Vitamin A comes in multiple types: retinoids, carotenoids, and beta-carotene. Retinoids come from animal products, and beta-carotene comes from plant products. It is suggested that vitamin A be obtained through the diet as opposed to taking it in supplement form because less is known about how much is safe to take in supplement form. Too much vitamin A is not considered safe for the body. The right amount of vitamin A is key for good eye sight, cell growth, and a healthy immune system.
What to Know About Vitamin A The eyes have four kinds of photopigments to store vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the eyes stay healthy, keeps the vision clear, and also helps the eyes adapt to low light and night vision.
Vitamin A can help the digestive system filter out any unnecessary or harmful things that pass through. Its anti-inflammatory properties can prevent the body from overreacting when it encounters a foreign body or bacteria. Since food allergies cause an inflammatory response in the body, adequate levels of vitamin A may be able to help reduce the occurrence of symptoms from food allergies. Vitamin A is also essential for the reproductive system in both men and women, and it might help with compounds that are anti-cancer and anti-aging. Vitamin A can also help other cells communicate better with each other.
Good plant-based sources of beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, squash, romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, swiss chard, bok choy, bell peppers, broccoli, papaya, cayan pepper, asparagus, tomatoes, basil, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, green beans, watermelon, leaks, apricot, parsley, celery, chili pepper, peppermint, peas, squash, thyme, plum, olives, cilantro, rosemary, fennel, cucumber, dill, and sage. With all of those options, you are sure to find a good way to regularly get some beta-carotene in your diet.
Good sources of retinoid vitamin A from animal products include milk, shrimp, eggs, salmon, cheese, yogurt, halibut, scallops, sardines, chicken, beef, turkey, tuna, and lamb. Vitamin A in the retinoid form is quite stable, so cooking food usually does not reduce the amount of available vitamin A in it.
Carotenoids function as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in the body. It helps prevent macular degeneration in the eyes as people age. Carotenoids can be turned into retinoids in the body, but there are some factors that may reduce this, like an individual’s diet, health habits, digestive issues, and other vitamin usage. If you don’t eat meat, you might need to get a different source of retinoids.
Carotenoids and retinoids are fat-soluble, which means they are stored in the body, but people who eat an extremely low-fat diet or have a disorder that makes it difficult for them to process fat may be at risk for a deficiency.
Vitamin A in its retinoid form is commonly used externally as well for skin problems such as acne and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It can help the skin amp up its exfoliation, release dead, dry skin from the face, and pave the way for newer and younger skin cells to shine through.