Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in forming and maintaining healthy skin. It's crucial for healthy vision and a strong immune system, but this fat-soluble vitamin, also known as retinol, is probably best known for its super-star skin benefits.
We recommend including healthy amounts of Vitamin A in your diet via fresh, whole foods and a Daily Shake. Additionally, working with your dermatologist to incorporate a retinol treatment in your topical skin care line-up can help you maintain clear, youthful, and glowing skin.
The Benefits of Vitamin A
This potent antioxidant is an important nutrient for overall health with benefits including:
- Reducing overall inflammation: As an antioxidant, it helps to neutralize pro-inflammatory free radicals that can cause tissue and cellular damage
- Supporting good vision and eye health: It is commonly known as "retinol" because this nutrient produces the pigments in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue layer of the eye
- Supporting a healthy immune system: Some immune responses are regulated by Vitamin A, which can help protect us from acute conditions like the flu or common colds, as well as more serious chronic conditions like cancer and autoimmune disease.
Vitamin A promotes healthy cellular turnover of the skin, encourages collagen production for tight, youthful skin, and supports wound healing and cell re-growth. We need Vitamin A for supple skin, and getting too little of this nutrient in the diet can cause rough, dry skin. Some inflammatory skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and rosacea may see improvement by including more foods rich in Vitamin A.
The best food sources of Vitamin A
There are two forms of this nutrient found in foods: active and beta-carotene. Active Vitamin A (aka retinol) is ready to be absorbed and can be found in animal products. Organ meats like liver and kidney and egg yolks from pastured chickens are great examples of retinol-rich foods.
Beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, is found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is converted to retinol after being ingested. Some great plant sources of beta-carotene are sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, and butternut squash.
Including these foods in your diet will support strong, healthy skin. A diet rich in Vitamin A may even help with inflammatory skin conditions and combat dry skin. While a supplementation isn’t needed for most people, our Daily Shake with a multivitamin component including this essential vitamin will help you meet your daily nutrient needs.
How to use Vitamin A in your skincare routine
Skin care products containing antioxidant-rich Vitamin A were initially used for their effectiveness in clearing up acne, but over time were found to effectively smooth wrinkles and fine lines, too. Retinol is a key ingredient in many anti-aging formulas because of its ability to increase natural collagen production, thus slowing down the aging process. Retinol also gently exfoliates the skin and improves cellular turnover and growth, making it an effective treatment for sun damage and hyperpigmentation.
That being said, skincare products containing retinol are powerful and can irritate the skin, so we recommend finding a non-toxic solution that is gentle and effective. Retinol should only be used before bed as part of your night-time skin routine and daily use of sunscreen is essential while using it to prevent damage from the sun. Some of our favorite Clean options for serums with retinol are Marie Veronique Gentle Retinol Serum and Mad Hippie Serum. Retinol can also be found naturally in rosehip seed oil, making Pai Rosehip Seed Bioregenerate Oil, a great all-natural option. Start by using this anti-aging powerhouse 2-3 times per week, and work up to every other night.
Can you get too much Vitamin A?
While not common, Vitamin A toxicity is possible and is most dangerous for pregnant women. Excess Vitamin A has been linked to birth defects in the children of women taking very high doses of 10,000 IUs or higher -- much greater than the daily recommended amount. Women who are planning to get pregnant or are currently pregnant should keep an eye out for Vitamin A levels from animal products and supplements. Talk to your doctor about how to maintain safe levels during pregnancy.
It is difficult to get too much from food sources alone, though. Toxicity is not linked with the beta-carotene from colorful fruits and vegetables so keep loading your plate up with a variety of veggies for a healthy body and glowing skin!