Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Vitamin A includes retinoids (animal sources) and carotenoids (plant sources) that our body transforms into a retinol.
Vitamin A has several important functions in the body. It is essential for good vision, helps cells reproduce normally and is needed for the proper development of an embryo and fetus, and helps maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes. It also plays important role in maintaining healthy immune system function, Bone formation, Reproduction, Wound healing.
Major carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lycopene, and lutein and have important properties, including antioxidant and photo-protective.
RDA for vitamin A is 800 IU.
Vitamin A palmitate (retinyl palmitate or retinol palmitate), is found in liver, fish, eggs, whole milk, cheese and butter. It is lost when the fat is removed from these sources.
Plant sources of pro-vitamin A (carotenoids) in the form of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are found in fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin A palmitate is also synthetically made and used in supplements and to fortify foods such as breakfast cereals or dairy products that have lost vitamin A palmitate during processing.
Since vitamin A palmitate is fat-soluble overdosing it can accumulate in the body and be toxic causing various symptoms including nausea or vomiting, headaches, birth defects, reduced bone mineral density or liver problems.
It is rare in the developed countries to have a serious vitamin A deficiency of which symptoms usually include Dry eyes, Night blindness, Skin problems and Diarrhoea.