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Vitamin A Benefits, Deficiency, Side Effects

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for your health. It is found in plants and animals but in different forms. The preformed forms, retinol and retinyl esters, are found extensively in animal products, whereas the beta-carotene form, which is later synthesised into vitamin A is found in plant products. You must have heard your grandma telling you to eat carrots if you don’t want to wear those thick lenses by her age. Well, she was absolutely right. Vitamin A is often referred to as eye vitamin. However, it has many more benefits, which you will discover in this article.

Health Benefits of Vitamin A : Why does it do?

The list of Vitamin A uses in the body is long. It is an important nutrient that benefits you in many ways. 

1. A Powerful Antioxidant

Beta carotene, a provitamin which is mainly found in plants, exerts a powerful antioxidant activity. These are red-yellow pigments found in many fruits and vegetables. They effectively work towards scavenging free radicals that cause cell damage. Free radicals are dangerous for the body, they can harm the immune system as well as damage healthy cells of the body.

2. Protect Against Night Blindness

Studies on this disease have indicated that the development of night blindness onsets with inadequate Vitamin A in the diet. Vitamin A can be a potential treatment against night blindness.

3. Enhances Skin Health

Vitamin A provides structural support to the body’s skin cells. It also helps in wound healing and skin regrowth.

4.Improves Reproductive Health

Vitamin A helps proper fetal development in the womb. It also helps strengthen the immune system of the fetus.

5. Lowers the Risk of Certain types Cancer

Adequate amounts of Vitamin A can protect against a few cancer types. It helps control cellular growth, which, when uncontrollable, becomes the leading cause of cancer.

6. Support Bone Health

People with lower levels of vitamin A are prone to a higher risk of bone fractures and promote bone growth and development.

7. Improves Vision Health

The retinal form of Vitamin A is needed for vision. It helps with proper vision. In sufficient amounts, it can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

8. Healthy Hair

Vitamin A contributes to hair growth and keeps them moisturised. Vitamin A is essential for cell growth, which in turn stimulates hair growth. It also produces healthy sebum, preventing hair from drying out and breaking off.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency can cause many health issues. It is important to take it in needed amounts. Here are 6 signs to notice that may hint towards a deficiency in vitamin A daily intake.

  • Dry Skin
  • Drying corneas can lead to a disease called Bitot’s spot in the eyes, which can progress into blindness.
  • May cause fertility issues.
  • Poor wound healing
  • Delayed Growth in children

Vitamin A Toxicity

Vitamin A toxicity is caused when one consumes too much of it. A certain amount is needed in the body above, which may cause Hypervitaminosis A, as the vitamin gets stored in the body. You can look for these symptoms that can point towards its toxicity.

Acute Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

Chronic Effects

  • Bone Deformation
  • Vision changes
  • Headaches
  • Liver damage
  • loss of appetite

Vitamin A Sources

You can get Vitamin A from a wide variety of animal sources, and plant sources will provide you with beta-carotene. Don’t forget to include these sources in your daily food list. Good sources of vitamin A (retinol) Include:

  • Milk and Yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Fish
  • Liver and Liver products
  • Eggs 
  • Cod liver oil
  • Cheddar
  • Tuna
  • Blue cheese

Vegan Sources of Vitamin A Beta-carotene Include

  • Red bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • corn 
  • sweet potatoes 
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Apricots 
  • tomatoes

Recommended Vitamin A Intake

The table below can give insights into the recommended vitamin A intake according to gender and age.

Source: FSSAI

GroupAge/ CategoryRDA – Beta Carotene (ug/Day)RDA – Retinol (ug/Day)
Infants0-6 months350NA
Infants6-12 months3502800
Children4-6 years4003200
Children7-9 years6004800
Boys10-17 years6004800
Girls10-17 years6004800

Note: 1ug of retinol is equal to 6ug of beta-carotene.


Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that contributes to many bodily functions. It ensures the normal functioning of the immune system and many other parts. It also plays a key role in maintaining vision health, fetal development, and other benefits. Vitamin A can best work when taken in required doses, neither too much nor too less. There are many dietary sources of it, and you can get plenty of vitamin A if you consume a wholesome diet composed of all food groups. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to ensure the right consumption.

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