Vitamin A: Benefits, Side Effects, Sources, Dosage, and Precautions

Overview

Are you in shock to find that your eyes are showing signs of deterioration all at once? Do you feel scared that the doctor may prescribe a slew of medications? Do you think that your sight is slowing especially at night? If yes, you may be suffering from vitamin A deficiency. Fortunately, there is no need to panic. Just follow our guide, and you are well on your track!

Vitamin A is a must-have for your body. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which makes your eyes, skin, bones, tissue, and all the other organs stay healthy.  It is also an anti-oxidant that fights free radicals and other harmful chemicals.

Vitamin A plays a vital role in the formation and division of cells. It is required for the upkeep of your heart, kidneys, lungs, and other organs.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency happens when your body fails to get enough supply of the substance. The disorder is found mostly in developing countries. Pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, infants, and children are at high risk of this trouble. Your body orders you to supply it with vitamin A in the following ways:

1. Dry skin and eyes

According to Live science, adequate supply of vitamin A is required for the creation, maintenance, and growth of skin cells. This vitamin also helps your body fight off inflammation. Its deficiency may cause eczema and other skin issues. A 12-week study published recently reveals that vitamin A can significantly help patients suffering from chronic eczema as well.

Your eyes too need vitamin A to stay healthy. It is also referred to as retinoid because of the role it plays to maintain a healthy vision. The lack of it, in extreme cases, may lead to complete blindness. A condition called “dying cornea” too is a vitamin A deficiency symptom. The disease is a condition where certain spots called “bito’s spots” appear on your cornea. Dry eyes, also known as the inability to produce tears, is the first sign that your body lacks vitamin A. Children in South Asia, Africa and India, whose diets generally lack in vitamin A, are at high risk of suffering from dry eyes. Having a vitamin A supplement will take care of the situation most of the time.

2 Night Blindness

Vitamin A deficiency, if severe, causes night blindness. It is reported that instances of night blindness are quite high in developing countries. With this in mind, several organizations have taken measures to improve the levels of vitamin deficiency in those at risk of this disorder.

A study conducted among women showed that vitamin A supplements improve night vision in those affected.

3. Infertility and Difficulty Conceiving

Inadequate supply of vitamin A may be to blame if you have difficulty conceiving. Recent research done among rats showed that females with low levels of vitamin A in their bodies experience difficulty conceiving. They also produce embryos with birth defects. Another study revealed that infertile men need more anti-oxidants than others. This is the result of the oxidative stress they experience. Low vitamin A intake may even lead to miscarriages. Both men and women need vitamin A to stay fertile and to create a healthy generation.

4. Delay in Growth

Low levels of retinoid or vitamin A deficiency stunts growth in children. This happens because the substance is a must for the human body.

Studies say that having vitamin A supplement resolves this issue. A vast majority of research in this field is done in developing nations.

5. Slow Healing of Wounds

People who have lower levels of vitamin A may find that wounds are slow to heal. This happens because the substance is a must to generate collagen. Collagen is a vital ingredient for healthy skin. A recent study conducted on rats showed that vitamin supplements boosted the production of collagen. Even topical vitamin A ointment speed up the healing of wounds, research revealed.

6. Chest and Throat Infections

If you are someone suffering from frequent throat or chest infection, you may be lacking in vitamin A. However, research in the field produces mixed results. If you are a parent, make sure that your child lacks in vitamin A before giving supplements.

Deficiency of vitamin A may even cause acne. This happens because your skin can never survive without an adequate supply of vitamin A.

Types of vitamin A

Vitamin A can generally be classified into two types. The first, known as preformed vitamin A, is found usually in dairy products, meat, fish, and poultry. The second, called pro-vitamin can be found in plant-based foods, fruits, and vegetables.

Vitamin A Sources

There is no dearth to vitamin A rich foods. Thus you have no excuse to include them in your diet. Following is a table of vitamin A sources you can bank on.

Vegetarian Sources:

Food Sourcemcg RAE per serving
Sweet Potato1,403
Carrot573
Red Pepper117
Cheese263
Ice Cream278
Pumpkin488
Broccoli60

 

Non – Vegetarian Source:

Food Sourcemcg RAE per serving
Egg75
Oyster75
Tuna20
Beef75

 

  1. Carrot

A large carrot, according to experts, contains 12028 IU of this substance. This humble vegetable contains double the amount of the same than all the recommended vegetables and fruits combined. Carrot generates beta-carotene. The body converts this into vitamin A.

  1. Dried apricots

Dried apricots are the way to go if you are someone who loves snacks. These contain up to 4685 IU of vitamin A. Add to it iron, magnesium, and vitamin B6. You cannot afford to hate or ignore them.

  1. Beef liver

Beef liver, according to Medical News Today, is the most abundant source of vitamin A. In fact, this animal’s liver is the richest source of vitamin A you can find. This happens because the liver is the organ that stores vitamin A in the body. Beef liver also contains other nutrients like protein, iron, and vitamin B6.

  1. Sweet Potato

Have a whole sweet potato baked in its skin. You will get up to 500% more than its required daily dosage. The substance in this vegetable is in the form of beta carotene. And it, according to scientists, protects you from prostate cancer and similar ailments. Sweet potato is low in glucose and rich in protein, vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin C.

  1. Spinach

Spinach, like its other leafy counterparts, is rich in vitamin A and numerous other nutrients. It contains 573 mcg of vitamin A. This is 229% of the required daily vitamin. There are also studies to believe that spinach regulates blood pressure and lowers blood sugar.

