Vitamin A Benefits Skin, Eye, Bone Health, & More

Vitamin A Benefits Skin, Eye, Bone Health, & More

Vitamin A doubles as a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant, so getting enough of it on a daily basis can help you maintain overall health. The general recommended daily intake (RDI) for adult men is 900 micrograms (mcg) per day, while adult women should consume 700 mcg per day. Children and adolescents should ideally consume between 300-600 mcg of vitamin A per day. 

Vitamin A exists both in plant and animal foods and comes in two different forms: preformed vitamin provitamin A. The former is the active form of vitamin A, which the body can use as it is, while the latter exists in animal products and includes several compounds, including retinal, retinol, and retinoic acid. Some provitamin A carotenoids include beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and alpha-carotene, all of which are the inactive form of the vitamin and found in plants. When you consume those compounds, the body converts them to the vitamin’s active form in the body. Now, let’s take a look at a few of the ways that vitamin A benefits the body.

Supports Optimal Immune Function

Vitamin A works to support several of the body’s natural defenses. For example, it helps to enhance the function of mucus barriers in the eyes, lungs, gut, and genitals to help trap bacteria and other pathogens. Vitamin A also aids the production of white blood cells, which work to cleanse bacteria and other pathogens from the bloodstream. A deficiency in vitamin A, then, can reduce the body’s ability to recover from sickness. On the other hand, it makes the body more susceptible to infections. 

Keeps Your Skin Glowing

Dermatologists tend to prescribe vitamin A to help fight acne and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. One study found that the topical application of retinol to the skin significantly reduced fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, retinol increased the skin’s ability to withstand injury. Vitamin A exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, such as retinaldehyde, which may help reduce symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne. 

Supports Bone Health

A lot of people tend to focus on protein, calcium, and vitamin D when it comes to bone health. These three nutrients encourage healthier bones, but vitamin A is also necessary for proper growth and development. Plus, research indicates that lacking vitamin A has been linked to poor bone health and a higher risk of fractures. A recent meta-analysis of observational studies found that people with higher amounts of total vitamin A in their diet had a 6% reduced risk of fractures. That said, researchers observed that people who consumed a lot of vitamin A also had a higher risk of fractures. That means that the link between vitamin A and bone health is not fully understood and more trials and studies are necessary. 

Relieves Inflammation

Beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant in the body and works to reduce free radical build-up. It may also protect cells from inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is the root cause of many chronic health conditions, from heart disease to diabetes. By reducing inflammation, you also lower your risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Researchers note that vitamin A also improved symptoms of other inflammatory conditions, including Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Protects The Eyes

Potentially the most well-known benefit of vitamin A is that it supports eye health. Researchers attribute this ability to the rhodopsin molecule, which activates when light shines on the retina and sends a signal to the brain that results in vision. Beta-carotene also plays a role in prevention of macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of age-related blindness. One study monitored people, who had a high risk for macular degeneration, who took a daily multivitamin that included vitamins A, C, & E, zinc, and copper. They experience a 25% reduction in advanced macular degeneration during a six-year period.

Contains Cancer-Fighting Properties

A growing body of research suggests a strong link between what you eat and your risk of cancer. Vitamin A influences the health of your cells, so its influence on cancer prevention is of great interest to researchers. During observational studies, participants who ate higher amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene experienced decreased risks of cervical, lung, and bladder cancers. It’s important to note that high intakes of vitamin from plant-based foods have been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers. Vitamin A from animal-based foods have not yielded the same results. At the moment, more research is necessary to fully understand the relationship between vitamin A levels in the body and cancer risk.

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