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The Many Benefits of Vitamin A

In history, there have been many noteworthy firsts: the first baseball player to hit 50 home runs in a season, the first man to walk on the moon, the first talking movie, the first female Supreme Court justice, and the first vitamin to be discovered.

The first suspicions of Vitamin A’s powers were recognized by the ancient Egyptians, who realized night blindness could be treated by eating liver. But it wasn’t until its formal discovery in 1913 that it officially claimed the first letter of the alphabet for its name.

Since then, Vitamin A has been delighting acne-prone teens, wrinkle prone ladies, and fighting to protect humans from all sorts of symptoms of malnourishment and cancer. So, as we do with all famous firsts, let’s take a moment to commemorate. Here are some of the many benefits of Vitamin A.

 Eye Health

Beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A in plants, plays a vital role in the prevention of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. An Age-Related Eye Disease Study sponsored by the National Eye Institute found that people at high risk for eye disease had a 25% reduced risk of macular degeneration when they took a daily multivitamin containing Vitamins A and C, zinc, and copper over a six-year period. Another showed that vitamin A drops were an effective treatment for dry eyes and that OTC eye drops containing vitamin A were as effective as expensive prescription formulas.

Immune Support
Vitamin A regulates genes involved in immune responses, which means it is a crucial component in fighting everything from the common cold to autoimmune diseases and cancer.

A London-based study showed that Vitamin A supplements reduced child mortality rates by 24% in low to middle-income families, while the deficiency in the vitamin made children more vulnerable to infections like the measles and diarrhea.

Fights Inflammation
The antioxidant properties in vitamin A can help fight free radicals in the body that causes cellular and tissue damage. Vitamin A prevents cells in the immune system from becoming overactive to food proteins, creating food alleges and inflammation.

Vine-Vera-Vitamin A-Fights

Intake of the vitamin can also reduce the risk of certain food allergies altogether. The decrease levels of inflammation have been linked to lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Supports Health and Growth of Skin cells
Vitamin A is needed for skin regrowth, wound healing and plays a powerful role in skin cancer prevention. It is also necessary for a good complexion, fight acne and improve the overall health of the skin. Vitamin A produces collagen, which can keep lines and wrinkles from appearing as well as contributing to healthy hair.

 Prevents Cancer
A study at the University of York showed the intake of vitamin A can treat several forms of cancer because it is able to control malignant cells in the body. Retinoic acid (a vitamin A derivative) plays a significant role in cell differentiation, development, and treatment of cancer.

It has been credited with suppressing breast, lung, prostate, bladder, ovarian, and cystic cancer and has been linked to the reduction of melanoma and hepatoma. Most recently, researchers have discovered evidence suggesting that the molecular mechanisms found in the acid may have an effect on the fates of cancer cells.

Where do you get your vitamin A from? Tell us what supplements, foods, or topical treatments provide you with nature’s first vitamin.

What is Vitamin A

Vitamin A Infographic

Vitamin A is an essential vitamin for your body to function properly and healthily. The benefits of vitamin A range from younger looking skin to better vision. Check out the comprehensive information on vitamin A that you need to know.

What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds that are responsible for the maintenance or regulation of various parts/and or functions of the human body. This fat-soluble vitamin is stored in your liver and there are two types of dietary vitamin A: preformed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A is available in seafood, meat, poultry and dairy food while pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods. The most common type of pro-vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables is beta-carotene. You may also get vitamin A from dietary supplements such as beta-carotene or retinyl palmitate.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states “[v]itamin A helps form and maintain teeth, healthy skin, mucous membranes and skeletal and soft tissues. It is also known as retinol because it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye.”

Forms of Vitamin A
There are many forms of vitamin A and its derivatives, but the major forms of vitamin A are:

  • Retinol – The entire vitamin A molecule
  • Retinal – Form of vitamin A largely involved in eye health
  • Retinoic Acid – Vitamin A molecule broken down
  • Dehydroretinol – Vitamin A2
  • Carotenes – These include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and gamma-carotene

Skin Benefits of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is capable of a great many things and some of these relate to helping you achieve healthy, beautiful skin. There are several ways in which your skin benefits from vitamin A:

  • Supports Skin Health and Cellular Growth – Vitamin A is essential for your skin to heal itself and it increases the rate of wound healing. Additionally, vitamin A helps you to re-grow healthy skin cells and promotes a healthy cellular membrane. You are probably aware that vitamin A is frequently used for anti-aging purposes. Collagen is one of the greatest skin ingredients to reduce the visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, and vitamin A increases your collagen production.
  • Anti-Inflammatory – Vitamin A is full of antioxidants that fight free radical damage and works to decrease any inflammation in your skin. Vitamin A also normalizes your blood flow to help reduce signs of rosacea.
  • Helps Prevent Cancer – There is evidence suggesting that vitamin A helps prevent several types of cancer including oral, lung, skin and breast cancers. A part of why vitamin A may be helpful in preventing skin cancer is that it helps your body eradicate any pre-cancerous skin lesions.

Foods Rich in Vitamin A
Your diet is one of the best sources of vitamin A. Orange and yellow vegetables have high amounts of vitamin A as do dark, leafy greens. You can also receive vitamin A from meat, fish, poultry and dairy sources. Some of the absolute best dietary sources of vitamin A are:

  • Carrots – 21384 IU/one cup serving
  • Sweet Potatoes – 18443 IU/one whole sweet potato
  • Beef Liver – 14363 IU/four ounce serving
  • Kale – 6693 IU/one cup serving
  • Spinach 2813/one cup serving

When it comes to healthy bodily maintenance and functioning, vitamin A is a superstar. Diet is an important aspect of meeting your daily recommended value of vitamin A, but there are also dietary supplements available. For the best skin benefits, there are tons of topical products ranging from cleansers to prescription treatments that help your skin look its absolute best. Next time you’re at your local market, be sure to stock up on some (or all) of the above foods to reap the benefits that vitamin A bestows on your body.

Why Your Skin Craves Vitamin A

Woman applying eye serum.

Vitamin A is an important ingredient if your want to have your skin looking healthy, radiant and clear. You may already be using products that contain vitamin A and you might not know it. Vitamin A is more commonly referred to as retinol when it comes to skin care. Below, check out what forms of vitamin A are available and why your skin craves this skin care ingredient.

Forms of Vitamin A
When it comes to vitamin A, there are three major derivatives and the terms are often used interchangeably. Although many use the terms to refer to vitamin A, there are subtle, but important differences.

Retinol – Retinol is the most widely recognized form of vitamin A and is readily available in cosmetic products. Retinol is the entire vitamin A molecule and as such, it can be broken down into a variety of potent compounds. Skin care experts explain, “[r]etinol is a cosmetic ingredient that any cosmetic company can include in its products. It does not require a prescription. Retinol is effective because when it gets absorbed in the skin, it gets broken down into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is the compound which can affect your skin cells and their behavior.” Retinol is an excellent ingredient for helping your skin reduce signs of aging.

Retinoids – Retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are derivatives of vitamin A or are closely related in chemical structure. Retinoids are primarily used in the treatment of acne and aging, but there are other skin conditions that benefit from the use of retinoids. Inflammatory skin disorders, psoriasis and photoaging are conditions that can benefit from the use of retinoids.

Tretinoin – Tretinoin is retinoic acid that is available in prescription form. The most frequent use for topical tretinoin prescriptions is acne control. This retinoic acid manages acne by promoting the peeling of skin to reveal newer, healthier skin. Additionally, tretinoin deep cleans and unclogs pores while also reducing sebum (oil) production. While tretinoin is usually used as an acne treatment, it is also the first retinoid approved by the FDA to treat wrinkles.

“All forms of retinol have similar, although not identical, functions and provide truly impressive results for skin, which explains their popularity in the world of skin care,” note experts.

How to Give Your Skin the Vitamin A it Craves
The first place to begin with making sure your skin is getting plenty of vitamin A is to include foods that are rich in vitamin A in your diet. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, romaine lettuce, dark, leafy greens such as kale and sweet red peppers are all foods that provide high amounts of vitamin A. Seafood like salmon, sturgeon, mackerel and oysters are also a great addition to your diet if you are looking to increase your vitamin A intake.

Next, using topical vitamin A products helps keep your skin looking and feeling happy. Many forms of vitamin A, retinol and its derivatives (retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde to name a few) are widely available in cosmetic products including face cleansers, toners, moisturizing creams, face masks and serums. For more serious skin problems, like severe acne, tretinoin and other retinoids are available in prescription form.

No single ingredient can magically cure all of your skin concerns, but vitamin A does provide many significant benefits. Vitamin A, in any form, gently exfoliates your skin, repairs the cellular structure of the epidermis and promotes healthy cellular membranes. It is important to note the while the benefits of vitamin A are undeniable, you should proceed with caution when beginning to use topical forms of vitamin A. Most people experience increased redness, flaking and irritated skin when first beginning a topical vitamin A regimen. Allow your skin to become used to the ingredient by using every other day at first and be sure that other products you’re putting on your face (cleanser, toners, etc…) are gentle on your skin to avoid increased irritation. Vitamin A is an important ingredient in a healthy skin care routine and is a widely available ingredient.