Vitamin A Review
Vitamin A refers to a group of unsaturate nutritional organic compounds which includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, carotenois, and beta-carotene. They are all essential for vision and has been believed to lower the risk for prostate cancer. It keeps the tissues and skin healthy and plays an important role in bone growth. Diets rich in the carotenoids, alpha carotene and lycopene, seem to lower lung cancer risk and act as antioxidants. Foods rich in the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against cataracts.
Vitamin A is categorized under Vitamins.
It is also known as tretinoin, retinol, retinoic acid.
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Benefits and Effectiveness
- Skin Quality - Decrease 
- Skin dryness - Increased 
- Wrinkles - Decrease 
- Skin pigmentation - Increased 
What is Vitamin A?
What is Vitamin A?
Aside from helping you see in the dark, Vitamin A, also known as retinol, also functions in boosting the immune system, and enhancing cell growth. There are two types of Vitamin A, these are retinoids and beta-carotene. Retinoids is the active form of Vitamin A that can be found in animal products, whereas beta-carotene comes from plants.
According to an analysis of numerous studies, Vitamin A supplementation alone, or combining it with other antioxidants, is associated with increased risk of mortality from all cases. High doses of Vitamin A or any antioxidants can have more negative effects than positive ones.
Since less is known about the benefits of Vitamin A supplementation, the American Heart Association suggests obtaining antioxidants, including beta-carotene, by having a healthy, well-balanced diet that is high is vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, rather than taking supplements.
What benefits does Vitamin A give?
The function of Vitamin A varies. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), Vitamin A not only functions in creating the pigments in the retina of your eye, but also plays an important role in helping you have a good vision, especially during the night, and overall eye health. According to some experts, age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss in the elderly population. The risk of developing this type of disease can be reduced by about 25 percent by taking high levels of antioxidants like Vitamin A, in combination with Zinc. A study conducted by the National Eye Institute was able to prove this claim.
Beta-carotene can likewise function as an antioxidant, preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals. Many antioxidants can help prevent the development of cancer, however, according to the National Cancer Institute, there is no enough evidence to prove that beta-carotene supplements can prevent cancer. However, many studies claim that by consuming all-natural beta-carotene through fruits and vegetables can be helpful in preventing cancer. Other functions of Vitamin A include repairs skin, helps skin grow, maintenance of bones, teeth, white blood cells, soft tissue, mucus membranes, and the immune system.
Fetal alcohol syndrome, due to maternal alcohol use, is known to cause Vitamin A deficiency. Treating pregnant women with vitamin A can help prevent fetal alcohol syndrome according to a study conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine.
Effects of Vitamin A to certain conditions
- Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a long-lasting autoimmune disease characterized by patches of abnormal skin. The effectiveness of Vitamin A in treating psoriasis has been discussed and reviewed by some researchers. Studies have shown that Vitamin A has the ability to reduce symptoms associated with psoriasis.
- Prevention of Miscarriage: Increased risk of miscarriage has been associated with malnutrition. On the other hand, too much intake of vitamin A could increase the risk of birth defects. Taking Vitamin A supplements beyond the suggested dose is strongly prohibited for pregnant women.
- Promotion of Child Growth: Studies have shown that inadequate levels of vitamin A could affect a child’s growth. Especially in children, Vitamin A is necessary in order to achieve normal growth and development.
- Measles: Measles is a viral disease that could lead to the development of certain conditions such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and pneumonia. Experts suggest that Vitamin A should be administered to children who are suffering from measles in areas where Vitamin A deficiency is present. Studies have shown that Vitamin A has the ability to reduce the length of impact of measles in children. It is vital that Vitamin A administration should be strictly monitored by a medical practitioner.
- Nipple pain due to breast-feeding: It was known that Vitamin A & D ointments could be beneficial for women who have cracked and sore nipples due to breast-feeding. On the other hand, there are no enough evidence that could prove Vitamin A’s effectiveness in relieving pain during breast-feeding.
- Retinitis Pigmentosa: Retinitis Pigmentosa is a congenital disorder affecting night vision. Night blindness and loss of vision over time are the early symptoms associated with this disease. Recent studies show that Vitamin A in the palmitate form could be beneficial for patients suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa.
- Xerophthalmia: Xerophthalmia or eye dryness is common in rural areas such as Southeast Asia and India. Vitamin A deficiency could lead to the development of this condition. Vitamin A could treat Bitot’s spot, which is the build-up of keratin debris in the conjunctiva, a sign associated with Xerophthalmia. Once the disorder is established, administration of vitamin A should be done right away.
Can you take too little or too much?
Vitamin A deficiency can cause inflammation of the eyes, night blindness, diarrhea, and other health problems. Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States but common in various developing countries. Vitamin A toxicity can cause hair loss, growth retardation, severe form of liver and spleen enlargement. Overconsumption of Vitamin A can cause minimal blurred vision, irritability, and nausea. Overdose of Vitamin A can increase the risk of bone fractures in some individuals, and can cause birth defects.
Vitamin A Sources
There are two types of Vitamin A. Retinol, which is the preformed vitamin A can be found in animal products such as meat, fortified milk, cheese, eggs, liver, kidneys, cream, and halibut fish oil. Beta-carotene, a carotenoid that produces dark pigment in plants, is the most common type of pro-vitamin A. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), pro-vitamin A can be found in plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits. The following are brightly colored foods rich in beta-carotene:
- Sweet potatoes
- Pink Grape Fruits
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
- Winter squash
How much Vitamin A do you need to take?
- 14 years and above: 900 mcg a day (or 3,000 International Units per day)
- 14 years and above: 700 mcg per day (2,310 IU per day)
- Pregnant 14 to 18 years; 750 mcg per day (2,500 IU per day)
- Pregnant 19 years and above: 770 mcg per day (2,565 IU per day)
- Breast-feeding below 19 years: 1,200 mcg per day (4,000 IU per day)
- Breast-feeding above 19 years: 1,300 mcg per day (4,300 IU per day)
- 1 to 3 years: 300 mcg per day (1,000 IU per day)
- 4 to 8 years: 400 mcg per day (1,320 IU per day)
- 9 to 13 years: 600 mcg per day (2,000 IU per day)
Reviewer: Kathleen R. RN, PT
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Wiki Last Updated: 2016-02-16
Vitamin A Dosage
At extremely high dosages, reported side effects associated with Vitamin A include difficulty breathing, diarrhea, bone pain, cough, depression, fever, and feeling of fullness.
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