We are all aware of how important vitamins are to the body. I’m sure you’ve heard on more than one occasion to fill up on vitamins when you’re sick, and perhaps you’re even taking a daily multivitamin for good measure.
You probably associate vitamin B with energy, C with wound healing, D for bone health, and E for its strong antioxidant effects.
But, how important is vitamin A to your health?
If you think having healthy vision, strong bones, a tough immune system, and a body which fights against disease are important – then you’ll find relief that these are some of vitamin A’s benefits.
What Is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is essential for your overall health. Vitamin A is an umbrella term for retinoids, which are compounds found naturally in plants and animals.
Vitamin A comes in two forms:
Preformed vitamin A – This is the active form of vitamin A, which your body can use instantly. These forms include retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid, which are found in animal products such as:
- Egg yolk
And too much of this form of vitamin A can build up in your body and can become toxic because they are fat-soluble
- Provitamin A– This is the inactive form your body has to convert to the active form of vitamin A. These forms include carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin, which are found in plants such as:
- Sweet potato
This form of vitamin A is water-soluble so doesn’t accumulate in the body making toxicity rare.
A healthy diet of fruits and animal products have most Americans getting enough of their vitamin A. But too much of a certain form of vitamin A – preformed – can also cause certain health issues which is why it’s important to get a well-balanced intake of vitamin A.
For this reason, it’s important to get tested before supplementing because they may contain the retinoic acid form of vitamin A which can cause toxicity.
What Is Vitamin A Good For?
Vitamin A has multiple functions in your body and can benefit your health in numerous ways when you have the right amount.
Vitamin A helps with maintaining the integrity and function of all surface tissues including:
- Respiratory tract
- Inner ear
Vitamin A helps replace skin cells and ensures the conjunctiva tissues in these areas are able to produce mucus for protection.
It also plays an important role in cell differentiation, proliferation, and cell death – this can affect certain cancers and even have anti-aging effects.
Vitamin A is a precursor to certain molecules that help promote better sight and can prevent certain age-related vision diseases.
Last, but not least, vitamins are powerful antioxidants within your body and can help fight infection and prevent diseases which stem for chronic inflammation.
7 Benefits of Vitamin A For Your Health
Getting enough vitamin A is important for your health especially getting the right balance of this micronutrient. The following are 7 benefits of vitamin A when you strike the perfect balance intake:
1. Protects Night Vision and Age-Related Vision Decline
Vitamin A is a major supporter and protector of your vision. A rhodopsin molecule found in rods located your retina help you see at night. A precursor for the formation of rhodopsins is vitamin A, which is why vitamin A deficiency can result in night blindness.
Vitamin A along with zinc and other vitamins are helpful in slowing the process of age-related macular degeneration. This is because an oxidative injury is believed to play a significant role in this disease process. And with these micronutrients antioxidative effects, it can help reduce oxidative injury.
2. Promotes Better Skin by Reducing Acne and Wrinkles
Vitamin A functions as a potent acne treatment. Retinoids applied topically are able to resolve breakouts from acne blemishes by clearing up your clogged pores. Vitamin A is also reducing inflammation from your acne through its anti-inflammatory properties.
You might have heard of Retin-a cream for preventing wrinkles and reversing sun damage. This is because of the active ingredient tretinoin, which is a vitamin A retinal derivative. Due to its antioxidant effects, vitamin A is able to remove oxidative damage done by ultraviolet rays and promote a quicker renewal of skin cells.
3. Plays a Significant Role in Cancer Prevention
Studies show the significant impact of dietary vitamin A has on cancer development. Through its effects on cell differentiation, proliferation, and death vitamin A has been able to inhibit the growth and development in different types of tumors including:
- Oral cavity
Natural and synthetic retinoids have also been used in chemotherapy treatments because of their effects on cells and antioxidant effects.
4. Supports Bone Growth
Vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D are important in strengthening your bones. But vitamin A benefits your bone health as well because it plays an important role in bone health. And even more important in infancy because retinoid acid is responsible for bone remodeling.
You need a balance of vitamin A to have beneficial effects of this nutrient – too much or too little can increase the risk for fractures. Research shows excess retinol is what causes the most concern because of people using other forms of retinol for skin conditions.
5. Supports a Healthy Immune System
Vitamin A functions as an important nutrient in keeping the tissues in your gut healthy. These tissues help protect your gastrointestinal tract against any foreign invaders such as unhealthy bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
And most importantly your gut contains 70-80% of your immune system so protecting this organ is vital. Research shows how vitamin A benefits your immune system cells by fighting off infectious diseases through antibodies, B-cells, and T-cells.
6. Fights Against Inflammation
Inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, is at the core of many harmful diseases such as cancer, autoimmune disease, and infectious disease. Beta-carotenes in vitamin A functions as a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient.
These effects help scavenge free radicals and toxins, in your body and promote healthy detoxification. Vitamin A is able to reduce inflammation caused by oxidative stress by inhibiting redox-based NF-kappaB activation.
7. Aids in Healthy Reproduction and Development
Vitamin A, specifically retinoic acid supports the male and female reproductive system. Vitamin A functions as a significant supporter of embryo implantation in females, and the enhancement of sperm production in males.
And a balance of retinoic acid vitamin A benefits embryonic development. Too much or too little can cause congenital abnormalities.
Make Sure Your Vitamin A is Well-Balanced
The National Institute of Health developed a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for the intake of vitamin A retinol as follows:
- Men – 3,000 units
- Women – 2,300 units
- Pregnant – 2,565 units
- Lactating – 4,300 units
While beta-carotene vitamin A doesn’t cause toxicity because of its bioavailability the NIH recommends consuming 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to reap vitamin A benefits.
If you need think you might have a vitamin A deficiency or feel as though you need more vitamin A because you’re pregnant or lactating talk to your doctor first. Supplementing without testing and knowing your levels is not recommended. If you’re in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley AZ area and looking for a functional medicine doctor for nutritional deficiency request an appointment with a functional medicine practitioner at Arizona Wellness Medicine or call (602) 892-4727 today.