Vitamin A is a vitamin. It can be found in many fruits, vegetables, eggs, whole milk, butter, fortified margarine, meat, and oily saltwater fish. It can also be made in a laboratory. Carotenoids are a group of yellow or orange chemicals found in plants. Some of these can be converted to vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin A is used for treating vitamin A deficiency. It is also used to reduce complications of diseases such as malaria, HIV, measles, and diarrhea, and to improve growth, in children with vitamin A deficiency.
Women use vitamin A for heavy menstrual periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), vaginal infections, yeast infections, "lumpy breasts" (fibrocystic breast disease), and to prevent breast cancer. Some women with HIV use vitamin A to decrease the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding. It may also be used to prevent various complications during and following childbirth and to improve infant development.
Men use vitamin A to raise their sperm count.
Some people use vitamin A for improving vision and treating eye disorders including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and cataracts. It may also be used to promote healing after eye surgery.
Vitamin A is also used for skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, wounds, burns, sunburn, keratosis follicularis (Darier's disease), ichthyosis (noninflammatory skin scaling), lichen planus pigmentosus, and pityriasis rubra pilaris.
It is also used for gastrointestinal ulcers, Crohn's disease, parasites in the intestines, gum disease, diabetes, Hurler syndrome (mucopolysaccharidosis), sinus infections, hayfever, respiratory infections, osteoarthritis, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). It is also used to reduce symptoms of a liver disease associated with drinking too much alcohol (alcoholic hepatitis) and of Parkinson's disease.
Vitamin A is also used for shigellosis, diseases of the nervous system, nose infections, loss of sense of smell, asthma, allergy prevention, persistent headaches, kidney stones, overactive thyroid, iron-poor blood (anemia), deafness, ringing in the ears, and precancerous mouth sores (leukoplakia).
Other uses include preventing and treating cancer, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and to reduce side effects during cancer treatment. It is also used for protecting the heart and cardiovascular system, slowing the aging process, and boosting the immune system.
Vitamin A is applied to the skin to improve wound healing, reduce wrinkles, and to protect the skin against UV radiation.
How it works
Vitamin A is required for the proper development and functioning of our eyes, skin, immune system, and many other parts of our bodies.
EffectiveVitamin A deficiency
Taking vitamin A by mouth is effective for preventing and treating symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency can occur in people with protein deficiency, diabetes, over-active thyroid, fever, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, or an inherited disorder called abetalipoproteinemia.
Vitamin A is LIKELY SAFE for children when taken in the recommended amounts. The maximum amounts of vitamin A that are safe for children are based on age:Less than 2000 IU/day in children up to 3 years old. Less than 3000 IU/day in children ages 4 to 8 years old. Less than 5700 IU/day in children ages 9 to 13 years old. Less than 9300 IU/day in children ages 14 to 18 years old
Vitamin A is POSSBILY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses. Some scientific research suggests that higher doses might increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture, particularly in older people. Adults who eat low-fat dairy products, which are fortified with vitamin A, and a lot of fruits and vegetables usually do not need vitamin A supplements or multivitamins that contain vitamin A.Long-term use of large amounts of vitamin A might cause serious side effects including fatigue, irritability, mental changes, anorexia, stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, mild fever, excessive sweating, and many other side effects. In women who have passed menopause, taking too much vitamin A can increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture.There is growing concern that taking high doses of antioxidant supplements such as vitamin A might do more harm than good. Some research shows that taking high doses of vitamin A supplements might increase the chance of death from all causes and possibly other serious side effects
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vitamin A isLIKELY SAFEfor pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in recommended amounts of less than 10,000 IU per day. Larger amounts arePOSSIBLY UNSAFE. Vitamin A can cause birth defects. It is especially important for pregnant women to monitor their intake of vitamin A from all sources during the first three months of pregnancy. Forms of vitamin A are found in several foods including animal products, primarily liver, some fortified breakfast cereals, and dietary supplements.
Excessive use of alcohol: Drinking alcohol may increase vitamin A's potentially harmful effects on the liver.
Anemia: People who are anemic and have low levels of vitamin A might need to take iron along with a vitamin A supplement to treat this condition.
Disorders in which the body does not absorb fat properly: People with conditions that affect fat absorption, such as celiac disease, short gut syndrome, jaundice, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic disease, and cirrhosis of the liver, are not able to absorb vitamin A properly. To improve vitamin A absorption, these people should use vitamin A preparations that are water-soluble.
A type of high cholesterol called "Type V hyperlipoproteinemia": This condition might increase the chance of vitamin A poisoning. Do not take vitamin A if you have this condition.
Intestinal infections: Intestinal infections such as hookworm can reduce how much vitamin A the body absorbs.
Liver disease: Too much vitamin A might make liver disease worse. Do not take vitamin A if you have liver disease.
Malnutrition: In people with severe protein malnutrition, taking vitamin A might result in having too much vitamin A in the body.
Zinc deficiency: Zinc deficiency might cause symptoms of vitamin A deficiency to occur. Taking a combination of vitamin A and zinc supplements might be necessary to improve this condition.
MajorMedications for skin conditions (Retinoids)
Some medications for skin conditions have vitamin A effects. Taking vitamin A pills and these medications for skin conditions could cause too much vitamin A effects and side effects.