Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin A

Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that can not be made by your body. This means it must be consumed through food. Once consumed, it is then stored in the liver until required by the body, where it is bound to protein before being transported and used. There are two types of Vitamin A, preformed, which is retinol found in animal products, and provitamin, which are carotenoids found in plant products.

Where Can You Find Vitamin A?

Preformed vitamin A can be found in liver and fish oils, whereas provitamin A is mainly found in leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, fruits, and orange and yellow vegetables. Both forms of vitamin A (preformed and provitamin) can be found in milk, eggs, fortified cereals, and supplements. The recommended dietary allowances for the average 19-50 years old male is 900 mcg RAE, and 700 mcg RAE for females, but this number will vary depending on your age and body needs.

Why Do You Need Vitamin A?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “[Vitamin A helps] form and maintain healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin. It is also known as retinol because it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye”. Vitamin A supports good eyesight, especially in low light, for example, a dark room.

In the year 2000, Berson reported Vitamin A has “Been effective in treating certain diseases of the retina, for example, the night blindness associated with Sorsby fundus dystrophy can be reversed over the short term with vitamin A” (2). Berson also stated that people whose diets contain a higher amount of carotenoids have shown a decreased risk for exudative or advanced ARMD.

Vitamin A also plays a role in pregnancy health and breastfeeding women. In addition, it can also help your body fight infections. Children are especially encouraged to intake Vitamin A to prevent the risk of infections and mortality.

Where Does The Mediterranean Diet Come In?

As we just reviewed, there are two main sources of vitamin A: animal sources and plant sources. Both of which need some fat in the diet to aid absorption. Regardless, it’s important to note Vitamin A sources should not be overcooked as this can reduce the content of Vitamin A in the food. The Main Source of Fat in the Mediterranean Diet comes from extra virgin olive oil which is also known as one of the healthiest fats in the world. Vitamin A and extra virgin olive oil eaten together would have so many benefits for the body like fighting infections and improving retina health. 

Written by Mandy Zhen

Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.