What It Is and How Much You Need – Cleveland Clinic

What It Is and How Much You Need – Cleveland Clinic

Were you ever told as a child to eat carrots because they would help you see better? Well, that’s not all bad: carrots contain vitamin A, a nutrient that can help protect your vision (among other jobs).

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Your body doesn’t make vitamin A naturally, but you can find it in many foods. It is also available as a nutritional supplement. But unless you have a diagnosis vitamin A deficiencyit is always better to cover your vitamin needs through a healthy and balanced diet.

“Because so many foods contain vitamin A, it’s easy to get it through food,” says registered dietitian Elyse Homan RD, LD. “But you also need to know how much vitamin A is enough and how much vitamin A may be too much. It’s a balancing act.”

Homan shares how to increase your intake without going overboard and explores the many benefits of vitamin A.

What is vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a critical vitamin that helps your body develop and function properly. There are two types of vitamin A, which come from different sources:

  • Carotenoids (provitamin A) they are found in plant-based foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes, fortified foods (where vitamins are added), and supplements. To digest carotenoids, your body needs healthy fats to change (convert) them into the other active form of vitamin A (retinol). One of the most common carotenoids is beta-carotene, which is responsible for giving plants their orange and red pigments.
  • Retinoids (retinol or preformed vitamin A) they are found in foods of animal origin, such as eggs, fish, milk, and liver. Your body can use this form of vitamin A right away.

What does vitamin A do for your body?

This nutrient plays many important roles. Vitamin A is good for supporting healthy fetal growth and development and beyond, as well as:

1. Maintains healthy vision

One of the most important functions of vitamin A is to preserve and maintain its vision. It helps change the light that hits your eye into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain.

Your body also uses vitamin A to make pigments for your retinas to work well and moisture for your corneas. An early sign of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness (nyctalopia)which can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Foods rich in vitamin A may reduce the risk of developing waterfalls either Macular degeneration associated with age (AMD). Vitamin A might even restore some vision loss, according to A study.

2. Helps the function of the immune system

Vitamin A strengthens your immune system by supporting white blood cells and mucous membranes in your lungs, intestines, and urinary tract. This helps protect you from infections and toxins (also called free radicals) that cause inflammation and disease.

Give vitamin A supplements to children with measles It has been shown to reduce the severity of the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In other words, vitamin A can sometimes save lives.

3. Reduces the risk of cancer

Vitamin A plays a key role in the healthy growth and development of your cells. But no one knows for sure if it also helps reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Some studies suggest that consuming higher amounts of beta-carotene or vitamin A from plant foods may protect against certain types of cancer, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But other research has shown that high doses of vitamin A supplements actually increase the risk of cancer and death in people who smoke or used to smoke.

“It’s too early to say whether any of the forms of vitamin A can help us prevent or treat cancer,” says Homan. “We need a lot more information to make that connection.”

4. Keeps your skin clean

Many people claim that vitamin A is an effective treatment for acne and age-related skin changes, including wrinkles Y age spots. But it’s important to use vitamin A for skin health carefully, whether you’re adding vitamin A-rich foods to your diet or using vitamin A-based skin treatments like pills or creams.

Eating too little vitamin A can lead to blocked sweat glands, which increases your risk of developing acne. Too much vitamin A (hypervitaminosis) can discolor the skin and make it dry.

Prescription retinol it has been shown to improve acne, but we need more research to show if over-the-counter forms help as well. Retinol treatments can also make your skin very sensitive to the sun. Talk to a health care provider or dermatologist about effective care for your skin type.

5. Supports reproductive health

Adequate amounts of vitamin A in your diet are essential for healthy reproductive function. Vitamin A deficiency can cause sterility and cause growth retardation development in children.

but too much vitamin a during pregnancy it can harm the fetus, causing birth defects and an increased risk of infection and disease. Pregnant people should avoid foods that contain large amounts of vitamin A, such as pate and liver, as well as vitamin A supplements.

6. Maintains strong bones and teeth

Vitamin A helps maintain proper bone growth and development, reducing the risk of injury or disability. But it is important to strike a balance. Researchers have found that vitamin A may also be associated with a increased risk of bone health problemsincluded hip fractures Y osteoporosis.

What are the best sources of vitamin A?

Foods rich in vitamin A include fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, and nuts. “It’s pretty easy to get a healthy dose of vitamin A without supplements,” says Homan. “You just need to know what to look for.”

Here are some foods that are good sources of vitamin A:

  • Dairy products: Dairy is an excellent source of vitamin A, from milk and yogurt to cheese and butter. Milk, low-fat spreads, and many cereals are often fortified with vitamins, including vitamin A, so you don’t have to look far to get your recommended daily amount.
  • Eggs: Eggs are a nutritious part of any meal., with yolks containing almost all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function well. A hard-boiled egg contains 75 micrograms (mcg), or 8% of the daily recommended amount, of vitamin A. Eggs also contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help protect your vision.
  • Fish: Oily fish they are among the best sources of vitamin A. Try salmon, mackerel, or bluefin tuna. It doesn’t take much: A 3-ounce serving of cooked sockeye salmon provides 7% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Liver and liver products: Liver is the best food source of vitamin A, including cod liver oil and liverwurst. Foods like liver sausage are so rich in this essential nutrient that you may need to limit it to no more than one meal per week to avoid eating too much. A 3-ounce serving of fried bread cow liver contains about 6,600 mcg of vitamin A, more than 700% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Fruits and vegetables: The oil, seeds, and nuts provide a healthy dose of vitamin A, along with most deep orange-yellow and dark green leafy vegetables and fruits. A whole sweet potato with its skin has about 1,400 mcg of vitamin A. A half cup of raw carrots equals more than 450 mcg, or 51% of your daily requirement. Other foods rich in vitamin A are apricots, peachesbroccoli, grapefruit, pumpkin, watermelon and spinach.

How much vitamin A per day do I need?

Your recommended intake of vitamin A (in micrograms) is:

Years recommended daily value
6 to 11 months* 500 micrograms
12 to 23 months* 300 micrograms
2 to 18 years (female assigned at birth, AFAB) 300 to 700 micrograms
Over 18 years (AFAB) 1,600 to 1,800 micrograms
2 to 18 (male assigned at birth, AMAB) 1400 to 2200 micrograms
Over 18 years old (AMAB) 2,000 to 2,400 micrograms
14+ years old and pregnant 750 to 770 micrograms
14+ years and infants 1,200 to 1,300 micrograms

*adequate intake
yessource: 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Is too much vitamin A bad for me?

Vitamin A from food is considered safe. but you can get too much vitamin A from supplements.

While vitamin A has many benefits, too much can be harmful. Your body stores leftovers that it doesn’t need right away. They can build up to an unsafe level and lead to:

  • Blurry vision.
  • Bone-ache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dry Skin.
  • Hair loss.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Skin rash or discoloration (yellow-orange from too much beta-carotene).

Do I need to take vitamin A supplements?

Most multivitamins and minerals supplements They also contain vitamin A. But in most cases, you don’t need to take supplements. if you get enough of what you need from food.

“Unless you have a limited diet or a condition that increases your need for vitamin A, you can find all the vitamin A you need in a balanced diet,” advises Homan. “Also, in the case of vitamin A, you don’t want to risk getting too much of it.”

If you suspect you may be lacking in vitamin A, talk to a health care provider about next steps. Your symptoms and blood test can confirm the diagnosis and guide treatment.

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