Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble nutrient that is stored in the liver. The body can make Vitamin A using beta-carotene from fruits and vegetables or in supplement form. It has several main uses within the human body. A major function is to maintain healthy cells within the eyes to help with good vision. It is used by the retina for low-light and colour vision.

A second important function is keeping the cells that line the respiratory and intestinal tracts and our skin healthy. Vitamin A can boost immunity and therefore help the body to become resistant to infections such as sore throats, colds and flu.

It is also thought that Vitamin A has role in reproduction with an influence on the function of the ovaries and in the development of sperm and the placenta. A further important function is during pregnancy when the vitamin has a role in the normal growth and development of the embryo. However, too much Vitamin A can be dangerous during pregnancy so taking supplements during this time is not recommended.

The recommended daily consumption of Vitamin A is 0.7mg for men and 0.6mg for women. A healthy and varied diet should provide sufficient Vitamin A for most people. Good sources include cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk and yogurt. Liver is a very good source of Vitamin A and as such should not be eaten too often. Any Vitamin A that the body does not use gets stored so it is not necessary to eat foods rich in this vitamin every day.

If you do want to take a Vitamin A supplement it is recommended to be taken as beta-carotene or a carotenoid such as Lycopene. This is because the body can synthesise Vitamin A from beta-carotene but only makes what it needs. Therefore it is difficult to have too much which can be harmful.

If you are currently taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions please consult your doctor or consultant, to seek advice before taking any vitamins or supplements.