Vitamin A (Retinol) – Bodybuilding

Vitamin A

Vitamin A also called Retinol is a crucial nutrient for proper functioning of many body functions. Sadly many people do not understand this vitamin and its importance to good health. In this article we will dive into the main points of this crucial vitamin.

Benefits Of Vitamin A

Vitamin A benefits the body in many ways, such as preventing infection, preventing cancer, and repairing the skin, throat, eyes, and digestive system. It has been shown that vitamin A may also enhance the functions and growth of the lymphocytic system, as well as boost your immune system. Additionally, vitamin A may also be helpful in preventing many of the conditions that arise with the aging of the eyes, such as cataracts.  

Below is a list of possible benefits of Vitamin A:

Acne

Vitamin A (retinol) given orally for acne has been shown to be an effective treatment in doses of 300,000 units for women and 400,000 to 500,000 units for men. A slight toxicity was observed, mainly in the form of skin xerosis and mucous membrane irritation. The typical dosage that most people take of retinol 50,000 to 100,000 IU daily, has been shown to be ineffective for the treatment of acne. You have to take much larger doses to see any improvement in acne.

Cancers

The anti-carcinogenic effects of vitamin A, as well as its metabolites called retinoids, have been proven to be useful against various types of cancer. It has also been demonstrated that retinoids in pharmacological quantities have been used to treat some human tumors with some success. In the case of retinoids, it has been suggested that their chemopreventive effects are exerted in the course of tumor progression. Retinoids are compounds that inhibit tumor growth by causing apoptosis and inhibiting proliferation. 

HIV

HIV-infected children who take vitamin A supplements have been associated with reduced mortality and morbidity. A trial in children with HIV who were given vitamin A supplementation found that their risk of lower respiratory tract infection was reduced. There have also been findings that all-cause mortality and AIDS-related deaths were lower in HIV-infected children who received vitamin A supplements.

Vision

Vitamin A is crucial for proper eye health and vision. It is required by the eyes for proper cone and rod function in the eye. It has been shown in studies that if vitamin A is depleted, the cone and rod function drops significantly. The cones in the eye process different light wavelengths so they are responsible for seeing colors, so if they are impaired your ability to see colors could be impacted. The rods are more specialized for low light, so if they are impaired your night vision will be negatively impacted. The good news is that once vitamin A levels are restored the cone and rods begin to function properly again.

What Is Vitamin A Deficiency?

The normal range of vitamin A (retinol) in the body is between 28 and 86 micrograms per deciliter. The definition of Vitamin A deficiency is defined as serum retinol levels of less than 28 micrograms per deciliter. Deficit of vitamin A in children can result in blindness, skin diseases, and growth retardation.

AgeMaleFemale
0 to 6 months400 mcg400 mcg
7 to 12 months500 mcg500 mcg
1 to 3 years300 mcg300 mcg
4 to 8 years400 mcg400 mcg
9 to 13 years600 mcg600 mcg
14 to 18 years900 mcg700 mcg
19 to 50 years900 mcg700 mcg
51+ years900 mcg700 mcg
RDA for Vitamin A from National Institutes of Health

What causes vitamin A deficiency?

Primary vitamin A deficiency is caused by prolonged dietary deprivation. Often times, it is a result of insufficient food or food that is lacking in nutrients and vitamin A.

Secondary vitamin A deficiency is caused by reduced absorption, storage or transport of vitamin A. In secondary Vitamin A deficiency there is something wrong physiologically that prevents the body from absorbing, processing or storing the vitamin.

Who gets vitamin A deficiency?

In Africa and Southeast Asia, there is a high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency. There is an estimated 250 million preschoolers who suffer from this vitamin deficiency due to the bad nutritional profile of their diet. A severe infection, particularly measles, can precipitate an increase in symptoms.

Measles infection can lead to or exacerbate an already present vitamin A deficiency. This is due to the fact that it depletes the body’s vitamin reserves, which it needs for fighting the virus.

Vitamin A Toxicity

Vitamin A is a retinoid that is fat soluble. It is also known as retinol. The importance of Vitamin A for immunity, vision, and dermatological health as well as cell growth and communication cannot be overstated. However, if the levels of this compound increase to excess, it can accumulate in the liver and cause a broad range of symptoms. These symptoms are classified as acute and chronic toxicity. The term hypervitaminosis A is also used to describe vitamin A toxicity.

What causes vitamin A toxicity?

Acute toxicity : Ingesting over 300,000 IU of vitamin A is the most common cause of acute vitamin A toxicity.

Chronic toxicity: The most common cause of chronic vitamin A toxicity is consumption of over 100,000 IU of vitamin A every day, which is sometimes prescribed for dermatological conditions such as acne.

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin A toxicity?

In most instances, vitamin A toxicity can be responsible for hair loss, for sore muscles and joints. Low vitamin A levels in the body can be responsible for weakened muscles, a weakened immune system, and far more frequent infections. Furthermore, infections will take longer to heal. Lower levels of vitamin A may also cause some vision problems.

Vitamin A toxicity is relatively rare today since most people obtain all that they require from their food. Only those who are hyper-vitaminizing are typically found to have toxic levels of vitamin A.

Sources Of Vitamin A

It is well known that vitamin A is a nutrient that can be obtained from a healthy diet.

Foods that are rich sources of retinoid vitamin A include:

Plant sources

Plant sources of vitamin A include:

  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • spinach
  • apricots
  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • spinach
  • winter squash
  • lettuce

Non Plant Sources

Non Plant Sources of Vitamin A

  • Fish
  • Liver
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Whole Milk

You can also get vitamin A by including good sources of beta-carotene in your diet, as the body can convert this into retinol.


The information in this article is not intended to be taken as health advice. Always consult with your doctor prior to making any health decisions.