Sophie's World Blog

What we need to know about Vitamin A

What we need to know about Vitamin A

Our body's demand for Vitamin A can be easily covered by a balanced diet that contain enough fish, liver and orange-coloured vegetables. There's no need for supplements as long as we're able to consume these food types. Our task is to take care of our children's diet to support them.

How much Vitamin A we need

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. The human body store it primarily in the liver. Two different types of vitamin A are found in your diet. Preformed vitamin A (Retinol) is found in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods. The other type, pro-vitamin A (Beta-carotene) is found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables. The most common type of pro-vitamin A is beta-carotene.

An adult human needs an average of 800 mcg daily, which can be consumed from food. Only children under 9 and adults 71 years old and above are supposed to take this vitamin as a dietary supplement.

What to eat

Vitamin A (Retinol) comes from animal sources such as eggs, meat, fortified milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, cod, and halibut fish oil. However, all of these sources -- except for skim milk that has been fortified with Vitamin A -- are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Sources of beta-carotene are bright yellow and orange fruits such as cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, and apricots; and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash broccoli, spinach, and most dark green, leafy vegetables. The more intense the colour of a fruit or vegetable is, the higher the beta-carotene content.

What helps absorb Vitamin A

Since Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it needs fat to absorb it well. If you are on a low-fat diet, it will decrease the absorption of vitamin A. This means that taking good fats is an intake that's twice more useful for your body.

What is Vitamin A in the body for?

Retinol helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin. Vitamin A promotes good vision, especially in low light. It may also be needed for reproduction and breast-feeding. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals (molecules that damage healthy cells) and increases the risk of accelerating the aging process and/or health conditions.

Is too much Vitamin A dangerous?

Absolutely yes! In fact the more dangerous form is Retinol, a higher dose intake may cause several illnesses, like dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma, and even death. This type is extremely dangerous for pregnant women, because high intakes of preformed vitamin A in pregnant women can cause birth defects in their babies, even before the conception of the baby!

Beta-carotene is not as dangerous, a higher intake of this may turn the skin yellowish, but after the beta-carotene level is moderated, the skin turns into its normal colour again.

Does pregnancy increase the need for Vitamin A?

No, absolutely not. Women must be very careful with this supplement during pregnancy, lactation or even when they are just planning to have a baby.

About Vitamin A supplements

Although we can easily find many Vitamin A supplements in shops, a healthy adult doesn’t need them. With a healthy diet, we can easily maintain our body’s A Vitamin storage. In case we would like to take this vitamin, it would be better to ask our doctor about it, and know the suggested amount of intake.

Best Vitamin A based dishes:



Copyright: Zsófia Michelin-Corporatum Oy, Content pictures copyrigh: Shutterstock, Development: e-Com