Vitamin A is a must have in your diet. It is essential for ocular health, fighting inflammation, and is a cancer preventer.
Since it’s so important, this essential vitamin makes Bulletproof’s list of 10 Supplements Everyone Needs. There is a major difference between the government’s recommendation and Bulletproof’s:
Health Canada’s Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA): 900 μg/day for adult males, and 700 μg/day for adult females
Bulletproof Recommended Supplement Dose: 10,000-15,000 IU / day
900 μg/day of vitamin A equals to 3,000 IU. That means Bulletproof recommends up to 5x the amount of the RDA.
We will take an in depth look at watch vitamin A does, the dangers of vitamin A deficiency, and how to add this nutrient into your diet. To start off, here is a look at what Bulletproof has to say about this vitamin:
This is essential if you aren’t eating organ meats like beef liver, kidney, and heart (you should). Vitamin A is an important cofactor for numerous metabolic reactions and bodily functions. A quarter of Americans consume less than half the RDA, which is already too low. An important thing to remember is that you can’t get vitamin A from plants. Plants don’t have vitamin A, they have beta-carotene. Beta carotene is poorly converted into vitamin a which is why some populations develop vitamin A deficiency despite consuming far more than they should have required. Sorry vegetarians and vegans, carrots don’t count.
Dose: 10,000-15,000 IU / day.
Forms: Retinol (A good source of vitamin A is cod liver oil, which also has vitamin D)
Time Taken: With meals.
Recommended Brand: Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil (Arctic Mint flavor)
When we are talking about vitamin A, we are talking about retinol. 1μg of retinal is 1 μg of vitamin A. Retinol comes from animal products. It isn’t found in vegetables. This often confuses people because the nutrition facts for vegetables like carrots say they are high in vitamin A. The vitamin A found in vegetables is beta-carotene. β-carotene is still good for you but it takes up to 24μg to convert to 1μg of retinol. Also, it means your body is having to work a lot harder to get usable vitamin A.
So what is vitamin A? It is a fat-soluble vitamin that works as an antioxidant. That means it reduces the free radicals in the body, which then reduces inflammation and lowers your risk of many diseases.
One of the biggest things vitamin A does is it promotes eye health. The rhodopsin molecule in the eye needs it. It’s responsible for receiving light and sending the signal to the brain that tells you that you’re seeing.
One reason you SHOULD get at least some of your vitamin A from β-carotene is that this compound helps reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration, which leads to blindness. Vitamin A drops also work to stop eye dryness.
A lack of vitamin A can also lead to night blindness and other eye diseases. If you like seeing then make sure you have some of this important vitamin in your diet.
Like vitamin C, vitamin A is also an important factor for your immune system. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to increased risk of infection, and an overall weaker immune system. This vitamin has also been shown to reduce your risk of diarrhea and malaria.
This nutrient works as an antioxidant, which means it helps to reduce the free radicals in the body. Free radicals can be dangerous because they are unstable and are looking to steal electrons from somewhere in the body. Free radicals can attack your body and lead to many harmful diseases like cancer. Retinol has been shown to lower your risk of cancer, particularly skin cancer. By neutralizing, and stabilizing free radicals with an antioxidant, you are protecting your body from damage.
One of the greatest benefits of vitamin A is that it promotes collagen production. Collagen is the main protein responsible for connecting tissue. This results in skin staying healthier, and looking younger. That’s right, vitamin A works as an anti-aging vitamin to help protect your skin from wrinkles. Not only does it help fight wrinkles, but studies show this nutrient can help improve your complexion and reduce acne.
As important as vitamin A is, it can still lead to some risky side effects. Unbalanced nutrient levels or high doses can lead to vitamin A toxicity. Toxicity can result in birth defects, low bone density, and liver problems. Some signs of toxicity are jaundice, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability, vomiting, or hair loss.
The upper limit set by Health Canada is 3000μg/day. That equals 10,000 IU. Studies have shown that with balanced levels of nutrients, you can go higher than this upper limit, but you should consult with your doctor if you are going to supplement with high levels of vitamin A (or any vitamin).
Good Whole Food Packed With Vitamin A
As mentioned above, vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means you should be taking vitamin A with fats for optimal absorption into the body.
Beef liver is packed with vitamins. A 3oz serving contains 14,363 IU of vitamin A. It also contains high levels of trace minerals, like copper, and selenium, which we need in low doses. Liver is also a good source of B vitamins.
Many orange vegetables are packed with β-carotene. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash are all good sources of this form of vitamin A. While vitamin A from animals is going to work better, any natural source of this vitamin is better than being deficient.
Vitamin A Supplements
Green Pasture Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil
This is the supplement recommended by David Asprey in the Bulletproof supplement list. You can take it in either a capsule or liquid form. This supplement is a great source of omerga-3, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals. Please consult with a doctor before adding/changing your dosage of any supplement in your diet. Take any supplements at your own risk.