Here is the amount you receive from each food item mentioned above:

Food ItemAmount of Vitamin A Received
Carrot12028IU
Sweet PotatoAs beta carotene
Dried apricots4685IU
Beef Liver17,997IU
Spinach573MCG

 

Benefits of vitamin A

Vitamin A, with the chemical name Retinoid, is a vital ingredient both for your good healthy and beautiful lifestyle.

Health Benefits of Vitamin A:

Following are the health benefits vitamin A has in store for you.

  1. Prevents night blindness and slows down the ageing of your eyes

Vitamin A, as you know, is a must-have for your eyes. It helps your eyes to convert the light that you see into electric signals your brain can understand.  To be honest, night blindness is one among the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. This happens because the substance is an essential component of rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is the light-sensitive pigment that helps you see at night. When you don’t have enough of it, you start suffering from night blindness.

  1. Protects you from cancer

The inherent anti-oxidant properties of vitamin A help your body to fight off inflammation, and you stay safe from certain diseases like prostate cancer. A recent study revealed that smokers with high levels of vitamin A lowered the possibility of dying from lung cancer to 48%.

  1. It strengthens your immune system

Vitamin A generates certain responses that help your body to fight off germs and other harmful substances. It also plays a vital role in the formation of the B and T cells that are must-have for the body’s defense mechanism. Thus vitamin A deficiency may deprive your body the power to fend it from inflammation and other health issues.

  1. It lowers blood sugar

Studies show that vitamin A is great for those who have diabetes. One of its derivatives called Retinoic acid, according to scientists, lowers your blood sugar.

  1. Vitamin A strengthens bones

Vitamin A, research reveals, strengthens your bones. Including this in your diet will help you keep your bones strong and sturdy.

Vitamin A also slows down the onslaught of ageing. It protects your eyes from macular degeneration and other age-related problems.

Beauty benefits of Vitamin A

Your skin and hair too need vitamin A. Including this nutrient in your diet, according to Canyon Branch, does the following and strengthens your skincare routine.

  1. Protects your skin from the damages of ultraviolet rays: Most of the time, you get this nutrient from foods that are high in pro-vitamin A and beta-carotene. Carotenoids are powerful anti-oxidants. They crush the free radicals that destroy collagen. Collagen is the structure that protects your skin. When this gets damaged, fine lines and other signs of ageing start appearing. Vitamin A prevents this from happening. The nutrient also reduces your skin’s sensitivity to light. Thus it stays protected from the damages exposure to sunlight may cause.
  2. Boosts the formation of healthy skin cells: All forms of vitamin A play a vital role in the formation and growth of healthy skin cells. It also boosts the generation of fibroblasts. These are the cells responsible to keep your skin smooth and firm. Lack of it causes dryness to wounds and slows healing.
  3. Gives you healthy and shiny hair: Retinoid helps your skin produce an oily substance called sebum. It moisturizes your scalp and helps your hair stay oily and smooth.

Recommended dosage of Vitamin A

People living in developing countries are known to suffer mostly from vitamin A deficiency, reports NCBI. Fortunately, governments there have framed policies to deal with the problem. Given below is an overview of your vitamin A daily requirements.

  1. Pregnant women

Vitamin supplementation is generally not recommended for pregnant women. Doctors always advise them to fulfill their daily vitamin A requirements from their own diet. Supplementation is prescribed only for those women living in areas where vitamin A deficiency is quite high. Even then, the daily recommended dosage is quite low.

  1. Infants

Retinoid supplementation is not advisable for newborns until they are one year old.  The time is dedicated to breast-feeding. This, experts say, is a must for their overall health and well-being.

  1. Children

Children in the age-range of 59 months to 6 years too generally don’t require vitamin A supplementation. But they may be given it if they live in areas where its deficiency is more prevalent. In those areas, night blindness may be relatively high.

Women who recently gave birth too generally don’t require vitamin A supplements

Side effects of consuming vitamin A

You can consume this nutrient either as vitamin A capsules or as an injection into the muscles. Whatever is your choice, it is safe when taken in the recommended dosages. A higher dosage may do more harm than good. WebMD lists the following consequences if you exceed the limit recommended by experts.

Upset stomach

Nausea

Vomiting

Mental changes

Irritability

Anorexia

Sweating

Precautions

Keep the following things in mind when planning to consume a vitamin A supplement.

  1. Vitamin A, as mentioned above, is relatively safe for everyone. But pregnant women don’t need this more than 10000IU per day. Having too much may cause birth defects in children.
  2. Alcohol increases the bad effects of vitamin A on your liver. Thus alcoholics need to practice utmost caution when supplementing it from outside.
  3. Those suffering from anemia should complement their vitamin A supplement with iron tablets.
  4. People suffering from any condition that slows down the absorption of fats need to exercise caution. If they need vitamin A supplementation, they will have to go for water-soluble vitamin A preparations. The same applies to people suffering from internal infections of any kind.
  5. Type V hyperlipoproteinemia patients are advised to avoid vitamin A capsules or injections. Having them may cause vitamin A poisoning.

Best Vitamin A Supplements in India:

  1. Now Foods Vitamin A, 25000 IU from Fish liver oil, 250 Soft-gels
  2. Nature’s Way Vitamin A – 3,000 MCG – 100 Softgels

Conclusion

Consume vitamin A. Your eyes, skin, bones, teeth, hair; in fact the entire body will stay safe from medical intervention. Just make sure that you are having it in the recommended amount. Remember, too much of even elixir is poison.

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