Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which plays many roles within the body. Vitamin A in its active form is found in foods such as egg yolks, liver, dairy products and butter. It can also be obtained from beta carotene in yellow and orange coloured foods such as carrots, pumpkins, oranges and melon.
Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A by several enzymes within the body. However, some people are inefficient at converting beta carotene into vitamin A, and therefore need a direct source from animal foods or supplementation rather than relying on beta carotene in the diet.
What does vitamin A do for skin?
Normal skin pigmentation
Vitamin A is needed for the normal turnover of skin cells and for the regeneration of new skin. Having skin cells turn over at a normal rate is especially important for normal pigmentation and even skin tone. Conditions such as sunspots and age spots can be due to a slow turnover of skin cells and can increase the appearance of ageing.
Supplemental vitamin A is often recommended to those who have psoriasis. This is because the condition causes an abnormal rate of skin cell turnover which contributes towards scaling and itching. Psoriasis is an auto-immune and inflammatory disease of the skin. Both of these aspects are supported by the presence of adequate vitamin A.
Vitamin A plays a role in the immune system and in the body’s control of inflammation. Excess inflammation reflects on the skin as redness, large pores and acne. Taking the right nutrients to support the immune system, including vitamin A is essential if you want glowing skin.
What else does vitamin A do?
As vitamin A is needed for the normal function of the immune system, you will want to make sure you have enough – especially in winter when there are many bugs going around. Individuals with an overactive immune such as those with autoimmunity or allergies will also want to ensure they have enough vitamin A to normalize immune function.
Vitamin A is needed for normal vision, especially for night vision. You may have heard people tell you that carrots make you see in the dark. This is because they contain beta carotene which converts into vitamin A in the body and supports night vision. Vitamin A is also needed specifically for the colour receptors in the eyes.
Maintenance of mucous membranes
As vitamin A is needed for the normal turnover of skin cells, it is needed in the same way for the mucous membranes. The mucous membranes include the inside of your mouth, gut, eyes and vagina just to name a few. Mucous membranes need to be in good health to help protect against infections entering the body.
Vitamin A of course works together with and in balance with other vitamins and minerals for many functions. Getting a good daily intake is needed for overall health and wellbeing, as well has having a few benefits for the skin. Ultimately your skin reflects your internal health and wellbeing.