Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means that instead of being dissolved in water, it is dissolved in fats or oils. For this reason, it can be helpful to take vitamin A-rich foods with a small amount of fat.
Vitamin A is stored in the liver until your body needs it somewhere else in the body and then it is bound to protein and shuttled through the blood to meet that need.1
Role of vitamin A in the body?
Vitamin A is important for many functions in a healthy body. Here are a few of the main ones:
- Helps support healthy vision.2
- Helps support growth and development.2
- Protecting epithelial tissue.3 Epithelial tissues are made from a layer (or layers) of cells that cover various surfaces in the body as well as make up most glands.
- Cell differentiation.3 This term refers to the intelligence of the body to turn one cell into another. Specifically, this is often talked about in terms of infancy. A baby starts out with many stem cells … some become liver cells, some become skin cell, some become pancreas cells, etc.
- Supporting the immune system by working as an anti-inflammatory.4
Common signs of deficiency can include vision issues (especially night blindness), diarrhea, poor growth and tendency to more infections.5
How much you need?
According to the RDA, adult men need about 900 mcg and adult women need about 700 mcg. For optimal health (which is always the goal), this may be a low standard.
Can you get too much?
Upper limits for both adult men and women are at 3000 mcg. It is less likely to get too much vitamin A unless you are heavily supplementing. Vitamin A is easy to get from healthy, whole plant foods.
How you can get more vitamin A from food (instead of supplements)?
Vitamin A can be found in non-meat animal sources (egg yolks, cheese, butter, etc.) in a specific form called retinol. However, in animal sources, you are also getting saturated fat, cholesterol and increased bacteria so I don’t recommend these sources…
Vitamin A is also in plant sources (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mangoes and other orange-colored foods, as well as dark leafy greens) in the form called carotenoids. Adding these foods to your diet is a simple, inexpensive and delicious way to ensure you’re getting the vitamin A that you need.
To give you a practical idea of how much vitamin A you can easily get, in 1 green smoothie that contains 3 cups of spinach (2531 mcg) and 1 cup of mango (300 mg), you can easily cover your daily intake for vitamin A! That’s before you add anything else. It’s easy, tasty and simple to make meals that are fast but still nutritious.
If you have signs of nutritional deficiencies or other unexplained symptoms, we’d love to help. Reach out to the clinic today at 269-204-6525.
1. Gilbert C. What is vitamin A and why do we need it? Community Eye Heal J. 2013.
2. Trumbo P, Yates AA, Schlicker S, Poos M. Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001. doi:10.1016/S0002-8223(01)00078-5
3. McCullough FSW, Northrop-Clewes CA, Thurnham DI. The effect of vitamin A on epithelial integrity. In: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. ; 1999. doi:10.1017/S0029665199000403
4. Huang Z, Liu Y, Qi G, Brand D, Zheng S. Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. J Clin Med. 2018. doi:10.3390/jcm7090258
5. Sommer A. Vitamin A deficiency and clinical disease: An historical overview. In: Journal of Nutrition. ; 2008. doi:10.1093/jn/138.10.1835
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.