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The Health Benefits Of Vitamin A

15 February 2020

Hi all, I hope this finds you in good health and vitality.

In today’s article, we will cover the importance of Vitamin A. Essential nutrients are called essential nutrients because they are essential to our health! Without them, we would be deficient and eventually in bad health. 

Essential Nutrients can be grouped into 6 main categories:

  • Fats
  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

Fats, Protein, and Carbohydrates are ‘macronutrients’ and they make up most of our diets. Vitamin and Minerals are micronutrients and make up smaller requirements. Our bodies cannot make or make enough essential nutrients so we have to gain these through our diets. These essential nutrients are required for growth, repairs, maintenance and much more.

“Essential nutrients are compounds that the body can’t make or can’t make in sufficient quantity,” says Mandy Ferriera. “According to the World Health Organization, these nutrients must come from food, and they’re vital for disease prevention, growth, and good health.”

So, it’s vitally important we get the right levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats and other essential nutrients inside our systems. One of those essential nutrients is Vitamin A. Getting the right amounts of vitamins just from food is difficult. 

As I have written about before, over-farmed land, plants poisoned with fertilizers and pesticides, GMO products, animals that eat these plants are also nutrient deficient. Then this food, meat or plant, is heavily processed and nuked in a microwave. So, by the time we eat the food, it is almost devoid of any source of vitamins, minerals, etc.

Health Bunker will cover;

  • What is Vitamin A?
  • Why is Vitamin A Important?
  • What Does Vitamin A Do?
  • Vitamin A Benefits
  • Vitamin A Side Effects
  • What Foods Contain Vitamin A?
eggs contain vitamin a

What is Vitamin A?

All vitamins are essential micronutrients needed by our bodies in small amounts. Micronutrients support a range of vital functions. There are 2 groups of vitamins;

  • Water-soluble (B-Complex Vitamins, and Vitamin C)
  • Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D, E & K (Vitamin C also has a fat-soluble Vitamin called Ascorbyl Palmate)

Water-soluble vitamins require constant replacement, they are ‘use and lose’ nutrients. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues, and they are used much slower than water-soluble vitamins and are stored in the body for longer periods of time.

Vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries is a common occurrence because of low intakes of vitamins in their diets. Here in the UK, it shouldn’t cause a real issue but vitamin A deficiency symptoms are common. As are other nutrient deficiency symptoms.

Vitamin A falls into two groups;

Preformed Vitamin A; is the active form of the vitamin, which is found in poultry, meat, fish and dairy products and includes compounds of Retinol, Retinal, and Retinoic Acid. 

Provitamin A; is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products. A common type is β-carotene which is a carotenoid. According to the Linus Pauling Institute based in the Oregon State University, there are more than 600 types of carotenoids. Here are the most studied that are found in the western diet; alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.

Oregon State University

“Vitamin A can be obtained from food as preformed vitamin A in animal products or as provitamin A carotenoids in fruit and vegetables (see Food sources). Yet, while preformed vitamin A is effectively absorbed, stored, and hydrolyzed to form retinol, provitamin A carotenoids like β-carotene are less easily digested and absorbed and must be converted to retinol and other retinoids by the body after uptake into the small intestine. The efficiency of conversion of provitamin A carotenoids into retinol is highly variable, depending on factors such as food matrix, food preparation, and one’s digestive and absorptive capacities”.

Why is Vitamin A Important?

If we have a disease like IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac’s or SIBO (and more), we will not be absorbing or utilizing enough nutrients including Vitamin A. This nutrient is processed in the lower intestine and stored mainly in the liver, so if you have any of the above diseases or others you probably will not be gaining full potential from your diet or supplements.

This could or will have dire health consequences down the line. Even though we may be eating enough Vitamin A we may still be deficient if our bodies cannot make it bio-available for efficient use. This goes for any essential nutrient.

Throwing high doses of essential nutrients down our throats is not the answer. Especially if there is an underlying problem in processing them. Until a resolution to digestive issues is resolved we will only take in small amounts if we are lucky. Meaning continued illness and more distress.

