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Supplements: Vitamin A (Retinol)

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Vitamin A (Retinol)

Vitamin A is important in maintaining good vision, healthy skin, and healthy mucous membranes. Research has shown it is also necessary for proper immune system function. Vitamin A is also important for proper growth, bone formation, reproduction, and wound healing. Your liver can store up to a year's supply of vitamin A. The stored supply of this vitamin is used up more quickly if you become ill or have an infection.

Uses

  • Acne and psoriasis.
  • Drugs including vitamin A successfully clear up acne and psoriasis.
  • Even more recently, another drug made from vitamin A is helping to lessen scars and wrinkles on the skin, making them less noticeable, and helping to prevent wrinkles from forming. Immune system.
  • Research has shown that vitamin A boosts the immune system to help fight off illness and infection, especially viral illness.
  • Wound healing. Your body needs vitamin A, along with several other nutrients, when it is forming new tissue and skin.
  • Measles. Reduces infant mortality from this disease Also used to treat night blindness and hyperkeratosis

Dietary Sources

Vitamin A is found only in foods from animal sources, especially beef, calf, and chicken liver. Dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream are also good sources. However, beta-carotene, a nutrient found in fruits and vegetables, can be converted to vitamin A in the body as needed. Most dark-green leafy vegetables and most orange vegetables and fruits contain a lot of beta-carotene, and by eating these foods you will increase your body's supply of vitamin A. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash, and fruits such as cantaloupe and mango are all good sources of beta-carotene.

Other Forms

You can buy natural vitamin A supplements either as retinol or retinyl palmitate. All forms of vitamin A are easily absorbed. Tablets or capsules are available in 10,000 IU, 25,000 IU, and 50,000 IU doses. Your health care provider will help you decide which vitamin A dosage is best for you. Most multivitamins contain the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A. If you are taking a multivitamin, you are probably getting more than enough vitamin A to meet your average needs. You should never take more than 25,000 IU per day (10,000 IU for children) without a health care provider's supervision.

In many cases, taking beta-carotene, the precursor form of vitamin A, is a safer alternative to taking vitamin A. Unlike vitamin A, beta-carotene is water-soluble and does not build up in the body, so it can be taken in larger amounts without the same risk. This makes it a better alternative for children, adults with liver or kidney disease, and pregnant women.

How to Take It

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and is absorbed along with the fat in your diet. Supplements containing vitamin A should be taken during or shortly after a meal.

Precautions

Pregnant women should never take vitamin A supplements, because they can cause birth defects. All prenatal vitamins contain some vitamin A, and taking any more would be dangerous to the fetus.

Too much vitamin A is toxic to the body and can even be fatal. You probably won't get toxic amounts of vitamin A from your daily diet, but taking vitamin A supplements without a health care provider's supervision is not recommended. Vitamin A is found in many different types of vitamin formulas. For example, supplements that say "wellness formula," "immune system formula," "cold formula," "eye health formula," "healthy skin formula," or "acne formula," all may contain vitamin A. If you take a variety of different formulas, you could put yourself at risk for vitamin A toxicity. Some of the symptoms of vitamin A toxicity are lasting headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, dry, cracking skin and lips, dry, irritated eyes, nausea or diarrhea, and hair loss.

Alcohol use makes vitamin A toxicity more likely. Consuming more than 25,000 IU of vitamin A per day (adults) and 10,000 IU per day (children) from either food or supplements or both can be toxic. Do not take vitamin A supplements if you are using Accutane, Retin-A or any vitamin A–derived drugs used to treat acne, psoriasis, and other skin problems.

Possible Interactions

  • High doses of vitamin E cause the body to use more vitamin A.
  • Zinc is needed in order for the body to use vitamin A. Zinc deficiency can cause the same symptoms as vitamin A deficiency, because the body is not able to use the vitamin A it has without zinc.
  • Your body needs enough protein to use vitamin A. Adults should eat at least 7 oz. of protein each day, and children at least 4 oz. each day.
  • Some medications, such as estrogens and oral contraceptives, may increase retinol levels in the blood.
  • Talk with your health care provider before taking Vitamin A supplements if you regularly take any type of medication.

This document contains information relating to general principles of medical care that should not in any event be construed as specific instructions for individual patients. The reader is advised to check product information (including package inserts) for changes and new information regarding dosage, precautions, and contraindications before administering any drug. No claim or endorsements are made for any drug or compound currently in investigative use. No responsibility is assumed by the publisher for any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained in any material herein.

This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider. You should consult your health care provider with any questions about the nature or effect of products you purchase here. Be sure to read all directions, warnings and other information accompanying any product before using it.

Dietary supplements are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness, and the information regarding these products has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

 Material © Healthquick Inc.

 Used by permission
Previously Published in OSA Today Reproduced by permission
Updated on: 02/01/10
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