Were you ever informed as a child to eat carrots as a result of they might enable you see higher? Well, that’s not fully off — carrots comprise vitamin A, a nutrient that may assist shield your imaginative and prescient (amongst different jobs).

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Your physique doesn’t naturally produce vitamin A, however you’ll find it in lots of meals. It’s additionally out there as a dietary complement. But until you’ve got a recognized vitamin A deficiency, it’s all the time finest to satisfy your vitamin wants by way of a balanced, nutritious diet.

“Because so many foods contain vitamin A, it’s easy to get it through your meals,” says dietitian Elyse Homan, RD, LD. “But you also have to know how much vitamin A is enough — and how much vitamin A may be too much. It’s a balancing act.”

Homan shares learn how to improve your consumption with out going overboard and explores the numerous vitamin A advantages.

What is vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a important vitamin that helps your physique develop and performance correctly. There are two sorts of vitamin A, which come from totally different sources:

  • Carotenoids (provitamin A) are present in plant-based meals, reminiscent of carrots and candy potatoes, fortified meals (the place nutritional vitamins are added) and dietary supplements. To digest carotenoids, your physique wants wholesome fat to alter (convert) them into the opposite, energetic type of vitamin A (retinol). One of the commonest carotenoids is beta-carotene, which is liable for giving vegetation their orange and pink pigments.
  • Retinoids (retinol or preformed vitamin A) are present in animal-based meals, reminiscent of eggs, fish, milk and liver. Your physique can use this type of vitamin An instantaneous.

What does vitamin A do on your physique?

This nutrient performs many essential roles. Vitamin A is nice for supporting wholesome fetal progress and improvement and past, in addition to:

1. Maintains wholesome imaginative and prescient

One of vitamin A’s most essential roles is to protect and preserve your vision. It helps change the sunshine that hits your eye into {an electrical} sign that may be despatched to your mind.

Your physique additionally makes use of vitamin A to make pigments on your retinas to work effectively, and moisture on your corneas. An early signal of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness (nyctalopia), which may result in everlasting imaginative and prescient loss if untreated.

Foods wealthy in vitamin A would possibly cut back your threat of creating cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Vitamin A might even restore some imaginative and prescient loss, in response to one study.

2. Aids immune system perform

Vitamin A strengthens your immune system by supporting white blood cells and the mucus membranes in your lungs, intestines and urinary tract. This helps you thrust back an infection and toxins (additionally known as free radicals) that trigger irritation and illness.

Giving vitamin A dietary supplements to kids with measles has been proven to scale back the severity of the illness, in response to the World Health Organization. In different phrases, vitamin A can generally save lives.

3. Reduces your most cancers threat

Vitamin A performs a key position within the wholesome progress and improvement of your cells. But nobody is aware of for certain if it additionally helps decrease your threat of creating cancer.

Some studies recommend that consuming greater quantities of beta-carotene or vitamin A from plant meals might shield towards sure sorts of most cancers, reminiscent of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But different analysis has proven that prime doses of vitamin A dietary supplements really elevated the danger of most cancers and loss of life in those that smoke or used to smoke.  

“It’s too early to say whether either form of vitamin A can help us prevent or treat cancer,” says Homan. “We need much more information to make that connection.”

4. Keeps your pores and skin clear

Many individuals declare vitamin A is an efficient remedy for acne and age-related pores and skin adjustments, together with wrinkles and age spots. But it’s essential to make use of vitamin A for pores and skin well being with care, whether or not you add vitamin A-rich meals to your weight loss program or use vitamin A-based pores and skin therapies like drugs or lotions.

Eating too little vitamin A can result in blocked sweat glands, rising your threat of creating pimples. Too a lot vitamin A (hypervitaminosis) can discolor your pores and skin and trigger it to turn out to be dry.

Prescription retinol has been proven to enhance pimples, however we’d like extra analysis to indicate whether or not non-prescription types additionally assist. Retinol therapies may make your pores and skin extremely delicate to the solar. Talk to a healthcare supplier or dermatologist about efficient care on your pores and skin sort.

5. Supports reproductive well being

Adequate quantities of vitamin A in your weight loss program are important for wholesome reproductive perform. Vitamin A deficiency can result in infertility and trigger delayed progress and development in children.

