4 Benefits of Taking Vitamin A
Reviewed by Jaimee Gooley, R.D.
Written by Hannah Marchese
When you were a tiny little babe, your parents or doctor probably told you “Make sure to take your vitamins” right?. Let us guess… it was in the shape of a cute little bear covered in sugar, or your favorite cartoon character. Calling all Flintstones vitamin eaters! We’d also bet you took a multivitamin at some point . However, did you know most people get a majority of the vitamins they need through the foods they eat with a balanced diet ?
Even so, some people are deficient in certain vitamins. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be well-rounded and get all the necessary vitamins you need to stay healthy and keep that amazing body of yours functioning properly.
Take the lovely vitamin A, for example. Normally, you hear about the importance of vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin B. People are always encouraging you to take these vitamins in supplement form, but what about vitamin A? That’s like excluding Mel C. from the list of Spice Girls! It’s equally as important as those other vitamins, and people can easily be deficient in it.
Let’s talk more about this vitamin and why you should add it to your daily supplements lineup. Keep reading to learn about the four benefits of taking vitamin A!
1. Improves Eye Health
It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard that eating carrots is good for your eyes. Well, it’s true; but it’s not just carrots that are important for your eye health. It’s vitamin A!
Vitamin A is an important vitamin that is essential for your overall eye health.
The important way that vitamin A helps your vision is by improving your night vision aka, helps you embrace your inner night warrior For many people, seeing in the dark can be almost impossible, especially if you have a weak vision to begin with.
If you are deficient in vitamin A, one of the biggest red flags can be night blindness. This is also known as nyctalopia. No - it’s not your pink silk eye mask causing this one!
This night blindness occurs due to vitamin A deficiency because vitamin A is an essential vitamin for the pigment in your retina called rhodopsin. This is needed to pick up light and see when it’s dark or at night.
2. Strengthens Your Immune System
People like to give all the immune-boosting credit to vitamin C.
And don’t get us wrong, vitamin C is amazing for your immune system—it’s just not the only vitamin that matters. It’s involved with numerous functions in the body that help to defend the body against illness.
Vitamin A is used to produce white blood cells (which remove bacteria and pathogens from the bloodstream). It is directly involved in the function of these white blood cells as well.
Plus, vitamin A is involved in forming the mucous barrier located in your lunges, guy, eyes, and genitals. This barrier is responsible for blocking bacteria.
Having a deficiency in vitamin A can impact your body’s immune system, make you more susceptible to infections, and drag out your recovery time after you get sick. So the next time you reach for a glass of orange juice when you’re sick, consider juicing some carrot juice to add in it as well! That’s what's up doc!
3. It Can Help With Acne
While a diet full of different vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants can help keep your skin calm and happy, some are more helpful than others. Acne is an incredibly frustrating skin condition we happened to experience first hand ourselves. There are several different causes of it and several different types. When it comes to clearing it up, what works for one person might not work for another.
When it comes to vitamin A and acne, some studies suggest that having a deficiency in this vitamin might increase your chance of developing acne. Vitamin A deficiency can cause the overproduction of keratin (a protein), specifically in your hair follicles. This can lead to clogged pores, and therefore more acne.
4. Supports Bone Health
Growing up, we are taught that the key nutrients for our bone health are protein, calcium, and vitamin D. This is definitely true; these nutrients are extremely important for bone strength, density, and health. However, other vitamins and nutrients are still needed to support overall bone health.
Vitamin A deficiency has, in some cases, been linked to poor bone health. In fact, those with the deficiency are at a higher risk for bone fractures. This same study shows that people with the highest amounts of vitamin A in their body had a six percent less chance of bone fractures.
That may not seem like a huge amount, but it’s clear that vitamin A plays an integral part in keeping our bones healthy and strong! It’s important to note that these were observational studies, which doesn’t prove cause and effect. Regardless, boosting your vitamin A intake definitely can’t hurt when it comes to your bone health!
The Two Types of Vitamin A
There are actually different types (forms) of vitamin A. Among the active forms of vitamin A it is called preformed vitamin A, and the second type is provitamin A. The main difference between these two types is where you can find them in various foods.
- Preformed Vitamin A: Found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products. This comes in the form of retinol (not the one you put on your face).
- Provitamin A: Found in fruits, vegetables, plant-based products. This is found in the form of carotenoids, especially beta carotene which can be found in sweet potatoes - which we use in our Kalumi bars !
As you can see, a deficiency in vitamin A would be difficult due to the fact that it is found in almost every type of food (at least in the main food groups). Even if you are vegan or vegetarian, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin A. If you eat meat and seafood, there are even more opportunities to pack enough vitamin A into your daily diet!
Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended daily intake is different for everyone, and it depends on a variety of factors. Similarly, every single person has an individual recommended dietary allowance.
You can go off of the daily recommended allowance, but you can always talk to your doctor if you want a more personalized recommendation.
- Males 14+ 900 mcg
- Females 14+ 700 mcg
- Pregnant women 19+ 770 mcg
- Breastfeeding women 19+ 1,300 mcg
- Teens 14-18 max 2,800 mcg
- Adults 19+ max 3,000 mcg
Don’t Over-Consume Vitamin A
One important thing that we need to note is that you should be careful not to over-consume vitamin A. This vitamin is fat-soluble, meaning it is stored within your body. Therefore, too much can lead to toxic levels of the vitamin.
Getting too much vitamin A (from certain medicines or supplements) can lead to nausea, dizziness, and other adverse effects. The daily upper limit adults should have for preformed vitamin A is 3,000 mcg.
The good thing is that it’s hard to do that, given the daily recommended intake is so high. You would have to eat a lot of vitamin A-rich foods or take too much vitamin A vitamin supplements.
When it comes to vitamin A in the foods you eat, just remember that moderation is essential (as it is with all things!). You obviously wouldn’t want to be only eating sweet potatoes and carrots every single day.
If you have one to two servings of vitamin A-rich foods every day, that should be perfect. If you don’t like many foods containing vitamin A, then taking a vitamin is a great idea. Just follow the directions with the vitamin supplement, and you’ll be good to go.
What Foods Contain Vitamin A?
If you’re someone who likes to get their vitamins naturally from the food you eat, you’re in luck. Vitamin A is in so many different types of foods! Check out this list of some of the foods that are highest in vitamin A.
We know what you’re thinking: ew! Trust us, we agree. But don’t worry; you don’t necessarily need to start eating actual animal livers to get the benefits (although you can if you want). You can take a supplement like cod liver oil, which will do the trick.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene, the form of vitamin A found in vegetables and plants. If you eat one whole sweet potato, you’ll get a whopping 1,403 mcg of vitamin A!
Pro Tip: All of our Kalumi bars contain sweet potatoes. They are paired with MCT oil, marine collagen, and other beauty-boosting ingredients. They make for a truly delicious way to get your vitamin A!
If you’re looking for some leafy greens that pack a punch, spinach is your best bet. A half-cup of spinach contains 573 mcg of vitamin A, which is around 64% of your daily value. Plus, it’s packed with iron and magnesium.
Red Bell Pepper
If you want a fast and crunchy snack, cut yourself up some red bell peppers. Not only are these peppers high in vitamin C, but half a cup also contains 13% of your daily value for vitamin A. These are truly a powerhouse snack, and they’re so tasty.
In the mood for a fresh and fruity snack? Dig into a mango. One raw mango contains 112 mcg of vitamin A. This makes for a quick and tasty vitamin A boost.
Topical Vitamin A
Topical vitamin A isn’t typically referred to as such; you probably know it better than retinol and retinoids. Just as eating plenty of foods rich in vitamin A is important for your body, using skincare with vitamin A can do wonders for your skin as well.
Some retinol/retinoids are over the counter, while others are prescription only. These topical creams are one of the only scientifically proven products that effectively prevent and treat wrinkles and fine lines. They are also highly effective for acne and psoriasis.
These products range in percentage, but all of them are very strong. It’s always best to start using retinol once or twice a week and build your tolerance up to every night. When using a retinol product, you must wear sunscreen every single day to protect your skin.
Okay babe, so did we succeed at explaining why you can’t leave vitamin A out of the fun!?It is involved in various aspects of our bodies, from our eye health to our immune system. While deficiencies are rare, they can happen.
To avoid deficiencies, eat a diet rich in foods containing vitamin A. Seafood, vegetables like broccoli and kale, fruits such as apricots, cantaloupe, and animal products all contain adequate amounts of vitamin A. Regardless of your dietary preferences, there are plenty of foods that can boost your vitamin A intake!
Whether you eat a Kalumi Sweet Potato + Cinnamon bar or enjoy some freshly sliced carrots with hummus, you really can’t go wrong. If you don’t like many foods that contain vitamin A, make sure you are at least taking a multivitamin or vitamin A supplement daily!
Vitamin A - Consumer | NIH
Vitamin A Deficiency and Clinical Disease: An Historical Overview | The Journal of Nutrition
Increased risk of respiratory disease and diarrhea in children with preexisting mild vitamin A deficiency | NCBI
Vitamin A - Health Professional Fact Sheet | NIH
Phrynoderma: a manifestation of vitamin A deficiency? | NCBI
Vitamin A (Retinol) Information | Mount Sinai