Say hello to vitamin A — the supervitamin in our Essential Vitamins range.
Why supervitamin? First, because it plays many important roles in your body, helping to support normal growth and development, cell recognition, immunity, vision and reproduction. Second, because it’s also a powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage and oxidative stress.
And third, because it acts as a hormone in the body and can affect the expression of genes.
If you’re wondering about the health benefits of vitamin A, you’ve come to the right place. These are the 5 life-changing benefits of the supervitamin (psst! — they’re backed by real science).
1. Vitamin A supports long-term eye health
Vitamin A is well known for its beneficial effects for eye health. It’s central to converting the light that hits your eye into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain. 1 When your intake of vitamin A is inadequate, your risk of developing night blindness — a condition known as nyctalopia — increases. 2
Vitamin A is a key component of rhodopsin, which is the pigment-containing sensory protein found in the retina of your eye and which is extremely sensitive to light. 3, 4 Vitamin A deficiency leads to a decreased amount of rhodopsin, which in turn causes your eyes to struggle to pick up light at lower levels. In other words, while you’ll have normal vision during the day, your vision in darkness will be reduced. 5, 6
Taking enough vitamin A every day can prevent night blindness and may also slow the decline in eyesight that some people experience as they age (a.k.a. age-related macular degeneration). 7, 8 While the exact mechanism of action isn’t fully understood, scientists believe that vitamin A’s antioxidant properties can combat oxidative stress, which in time may cause cellular damage to the retina and lead to age-related macular degeneration. 9
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study reported a 25% lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration in people over the age of 50 with some eyesight degeneration and who have consumed an antioxidant supplement (including beta-carotene, which is the less biologically active form of vitamin A). 10
2. Vitamin A can support your immunity
Did you know that vitamin A can support your immunity in the long term? First, it protects mucus integrity and the epithelium, which is one of the four main types of tissue in the human body. The epithelium lines all outer surface and most inner surfaces of organisms, and it functions as the ‘first line of defence’ against pathogens. 11, 12
Several studies have shown that vitamin A is fundamental to the formation of the epithelium — in fact, it plays a crucial role in epithelial keratinization, stratification, differentiation and functional maturation of epithelial cells. 11, 13 On top of that, vitamin A deficiency can cause the shrinking of epithelial cells and squamous keratinization in the skin, respiratory tract, digestive tract and cornea, with symptoms ranging from dry skin to diarrhoea, coughing and dry eyes. 14, 15, 16, 17 The result is a weakened immune system that can no longer fight pathogens, as well as an increased risk of infection.
Finally, vitamin A is involved in the creation and activation of T cells, which are a type of lymphocytes responsible for your body’s immune response. 18, 19 Research suggests that vitamin A might contribute to the antiviral response necessary for the defence against measles. 20 It might also facilitate the normal response to immunization and vaccination. 21, 22, 23
3. Vitamin A promotes bone health
A quick refresher course: protein, calcium and vitamin D all contribute to healthy bones. But here’s the thing — vitamin A is also necessary for proper bone growth and development. When your blood levels of vit A are low, your risk of bone fractures increases. 24 Similarly, increasing your vitamin A intake may decrease your risk of bone fractures by up to 6 percent. 25
On the other hand, many studies have shown that taking too much vitamin A can have detrimental effects on bone health, leading to weaker bones and a higher risk of bone fractures. 26, 27
The big takeaway? Don’t go over the top. Instead, approach vitamin A supplementation with caution so you don’t compromise your bones in the long term.
4. Vitamin A can reduce the risk of acne
More than a micronutrient, vitamin A is a star skincare ingredient with a list of complexion-perfecting benefits that are second to none. Topical vitamin A, better known as retinol or retinoids, can visibly improve the signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation. 28, 29 It also promotes collagen production, thickens the dermis for a plumper and younger-looking skin, and gives your complexion a radiant look. 29 Pretty big deal, huh?
But perhaps the most notable skincare benefit of vitamin A is its ability to fight acne. It increases cell turnover, which effectively slough off dead skin cells and stimulate the production of new skin cells. Why is this important? Well, because higher cell turnover rate plays a key role in unclogging pores and reducing excess sebum — two factors that contribute to acne. 30, 31, 32
Moreover, a higher cell turnover rate can also address acne scarring and repair DNA damage caused by the sun and other environmental stressors. 30
Pro tip: Retinoids can increase your skin’s photosensitivity (a.k.a. sensitivity to sunlight exposure), so make sure you’re always wearing sunscreen during the day. Reapply every two hours to maximise protection.
5. Vitamin A may promote reproduction
Trying for a baby? You may want to increase your vitamin A intake. Researchers found that vitamin A deficiency might reduce egg quality and might affect egg implantation in the womb. 33, 34 On the other hand, vitamin A deficiency in men might hinder the development of s cells, which in turn might cause infertility. 35, 36
Let’s not forget that vitamin A is critical to the growth and development of many major organs during pregnancy, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas — and even the skeleton. 37 Added to which, vitamin A is extremely important for foetal vision development and immune function. Another way of looking at it? Maintaining adequate vitamin A levels during pregnancy will help to ensure that your baby is properly growing and developing.
Keep in mind that you’re more at risk of vitamin A deficiency during the third trimester of pregnancy due to the accelerated foetal development and the physiological increase in blood volume during this period. 37 So you might want to be extra vigilant about your vit A intake starting with the end of the second trimester.
A word of warning, though: keep a balanced intake of vitamin A during pregnancy, as high levels of this micronutrient can harm your unborn baby. 38
Takeaway: Average gets the A
Getting the right balance of vitamin A in the body is incredibly important to normal organ function, a strong immune system and healthy vision. That said, perhaps supplementing your intake might not always be a good idea, especially if you’re in your first or second trimester of pregnancy. But getting an extra boost of vit A every now and then certainly has its advantages — like, for example, giving your skin a pretty glow.
Vitamin A by Dr Corbyn is formulated with retinol acetate, which is a more potent and more bioavailable form of vitamin A compared to beta-carotene and which your body can more readily and efficiently utilise. Plus, it’s vegan- and vegetarian friendly, gluten-free and non-GMO — ensuring you’re only getting the highest quality vitamin A supplement from a brand you can trust.