Health Benefits of Vitamin A

Health Benefits of Vitamin A



Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, has the unique distinction of being the first official Vitamin named after it’s discovery in 19131 – hence the name Vitamin A.

Scientists later went on to find a provitamin A which are all members of the carotenoid family.  Now we generally refer to Vitamin A in two forms.  1) Retinol – found in animal sources and 2) Beta-carotene, found in a wide variety of yellow and orange coloured fruits and vegetables.  Note that animal sources of Vitamin A are six times stronger than plant sources, so be careful if eating too much organ meat.

Vitamin A is primarily absorbed in the small intestine and is a fat soluble vitamin.  This means that they dissolve in fat and are stored in fat throughout the body. It is difficult for your body to excrete excess fat-soluble vitamins, so toxic levels can accumulate if you consume too much, so it is important to be mindful of the amounts you are consuming.

Absorption of this vitamin is reduced with the consumption of alcohol, too much iron intake, excessive exercise, the use of mineral oils and use of cortisone medications.2

If you have trouble digesting fats, your absorption of these vitamins could decline. Also the use of using synthetic cooking oils such as Olestra and other fat substitutes and intestinal disorders such as Chrohn’s, Celiac or IBS will all inhibit absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Conversely, you can enhance vitamin A absorption by eating a meal with healthy fats.  Adequate levels of zinc and protein are also needed.

Food Sources

Good sources of Vitamin A can be found in the following foods:-

  •  Animal & Fish Liver
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Beet Greens
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Apricots
  • Kale
  • Cantaloupe
  • Red peppers
  • Carrots
  • Any vegetable or fruit that is coloured yellow or orange.

Health Benefits

  • Protects eyesight
  • Protects against skin problems – taking 100,000IU  Vitamin A daily may help alleviate severe acne – NOTE – ONLY take these high dosages under the supervision of a medical doctor or qualified Holistic Nutritionist, as toxicity can occur!
  • Cancer prevention
  • Decreases free-radical damage (oxidization of the tissues leading to ageing and cancer formation)
  • Cell & bone tissue growth
  • Healthy immune system
  • Essential for reproduction
  • Plays a role in cell division and growth


The upper limit of vitamin A set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences is 10,000 IU per day. This limit refers to pre-formed Vitamin A, which can be found in foods and dietary supplements as palmitate, acetate or fish liver oil, all of which are derived from animal sources.

Although vitamin A is an essential nutrient, an excessive, chronic intake of these forms of vitamin A can be toxic, leading to hair loss, confusion, liver damage, and – we now know – bone loss.


One of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness, as well as scaly skin, brittle hair and nails, poor growth, and poor immunity.  Those with vitamin A deficiency also tend to have low iron levels, which can lead to anemia. [10]


Although vitamin A is an essential nutrient, an excessive, chronic intake can be toxic. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is easily stored in the liver over time and may cause a condition known as hypervitaminosis A.

Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, headaches, skin irritation, pain in joints and bones, confusion, hair and bone loss and even liver damage.3 If you are taking supplements, make sure they are from food-based sources like beta-carotene and use as directed only.  Personally, as a Holistic Nutritionist, I would only advocate taking supplements under the care of a health professional.



  1. Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Elson N Haas, 2006,
  2. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A Balch, 2006, NY
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About Michelle

Michelle Firrisi is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Clinical Herbalist. She lived most of her life in the Island of Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, UK.

She now lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Michelle also holds an Honours Degree in Bachelor of Science Podiatric Medicine and practices Reiki, Massage and Shamanism. Her main speciality is in the areas of Addiction, Anxiety, Depression and reversing Mood Disorders with targeted Amino Acid Therapy & Nutrition.

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Statements and opinions written on this website are based on experience and designed for educational purposes only. It should not be taken as professional medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Before changing your diet or with all medical conditions consult a qualified medical professional.