Also called retinol, Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that has many different functions in your body and is stored in your liver. As a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin A is also kept in your fatty tissues. You need Vitamin A for many reasons, but you shouldn’t take an extra supplement without first consulting your doctor.
You might take a Vitamin A supplement to help treat certain skin disorders, such as psoriasis, eczema and acne, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. People who have Vitamin A deficiency can develop these skin disorders, as well as infections, such as measles, respiratory conditions and eye disorders, including chronic dry eye, the Mayo Clinic says. Vitamin A is sometimes also recommended for helping to prevent cancer, as well as treat osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Don’t take Vitamin A supplements for any reason before first talking with your physician.
Vitamin A plays an important role in supporting your skin’s health, helping in cell reproduction, wound healing and growth, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Aside from your skin, Vitamin A also supports your eyes, specifically for night vision, mucous membranes and bones. Vitamin A also helps to ensure healthy reproduction in men and proper fetal development in pregnant women, as well as proper immune-system function and healthy hair, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
You can get Vitamin A in your diet from meats, and your body can convert carotenoids found in many vegetables into Vitamin A, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Vitamin A is typically found in eggs, chicken and beef livers, and whole-fat dairy products. Carotenoids are found in dark-green leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkins, peaches, cantaloupes and sweet potatoes. If you need to take Vitamin A capsules for your skin, you could take them in the form of retinyl palmitate or retinol supplements. The typical recommended dosage of Vitamin A capsules is 900 micrograms or 3,000 IU for men and 700 micrograms or 2,333 IU for women, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ask your doctor for the dosage that is right for you before taking Vitamin A capsules.
Because Vitamin A is fat-soluble, you should take the supplement with or immediately following a meal, advises the University of Maryland Medical Center. Keep in mind that Vitamin A can build up in your body, causing toxicity. Vitamin A toxicity can cause potentially severe birth defects, fatigue, hair loss, vomiting, musculoskeletal pain, headaches, dry skin and even liver damage, warns the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In the developing countries of the world, Vitamin A deficiencies are rare, due to the wide availability of foods containing Vitamin A or beta-carotene, the Mayo Clinic notes.
If you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t take Vitamin A due to the risk of birth defects, particularly malformations of the central nervous system, the Mayo Clinic cautions. Also, if you’re a heavy alcohol drinker or smoke cigarettes, or if you have liver disease, you shouldn’t take Vitamin A supplements, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin A can elevate your triglyceride levels and increase your risks of heart disease, especially if you’re a smoker. Taking excessive amounts of Vitamin A can be fatal. Vitamin A supplements can interact negatively with certain medications, such as tetracycline antibiotics, blood-thinners and retinoids.