How Much Vitamin A Should You Get Daily

Vitamin A, a fat soluble nutrient, plays a crucial role in the body. It is a key ingredient for good vision, healthy immune system, important for reproduction and foetal development, supports cell growth, and much more. It also aids in healthy functioning of the heart, lungs, kidneys and many other organs of the body. With its antioxidant properties, it protects the cells against the effects of free radicals. Furthermore, it helps surface tissues like the skin, intestines, lungs, inner ear, bladder etc.

With these many functions, we sure understand how essential this vitamin is. Book a simple test and know if you could be Vitamin A deficient. 

There are two kinds of vitamin A; one is preformed vitamin A, retinol and retinyl esters, often found in animal products, meat, dairy, fish etc, while the other one, i.e. provitamin A is found mostly in fruits and vegetables with the most common, beta carotene, found in dietary supplements.  Vitamin A being a fat soluble nutrient, is stored in the body tissue for usage later, stored in the liver, in the form of retinyl esters.

How much Vitamin A should you get daily?

The right amount actually depends on the age and the sex of an individual. The vitamin A content of foods is expressed as retinol equivalents. The average daily recommended quantity, in micrograms (mcg) of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) for an adult male and adult female is nearly 600µg/d.

Both deficiency of the vitamin as well as surplus can be a problem that could lead to side effects, and hence maintaining the daily intake within the subscribed limit, and not exceeding it, is crucial. The amount varies for pregnant and breastfeeding women, about 800 µg/d and 950 µg/d respectively can be suggested.* For infants up to 12 months, 350 µg/d RAE shall be sufficient. Anything taken in excess is harmful; similarly, too much intake of vitamin A can lead to nausea, vomiting, vertigo or even blurred vision, and in the long run, can also be the cause behind bone thinning, birth defects, frequent headaches, liver damage etc.

What are some good sources of Vitamin A?

Be it naturally from food, following a healthy diet, or from supplements, it is necessary to get enough vitamin A in the body. A few sources include:
Preformed Vitamin A: Egg yolk, butter, cod liver oil, fish like salmon etc.
Pro Vitamin A: Carrots, cabbage, spinach, kale, basically it can be found in leafy vegetables.

In supplementary form, these are available as retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate, beta carotene etc. While most of the daily intake can be satisfied with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and including Vitamin A rich food in the diet, sometimes doctors might also suggest supplements to make up for severe deficiency.

Answering a few FAQS about Vitamin A

What does Vitamin A deficiency lead to?

Since Vitamin A is one of the most important nutrients for good eyesight, naturally deficiency could lead to difficulty for people to see in low lights, and gradually night blindness. Most cases of deficient Vitamin A, in one way or the other lead to defects in the eye, such as Keratomalacia, an eye disorder, where the cornea starts getting dry or Bitot spots, where keratin builds up in the eyes, causing unclear and hazy vision.  A deficiency especially with young adults and pregnant women, called Xerophthalmia, is the inability to see in low light, and this also can lead to permanent damage, if not treated properly.

Mostly in the case of an underdeveloped or developing nation, where people have scarce resources, and limited access to nutritious food, it might lead to health complications. It may increase the chances of infections like measles or diarrhea, and can affect the fetus growth in pregnant women. While the not so severe cases may include signs such as irritated skin, acne etc.

How do you know if you have Vitamin A deficiency?

You can go for an eye check up, or get a Vitamin A test done, to help the doctor find out the amount of Vitamin A present in your body.

Find out if you have sufficient and healthy amounts of Vitamin A in your body; book your Vitamin A test now. 

What to do if you have a deficiency?

If you find out, your body does not contain enough Vitamin A, start eating nutrient rich foods, fruits, leafy vegetables and animal products. Mild deficiency can easily be treated by following a well balanced and healthy diet. If the level is far below the desired amount, consult a doctor, they will recommend either a dietary plan or vitamin supplements to make up for the lack of it.

Vitamin A, being a fat soluble nutrient, performs vital functions. If you start noticing any form of signs or symptoms, visit a doctor at the earliest, they will help diagnose any underlying condition, while one should equally be careful and conscious of their vitamin levels and always follow a healthy and a well balanced diet.

Are there any risks associated with taking Vitamin A?

Taking more than recommended, unless required, can pose irreversible risks, such as birth defects, liver problems etc. There could be adverse effects, apart from dry skin, vomiting, confusion, and headaches, if your supplements interact with medicines you take, such as birth control pills, blood thinner etc., the interactions can be unsafe.

Why do people take Vitamin A?

Apart from the many benefits it offers, oral Vitamin A is sometimes used as a treatment for measles and dry eye, and certain types of leukemia as well. While most of the intake can be fulfilled with following a healthy diet, topical and oral retinoids are used as treatments for acne and other skin conditions like wrinkles, ageing etc.

