Vitamin A ensures good eyesight, healthy bones and a strong immune system.

What are its health benefits?

Aside from its immune-boosting properties, vitamin A stimulates the base layer of skin cells and protects cell membranes and tissue linings from free radicals, which is why it’s used in so many beauty products. It's also known as retinol, retinal or betacarotene.

Do you have a deficiency?

Warning symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency include frequent viral infections and hyperkeratosis, a goose bump-like skin condition caused by excess keratin – a protein that blocks hair follicles. Initially, these bumps occur on the forearms and thighs, where the skin becomes dry and scaly. In advanced stages, they affect the whole body and cause hair loss.

Prolonged deficiency can lead to night blindness. You’re less likely to absorb this fat-soluble vitamin if you’re Vitamin D-deficient, drink alcohol, take cortisone medication or overdo your intake of iron.

Find it in these foods

When it comes to vitamin A deficiency (VAD) treatment, be sure to eat vitamin-A rich foods like the following:

  • Liver
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Sweet potato
  • Orange fruit and vegetables (such as apricots, butternut, carrots)
  • Dark-green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach)

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

The RDA is 800mcg.

The general guidelines for the recommended daily dosage, according to your age group, is:
• Children aged 3 years or younger: 600mcg
• Children aged 4-8 years: 900mcg
• Children aged 9-13 years: 1700mcg
• Children aged 14-18 years: 2800mcg
• Adults: 3000mcg

Consult with your Clicks pharmacist regarding the right dosage of daily oral supplements to make up for a vitamin A deficiency.

Know the overdose risks

Too much vitamin A causes birth defects, so avoid intake of more than 3000mcg/day during pregnancy.

In smokers, 20mg a day has been linked to greater risk of lung tumours, and long-term intake of 1.5mg/day may increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015