Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble retinoids, including retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamin A carotenoids (most notably beta-carotene).
Vitamin A has multiple important functions:
• It is important for growth and development – it is essential to the normal structure and function of the skin and mucous membranes such as in the eyes, lungs and digestive system, and supports cell growth and differentiation, and embryonic development.
• Vitamin A is also important for the maintenance of the immune system – helping the body’s natural defence against illness and infection.
• It is vital for good vision – especially for being able to see at night.
Vitamin A is naturally present in many foods. Sources include:
• Liver or liver pate
• Whole milk and yogurt
• Egg yolk
• Oily fish
• Leafy green vegetables such as spinach
• Orange and yellow and red vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers
• Yellow fruits such as mango, melon and apricots
Most people get what they need from a healthy diet, with a wide variety of foods and Vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries, but symptoms include:
• Skin conditions such as Eczema or acne
• Dry eyes
• Night blindness
• Stunted growth
• Frequent infections and poor wound healing
Too much Vitamin A cause serious problems. Hypervitaminosis A, or vitamin A toxicity, occurs when you have too much vitamin A in your body. Symptoms include changes to vision, nausea, bone pain, and skin changes. Chronic toxicity can lead to liver damage and increased pressure on your brain.
For pregnant women, too much vitamin A can cause birth defects.