Looking to book other lab tests for keeping a check on your health? Explore us.

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All of us wish to go back to our youthful, young selves again. With every passing day, we keep losing some of that youthfulness. Like other organs, our skin is a living organ that gradually changes over time. Unknowingly, everyday, we indulge in habits that make our skin suffer, thereafter aging it in the process. Our eating habits, our lifestyle or even the way we clean and wash our face, it all reflects in making us seem older than we actually are. Moreover, the changes in humidity and temperature in the winter can impact your skin and add to skin woes or cause skin aging-related changes to become more prominent.

Doctors prescribe certain small skin care changes that can help the skin look healthy and young. While there is not much we do for intrinsic aging that primarily occurs due to genetic changes, we can reduce premature skin aging as a result of environmental changes or our everyday lifestyle choices, also known as extrinsic aging.

Here are some expert approved dos and don’ts, which no matter your physical age, will always make your skin feel energetic and young:

Wear sun protection:

Be it a high SPF sunscreen or Sun protective clothing etc. one should always protect the skin from the harmful UV rays. If you are stepping out in the Sun, make it a routine to wear at least 30 SPF waterproof sun lotion, in areas not covered by the clothes. If you are running errands on a sunny day, carry an umbrella, wear a hat, or opt for some lightweight cotton and breathable fabric to cover yourself.

Make Vitamin A a part of your skin care routine:

As we age, our skin loses collagen, which is a protein behind keeping the skin smooth and lifted. When that happens, it leads to making our skin look creased and dull. Doctors recommend using retinoid, one of the easier ways to have a wrinkle free skin, though people with sensitive skin might find it irritable, but for others it can work wonders and defend against wrinkles. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that not only helps with wrinkles, but also keeps dark spots, uneven skin tone and fine lines at bay. Have plenty of vitamin A rich foods like carrots, tomatoes, other orange and yellow vegetables.

Do you have enough vitamin A in your body to support a healthy skin? Find out with a simple test.

Keep yourself well hydrated:

Water is our skin’s best friend in every way possible. Drinking water regularly throughout the day can help keep the skin youthful looking and fresh with a healthy glow. The amount of water intake depends on the age and other activities, but not keeping oneself well hydrated can lead to wrinkles, dullness, dark spots and dryness on the skin. Always carry a water bottle with you whenever you step out of the house, and keep one on your work desk to keep reminding you to drink water regularly.

Quit smoking:

It speeds up the process of aging, leaving the skin dull, shallow and lifeless. It is anyway bad for health, because it also causes cancer and other health complications. When you smoke, it has an adverse effect on your skin, as with every puff, you are blocking the essential oxygen and nutrition that goes into your cells. Even for a person who smokes occasionally, the impact on the skin cannot be ignored.

Eat healthy:

Following a healthy and well balanced diet, with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, helps with premature aging. Add food rich in Omega 3, such as fish, cod liver oil, chia seeds, walnuts etc. Include more antioxidants in your diet, like seasonal fruits, berries, red cabbage, beans or leafy vegetables. Eating healthy will make you look younger, illuminate your skin, help reduce fine lines and provide the skin hydration needed for better looks and functioning.

Watch your skin care routine:

Starting from face wash; use a gentle touch and formula; choose a wash that is not only gentle on your skin, but also helps fight free radicals and compounds that attack the skin cells, causing breakouts and acne. Avoid excessive and aggressive scrubbing, as it could accelerate aging. Just go for gentle washing, with hands moving in circular motion, to remove dirt, makeup etc. You must wash your face twice daily, if it sweats a lot, or if you are wearing a hat or helmet, make sure to cleanse it thoroughly. Make your skin look younger by ditching hot water and going for cold water for washing the face. It not only helps with hydration, but plumps up the skin as cold water closes the pores, thereby preventing dirt and other foreign substances from entering.

Exfoliate and moisturize:

Our skin removes dead cells every once in a while, to prevent dull looking skin with rough patches and to help remove the build-up of these cells, it is recommended to exfoliate the skin weekly at the most. After washing, apply moisturizer to minimize fine lines, prevent wrinkles and keep the skin lively and youthful, as it helps trap the water in the skin. For better results, one can also switch to richer face creams instead of the normal ones.

Opt for some exercise:

Exercising helps keep the body and skin young and energetic. It aids in the process of blood circulation and boosts the immune system. Sitting for hours, hogging on packaged and processed foods etc, can lead to weight gain, which also is a sign of aging. The belly fat, the fat underneath the chin, all portrays a false impression of your actual age, making you look older than you actually are.

Think work from home has reduced your physical activity significantly and may be affecting your health? Get a preventive test booked here.

