A variety of organic compounds fit within the blanket term “vitamin A.” Among those compounds are retinol, retinal, and beta carotene. In any form, however, vitamin A is crucial to health and can be used as an effective treatment supplement to prevent and treat a variety of conditions.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is one of many fat-soluble vitamins. The nutrient is naturally present in a variety of foods but can also be found as a supplement.
Essentially, vitamin A is present in two different forms. Preformed vitamin A is the nutrient typically found in meat, fish, poultry, and dairy that the body readily uses. The second type of vitamin A is known as provitamin. This form is actually present in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products and is typically manifested as beta carotene. The body uses this substance to create the vitamin A that it needs.
As with most vitamins, natural food products are the best source of the vitamin. Vitamin A can be found in beef liver and other organ meats, fish such as salmon, green leafy vegetables and other colorful vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and fortified breakfast cereals. The vitamin can also be found as an individual supplement or as a component of many multivitamins.
Health Benefits of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an important nutritional supplement that offers a variety of health benefits. While typically used to treat vitamin A deficiency, the nutrient is also beneficial in treating several other conditions.
The supplement is beneficial for reducing the complications of some common diseases including measles, HIV, malaria, and diarrhea. The vitamin can also treat heavy menstrual periods, premenstrual syndrome, vaginal infections, yeast infections, and fibrocystic breast disease. The nutrient can also prevent breast cancer and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to a child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. It is also a particularly important nutrient for supporting eye health, skin condition, and immune function.
Possible Side Effects of Vitamin A
As with any nutritional supplement, vitamin A presents some limited side effects. Overuse of the nutrient can lead to dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma, and in severe cases, death.
Appropriate doses and regulated use, however, present limited risks and offer extensive health benefits.