But an excessive amount of vitamin A during pregnancy can hurt the fetus, inflicting beginning defects and elevated threat of an infection and illness. People who’re pregnant ought to keep away from meals that comprise massive quantities of vitamin A, reminiscent of pâté and liver, in addition to vitamin A dietary supplements.

6. Keeps bones and tooth robust

Vitamin A helps preserve correct bone progress and improvement, decreasing your threat of damage or incapacity. But it’s essential to strike a stability. Researchers have discovered that vitamin A can also be related to a higher risk of bone health issues, together with hip fractures and osteoporosis.

What are one of the best sources of vitamin A?

Foods wealthy in vitamin A embody fruit and veggies, meats, fish and nuts. “It’s fairly easy to consume a healthy dose of vitamin A without supplements,” notes Homan. “You just need to know what to look for.”

Here are some meals which are good sources of vitamin A:

  • Dairy merchandise: Dairy is a wonderful supply of vitamin A, from milk and yogurt to cheese and butter. Milk, low-fat spreads and lots of cereals are sometimes fortified with nutritional vitamins, together with vitamin A, so that you don’t must look far to get your advisable each day quantity.
  • Eggs: Eggs are a nutritious a part of any meal, with yolks that comprise almost each vitamin and mineral your physique must work effectively. One hard-boiled egg comprises 75 micrograms (mcg), or 8% of the advisable each day quantity for vitamin A. Eggs additionally comprise the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which can assist protect your vision.
  • Fish: Oily fish are among the many finest sources of vitamin A. Try salmon, mackerel or Bluefin tuna. It doesn’t take a lot: A 3-ounce serving of cooked sockeye salmon supplies 7% of your advisable each day quantity.
  • Liver and liver merchandise: Liver is one of the best meals supply of vitamin A, together with cod liver oil and liver pâté. Foods like liver sausage are so wealthy on this important nutrient that you could be must restrict it to no a couple of meal every week to keep away from consuming an excessive amount of. A 3-ounce serving of pan-fried beef liver comprises about 6,600 mcg of vitamin A — greater than 700% of your advisable each day quantity.
  • Fruits and greens: Oil, seeds and nuts present dose of vitamin A, together with most deep yellow-orange and darkish inexperienced, leafy greens and fruits. One complete candy potato with its pores and skin has about 1,400 mcg of vitamin A. One half-cup of uncooked carrots quantities to greater than 450 mcg, or 51% of your each day requirement. Other meals wealthy in vitamin A embody apricots, peaches, broccoli, grapefruit, squash, watermelon and spinach.

How a lot vitamin A per day do I want?

Your advisable vitamin A consumption (in micrograms) is:

Age Recommended Daily Value
6 to 11 months* 500 mcg
12 to 23 months* 300 mcg
2 to 18 years (assigned feminine at beginning, AFAB) 300 to 700 mcg
Over 18 years (AFAB) 1,600 to 1,800 mcg
2 to 18 (assigned male at beginning, AMAB) 1,400 to 2,200 mcg
Over 18 years (AMAB) 2,000 to 2,400 mcg
14+ years and pregnant 750 to 770 mcg
14+ years and lactating 1,200 to 1,300 mcg

*Adequate Intake
Source: 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Is an excessive amount of vitamin A foul for me?

Vitamin A from meals is taken into account secure. But you may get an excessive amount of vitamin A from dietary supplements.

While vitamin A has many advantages, an excessive amount of could be dangerous. Your physique shops the leftovers it doesn’t instantly want. They might construct as much as an unsafe stage and result in:

  • Blurred imaginative and prescient.
  • Bone ache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dry pores and skin.
  • Hair loss.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Skin rash or discoloration (yellow-orange from an excessive amount of beta-carotene).

Do I must take vitamin A dietary supplements?

Most multivitamin-mineral dietary supplements additionally comprise vitamin A. But most often, you don’t must take dietary supplements when you’re getting sufficient of what you want from meals.

“Unless you have a limited diet or a condition that increases your need for vitamin A, you can find all the vitamin A you require in a balanced diet,” Homan advises. “Plus, in the case of vitamin A, you don’t want to run the risk of consuming too much.”

If you think chances are you’ll lack vitamin A, speak with a healthcare supplier about subsequent steps. Your signs and a blood test can affirm analysis and information remedy.

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