Vitamin A fact sheet, FAQ and product listing page. This page contains everything you need to know about vitamin A. You'll find a complete list of vitamin A products below.
Quick jump to the sub-sections on this page:
- What is Vitamin A?
- What foods contain Vitamin A?
- What types of Vitamin A are there?
- What does Vitamin A do?
- What is the suggested daily intake of Vitamin A?
- Who can benefit from Vitamin A supplements?
- Does Vitamin A have side effects?
- Vitamin A product listing.
Vitamin A is a generic term for a group of important compounds that play a part in the body's vision, bone growth, cell devision, reproduction, and cell differentiation (where a cell becomes apart of specialized tissue, like the lungs).
You can find vitamin A in foods that come from animals, such as whole eggs, milk, and liver. Most of the fat-free milk and dried nonfat milk distributed in the United States is fortified with vitamin A to replace the amount that was lost when fat was being extracted from the milk.
Major animal sources of vitamin A consist of beef, chicken, milk, cheese, and egg substitute. The number of plant sources of vitamin A are much more plentiful, consisting of carrot juice, spinach, carrots, vegetable soup, cantaloupe, spinach, apricots, papaya, mango, and peas.
There are two kinds of vitamin A, dependent on the food source -- animal or plant.
Vitamin A that is derived from animals is called preformed vitamin A. It's absorbed in the form of retinol, one of the most active forms of vitamin A. Vitamin A that comes from colorful fruits and vegetables is called provitamin A carotenoid. These can be made into retinol once inside the body. In the United States, 34% of the vitamin A consumed by women is provitamin A carotenoids, with men consuming 26%.
Vitamin A helps regulate your body's immune system, preventing or battling infections by creating white blood cells. It is also believed that Vitamin A helps lymphocytes (type of blood cell) fight infections more effectively.
Vitamin A also promotes the healthy surface linings in your eyes, as well your respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts. When your body breaks down, it becomes much easier for bacteria to enter your body and cause infection. Additionally, it helps your skin and mucous membranes function and acts as a barrier to bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin A overall:
- Gives you a strong bone structure
- Fights off and prevents disease and infections
- Keeps your vision (especially night vision) healthy
|Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A as Preformed Vitamin A (Retinol Activity Equivalents)|
|Life Stage||Age||Males: mcg/day (IU/day)||Females: mcg/day (IU/day)|
|Infants (AI)||0-6 months||400 (1,333 IU)||400 (1,333 IU)|
|Infants (AI)||7-12 months||500 (1,667 IU)||500 (1,667 IU)|
|Children||1-3 years||300 (1,000 IU)||300 (1,000 IU)|
|Children||4-8 years||400 (1,333 IU)||400 (1,333 IU)|
|Children||9-13 years||600 (2,000 IU)||600 (2,000 IU)|
|Adolescents||14-18 years||900 (3,000 IU)||700 (2,333 IU)|
|Adults||19 years +||900 (3,000 IU)||700 (2,333 IU)|
|Pregnancy||18 years -||-||750 (2,500 IU)|
|Pregnancy||19 years +||-||770 (2,567 IU)|
|Breast-feeding||18 years -||-||1,200 (4,000 IU)|
|Breast-feeding||19 years +||-||1,300 (4,333 IU)|
Everybody should take Vitamin A, especially Blacks and Hispanics. These two groups are at a high risk of developing deficiency when the body lacks Vitamin A. Some signs of deficiency include night blindness, dry skin and hair, skin sores, impaired bone growth, and defective tooth enamel. In women that are pregnant, development defects of the embryo can be attributed to lack of Vitamin A.
While there aren't side effects per-se from taking it, you can create a condition called hypervitaminosis A if you consume too much of preformed vitamin A.
Since vitamin A is rapidly absorbed into the body and slowly clears it, you must be careful from being exposed to too much over a short period of time. Toxicity is rare, but symptoms of it include nausea, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, dizziness, dry skin, and cerebral edema.
Sources1. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2001.2. Ross AC. Vitamin A and retinoids. In: Shils M, ed. Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1999:305-327.