Vitamin A: What You Need to Know

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means that it is stored in your fat when you’re not using it. You also need a little fat for it to work. Because your body can store Vitamin A in your liver and fatty tissue, it is possible to build up toxic amounts if you take high supplement doses.

Vitamin A is important for:

  • Proper vision
  • Bone growth
  • Skin health
  • Immune system functioning
  • Growth and repair of muscle tissue
  • Mucous membrane health
  • Fights and prevents infection
  • Produces antibodies and white blood cells

Are You Deficient in Vitamin A?

Symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency are:

  • Your eyes feel uncomfortable in sunlight
  • Skin becomes dry and flakey
  • Acne
  • Overly tingly arm-pits or feet
  • Dry and lack-luster hair
  • Peeling nails
  • Weight Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Vitamin A and Light

Whenever you expose your eyes to light, you use up Vitamin A. So, whenever you are outside in the sunlight, your body is processing Vitamin A. It’s the same thing when you’re staring at a computer screen or reading a book or watching the TV screen.

If you do these things a lot, you may have a Vitamin A deficiency. A sure sign of deficiency is if you take a long time to adjust from outside light to inside light. Night blindness, finding it extremely difficult to drive at night, burning and pain in the eyes and having to wear dark glasses during the day are all signs of acute Vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A and Mucus

Mucus membranes line your body cavities like the nose, throat, lungs, the middle ear, the urinary tract and the gall bladder. Mucus membrane constantly secretes a fluid which prevents bacteria from attacking these areas of your body.  When you don’t have enough Vitamin A in your body, the fluid dries up, providing an opening for bacteria to attack your body.

Vitamin A and Infection

Vitamin A is an effective infection fighter. If you are lacking in Vitamin A, you will be at risk of infection in your:

  • Respiratory system
  • Kidneys
  • Eyes
  • Middle ear
  • Sinuses
  • Intestines
  • Reproductive organs

Best Sources of Vitamin A

Animal food sources are good places to get your Vitamin A. Foods such as cold water fish such as salmon, liver, egg yolks, cheeses and milk are great sources of Vitamin A.

Your body has the ability to convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A. Your best sources of beta-carotene are plants, green leafy vegetables and any vegetable with a yellow or orange pigment.

The best sources of beta-carotene are:

  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Rockmelon

How Much?

The amount of Vitamin A that you need depends on your life-style. If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or out in direct sunlight, then you will need more of it than someone who spends a lot of time in darkness. That being said, the average dose for Adults and Children over the age of 4 is 5,000 units per day. (1)

People with gastro-intestinal conditions may not be able to properly absorb Vitamin A.


National Institutes of Health