The Health Benefits of Vitamin A

0007874243564_500X500Vitamin A (retinol) is a fat soluble vitamin occurring in animal foods.  Beta-carotene comes from fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as carrots, kale, cantaloupe, liver, spinach, sweet potatoes and broccoli.  Beta-carotene is the second type of vitamin A.

Vitamin A is especially known for its support of a healthy vision.  However, there are many other benefits associated with vitamin A.

Vitamin A is helpful in maintaining healthy teeth and bones, hair and skin.  It strengthens the immune system, helps with illnesses caused by viruses, may slow down cancer growths, helps regulate heartbeat, and is necessary for thyroids to function properly.

Applied topically it may help treating skin cancers and may help lighten liver spots.  As a drop vitamin A may help with treatment of dry eye.

The best way to obtain vitamin A is through food.  However, for those not getting enough vitamin A from food sources there are supplements available.

Side effects of vitamin A may be nausea, headache, hair loss, fatigue or dry skin.  Additionally, there is a danger of toxic effects if too much vitamin A is used either as an accumulation in the body over a period of time or from one excessive dose.   Serious side effects may include dizziness, blurred vision, swelling of joints, liver damage, yellowing skin, osteoporosis, severe itching and more.  In pregnant women too much vitamin A may lead to birth defects.

It is important to take into consideration the vitamin A received from food before you add supplements. The total amount of vitamin A for adults (excluding pregnant women who should only use a lesser amount) from combined food and supplements should not be more than 3,000 micrograms or 10,000 I.U.

Some medications (including oral contraceptives) may increase the toxicity of vitamin A and vitamin A may decrease the effectiveness of some vaccinations. Before adding any vitamin A supplements to your diet it is very important that you discuss this with  your health care professional and follow his/her guidance and advice.