medications for acne are now available with a prescription.

Isotretinoin is one example of an oral retinoid that is effective in treating severe acne. However, this medication can have serious side effects and must only be taken under medical supervision (28Trusted Source29Trusted Source).

SUMMARYThe exact role of vitamin A in the prevention and treatment of acne is unclear. Yet, vitamin-A-based medications are often used to treat severe acne.

5. Supports Bone Health

The key nutrients needed for maintaining healthy bones as you age are protein, calcium and vitamin D.

However, eating enough vitamin A is also necessary for proper bone growth and development, and a deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to poor bone health.

In fact, people with lower blood levels of vitamin A are at a higher risk of bone fractures than people with healthy levels (30Trusted Source).

Additionally, a recent meta-analysis of observational studies found that people with the highest amounts of total vitamin A in their diet had a 6% decreased risk of fractures (30Trusted Source).

Yet, low levels of vitamin A may not be the only problem when it comes to bone health. Some studies have found that people with high intakes of vitamin A have a higher risk of fractures as well (31Trusted Source).

Even so, these findings are all based on observational studies, which cannot determine cause and effect.

This means that currently, the link between vitamin A and bone health is not fully understood, and more controlled trials are needed to confirm what has been seen in observational studies.

Bear in mind that vitamin A status alone does not determine your risk of fractures, and the impact of the availability of other key nutrients, like vitamin D, also plays a role (32Trusted Source).

6. Promotes Healthy Growth and Reproduction

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining a healthy reproductive system in both men and women, as well as ensuring the normal growth and development of embryos during pregnancy.

Rat studies examining the importance of vitamin A in male reproduction have shown that a deficiency blocks the development of sperm cells, causing infertility (33Trusted Source34Trusted Source).

Likewise, animal studies have suggested that vitamin A deficiency in females can impact reproduction by reducing egg quality and affecting egg implantation in the womb (33Trusted Source).

In pregnant women, vitamin A is also involved in the growth and development of many major organs and structures of the unborn child, including the skeleton, nervous system, heart, kidneys, eyes, lungs and pancreas.

Yet, though much less common than vitamin A deficiency, too much vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to the growing baby as well and may lead to birth defects (35Trusted Source36Trusted Source).

Therefore, many health authorities recommended that women avoid foods that contain concentrated amounts of vitamin A, such as pâté and liver, as well as supplements containing vitamin A during pregnancy.

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Vitamin A Uses and Benefits

vitamin A uses

Vitamin A Uses and Benefits

Despite being abundantly available in Vitamin A rich foods, one-third of the world’s children under the age of five, suffer from its deficiency, according to a 2009 World Health Organisation’s global database on Vitamin A Deficiency. This deficiency has also been known to be fatal to kids, and has also been held responsible for causing preventable childhood blindness, particularly in South East Asian and Africa (as per a 2013 report by the National Institutes of Health). Numerous scientific studies have pointed at the health benefits of consuming adequate vitamin A, as part of your daily diet.

Let’s look at some of the important roles and benefits of consuming Vitamin A:

1. Eye Health

Vitamin A is responsible for maintaining eye health, as it converts the light entering our eyes into electrical signals that can be then interpreted by the brain. Additionally, Vitamin A is a component of the pigment rhodopsin, which is found in the retina of the eye and is said to be photosensitive.

2. Improved Immunity

A deficiency of Vitamin A can leave you to be vulnerable to a number of diseases and consuming it ensures that your body’s defences are active. This vitamin is important for maintenance of the mucous lining in the eyes, gut, genitalia and the lungs, and it is also crucial for development of white blood cells that fight infectious diseases.

3. Fights Acne

Acne is a skin problem that involves severe breakout of pimples that are often painful and most often even leave scars behind. Vitamin A is said to prevent development of acne.

4. Healthy Bones

Vitamin A also supports bone development and health and a deficiency of this vitamin has been linked with poor bone health. Some studies have shown that people with low levels of Vitamin A in blood are susceptible to bone fractures.

5. Reproductive Health

Vitamin A is important for maintaining the reproductive health of both men and women, especially the latter by ensuring the proper growth and development of the embryos during pregnancy. Deficiency of vitamin A in an expectant mother’s diet has been linked with birth defects in their kids.

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