Health Benefits of Vitamin A Explained
Our bodies require vitamin A for numerous functions. It refers to compounds including retinol, retinoic acids, and retinal. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is found in both animal and plant sources.
This article elaborates on the benefits of vitamin A. In addition, it delves into its deficiencies, food sources, and side effects due to overconsumption.
6 Health Benefits of Vitamin A
The below list demonstrates what is vitamin A good for and why:
1. Protection Against Night Blindness and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Vitamin A plays a vital role in preserving healthy vision. It aids in the formation of rhodopsin, which is essential to convert light hitting our eyes into an electrical signal and send it to the brain.
In addition, studies on age-related eye disease suggest that providing beta-carotene to individuals over the age of 50 years can reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration. This reduction can also be as much as 25%.
2. Prevents Certain Types of Cancers
The growth and development of our cells are taken care of by vitamin A. Therefore, it is crucial for cell division. Adequate amount of vitamin A intake from plants is associated with fewer chances of cancer.
3. Maintains the Immunity System
One of the critical benefits of vitamin A is strengthening the immunity system. This nutrient produces and maintains white blood cells to keep bacteria and other pathogens away from blood. Also, it provides a mucous barrier in our eyes, lungs, genitals, and gut, thereby preventing infections.
4. Regulates Bone Health
Besides vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients, vitamin A are also essential for the growth and development of bones. The latest meta-analysis of observational studies suggests that individuals consuming an adequate amount of vitamin A have fewer bone fractures.
5. Assists Healthy Growth and Reproduction
The female reproductive system uses this vitamin to assist the healthy growth and development of embryos during pregnancy. It is involved in maintaining the different developing organs such as the nervous system, kidneys, lungs, eyes, skeleton, pancreas, and heart of the baby.
6. Controls Skin Ageing
Though skin ageing does not cause harm, sagging skin can often cause low self-esteem. Vitamin A (retinol) effectively improves skin condition, flexibility and fights wrinkles.
Now that you know the benefits of vitamin A, let’s discuss its deficiency.
What Are the Effects of Vitamin A Deficiency?
Vitamin A deficiency occurs when its intake is low. This deficiency can also take place due to an interference in the absorption, storage and transportation of the nutrient. In addition, individuals with protein deficiency, diabetes, liver ailments, hyperthyroidism, and cystic fibrosis can also have the deficiency.
So, how to check vitamin A deficiency? We suggest you keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- An Inability to Produce Tears
- Keratinisation in Skin, Mucous Membrane, Gastrointestinal and Urinary Tract
- Night Blindness and/or Keratomalacia
- Impairment of the Immunity System
- Susceptibility to Infections
- Eczema and Other Skin Diseases
- Stunted Growth in Children
Now, you might be thinking about the ways to maintain the consumption of vitamin A. So, let’s now delve into the natural sources of vitamin A.
What Are the Sources of Vitamin A?
Vitamin A found in food is categorised into 2 forms –
- Preformed Vitamin A (retinol and retinyl esters) is found in oily fish and the liver of animals.
- Provitamin A (carotenoids) are abundantly available in plant foods like vegetables, fruits and oils.
However, an excessive intake of this nutrient can have a detrimental effect on your health. What are those? Let’s discuss.
What Are the Side Effects of Vitamin A Overdose?
One should consume Vitamin A in less than 3000 mcg per day. If consumed more than this recommended amount, it increases the risk associated with osteoporosis and hip fracture among women who have hit menopause. Due to overconsumption, few vitamin A side effects involve fatigue, irritation, anorexia, stomach upset, fever, abnormal perspiration, and more.
Vitamin A Side Effects
1) Over 200,000 mcg
- Blurry Vision
2) Over 10,000 mcg
- Thinning of Bones
- Liver Ailments
- Skin Irritation
- Joints and Bone Pain
- Congenital Disabilities
How Much Amount Is Required to Get the Essential Benefits of Vitamin A?
Recommended Amount (in Micrograms)
Infants (0 to 6 months)
Infants (7 to 12 months)
Children (1 to 3 years)
Children (4 to 8 years)
Children (9 to 13 years)
Girls (14 to 18 years)
Boys (14 to 18 years)
Pregnant women (above 20 years)
Breast-feeding women (above 20 years)
The National Institutes of Health recommends the following dietary allowances of this nutrient according to the respective age groups.
With the help of this article on the benefits of vitamin A, you can take a step closer to healthy living. Also, you are now aware of the side effects of excess vitamin A as well as its deficiency. Therefore, it will be easier to follow the recommended quantity based on your age.
Disclaimer: This recommended daily allowance may differ from person to person. Thus, always consult a specialist to know how much vitamin A is sufficient for your body.