Vitamin A benefits our body by performing several essential functions e.g. improving immunity and skin health.
These are not the only things vitamin A does for our health.
There are many benefits of vitamin A that we would know in this article.
Let us start with:
Vitamin A isn't actually one single vitamin, despite the name.
Vitamin A describes a number of different compounds that are collectively referred to as vitamin A. Some of these compounds have similar effects, but each one is unique in what it does for the body.
These compounds are broken down into two separate categories: retinoids and carotenoids.
Retinoids can be difficult for the body to create without having certain nutritional requirements met. Because of this, some people believe that retinoids can only be obtained through eating animal food.
This isn't true, though – your body just needs the right balance of nutrients to produce retinoids.
Carotenoids function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as having benefits for the eyes and skin. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin can all be converted into retinoids, given the right circumstances.(1)(2)(3)(4)
Adult men: 900 mcg or 3000 IU
Adult women: 700 mcg or 2300 IU
Pregnant women (19+years): 770 mcg or 2600 IU
Lactating women (19+years): 1300 mcg or 4300 IU
Vitamin A deficiency is shockingly common globally.
Globally, nearly 33 % preschool going children and 17% pregnant women are vitamin A deficient.(5)
This is a pretty nasty deficiency for any human to have to face.
Vitamin A deficiency leads to a high risk of blindness, and vulnerability to infections.
Not consuming enough retinoids is a leading cause for vitamin A deficiency – especially in vegetarians who don't consume enough carotenoids.
Carotenoids can only be converted to retinoids in ideal circumstances, which means a lot of vegetarians do not get enough retinoids from their diets.
Keeping levels of these antioxidants balanced is crucial for ensuring your vision doesn't degenerate. Spinach and kale are high in these particular antioxidants – more so than carrots, which are touted for improving eyesight!
Consuming a regular amount of foods rich in vitamin A – particularly in these two antioxidants will have a healthier vision for longer in life.
Vitamin A helps the body create retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is shown to stop wrinkles from emerging, and can even help get rid of wrinkles that you already have.
Retinoic acid binds receptors in the skin and can smooth out the upper layer. It also helps the body produce collagen, which is the main hormone responsible for skin's strength and elasticity.(8)
These two actions caused by vitamin A have a powerful effect on the health of human skin.
Pretty much every disease can trace some of its roots to inflammation.
Inflammation is the immune system's response to a lot of threats, but if the response is triggered when there's no threat, it can lead to illness.
Retinoids are good at regulating the inflammation response both by preventing unnecessary immune responses and by modulating the integrity of the epithelium.(7)
This has helped fight things like acne, bronchial diseases, and certain states of cancer.
Your immune system protects you from threats and keeps your body strong. If it can't function effectively, you'll get sick.
Vitamin A is directly responsible for making sure the immune system can effectively respond to threats or other triggers that necessitate an immune response.(9)
Studies done in the last couple decades have been particularly useful in proving this.
The human body grows by reproducing cells.
Old cells die and give birth to new ones, creating a cycle that allows the body to continually heal itself by producing new and healthy cells.
The human body also grows and develops this way.Vitamin A, and retinoic acid in particular, are both responsible for helping cells reproduce.
Studies have shown that stem cells in the embryo develop at a healthy rate. It's not entirely sure how it does this, but there is a solid link between its consumption and cell reproduction.(10)
Studies were done in which embryos were deprived of vitamin A. The number of health issues that emerged show that vitamin A is crucial for helping with the fetus's development.
Vitamin A is also responsible for maintaining the male genital tract.
Anemia is a disease caused by a lack of red blood cells.
Anemia is present in people deficient in vitamin A.
It's unsure exactly how vitamin A helps to prevent anemia, or why a lack of it causes anemia, but there are studies that indicate a strong link between vitamin A and diminished anemia.
The biological mechanisms aren't entirely understood.(11)
Measles is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable death in children globally.
The consequences of measles are so severe that it is reported by the World Health Organization that in each hour nearly 15 children die of measles globally.(12)
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most recognized causes of fatal measles.
In cases caused by vitamin A deficiency, supplementing up to 200,000 IU is recommended.(13)
This must be taken for at least two days. Vitamin A hasn't been shown to reduce symptoms in measles not caused by vitamin A.
Vitamin A is safe if it is taken as per the recommended daily values.
Too much vitamin A can result in a condition known as hypervitaminosis A.
This can cause dangerous side effects particularly like nausea, dizziness, skin irritation, joint pain, and in severe cases, death.
Tissues restore their normal levels of vitamin A slowly after an overdose, meaning that these symptoms can persist for some time.
You need to ask your health care professional before supplementing yourself with vitamin A.