Do you know all the benefits of vitamin A?

woman smiling in the mirror

Do you know all the benefits of vitamin A?

Despite being an essential nutrient, not many of us are familiar with all the benefits of vitamin A. You might know it’s good for eyesight, and perhaps you’ve heard that retinol can work wonders for the skin, but it has much more to offer.

Read on to find out why it’s so good for you, how to tell if you have a deficiency, and foods that are a great source of vitamin A.

What role does vitamin A play in the body?

Vitamin A does all kinds of good things, including helping our immune system to function properly and keeping skin healthy. Vitamin A also helps keep our eyes healthy, including maintaining our ability to see in low light, and there is evidence that vitamin A is what helps the eyes of embryos develop in the womb.

Vitamin A is also essential to maintain reproductive health in both men and women.

Is retinol the same as vitamin A?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A. Your body produces retinol from foods rich in beta-carotene (even though these foods do not contain vitamin A – see more below). And when you see retinol as an ingredient in, for example, skincare products, it has been manufactured from vitamin A.

Which foods are rich in vitamin A?

cheese, milk, eggs and yoghurt on chopping board

Foods that are good sources of vitamin A include cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk and yoghurt, liver and liver products such as liver pâté. Vegan sources of vitamin A might include fortified low-fat spreads.

Importantly, including for vegans and vegetarians, you can also get vitamin A by having good sources of beta-carotene in your diet, as your body can convert beta-carotene into retinol.

Dietary sources of beta-carotene include spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers, and yellow fruit such as mangoes and apricots.

How much vitamin A do you need?

In the UK, the NHS recommends that adults aged 19 to 64 need 700µg of vitamin A per day for men, and 600µg of vitamin A per day for women.

Taking too much vitamin A can be harmful, so it’s a case of getting enough vitamin A, rather than the more the better.

Your body stores vitamin A that it doesn’t use, too.

What are vitamin A supplements good for?

With a varied and well-balanced diet, it is possible to get all the vitamin A that your body needs. However, this is not always easy to achieve when we’re on the go or follow certain types of diet.

If you’re concerned that you are not getting enough vitamins and minerals from your diet, you might want to consider a good quality supplement. Nature’s Truth Vitamin A 10,000 IU Softgels are a high-strength supplement that contains 10,000 IU of vitamin A per serving.

What are the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the developed world, unless you have an underlying health condition, but it is a more common cause of illness for people in the developing world.

Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency can include suffering from frequent infections, due to vitamin A’s role in keeping the immune system healthy; skin irritation; sight problems, including hazy vision and night blindness; and problems with reproductive health.

Where it does occur, vitamin A deficiency can normally be treated and reversed if proper vitamin A levels are restored.

Is it safe to take vitamin A during pregnancy?

 Couple cradle pregnant bump

In the UK, the NHS advises pregnant women, and women who are thinking about becoming pregnant, against taking vitamin A supplements. This is because consuming large amounts of vitamin A can cause harm to a baby in the womb.

Pregnant women are also advised not to eat liver or liver products, such as pâté, because of the high levels of vitamin A these contain. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or under medical supervision, check before taking supplements. Always read the label and dosage instructions.

Shop Nature’s Truth vitamins and supplements

Nature's Truth

Nature's Truth

Writer and expert