Vitamin A is an important component of many processes in the human body

Vitamin A is an important component of many processes in the human body
Victoria Mamaeva
Pharmaceutical Specialist

Vitamin A is also called retinol, beta-carotene, axophthol and provitamin A. It is found in animal foods, while provitamin A can be found in plant foods, which consists of a group of compounds known as carotenoids .

Vitamin A plays an extremely important role in the body, so it is important to include foods that are a source of this vitamin in a healthy diet.

Benefits of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an important component of many processes in the body. Without his participation, the metabolism of proteins and steroid hormones would be impossible.

The properties of vitamin A allow the formation of rhodopsin, a substance that provides good vision.

Vitamin A
Picture: Ekaterina79 | Dreamstime

Vitamin A also affects the growth of the body, regulates the growth of epithelial tissue and other body cells. It also has an anti-cancer effect, protects the epithelium of the respiratory system from microbes.

Retinol prevents infections, maintains healthy skin, nails and hair, and helps fight viruses and bacteria. The lack of retinol causes the so-called “night blindness”, that is, the inability to see after sunset. Vitamin A is involved in building the natural immunity of the body and is necessary for the proper formation of tooth enamel.

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin

Vitamin A belongs to the group of vitamins that dissolve in fats. In nature, they occur in two forms:

  • provitamin alpha and beta-carotene – found in green and yellow vegetables (these compounds are converted to retinol in the gut);
  • retinol – found in animal products.

Anti-cancer properties

Vitamin A performs important functions in the body – it is involved in the conversion of fats (lipids) and in the synthesis of proteins.

It also contributes to the regenerative capacity of cells and is involved in the proper course of growth processes. One of its most important properties is its anti-cancer activity – it is given a role in preventing and slowing the progression of colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.

Vitamin for healthy eyes

Vitamin A is a component of rhodopsin (visual pigment), which is located in the rods of the retina and is involved in the process of vision. A typical symptom of vitamin A deficiency is called night blindness (poor ability to see in the dark), which occurs as a result of a deficiency of rhodopsin.

An effective vitamin against acne and other skin lesions

Vitamin A accelerates the renewal of the epidermis, reduces the loss of moisture from the skin and enhances its protective function. Increases the production of elastin and collagen, which are the main building blocks of the skin.

Hyaluronic acid is the main component of the extracellular matrix
Hyaluronic acid is the main component of the extracellular matrix

Due to its properties, vitamin A eliminates discoloration and fine lines. This makes it one of the most effective anti-aging drugs.

Retinol improves skin elasticity, making it hydrated and supple. This vitamin also helps treat acne.

In addition, beta-carotene, i.e. provitamin A, is an additional sunscreen that reduces sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation, which reduces the risk of skin burns.

Hormones

Vitamin A, as already mentioned, affects many processes in the human body. Participates in the synthesis of corticosteroids (hormones of the adrenal cortex). These hormones regulate the potassium-sodium balance in the body. They are also involved in the conversion of fats and carbohydrates and have anti-allergic properties.

Retinol affects the secretion of thyroxine (a hormone that plays a major role in physiological processes) from the thyroid gland. It also contributes to the acceleration of oxidation processes in tissues. This affects the breakdown of fats. Thyroxine and triodothyronine are involved and simultaneously speed up the metabolism.

Vitamin deficiency

Computer workers, smokers, alcoholics and pregnant women, and the elderly are the group most at risk for vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A
Picture: Michal Bednarek | Dreamstime

You can easily spot a retinol deficiency by observing your body. It will show clear signs if it lacks this vitamin. Some of the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include:

  • brittle nails;
  • dry and brittle hair;
  • rough skin;
  • rashes on the body;
  • appetite reduction;
  • feeling tired;
  • greater susceptibility to infections;
  • pimples;
  • corneal dryness;
  • prone to diarrhea;
  • slow growth.

Visual impairment is also a characteristic vitamin A deficiency. Deficiency symptoms may also include menstrual and fertility problems in women. In the elderly, this deficiency may be manifested by ringing in the ears.

