Vitamin A packs a powerful punch when it comes to its benefits to the body. Working as both a powerful antioxidant and a fat soluble vitamin, Vitamin A takes the cake as a crucial nutrient for summer, and for any season for that matter!
Found in two forms in nature, Vitamin A either comes as its active form of retinol or its inactive form of beta carotene. Retinol is found mostly in animal products and can be directly used by the body. Whereas beta carotene needs to be converted by the body to its active form.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, eye health, proper bone growth, and for the protection of GI, respiratory, and urinary lining against pathogenic bacteria. Therefore a deficiency can present with a wide array of symptoms such as dry eyes, dry lips, scaly skin, night blindness, bitot’s spots (keratin on the conjunctiva), scaly skin, stunted growth, and immune dysfunction.
Those with leaky gut, celiac, autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic disorders, and alcohol dependence tend to have chronic nutrient malabsorption issues, putting them at risk for deficiency.
So Boost your daily intake with these main sources:
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Grass Fed Beef Liver
- Egg Yolks
- Cod Liver Oil
- Green peas
- Red bell pepper
To reap these Vitamin A Benefits:
1. Eye health: Vitamin A is a critical component of the rhodopsin molecule, which is activated when light shines on the retina, sending a signal to the brain that results in vision. Beta-carotene plays a role in preventing macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related blindness (1).
2. Immune Support: Studies show deficiency in Vitamin A can alter the function of immune cells, putting you at risk for immune related diseases such as cancer and other infections (2, 3).
3. Lowered Inflammation: As an antioxidant in the body, Vitamin A reduces free radical damage in the body, lowering levels of associated inflammation (4).
4. Supported glowing skin: Vitamin A is cherished by traditional and western cultures alike for its skin nourishing properties, fighting acne, discoloration, wrinkles, and sun damage (5, 6, 7 ,8)
5. Cancer prevention: We are what we eat! With growing research linking cancer to our nutrition, it is no surprise in vitro studies have shown Vitamin A to protect against skin, bladder, breast, prostate, and lung cancer (9).
6. Supports bone health: Hitting the right balance of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Calcium, and Magnesium is essential in maintaining healthy bones as we age. Particularly, low levels of vitamin A have been associated with lower bone density (10).
7. Supports childhood development: Vitamin A has important roles in embryonic development, organ formation during fetal development, normal immune functions, and eye development and vision.
8. Aids in tissue repair: Found to improve wound healing and strength after procedures (11,12).
9. Prevents kidney stones: Those with low levels of Vitamin A have been shown to have an increased risk for urinary stones from greater calcium oxalate deposits in the urine (13).
By following a well balanced, whole foods diet, you will bask in all the benefits Vitamin A has to offer! Don’t forget to stick to a general anti-inflammatory protocol as best as you can to keep your gut health in check, ensuring the best absorption of the nutrients you take in.
Amanda Miller is Our Clinical Integrative Nutrition Nurse Consultant. You can make an appointment with her by calling 310-451-8880 or emailing us at email@example.com