Vitamin A is essential to our everyday life, and can have major impacts on our health without the presence of it in our bodies. As defined by the National Institute of Health Office Of Dietary Sciences, “Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods.* Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs work properly.”* (NIH, 2016, p.1) They also state that there are two different types of Vitamin A to be aware of. These include performed Vitamin A and provitamin A, Performed Vitamin A is found in dairy, poultry, and fish. On the other hand, provitamin A is found in fruits, veggies, and other plant based products. A popular example of a provitamin A supplement is beta-carotene.
It is important to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin A in your diet, and the recommended amounts will vary depending on age and gender. For people ages 14+ you will need at least 700-900 micrograms per day which is different than IU’s (International Units).* If you are a female who is nursing, that number will almost double to 1,200-1,300. Most people in the United States are getting plenty enough Vitamin A with the foods they are consuming, but if you are not getting enough there are health consequences (as seen in other developing countries). The most common health condition found in women and young children is an eye condition, xerophthalmia, which reduces the ability for the eye to see in low light and eventually leads to blindness if not treated in time.*
Vitamin A Overdose Warning
While it is important to get enough Vitamin A in your daily diet, too much of it can also be harmful to your health too. With your abundance of choices on the market today regarding supplements, it is hard to know which is the right kind for you. Some supplements either have too much or too little nutritional value, which does not do a body any good.
It is not as common to “overdose” by eating too much Vitamin A rich foods, but more so prevalent in supplements and certain medications. Pregnant women see birth defects in their babies, if they are taking too many Vitamin A supplements.* In others, too much Vitamin A can cause dizziness, coma, headaches, nausea, and even death at a higher degree. For smokers, there are more risks involved when taking a Vitamin A supplement, as it has been known to onset the early development of lung cancer.*
In a study done in both Finland and the United States, thousands of smokers were enrolled to participate in a study. The smokers, former smokers, and people exposed to carcinogens substances were given a beta-carotene substance, Vitamin A supplement, or a placebo pill. In both countries, lung cancer developed by 16-28% more rapidly in the subjects who were given beta-carotene or the Vitamin A supplement.* Always consult your doctor if you smoke, previously smoked, or are exposed to carcinogens before taking any Vitamin A supplements. (John, 2015, p.1).
On most of your supplement bottles, you will see a measurement named “IU” which stands for International Units. This is how the dosage amounts are determined. The maximum amount of Vitamin A intake goes as follows: Birth to 3 years old: 2,000 IU, 4-8 years old: 3,000 IU, 9-13 years: 5,667 IU, 14-18 years: 9,333 IU, 19+ years: 10,000 IU. (p.1).
Which Vitamin A Supplements Work?
With an abundance of Vitamin A rich foods to choose from, finding a supplement that’s effective, safe, and affordable can be difficult and confusing and may not be necessary. While most products work to some degree, there are brands that are reputable and definitely work better than others.
Our editors researched Vitamin A supplements and found that taking a Vitamin A supplement is not highly recommended, but still can be beneficial to your health if not abused. Eating the correct foods such as vegetables, leafy greens, dairy can kelp you keep your immune system strong, eye site on point, and your internal organs working the way they should without a supplement, but see below about the best Vitamin A supplements on the market today.*
Top 5 Vitamin A Supplements
#1Country Life Vitamin A Supplement: This Vitamin A supplement is a reputable brand on the market today and is sold on Amazon, Vitamin Shoppes, and other specialty vitamin shops nationwide. The bottle comes with 100 soft gels that are meant to be taken once a day. One serving size contains 10,000 IU of Vitamin A, so if you are pregnant or nursing you should not be taking anything over 8,000 IU, which means an entire soft gel of this supplement will not work for you. Split this supplement in half to ensure you are not going to overdose. The bottle costs roughly $6.74 for 100 servings of Vitamin A. The Vitamin A is coming directly from cod liver oil and retinyl palmitate. To take the supplement properly, always ingest with food. This supplement is not meant for children. It also does not contain yeast, corn, gluten, milk, preservatives or artificial color., salt, starch, sugar, or wheat.* To purchase this supplement on Amazon click here.
#2Solgar Vitamin A Supplement: This Vitamin A supplement is just a tad bit more expensive than the Country Life, but not by much. There are 100 soft gel capsules in this small bottle, and the IU amount is 10,000 per capsule. Each bottle costs $8.95 plus shipping from Amazon. This Vitamin A supplement is derived from deep sea, cold-water fish and does not contain any contaminants. It is suitable for vegetarians, and it comes with an oil based soft gel for optimal absorption. This product is free of: yeast, gluten, dairy, preservatives or artificial color, sodium, starch, sugar, or wheat.* The ingredients include: fish liver oil, gelatin, vegetable glycerin, safflower oil, and retinyl palmitate. It can derive from fish such as anchovies, bonito, herring, jack, mackerel, menhaden, sand lance, sardines, smelt, and tuna. To purchase this supplement off of Amazon click here.
#3Nature’s Way Vitamin A Supplement: This is another reputable brand of supplements and they supply a Vitamin A capsule with 10,000 IU and one bottle comes with 100 soft gels. For one bottle on Amazon, you are going to pay $3.72 plus shipping, which is significantly lower than the two above. The Vitamin A derives from Atlantic Cod liver oil and the ingredients are notably shorter than Solgar’s brand. Other ingredients are soybean oil, gelatin, glycerin, and water. It does not say anywhere that this product is gluten, soy, sugar, sodium, or wheat-free. It is also recommended that this product only be taken once daily with a meal. Some people have taken this supplement for clearing up acne, but it does contain soy and wheat for those of you with any allergies.* This may not be the best supplement for you. To purchase this supplement off of Amazon, click here.
#4Source Naturals Vitamin A Supplement: This particular supplement contains 250 soft gel tablets with 10,000 IU per serving size. The customer will pay $8.48 plus shipping on Amazon.com, which is slightly more than above but there are also more tablets provided. The supplement does contain soy, and on the bottle it does say “no wheat, sugar, starch, sodium, yeast, egg or gluten”.* It also does not contain any artificial flavor or sweeteners of any kind. This product is suitable for vegetarians. This product comes from Santa Cruz, California and is not meant to be taken by nursing mothers or mothers to be. This goes for all of the supplements listed above. This supplement is meant to be taken once daily with food. If you are interested in purchasing this off of Amazon click here.
#5Country Life, Dry Vitamin A Supplement: This dry form of the Vitamin A supplement comes with 100 water dissolvable tablets that are entirely gluten free. The difference between dry vitamin A, and the regular gel capsules is the form in which the supplement is taken. Instead of liquid gel capsules it comes in a dry pill form. For 100 tablets, the cost on Amazon.com is $9.22 plus shipping. The Vitamin A is coming directly from cod liver oil and retinyl palmitate. To take the supplement properly, always ingest with food. This supplement is not meant for children. This product does not contain yeast, corn, gluten, milk, salt, starch, sugar, wheat, or artificial colors and preservatives.* To purchase on Amazon.com click here.
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin A. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/
- John, A. (2015, January 28). Smokers With Lung Cancer & Vitamin A. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/462820-smokers-with-lung-cancer-vitamin-a/