Back to Basics- All About Vitamin A

What is Vitamin A?

A fat soluble vitamin found in high sources in animal tissues—liver, organ meats, and fish liver oil. Biologically active vitamin A can take the form of retinol, retinal or retinoic acid. Carotenoids, particularly beta carotene, are a precursor for vitamin A.

Why do we need it?

It is necessary for the formation of visual purple, a substance in the eyes necessary for proper night vision. It is valuable in fighting infections—protects mucous membranes against invading bacteria. Along with zinc, vitamin A plays an important role in epithelial cell health.

Where do we get it?

  • Cod liver oil
  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Dandelion greens, collard greens, kale
  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Yams
  • Egg yolk
  • Whitefish

Note: Vegetables and fruits provide carotene—the vitamin A precursor. Animal products also provide vitamin A.

How do I know if I need it?

Early signs of deficiency may include night blindness, xerosis (thickening and pigmentation of conjunctiva of the eye) and hyperkeratosis folliculi (small bumps on back of the arms).

Other signs of deficiency may include:

  • Rough, dry or prematurely aged skin
  • Loss of sense of smell and appetite
  • Frequent fatigue and/or insomnia
  • Skin blemishes
  • Dry hair and brittle fingernails

Reference: The Nutritional Therapy Association, 2009