Benefits of Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, is a nutrient that provides a number of important benefits. Many people know about its role in promoting healthy functioning of the eyes and helping to prevent night blindness. When changing from a bright environment to a dark one, vitamin A helps your eyes to properly and quickly adjust to the change in light levels. In fact, night blindness is one of the key signs of a vitamin A deficiency. However, since it is a versatile nutrient, the benefits of vitamin A are many and varied.
- One of its most critical benefits, is that it helps to growth healthy cells and tissues in the body. It is especially active in supporting healthy tissue growth in the mouth, lungs, and digestive organs. A healthy body starts with healthy cells, so this is very important.
- Vitamin A is also one of the key nutrients responsible for proper regulation of the immune system. It is especially important for helping your body to fight off bacterial infections. Also, it is an antioxidant. Antioxidants act to neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that damage body cells and tissues.
- Additionally, vitamin A is a particularly critical nutrient for women who are pregnant. It acts to help repair the tissues of the reproductive systems after delivering a baby. This helps to ensure the mom has a healthy recovery after giving birth.
Function of Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin A is actually the name for a group of related compounds. These compounds are all fat-soluble and have similar functions. This group includes the following compounds: retinol, retinal, retinyl esters, retinoic acid, and carotene.
Dietary sources of vitamin A include both animal and vegetable sources. Each has a different, naturally occurring type. Preformed vitamin A is found in animal sources. Provitamin A is a form of vitamin A precursor that is found in vegetable sources, like carrots and squash. This type is also called carotene.
Vitamin A can be absorbed and used two different ways. First, it can be converted from carotene. The second way is by obtaining vitamin A from animal sources, like liver, kidney, and dairy foods. Animal sources of vitamin A are often in the form of retinyl palmitate. Vegetable sources occur in the form of beta-carotene. These are good because these sources do not contain fat or cholesterol. Read more about dietary sources of vitamin A and the daily requirement of vitamin A.
Some sources of vitamin A are less potent than others. Beta-carotene isn’t absorbed by the body as easily as retinol. Beta-carotene has to first be converted to retinal and retinol to be absorbed and used. Alpha-carotene is even harder for the body to absorb than beta-carotene. The form of vitamin A that is the most easily used by the body is retinol. It is sometimes referred to as “preformed” vitamin A, and is the active type of the vitamin used by the body.
Vitamin A’s versatile nature allows it to perform various functions in the body. Of course, it is primarily known as an important nutrient for maintaining healthy eyes. However, one of its most important roles is helping the body to grow and maintain healthy body tissues. It is essential for healthy skin and mucous membranes. Vitamin A also contributes to the growth and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
It is a necessary nutrient for body cells to be able to grow correctly, and to be able to differentiate. Cell differentiation is the process where non-specialized cells become specialized. Vitamin A also is important for body functions that are related to reproduction.
As an anti-oxidant, vitamin A helps to protect the body against free radicals and the damage they cause due to oxidation. Too much oxidation in the body can result in premature aging, inflammation, cancers and tumors, heart disease, infections, and other diseases and problems. Read more about the signs of vitamin A deficiency.