I bet you know you need Vitamin A and you don’t know why. This is typical of many vitamins - we know we need the A, B, C, D, etc but we don’t know their purpose. I have found that once you dive into the health benefits of each of these vitamins, you start to look for them in foods and you become more aware of why it’s important. Awareness and knowledge are two big steps toward better health. Vitamin A is found in two forms - Active Vitamin A which comes from animals and beta carotene which comes from colorful fruits and vegetables. The latter of the two, beta carotene, is converted into Vitamin A so that the body can ingest and process it.
1. Vitamin A Protects your Eyes
Vitamin A is widely known to protect the cornea. Look out for extreme dryness in the eyes. This may mean you are Vitamin A deficient. A deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to a thickening of the cornea and if left untreated and uncared for, blindness. In an article on All About Vision, the author states, “Studies show vitamin A eye drops are effective for the treatment of dry eyes. In fact, one study found that over-the-counter lubricating eye drops containing vitamin A were as effective for the treatment of dry eye syndrome as more expensive prescription eye drops formulated for dry eye relief. Vitamin A eye drops also have been shown effective for the treatment of a specific type of eye inflammation called superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis.“ Carrots are loaded with beta carotene and work against cataracts. Kale, spinach, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes are also great sources of Vitamin A.
2. Vitamin A Helps to Fight Inflammation
Vitamin A is known as an anti-inflammatory agent. The National Institute of Health (NCBI) discusses this and says, “Supplementation with vitamin A has been found to be beneficial in a number of inflammatory conditions, including skin disorders such as acne vulgaris, broncho-pulmonary dysplasia and some forms of precancerous and cancer states. The present review suggests that vitamin A deficiency induces inflammation and aggravates existing inflammatory states. Supplementation with vitamin A in selected cases could ameliorate inflammation.” Vitamin A has antioxidant-like properties and works to help your immune system from being over-reactive. The reduction in levels of inflammation may also work to prevent Parkinson’s and other dementia-related diseases.
3. Vitamin A May Prevent Cancer
Vitamin A is known to control malignant cells in the body and may reduce the risk of cancer. Dr. Axe discusses this in the article, “Vitamin A: Benefits, Sources & Side Effects.” He says, “It is currently understood that retinoic acid plays an important role in cell development and differentiation as well as cancer treatment.
Lung, prostate, breast, ovarian, bladder, oral, and skin cancers have been demonstrated to be suppressed by retinoic acid. Another study collected numerous references demonstrating the findings of retinoic acid in melanoma, hepatoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Researchers found new evidence indicating that the molecular mechanisms in retinoic acid may control cancer cells’ fates.” It is important to note that in clinical trials Vitamin A had no effect on reducing the risk of cancer. However Sloan-Kettering takes a different approach here and says and believes the results are not conclusive to show Vitamin A’s effect on cancer, “Scientists are studying vitamin A byproducts that may be useful in cancer therapies, but these treatments are different from extra vitamin A taken in the form of supplements, the overuse of which can produce harmful effects including liver problems.”
Vitamin A is also great for your skin as it helps the body to free itself of radicals and toxins which may be skin damaging. It also plays an important role in repairing tissue in the body and helps to strengthen bones and teeth.