While there can be many such reasons behind aging, it is never too late to start following these simple changes suggested by expert dermatologists; you can achieve a skin that glows, is healthy and beautiful looking, and one that defies age. If you find yourself with any aging symptoms, such as sunspots, hair loss, wrinkles before time, dull and sagging skin etc, talk to your dermatologist. They will help rule out the causes, check your family history and suggest better skin care routines, certain lifestyle changes etc. If you think these signs bother you, consult an expert and look out for solutions. But make sure to feel comfortable in your skin and accept the age changes positively as they come. 

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Vitamin A: A vital nutrient

There is no denying that vitamins are important nutrients for day-to-day body functions and optimum growth. Vitamins can be of two types: Fat-soluble and water-soluble. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient that exists naturally in the foods you eat and plays a vital role in your body. It can also be taken through supplements.

The vitamin A found in food items is of two forms:
1. Preformed vitamin A (retinol and retinyl esters) that occurs exclusively in animal products, like dairy and fish

2. Provitamin A carotenoids that are abundant in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables and oils.

Your body needs to convert these forms of vitamin A to retinal and retinoic acid. These are the active forms of the vitamin that can be further utilized by organs and organ systems.

Food items rich in Vitamin A

Before we take a look at what food items can enrich your body with vitamin A, it is important to note that out of the two forms found in the food, animal-based preformed vitamin A is more readily absorbed and utilized by your body than plant-based pro-vitamin A carotenoids. For this reason, people who follow plant-based diets (vegans) should be cautious about getting enough vitamin A-rich foods.

Animal-based sources of vitamin A:

  • Egg yolks
  • Butter
  • Cod liver oil
  • Chicken liver
  • Salmon

Plant-based sources of vitamin A:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Red peppers

Health benefits of Vitamin A:

Vitamin A is vital for a healthy you- it supports cell growth, immune system, fertility and eyesight. In fact, the role of vitamin A in vision and eye health is the most well-known of all.

For a better vision: The active form of vitamin A, retinal A, combines with a protein called opsin to form rhodopsin. This molecule is essential for your color vision and low-light vision. Furthermore, a scientific study has shown that higher blood levels of certain forms of vitamin A (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin) may decrease the risk of age-related mascular degeneration by up to 25%.

Boosts your immune system: Vitamin A is involved in the formation of B- and T-cells that are key players in regulating immunity and guarding against diseases. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin A deficiency can cause increased levels of pro-inflammatory molecules, which play against your immune system.

Fertility and fetal development: Both male and female reproductive systems need vitamin A for optimal functioning as it plays a role in sperm and egg development. This vital vitamin supports fetal development too.

Other functions: Vitamin A helps maintain surface tissues such as your skin, intestines, lungs, bladder, etc.

Vitamin A deficiency:

A lack of sufficient vitamin A levels in the body can hamper several bodily functions and pose a risk of multiple health complications, including:

  • Night blindness
  • Infections, particularly in the throat and chest
  • Hyperkeratosis (dry, bumpy skin) and acne
  • Fertility issues in men and women
  • Delayed growth in children

According to the WHO, deficiency of vitamin A is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children globally. In addition to this, vitamin A deficiency adversely affects pregnant women and fetus by raising the risk of anemia and slowing growth and development, respectively.

Check your vitamin A levels with a simple blood test:

The vitamin A blood test measures the level of vitamin A in your blood. Another name of vitamin A test is retinol test. It is a simple blood test that people can get done with not much discomfort. The needle usually feels like a prick.

Interpreting vitamin A test results

Your test results will tell if you have too much or too little vitamin A in your blood.

Normal values range from 15 to 60 mcg/dL or 0.52 to 2.09 micromol/L. The normal levels can vary slightly among different laboratories since they may use different measurement units or test different samples.

A lower than normal range means you can be deficient in vitamin A and may need to increase your vitamin A intake or take supplements. This may cause mild symptoms like:

  • Dry or inflamed eyes
  • Night blindness
  • Recurring infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Dry skin

A higher than normal value means you have an excess vitamin A in your blood. Too much of vitamin A can also pose health risks and cause symptoms like:

  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Double vision
  • Liver and spleen enlargement
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Don’t get too much of it
Vitamin A is fat-soluble and stored in your body. Thus, it can reach unhealthy levels over time if an excess of it is consumed. Make sure to stick to sufficient levels, get tested from time to time, and steer clear of high dose supplements.

The Takeaway
It is important to keep an eye on your vitamin A levels. Falling short of this vital vitamin can cause multiple health problems ranging from night blindness to chest infections. You can check your vitamin A levels with a simple blood test. Always consult a doctor to know what your test results suggest and how you should move ahead.  

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