Vitamin A Benefits: Let’s Start At The Beginning
A is for absolutely awesome! Another essential vitamin for healthy human life, so let’s get to the nitty-gritty and explore the vitamin A benefits.
Vitamin A is a health hero, involved in proper growth and development, immune function, skin health, eye health and thyroid function.
It’s naturally highest in foods like liver, some fish, egg yolks, cod liver oil, butter and heavy cream; and in carotenoid form (more on that later, stay tuned) in vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, which means it’s stored in fat cells and generally found in (and absorbed best alongside) fatty foods.
However, there are two distinct types - just to make things more confusing! They are:
→ Retinoids - include retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. They come from animal foods, are considered ‘active’ forms of vitamin A, and are ready to be used by the body.
→ Carotenoids - come from plants, are stored in the liver, and are converted into active vitamin A by the body as needed .
Beta-carotene is the most common form of natural vitamin A supplement and once converted by the body into active vitamin A, it does the same job.
It has been included in Athletic Greens because it is an essential vitamin, with many roles in the body. We chose to include it in the form of beta carotene so that it is vegetarian and vegan friendly, hooray!
This is great for the animals and also fantastic for vegetarians and vegans, as these groups are at a greater risk of vitamin A deficiency.
In 1912, Frederick Gowland Hopkins identified vitamin A as ‘that unknown factor in milk’ - besides carbohydrates, fats and proteins - that was essential for the proper growth and development of rats (and humans...clearly).
Vitamin A Benefits: Sorting Us Out At A Cellular Level
Vitamin A is crucial for the ‘differentiation’ of virtually every cell - meaning, without vitamin A, immature cells wouldn’t know whether to become liver tissue or a bone in the foot. This is why it’s so important for healthy fetal development, skin, eyes, bones, immune system - all things to do with growth and development.
The many roles of Vitamin A include:
✔ Embryonic development - to grow healthy babies and prevent birth defects.
✔ Regulating gene expression - to prevent cells from mutating and tissues becoming diseased.
✔ For proper hormonal signalling and health of reproductive organs.
✔ Acting as an antioxidant.
✔ Assisting immune function (specifically: white blood cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, and T and B lymphocytes).
✔ For eyesight.
✔ For skin health.
✔ To detoxify our bodies of industrial chemicals.
✔ To maintain healthy mucous membranes (such as the gut lining and respiratory system).
✔ For bone development and health.
✔ For reducing the risk of cancer.
Research supports the benefits of vitamin A supplementation for:
→ Resistance to infectious disease
→ Healthy fetal development
→ Combating skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and hyperkeratosis
→ Night blindness and diseases of the eye
→ Thyroid dysfunction
Vitamin A Benefits To Our Skin
Vitamin A has long been prescribed for those battling acne in the form of topical creams.
Retin-A, and Differin are actually “turbo-charged” synthetic forms of vitamin A and are used to stimulate rapid growth in the skin.
These creams can have adverse effects, such as highly increased sun sensitivity, so looking to natural forms of this beneficial vitamin is a much better idea.
Studies have suggesting eating up to half a pound of liver each week to obtain vitamin A benefits.
That would most definitely have me reaching for my Athletic Greens! Especially with the powers of vitamins C & E, grapeseed extract and zinc thrown in for additional skin health.
For some skin issues, improvements may be noticed reasonably quickly, which is always good news for those suffering.
Vitamin A Daily Dosages
Excess vitamin A consumption has been the cause of much concern in the medical community, and for good reason.
High doses of vitamin A can cause a condition known as hypervitaminosis A, damaging the liver and potentially causing death.
There is some evidence to suggest that balanced supplementation - always taking vitamin A alongside other complementary vitamins like D, E and K2, prevents toxicity - but unfortunately this is yet to be scientifically validated. Come on science...
The accepted dose of vitamin A is 3000 IU a day for men and 2300 IU for women.
Generally, adults should not exceed 10000 IU a day and pregnant women nothing in excess of 3000 IU per day.
Individual doses may vary based on age, body weight, condition and deficiency.
Excess zinc and iron may inhibit the absorption of vitamin A, as can cholesterol-lowering medications. People with a history of heavy alcohol use, the elderly, as well as women taking hormonal birth control should check with their healthcare provider before taking vitamin A supplements.
Vitamin A Benefits To Growing Babies
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin for healthy growth, development and general wellbeing.
It is especially important for the developing fetus, with optimum levels of vitamin A supporting strong bones, robust immunity, good eyesight, healthy skin and proper thyroid function, for life.
Vitamin A works well with the folic acid in Athletic Greens for preventing birth defects, and with vitamins C & E as an all round antioxidant. It also works well with alpha lipoic acid as it is an “antioxidant recycler” that can help these vitamins work harder. As if they aren’t working hard enough!
Even with a high availability of vitamin A rich foods in the western world, it is highly advised that pregnant and breastfeeding women still supplement their diets during this period of theirs and their babies lives.
While we’re on the topic of growing babies I know a lot of older people who grew up taking cod liver oil because their mom’s said it was good for them. Squirming with anticipation as they lined up to be force fed a spoonful of the rather pungent oil.
For many it was the first vitamin A supplement exposure they’ve ever experienced.
Mostly it was purchased in isolation for eye sight, skin health and also sometimes as part of a combination for boosting natural testosterone levels (vitamins A and D with zinc can provide a huge boost to anyone who is low).
We offer it in Athletic Greens in conjunction with with bilberry and grapeseed extract for eyesight and with zinc, reishi mushroom, shiitake mushroom, selenium and astragalus for boosting immune function.So, luckily for all of us there’ll be no more cod liver oil burps when getting our vitamin A benefits!