Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that has a critical role in maintaining healthy vision, neurological function and healthy skin.
A vitamin A deficiency will lead to night blindness and can eventually cause thickening of the cornea and blindness.
People at risk for a vitamin A deficiency include alcoholics who’s excess toxicity creates low vitamin A levels.
Also, people with long term malabsorption of fats will have a vitamin A deficiency.
The most common health problems that cause malabsorption of vitamin A include:
- Gluten sensitive
- Leaky Gut
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS, Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis)
- Pancreatic disorders
Vitamin A also plays a role in maintaining strong bones, gene regulation, clear skin, cell differentiation, and immune function. It is found in two primary forms: beta carotene and active Vitamin A.
Beta carotene, which is found primarily in plants, needs to be converted to active vitamin A in order to be utilized by the body. The RDA for vitamin A is 900mcg/day for men and 700mcg/day for women. The current daily value is 5000 IU.
Top 10 Vitamin A Foods
1) Beef Liver
3 ounces: 14,363 IU (almost 3x the DV)
1 cup raw sliced: 21,384(over 100% DV)
3) Sweet potato
1 whole: 18,443 IU (over 100% DV)
1 cup, chopped: 6693 IU (over 100% DV)
1 cup raw: 2813 IU (56% DV)
1 fruit: 674 IU (13% DV)
1 cup raw: 567 IU (11% DV)
1 Tbsp: 355 IU (7% DV)
1 extra-large: 302 IU (6% DV)
10) Winter squash
1 cup, cubes: 514 IU (10% SV)
Vitamin A Benefits For Skin, Hair and Eyes
When light shines on the retina, in the human eye, a molecule called rhodopsin is activated. The activated rhodopsin sends a signal to the brain which results in vision. Vitamin A is a critical part of the rhodopsin molecule, which is why a deficiency in vitamin A can cause night blindness.
Beta carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plants, plays a role in preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness.
Vitamin A is known as an immune boosting vitamin because several immune system functions are dependent on sufficient vitamin A. Genes involved in immune responses are regulated by Vitamin A. A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to increased infections and an overall weakened immune system.
Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant that can help boost the immune system and prevent a variety of chronic illnesses.
Skin Health and Cell Growth
Vitamin A is needed to support all of the epithelial (skin) cells both internally and externally. It is needed to form glycoproteins, a combination of sugar and protein, which help the cells bind together forming soft tissues. Due to this function, Vitamin A is necessary for wound healing and skin regrowth.
Vitamin A is essential for skin health and and a deficiency can lead to a poor complexion. Studies have proven that consuming vitamin A rich foods can fight acne and improve overall skin health.