Vitamin A is also known as retinol and has several important functions. These include:
- Helping your immune system to work as it should against infections
- Helping vision in dim light
- Keeping skin and the linings of some parts of the body, such as the nose, healthy
You can obtain Vitamin A naturally from sources like cheese, eggs and oily fish as well as milk and yoghurt.
You can also obtain Vitamin A by eating foods which are rich in Beta Carotenes. The body can convert Beta Carotene to Vitamin A. Good food sources of Beta Carotene are vegetables like carrots, sweet potato and red peppers as well as yellow fruits like Mango and Papaya.
What is the recommended daily dose of Vitamin A?
Typically, it is advised that men consume 700ug (2300iu) of Vitamin A per day whilst women only need 600ug.
The National Academy of Science in the USA has recently determined that nobody should exceed a dose of 10,000iu of Vitamin A per day. Taking more than this would put you at risk of Vitamin A toxicity if it were taken for a long time.
Does my body store Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is fat soluble. Your body stores it in the Liver and then transports it all over the body to any part that it is needed.
Is it better to take Vitamin A or Beta-Carotene?
The Liver converts Beta Carotene (proformed Vitamin A) into Retinol but this process is quite inefficient. In recent studies it was observed that the body requires 12mcg of Beta Carotene to produce 1mcg of retinol.
That said Beta Carotene is a good antioxidant and some studies have suggested that Beta Carotene intake could improve lung function or even reduce the chances of smokers contracting lung cancer.
Should I avoid the sun if I take Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is converted by the Liver to Retinol. Retinol is good for the skin and promotes the formation of new skin cells. The new skin cells are initially delicate and this is why it is advised to avoid sun exposure. One solution is to only take Vitamin A supplements at night.
Can I take Vitamin A when pregnant?
Generally, this would not be advisable. Large doses of Vitamin A can harm the fetus. In addition, it is advised that pregnant women should not eat food like liver pate as this contains very large amounts of Vitamin A.
What are the risks if I take too much Vitamin A?
The most common issue is bone demineralization. This is when your bones become more brittle and at risk of breaking more easily. This would only be likely to occur after a long sustained period of using too much Vitamin A. If you do not exceed 10,000iu per day then this should not be a cause for concern.