What is Vitamin A, its Benefits and Food Sources

What is Vitamin A, its Benefits and Food Sources

What is Vitamin A? Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that the body needs to grow and develop.

This vitamin is also important for cell recognition, vision, immune function, and reproduction. This includes supporting the performance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs to function properly.

In general, vitamin A deficiency can cause eye problems, including night blindness. According to WHO, about 250 million children worldwide are deficient in vitamin A. Of these, between 250,000 and 500,000 children become blind.

The thing to note and watch out for is that these children died after 12 months of being blind.

In this article, we will learn more about vitamin A, how it works and functions, and some good food sources for Vitamin A.

What is Vitamin A, its Benefits and Food Sources

In Australia, vitamin A deficiency is not too serious a problem, because the treatment is optimal.




Over-the-counter and prescription drugs


Eye Health, Supports organ function

Can be consumed:

Adults and Children

Drug form:

Liquid medicine, capsules and tablets


Vitamin A is divided into various types:

  1. Vitamin A is usually found in meat, fish, and dairy products.
  2. Provitamin A is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant products.
  3. Retinol is the main active form of vitamin A in the blood.
  4. Beta carotene is a provitamin, or vitamin A precursor, that occurs in plants – especially dark colored fruits and vegetables and oily fruits. Beta-carotene itself is an antioxidant, but the body can also convert it into vitamin A as needed.


Vitamin A contributes to various body functions to help and prevent a variety of problems, including:

Night Blindness (Nyctalopia)

Eye disorders that cause sufferers to have difficulty seeing at night or in dark places. This disorder is not a disease, but a symptom inherited by a particular disease.

Infections, especially in the throat, chest, and stomach
Vitamin A has a protective effect on excessive inflammation. However, do not treat it with vitamin A supplements for this infection alone, because supplements have a number of side effects that are quite serious.

Follicular hyperkeratosis, which can cause dry and bumpy skin
Hyperkeratosis is a condition when the skin in certain places becomes thicker than usual.

Fertility Problems
Vitamin A is needed for the reproductive process. Its deficiency will increase the risk of fertility or infertility.

Growth delay in children
Vitamin A deficiency in children not only inhibits growth, but also interferes with eye health, makes skin dry and susceptible to infection.

Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin A has the following benefits:

Lower cancer risk

Some experts assume that sufficient carotenoids can help reduce the risk of lung, prostate, and other types of cancer. However, further research is needed on this.

Healthy skin and hair

Vitamin A plays an important role in the growth of all body tissues, including skin and hair.

This contributes to the production of sebum, an oil that helps maintain moisture levels in the skin and hair.

Food Source of Vitamin A

vitamin A

Quoted from the ods.od.nih.gov page, vitamin A is divided into various forms and types of animals and plants.

For example, retinol can be found in animal foods such as fatty fish, tuna, milk, and cheese and eggs.

Plant foods contain carotenoids, which are the antioxidant form of vitamin A. The body converts it to retinol as needed.

Meanwhile, carotenoids are orange pigments that contribute to the color of certain fruits and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetable sources rich in carotenoids are often orange in color. They include: pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, cantaloupe.

Recommended Vitamin A Intake

Quoted from MedicalNews, the recommended intake of vitamin A varies according to certain conditions, certain activities and certain age groups. However, humans need more vitamin A during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

You can see the following list:

  1. 6 months old: 400 micrograms
  2. 7–12 months: 500 micrograms
  3. 1-3 years: 300 micrograms
  4. 4–8 years: 400 micrograms
  5. 9–13 years: 600 micrograms
  6. 14+ years: 700-900 micrograms
  7. Pregnant and lactating women: 1200-1300 micrograms

Who is at risk of deficiency of Vitamin A?

Those who are prone to Vitamin A deficiency are as follows:

  1. Premature baby
  2. Infants and children in developing countries
  3. Pregnant and lactating people in developing countries
  4. People with cystic fibrosis, where the mucus in the body becomes thick and sticky.

Vitamin A supplements are available for those whose bodies have difficulty absorbing nutrients, but the best way is to meet their needs through food.

Because supplements can cover possible deficiencies in other nutrients and can cause other health problems.

Plant foods rich in beta-carotene include dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and turnip greens.


Vitamin A can turn toxic when taken in high doses. Avoid taking vitamin A more than the daily requirement or without using a doctor's advice.

Excessive consumption of vitamin A in pregnant women will cause serious birth defects. Therefore, instead of using vitamin A supplements, it is better to get them through the foods mentioned above.

The symptoms of excess consumption of vitamin A are as follows:

  1. Changes in skin color
  2. The skin becomes peeling on the palms of the hands and feet
  3. Cracked skin on fingers
  4. Psoriasis
  5. Ectropion that affects the skin around the eyes
  6. Dry lips, mouth and nose, which can increase the risk of infection
  7. Reduced sebum production

While long-term excessive use can cause:

  1. Changes in bone formation
  2. High cholesterol levels
  3. Heart damage
  4. Nervous system changes that cause headaches, nausea, and vomiting

During pregnancy, taking too much retinol can increase the risk of a baby being born with:

  1. Cleft mouth
  2. Heart problems
  3. Microcephaly
  4. Hydrocephalus, or water in the brain
  5. Problems with the thymus gland, which produces white blood cells


That's the article What is Vitamin A, Benefits and Food Sources. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that contributes to many functions in the body, such as protecting eye health.

In Australia, deficiency is rare. Most people can meet their vitamin A needs through their diet.

However, in some cases, your doctor may recommend supplements. Anyone taking vitamin A supplements should be careful to follow a doctor's instructions, because some forms of vitamin A can be toxic at high doses.