Vitamin A has many important functions and helps maintain normal vision in dim light prevent night blindness. Essential for body growth, it aids the growth and formation of body cells. It is especially needed for bone growth.
If vitamin A intake is not sufficient, bones will stop growing before the soft tissue is fully mature. it also helps normal tooth development. Helps maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes. Without vitamin A, the skin cells become dry and flat and gradually harden to form scales that shed. Vitamin A supports the health of the sex glands and uterus, as well as the membranes which line the stomach, intestinal wall, bladder, and urinary passages.
Vitamin A is stored mainly in the liver.
Vitamin A is vital for good eyesight, both for the normal function of the retina adapting to darkness, and healthy skin. It is also important for growth in children.
Recommended intake of Vitamin A
EU NRV: 800µg (This is the same as RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance).
Chief Medical Officer recommendations are that all children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement containing vitamins A, C and D. UK average daily intake Requirements vary depending on age and gender. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey lists up-to-date intake requirements and average intakes.1
Where is vitamin A found in natural sources?
The richest source is in fish liver oils and also in animal liver. Oily fish, egg yolk, fortified margarine, butter and full fat milk also contain good levels of vitamin A.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in young children in developing countries because of general malnutrition.2,3
In the UK, deficiency is quite rare, particularly in adults. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include increased susceptibility to infections, scaly skin, flaking scalp, brittle, dull hair; poor eyesight and night vision, loss of appetite.2,3
Vitamin A Cautions
Just before, or during the first three months of pregnancy, women are advised not to eat liver, or take vitamin A supplements which contain more than the 800µg NRV unless prescribed by a doctor as vitamin A (retinol) might induce developmental abnormalities in a foetus if taken in high during that period. However, too little vitamin A in pregnancy can also cause problems.3 The upper Safe Upper Level: 1500µg/day2
What about taking vitamin A with other medications?
You should take medical advice about taking vitamin A if you are taking anticoagulants, retinoids, or statins. Cholesterol-reducing drugs may reduce the absorption of vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins (D, E, K).3,5
- Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, 2003.
- Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.
- NHS Choices. Foods to avoid in pregnancy. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/foods-to-avoid-pregnant.aspx#vitamin
- Gaby, A. R. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. HealthNotes 2006.