What Does Vitamin A Do? Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency

An increased risk of Vitamin A deficiency is more prevalent in pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children. Cystic fibrosis and chronic diarrhea could also increase your risk of deficiency.

Vitamin A deficiency can also affect adults with gastrointestinal system and other diseases that interfere with nutrient absorption. For example;

  • Celiac Disease
  • Cirrhosis of the Liver
  • Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Bile Duct Disorder
  • Giardiasis
  • Duodenal Bypass

An increased risk of vitamin A deficiency occurs in;

  • People who have a strict vegan diet.
  • Prolonged excessive alcohol intake.
  • Other forms of liver disease, as vitamin A is stored in the liver.
  • Toddlers and preschool children living in poverty.

Mild forms of vitamin A deficiency may cause no symptoms. However, vitamin A deficiency may cause tiredness. Both mild and severe forms of vitamin A may cause an increased risk of:

  • Infections, including throat and chest infections, and gastroenteritis.
  • Delayed growth and bone development in children and teenagers.
  • Infertility.
  • Miscarriage

Vitamin A deficiencies include the following;

Skin

Skin cells require Vitamin A for creation and repair. This nutrient also fights inflammation due to certain skin conditions. Not getting enough Vitamin A may be to blame for developing eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems.

Eczema is a skin condition with dry inflamed skin, which is itchy. Several clinical studies show that ‘alitretinoin’ which is a prescribed medication with Vitamin A activity is effective in eczema treatment. 

In one 12-week study, people with chronic eczema who took 10–40 mg of alitretinoin per day experienced up to a 53% reduction in their symptoms Keep in mind that dry skin can have many causes, but chronic vitamin A deficiency may be the reason.

Eyes

It is well documented that Vitamin A deficiency causes eye problems, and can eventually lead to blindness or dying corneas Dry eyes or the inability to produce tears is a Vitamin A deficiency. Supplementing with Vitamin A could resolve these issues.

Night Blindness

Only a really severe deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to night blindness. In a study, women with night blindness had Vitamin A given in the form of food or supplements. Both forms of Vitamin A improved their conditions by over 50%.

Conception and Reproduction Systems

The male reproductive system requires a good balance of Vitamin A, this has been shown in numerous laboratory studies. Other studies showed that female rats with Vitamin A deficiencies had trouble conceiving. They also had embryos who had birth defects.

Infertile men require more antioxidants, studies have shown due to them carrying more oxidative stress. Vitamin A is an antioxidant. Vitamin A deficiency is also related to miscarriages.

Delayed Growth

Children who are Vitamin A deficient may have stunted growth. Vitamin A is essential for the proper development of the human body. Taking other supplements as well as Vitamin A works best.

Measles

Children with Vitamin A deficiency are more susceptible to measles and the disease tends to be more severe. In deficient children taking Vitamin A supplements can shorten the fever and diarrhea caused by measles.

Cancer

Studies have shown that people who eat foods containing β-carotene might have reduced risks to certain types of cancers, such as prostate cancer and lung cancer.

Poor Wound Healing

Wounds heal better and faster post-surgery and injury with the correct blood levels of Vitamin A. Areas that are slow to heal are linked to Vitamin A deficiencies. Vitamin A promotes collagen creation. Collagen goes on to support other essential bodily functions like;

  • maintaining a healthy gut
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • reducing anxiety
  • improving mood
  • promoting healthy nail and hair growth

Vitamin A is an important part of having healthy skin. Research has shown that topical Vitamin A creams and oral Vitamin A supplements strengthens our skin and improves elasticity. Studies in rats found that oral Vitamin A improved collagen production, even though the rats had been given steroids which can stop wounds healing. Other studies found that Vitamin A cream also prevented ‘sores’ linked to diabetes.

Similar studies in humans found that elderly men reduced the size of their wounds by as much as 50% when using Vitamin A topical cream. This was compared to men who didn’t use the cream.

Chest Infections

Constant throat and chest infections may be a sign of vitamin deficiency.

Acne and Breakouts

Low Vitamin A levels may be associated with Acne. Vitamin A fights inflammation and also promotes skin conditioning so it may prevent and treat Acne. In one study I read, 200 adults with acne were over 80mcg lower than those without the condition.

Creams containing Vitamin A can reduce acne research shows by as much as 50%.

 

The Immune System

According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon University;

‘Vitamin A has initially coined “the anti-infective vitamin” because of its importance in the normal functioning of the immune system. The skin and mucosal cells, lining the airways, digestive tract, and urinary tract function as a barrier and form the body’s first line of defense against infection. Retinoic acid (RA) is produced by antigen-presenting cells (APCs), including macrophages and dendritic cells, found in these mucosal interfaces and associated lymph nodes. RA appears to act on dendritic cells themselves to regulate their differentiation, migration, and antigen-presenting capacity. In addition, the production of RA by APCs is required for the differentiation of naïve CD4 T-lymphocytes into induced regulatory T- lymphocytes (Tregs). Critical to the maintenance of mucosal integrity, the differentiation of Tregs is driven by all-trans-RA through RARα-mediated regulation of gene expression. Also, during inflammation, all-trans-RA/RARα signaling pathway promotes the conversion of naïve CD4 T-lymphocytes into effector T-lymphocytes − type 1 helper T-cells (Th1) − (rather than into Tregs) and induces the production of proinflammatory cytokines by effector T-lymphocytes in response to infection. There is also substantial evidence to suggest that RA may help prevent the development of autoimmunity’.

Summary

Vitamin A is essential for vision and reduces Age-Related Macular Degeneration Disease. Vitamin A keeps tissues and skin healthy. It also plays a very important role in bone growth and development. Lycopene may reduce prostate cancer risk. 

A diet rich in carotenoids alpha-carotene and lycopene seems to lower overall lung cancer risks. Vitamin A is required for our immune system to function correctly. Cartinoids act as antioxidants. Food sources rich in carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin may give cataract protection. 

Vitamin A is important because it is required for the immune system to function correctly and efficiently.

What Foods Contain Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is abundant in the Liver, especially the beef liver. As we mentioned above it’s a vital cog in development and maintenance, especially for the eyes, heart, ears, and limbs of fetuses.

Just to give a few examples of foods that contain Vitamin A are as follows;

  • Liver (beef, chicken, and lambs)
  • Fish and Fish Oils (salmon and tuna)
  • Dairy; Milk, Eggs, Butter, Yoghurt Cheese (specifically high are; swiss cheese and cheddar cheese)
  • Dark Fruits (mangoes, and apricots)
  • Leafy and Green Vegetables (spinach, and broccoli)
  • Yellow and Orange Vegetables (carrots, peppers, and sweet potatoes).
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Products
  • Fortified Foods (which have vitamins added)
  • Some Vegetable Oils
  • Cereals
  • Nuts; Pistachio

Vitamin A Toxicity

Unless a person is severely deficient high doses of Vitamin A are not required. Most healthy adults require between 700 – 900 mcg per day. Women who are breastfeeding require more children need less.

However, what if we are eating the correct amounts but not absorbing enough because we have a digestive problem? We could still be Vitamin A deficient.

Too much vitamin A can be as harmful as being deficient. If you start taking a Vitamin A supplement here’s some symptoms what to watch out for;

Over 200,000 mcg can cause (this is a large dose):

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vertigo
  • Blurry vision

Taking more than 10,000 mcg a day of oral vitamin A supplements long term can cause:

  • Bone thinning
  • Liver damage
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation
  • Pain in the joints and bone
  • Birth defects

How much vitamin A do I need?

The amount of vitamin A adults aged 19 to 64 need is:

  • 0.7mg a day for men
  • 0.6mg a day for women

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need from your diet.

Any vitamin A your body doesn’t need immediately is stored for future use. This means you don’t need it every day.

Mainstream Research Studies for Vitamin A

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) in 2001.

Showed for the first time that a combination of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and Copper reduced the chances of ‘intermediate or advanced’ AMD by 25%. A follow-up study called AREDS2 tried to improve the first study findings.

 “All of these vitamins are available over the counter. A prescription is not required,” Dr. Miller says. He gives patients a sheet with the list so they can pick the products they need, with a pharmacist’s help if necessary. Off-the-shelf AREDS2 mixes are also available.

Story from: Science Daily Magazine, Higher vitamin A intake linked to lower skin cancer risk.

Brown University Study

Published on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology.

Around 123,000 were included in the study which found that people who had high levels of Vitamin A in their diets were 17% less likely to develop skin cancer. This was in comparison to those who had low Vitamin A in their diets. That’s according to researchers from Brown University, who unearthed that finding after analyzing data from two long term studies.

“Our study provides another reason to eat lots of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet,” said Cho, who is also an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, is hard to prevent, but this study suggests that eating a healthy diet rich in vitamin A may be a way to reduce your risk, in addition to wearing sunscreen and reducing sun exposure.”

Dr. Eunyoung Cho (associate Professor Brown University)

 Lyme Disease and Vitamin A Deficiency

Most diseases can affect how nutrients are used in the body, and Lyme disease is no different. Lyme sufferers become deficient in essential nutrients because; the constant infections over time wear the patients down. Some infections live and thrive off some essential nutrients.

The damage caused by the infections, pharmaceutical drugs, bad diets, toxins in the environment and food chain, will have changed our digestive systems, endocrine systems and organs, and even our DNA. These issues make it difficult for our damaged systems to utilize essential nutrients in the correct way. They either pass through our system unused and wasted or they could even create an allergic reaction or an intolerance response.

Health Bunker

Essential nutrients are called essential for one reason because they’re ESSENTIAL to life itself! Ignoring the facts can be life-threatening. Yet, we are never told these things by so-called experts, we never learned about these important dietary lessons in school. Nor are these nutrients mandated like vaccines are for example.

Why? 

The world we live in today is abundant with food, and the best medical advice we can get (apparently). Yet more people have debilitating diseases and genetic faults than ever before. Oh, and before you use that old chestnut, ‘but we live longer now so there’s bound to be more illness in older people’.

Well, I’m sorry to be the bringer of bad news but we are not living longer any more and that’s official, for the past few years longevity has dropped. (read here). This is an official survey carried out by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Also, younger people are in the sniper sights of modern illness phenomena. I know people in their 20s with, ulcers, IBS, Crohn’s, Lyme, Celiac’s, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Epilepsy, Asthma, skin conditions, and more.

The truth is in front of our eyes people. But we are all choosing to ignore it.

Eat Well. Be Well.

Dom and Nic
Health Bunker
It’s Your Life. Own it!

*Disclaimer – Please note, we are not Doctors or trained medical professionals. We are not giving medical advice. Check with your Doctor or health practitioner before trying anything.

 

References

Max Living
https://maxliving.com/healthy-articles/essential-nutrients-101-your-guide-nutrition-what-you-need-and-the-science-of-why
Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/essential_nutrient.htm
Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macular_degeneration
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoid
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutrient
Nutrient Review

Essential Nutrients

Extension Colo State

Fat-Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, and K – 9.315

Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C – 9.312

NIH
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00000145
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/#
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/
Harvard
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/listing_of_vitamins
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https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-A
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https://dermnetnz.org/topics/vitamin-a-deficiency/
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https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
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https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325344.php#other-potential-benefits
Mayo
https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-a/art-20365945
Pro health

8 Supplements for Lyme Disease That You Can Feel Working

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/07/life-expectancy-slumps-by-five-months
https://www.actuaries.org.uk/news-and-insights/media-centre/media-releases-and-statements/longer-term-influences-driving-lower-life-expectancy-projections

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