Vitamin A also known as Retinol, plays an important part in the promotion of healthy skin and hair, new cell growth and tissues, and vision. It is one of the fat soluble vitamins together with Vitamins D, E, and K, stored in fat or adipose tissues for days and even months. There are two forms of Vitamin A found in food sources, retinol and carotenes. The first form, Retinol is richly found in beef liver, fortified milk, cheddar cheese, and whole eggs. On the other hand, the carotene form is mostly found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and the green leafy vegetables.
Recommended daily dosage of Vitamin A is 800 mcg for women and 1000 mcg for men.
Vitamin A Benefits and Functions
- Vitamin A helps maintain the surface linings of the intestinal tract, respiratory tract, urinary tract, and the eyes.
- Vitamin A boosts the immune system that helps the body get rid of invading organisms like bacteria to prevent infection.
- Vitamin A helps children develop strong bones and teeth throughout their growing years.
- It aids in promoting skin health by preventing acne and reducing sebum or oil that promotes bacterial growth.
- As a Fat Soluble Vitamin, Vitamin A aids in building new cells and plays a major role in normal brain development and nerve functions.
- Vitamin A is important in the production of visual purple, a substance that allows vision in dimmer and darker environment.
- Beta-carotene, a form of Vitamin A helps improve the symptoms of patients with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).
- High dietary intake of Vitamin A is said to decrease the risks of developing breast cancer and cataracts.
- Vitamin A is very good in improving the symptoms of viral diseases like measles and respiratory viruses.
- Patients who have suffered from stroke have high chances of surviving the stroke and faster recovery when they have high levels of Vitamin A in their body.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency can cause a wide range of health problems. It has been considered as the most common cause of blindness worldwide. Other eye disorders associated with Vitamin A deficiency includes xeropthalmia (eye dryness) and eye itchiness, corneal ulceration, and the appearance of the Bitot’s spots in the eyes. Bitot’s spots are floating gray circles in the sclera, the eye’s white portion. Other effects of insufficient Vitamin A are dry and rough skin, diarrhea, appetite loss, and lowered immune system. Severe cases of Vitamin A deficiency has been linked with weak bones and teeth. Also, people with Vitamin A deficiency are high risk of developing malaria, measles, and pregnancy complications.
Vitamin A Toxicity
Prolonged and high intake of Vitamin A can cause several problems like nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, enlargement of the liver and spleen, hair loss, growth retardation, irritability, mental retardation, headaches, bone fractures, weakness, drowsiness, and anorexia. Pregnant women should not take much of Vitamin A as it has been known to cause birth defects in the fetus. Vitamin A supplementation is best taken with physician’s advice for prevention of Vitamin A toxicity effects.
Vitamin A - Interactions with pharmacy medicines
Known medicines with potential interactions with Vitamin A includes Orlistat (Xenical), Acitretin (Soriatane), Bexarotene (Targretin), Isotretinoin (Accutane), Tretinoin (Atralin), Tetracycline antiabiotics, and Warfarin.