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  5. How Does Vitamin A Benefit Your Skin?

Did anyone ever tell you that glowing skin can’t just be achieved with external skincare products? Your diet plays a major role in determining your skin’s health. And while there are many superfoods you should be consuming, Vitamin A is a multi-functional vitamin that can benefit your skin at many levels.

From reducing scarring due to acne to the appearance of wrinkles, we tell you all about this wonderful nutrient. Read on.

Benefits Of Vitamin A For The Skin

Whether consumed through foods and supplements, or applied through topical lotions and creams, vitamin A has multiple uses and can even address certain skin problems. Some of them are listed below:

1. Prevents Premature Aging

When you eat foods that contain beta carotene [1] and provitamin A carotenoids [2], their antioxidant properties destroy the free radicals responsible for breaking down collagen (leading to fine lines and wrinkles). Thus, it prevents premature ageing.

2. Protection Against Damage From The Sun

Consuming adequate amounts of Vitamin A can help protect the skin against damage from the UV rays of the sun. It will make your skin less sensitive to the sun and protect it against sunburn and pigmentation.

3. Promotes Healthy Cell Regeneration

The carotenoids present in Vitamin A -- retinol and retinoic acid -- are vital for the production of healthy cells. Vitamin A is also a known stimulant for fibroblasts, cells that develop tissues responsible for firmness of the skin at the dermis level.

Vitamin A promotes healthy cell production, which strengthens the outer layer of the skin - the first barrier against infections, bacteria and pollution. A lack of carotenoids and Vitamin A can weaken your skin and lead to problems such as slow healing wounds and skin dryness or pruritus.

4. Reduces And Smoothens Wrinkles

Several anti-ageing OTC products and dermatologist-prescribed creams contain retinol (Vitamin A) in topical form. Retinol and retinoic acid are proven ingredients that help fight early signs of ageing. They help generate new cells that produce new collagen [3]. These ingredients stimulate the production of collagen, which can break down due to external factors such as UV rays and pollution.

5. Gives Your Skin A Glow And Even Skin Tone

Using creams that contain Vitamin A can help reduce pigmentation and give your skin a glow. These creams increase cell regeneration that discards damaged and dead cells. Healthier, younger and newer cells rise to the surface, giving the skin an even tone.

Retinoids present in Vitamin A creams work as blockers of the enzyme that produces melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its colour. Reduced melanin production implies an even toned and glowing skin.

6. Controls And Removes Acne

Acne is generated due to clogged pores, bacteria, excess sebum and dead skin cells. These blocked pores are where the acne causing bacteria, Propionibacterium Acnes can breed, leading to acne and blemishes. Vitamin A creams help stimulate cell production and slow down oil production that prevents acne formation.

Whether OTC or prescribed by a dermatologist, retinoid creams and ointments can reduce acne and prevent their reappearance, since they are anti-inflammatory [4] in nature. Retinoids can also help remove dead skin cells, which prevents the recurrence of clogged pores. Topical retinoids are effective in treating acne for teenagers and adults according to research [5].

Pro tip:

If you need a strong topical Vitamin A cream, ask your dermatologist to prescribe one. It is likely to be more effective and stronger in dosage than OTC ones. It would usually have Retin-A included in the name.

Available Forms Of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is available through various sources, primarily through foods. Retinoids and carotenoids are the main forms of Vitamin A that need to be consumed. Here are some of the main sources:

1. Vitamin A In Foods

Retinoids are found in eggs, salmon, prawns, cod liver oil, beef liver and dairy products including milk, cheddar cheese and butter. Carotenoids are found in plant-based foods such as carrots, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, tomatoes; and fruits including plums, apricots, papayas and mangoes.

2. Vitamin A Supplements And Tablets

Vitamin A can also be consumed as a supplement or tablet. They are available in various versions such as retinoids like retinyl acetate [6] or retinyl palmitate [7]; or only beta carotene which is a carotenoid. Others are a combination of both retinoids and carotenoids.

Vitamin A is often found as an ingredient in multivitamin and mineral supplement combinations. It is also added to several products that are fortified with additional nutrients like milk and breakfast cereals.

3. Vitamin A In Topical Creams

There is a range of skincare products that have Vitamin A as an ingredient. These range from anti-ageing creams to sunscreens, anti-acne ointments and even sunscreens and oils reinforced with vitamin A.

4. Vitamin A Oil For The Skin

Vitamin A oil is available in the forms of oils, serums and capsules that can be broken and applied on the skin. However, it is safer to apply a little bit on a smaller area over a few days and check your skin’s reaction. If it works, you can use it all over your face and neck.

Did You Know?

  • A study conducted on women revealed that when they used prescribed Vitamin A creams for ten months to a year, there was much less wrinkling of the skin. When examined by experts, the collagen in their skin had increased by 80%.
  • Young mothers who are breast-feeding and those planning a family need more Vitamin A than other adults.
  • Vitamin A can regularise your blood flow which enables the nutrients in your cream to reach the deeper layers of the skin.
  • Vitamin A helps to reduce the redness caused due to rosacea.

How Much Vitamin A Do You Need?

According to reports, women should consume 700 mcg and men should consume 900 mcg of Vitamin A on a daily basis. Children need lesser quantities. If you prefer to take a supplement, it is best to consult your doctor to determine the quantity. Too much Vitamin A can cause harm if it builds up in the body.

Pro tip:

If choosing a supplement, opt for one that is a derivative of provitamin A [beta carotene], which can lessen your risk of toxicity. It is recommended you try and get your dose of Vitamin A through natural sources like eggs, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes than a supplement.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin A?

There are several ailments and symptoms that can indicate whether your body is getting enough Vitamin A. These are some of the conditions that can occur due to a lack of Vitamin A:

  • Lack of Vitamin A can be a cause for eczema as Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory properties. Research proves that alitretinoin, a doctor prescribed formulation, can help to treat eczema [8]. In one 12-week study, people with chronic eczema who took 10–40 mg of alitretinoin per day experienced up to a 53% reduction in their symptoms [9].
  • According to studies conducted, if you don’t get enough of retinol, it can lead to a condition known as follicular hyperkeratosis [10], when the keratin in the follicles of the hair is in excess. This leads to bumps on the skin.
  • Vitamin A is an excellent supplement to heal acne scars, wounds after a surgery or for diabetic wounds according to studies [11]. Slow wound healing is a sign of low levels of Vitamin A.
  • Since retinol helps in the production of new skin cells, a deficiency can make the skin dry [12].

Can Vitamin A Be Harmful? How Much Is Too Much?

Too much of Vitamin A consumed or applied can cause damage and have side effects. Some of the harmful effects of excessive consumption of Vitamin A can include nausea, liver damage, dizziness, blurred vision, recurrent headaches and in serious cases, even a coma.

If your diet has an excess of beta carotene, your skin will take on a yellow or orange hue. You can reverse this condition by reducing the amount of beta carotene in your diet.

Wrapping Up

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for your skin health and overall wellness. Its deficiency can cause several problems. Consumed through plant and animal foods or supplements, it can provide multiple benefits to the skin and hair.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin