Vitamin A: Health Benefits Backed by Science

Part 1 of the Senior Healthcare Advisors Health Information Series on Vitamins

By Dr. Marilyn Fieldf/Senior Writer: Senior Healthcare Advisors

”I am a big believer in self-love. And a good way to do it is through vitamins. If you drink enough water and take your vitamins, your body will clean itself” –Dr. Marilyn Field

Before we get started on the Senior Healthcare Vitamin Information Series, please read the following:


WATER SOLUBLE VITAMINS: There are nine water-soluble vitamins: the B vitamins — folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 — and vitamin C. Deficiency of any of these water-soluble vitamins results in a clinical syndrome that may result in severe morbidity and mortality.

Health Benefits of Vitamin A

Generically termed, Vitamin A is one of four fat-soluble compounds highly important for human health.

They’re essential for various processes in the human body, including maintaining healthy vision, making sure your immune system and organs function normally, and aids the proper development and growth of babies in the womb.

The daily recommended dose for men is 900 mcg and for women 700 mcg, according to the USDA guidelines (2015 – 2020). Vitamin A compounds come from plant and animal foods. Vitamin A comes in 2 forms: Provitamin A and Preformed Vitamin A.

Your body can use Preformed Vitamin A (active form) just as it is. It includes the compounds retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. Preformed Vitamin A is found in animal products, including:

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Red meat
  • Dairy products

Provitamin A carotenoids (inactive form and found in plants) include— alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Your body’s small intestine converts Provitamin A into an active form, for example, beta-carotene is converted to retinol (an active form of vitamin A).

Vitamin A benefits

Essential Health Benefits from Vitamin A Backed by Science

  1. Especially important for seniors, eating the recommended amount of vitamin A can aid in protecting your bones and lowering the risk of fractures.
  2. Adequate vitamin A (Provitamin A) intake from whole plant foods may lower your risk of certain cancers, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as cervical, lung, and bladder cancer.
  3.  Adequate vitamin A (Provitamin A) intake from whole plant foods may lower your risk of certain cancers, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as cervical, lung, and bladder cancer.
  4. Supports a healthy immune system: Consuming enough vitamin A in your diet helps keep your immune system healthy and functioning at its best.

*** WARNING: Taking Too Much Vitamin A Can Be Risky

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is stored in your body. This means that consuming too much Vitamin A can lead to toxic levels.

Hypervitaminosis A is caused by consuming too much preformed (animal products)  vitamin A through your diet or supplements containing the vitamin.

Symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, headaches, pain, and even death.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin A is vital for many important processes in your body. It’s used to maintain healthy vision, and ensure the normal functioning of your organs and immune system. Both too little and too much vitamin A could have negative effects on your health. The best way you can make sure you are getting the right amount of Vitamin A and not too little or too much is to consume vitamin-A-rich foods as part of your normal diet and avoid supplementing with excessive amounts.

Click here to review your insurance policies in regard to vitamin coverage and other senior health and wellness programs:

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