Vitamin overabundance

Nowadays, people use vitamin preparations much more often than before. Unfortunately, not only a deficiency, but also an excess of vitamin A can have serious health consequences. Excessive intake of retinol can harm the liver and can also be toxic.

Glutamine is one of the 20 standard amino acids that make up protein
Glutamine is one of the 20 standard amino acids that make up protein

Symptoms of hypervitaminosis or excess vitamin A:

  • yellowing of the skin;
  • swelling of the liver and spleen;
  • bleeding gums;
  • dry and itchy skin;
  • headaches and a general feeling of tiredness;
  • hair loss;
  • nausea;
  • vomit;
  • arthralgia;
  • decreased calcium content in the bones;
  • congenital defects in children of mothers suffering from hypervitaminosis during pregnancy;
  • hyperactivity;
  • irritability.
Vitamin A
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Fatalities have also been reported due to excess vitamin A. In the fight against vitamin A hypervitaminosis, it must be remembered that it contributes to:

  • congenital defects in the fetus;
  • strokes;
  • osteoporosis;
  • joint pains;
  • liver problems.

Excess beta-carotene in the body can be seen as discoloration on the skin.

Foods rich in vitamin A

You should consume foods that are a valuable source of vitamin A.

When consumed in their natural form, they have a much better effect than those taken in supplement form. Therefore, it is important to find out where vitamin A is located and include foods high in this vitamin in the diet. Vitamin A is present in foods:

  • whole milk;
  • butter and dairy products;
  • liver;
  • oily fish and fish oil.
BCAA – branched chain amino acids
BCAA – branched chain amino acids

The source of provitamin A are mainly products of plant origin, which include:

  • carrots;
  • pumpkin;
  • spinach;
  • chard;
  • tomatoes;
  • apricots;
  • plums;
  • green vegetables: lettuce, green peas, dill, parsley.

A healthy diet requires a variety of foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it is important not to forget to include foods with vitamin A in it.

What improves the action of the vitamin

Vitamin A and beta-carotene work best when consumed with the right doses of other important ingredients. These are among other things:

  • selenium;
  • zinc;
  • vitamin E.

Especially high doses of vitamin E should be consumed by people taking high doses of beta-carotene (15–30 mg/day). Selenium provides greater efficiency of beta-carotene, and zinc improves the transport of vitamin A in the human body.

Vitamin A
Picture: Maksymiv7 | Dreamstime

At the same time, taking vitamin A with certain substances can interfere with its absorption. These substances include:

  • oral contraceptives;
  • tobacco smoke;
  • cholesterol-lowering drugs that stimulate bile secretion;
  • alcohol;
  • Methotrexate is a drug used to treat cancer, psoriasis, or arthritis.

Vitamin A for skin

There are many topical products available in pharmacies that contain retinol. Ointments and creams with vitamin A are recommended for eczema, sunburn, frostbite or keratosis of the epidermis.

These drugs speed up wound healing and repair flaky, dry skin.

Vitamin A deficiency can reduce the skin’s protective barrier, so a vitamin A protective ointment should be in every home. This is especially important when there are small children in the house.

Ointment with vitamin A is an excellent remedy for relieving inflammation, and also helps to restore the epidermis. It protects against the harmful effects of external factors such as frost, wind and sun.

Products containing vitamin A, available in pharmacies, are also increasingly used as home cosmetics for face and body care. For example, a vitamin A nasal ointment (purified and properly tested) can be used successfully as an anti-wrinkle eye cream.

When applying cosmetics for facial care, you can add vitamin A to it, just before applying the cosmetic product to the skin. It can also be used as a serum.

Coenzyme Q10 – activator of cellular energy
Coenzyme Q10 – activator of cellular energy

The effect of retinol against wrinkles is confirmed by the results of special studies, so it is widely used in facial care.

Beta-carotene is also widely used to protect the skin from damage caused by UVA radiation.

Vitamin A as a supplement in tablets can be used to make up for its deficiencies in the body, it also prevents skin diseases and contributes to their treatment.

Studies confirm that taking vitamin A at doses of 15 and 21 mg daily for a year is safe and recommended for the prevention of skin cancer.

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