Topical Vitamin A has great skincare benefits, but increasing Vitamin A intake in your diet can also lead to greater health for your skin and your body overall. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin present in many foods that our body doesn’t produce on its own. It has been proven to support healthy vision, immune health, reproduction, growth and development. It also helps our organs function properly, including the lungs, kidneys, skin and heart.
FORMS OF VITAMIN A
Vitamin A comes in two forms:
- preformed Vitamin A - including retinol - is the active form of the vitamin, meaning it is easily absorbed by the human body. It is mostly found in animal products.
- Provitamin A - including beta-carotenes - is the inactive form, meaning the body must convert this to retinol before it is able to absorb into the system. It is mostly found in red, yellow, and some green fruits and vegetables.
Both of these types are available in supplement form, but research shows that Vitamin A is best absorbed through whole foods.
FOODS HIGH IN RETINOL
Retinol is the active form of Vitamin A (meaning your body does not need to convert into a different form in order to use it)
Good sources of Vitamin A from retinol come from:
- Fatty Fish - such as tuna, herring, king mackerel, and cod liver oil
- Cheese - including goat cheese which often has higher rates of Vitamin A than cow cheese
FOODS HIGH IN CAROTENOIDS
Carotenoids are the antioxidant form of Vitamin A found in plant based foods. The body converts these into retinol as needed. Foods rich in carotenoids are often orange in color. The most commonly known carotenoid is beta-carotene, and foods high in this supplement are often dark green in color.
Good sources of Vitamin A from carotenoids include:
- Sweet Potato
- Red Peppers
Good Sources of Vitamin A from beta-carotene include:
- Black Eyed Peas
- Turnip Greens
- Swiss Chard
While Vitamin A supplements are available over the counter, research suggests that most people are able to receive all of the vitamins they need through whole foods, especially since Vitamin A toxicity is possible from ingesting too much preformed Vitamin A in supplement form. Additionally, while adequate Vitamin A intake through food has been shown to maintain healthy bones, research shows that excess Vitamin A in the body may be linked to increased risk of Osteoporosis.
In contrast, no amount of beta-carotenes are toxic to the human body, since the body converts them into Vitamin A only as needed, so load up on all the leafy greens you like! Eating a diet rich in Vitamin A has many benefits for our skin, internal organs, immune systems, and vision. Adding foods rich in Vitamin A into your meal planning can improve your health, inside and out.