Vitamins Explained: Vitamin A
What It Is
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin found in both animal-derived foods as well as plant-based foods. Vitamin A has two main forms, Retinoids and Beta-carotene. Retinoids, the dominant and active form of the vitamin is derived from animal products while Beta-carotene can be found in plants. Generally, Vitamin A does not need to be consumed through supplements as a healthy diet will provide an adequate amount of levels needed for each individual.
Vitamin A is essential for maintaining multiple functions in the body including growth, vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Some key benefits of Vitamin A include the following:
- Protect the eyes from age-related issues
- Protect vision from night-blindness
- Protecting against certain forms of cancer such as colon cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer
- Treating type 2 diabetes
- Skin and hair health
- Supporting a healthy immune system
- Bone health
- Promoting healthy reproduction
- Promoting body growth and development
Where To Find It
Vitamin A can be found in some animal-derived foods as well as in orange fruits and vegetables. The following are some foods that contain Vitamin A:
- Liver and other organ meats
- Fatty fish such as salmon
- Cheese, milk, and butter
- Orange colored vegetables
- Orange colored fruits
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
Too much Vitamin A is not recommended as it can cause unwanted health issues. High levels of Vitamin A can lead to toxicity due to the fact that it is a fat-soluble vitamin which gets stored in your body. Overconsumption of Vitamin A can lead to side effects including bone and joint pain, headaches, vomiting, liver disease, confusion and in severe cases, death. Overconsumption risk is typically higher when Vitamin A is consumed as a supplement rather than by food, though overconsumption through food is still possible.
Vitamin A is vital for many processes and functions of the body. Although too little of it or overconsumption of it can both cause health issues, a normal level can be achieved through a healthy diet. Achieving the right balance of Vitamin A through food will ensure your body is enjoying the benefits it has to offer.