Vitamin A is an essential vitamin found in many of the foods we eat. There are actually more types of vitamin A than one, and different types fulfill different biological functions.
Vitamin A: the Basics
Like many other vitamins, vitamin A is fat-soluble, which means it dissolves in fat and is often found in fatty foods.
So, what does vitamin A do? Perhaps more than anything else, it promotes skin and bone health. But vitamin A also plays a vital role in immunoregulation. According to this study, “vitamin A supplementation has been shown to enhance [the] immune response.” In addition,“epidemiological studies have shown low vitamin A and carotene to be correlated with [the] incidence of cancer.”
In other words, you want your body’s vitamin A levels to be just right. And you can do that by eating the right foods.
Food Sources of Vitamin A
Many people equate vitamin A with the bright yellow color of carrots, but ensuring adequate vitamin A intake isn’t actually so simple. That’s because carrots contain carotenes — not vitamin A itself. Same with leafy greens like spinach.
And while these carotenes are great and all, they’re not especially well-converted to vitamin A; the newest research indicates a conversion rate of less than 5%! To really ensure adequate vitamin A intake you’ll need to either supplement or partake of animal food sources like:
- Cod liver oil
Vitamin A’s Many Benefits
When it comes to health benefits, this is one vitamin you don’t want to miss out on. Vitamin A can:
- Lower the risk of some cancers
- Strengthen the immune system
- Prevent age-related eye problems
- Promote growth and regeneration
- Reduce acne and skin health issues
- Strengthen bones and connective tissues
How to Use Vitamin A
Vitamin A can be used in several ways. In addition to its place within a healthy diet, you can also use vitamin A topicals to improve the health of your skin. While both types of use can improve skin health, topical use provides the most direct route.
And the very best type of topical use involves a special form of vitamin A called retinol. By applying a retinol-containing serum or cream onto your skin, you can deliver the vitamin’s benefits right to where they’re needed most. Many people report amazing results after just a few weeks of using retinol daily. Combined with a good diet, you’ll be setting your skin up for long-lasting health.