Vitamin A is known for its capacity to enhance vision. It was first isolated in 1930. The body gets its supply of vitamin A through animal fats. The rest is synthesized in the intestines form beta-carotene and other carotenoids which can be found in a number of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A is stored in the liver. Small amounts can be found in human tissues called retinoids coming from the vitamin’s effect on vision especially retina.
Vitamin A offers a number of health benefits of the body. Among them are:
Undoubtedly it is the best nutrient for healthy eyesight. It helps in the proper functioning of retina of the eye. And is vital for the mucus membrane surrounding the eyes. It is essential in preventing night blindness.
- It prevents infections such as colds, flu and bronchitis. Since it maintains healthy mucous membranes, Vitamin A helps in fighting colds and other common infections.
- It also helps in healing the damaged lung tissue in chronic bronchitis and prevents recurrences.
- It fights cancer. Since Vitamin A boosts the immune system then it is valuable in treating breast and lung cancer. And in increasing survival of leukemia patients. Also, protects from melanoma.
- It treats skin disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. This is due to the fact that Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin.
- It controls cold sores because of its anti-viral properties.
- It corrects hair and scalp problems which is often a sign of Vitamin A deficiency.
- It encourages healing of minor burns, cuts and scrapes.
- It protects against certain gastrointestinal problems because it protects the lining of the digestive tract thus relieving inflammatory bowel disease and ulcers.
Vitamin A is available in various formulations: tablet, suppository, softgel, ointment, liquid, cream and capsule. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A is 5000 IU daily for men and 4000 IU daily for women. For those who have vitamin A deficiency symptoms include lesser resistance to infection, flaky scalp, heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, night blindness or even complete blindness. For those that have more than enough, this can cause serious health problems. It is impossible though to get excessive Vitamin A because the body only makes what it needs. Caution should be exercised when taking ‘performed’ vitamin A because it has been synthesized already. Symptoms due to toxicity of Vitamin A include: dry skin, brittle nails, excessive hair loss, bleeding gums, weight loss, irritability, nausea and fatigue.
As a special reminder when buying vitamin A products, keep in mind that some manufacturers use retinol equivalents (RE) instead of international units (IU). To get the recommended daily allowance, one RE is equivalent to 3.3 IU. Vitamin E and zinc helps the body in using Vitamin A. So take a daily dose of both vitamin and mineral in order to get the desired RDA.
To improve resistance to colds, flu and other viral infections, take 50,000 IU twice daily for five days. Reduce it to 25,000 IU a day for not more than 10 days. Do not take vitamin A with isotretinoin or other acne drugs as they can cause high blood levels of vitamin A which leads to side effects. Do not use more than the recommended dosage. And if pregnant, do not take more than 5,000 IU of vitamin A daily. Higher dosage than that could cause birth defects.