What is Vitamin A and what does it do?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin needed for the growth of cells and bone, reproduction, healthy eyes and skin, and the maintenance of healthy respiratory, intestinal, and urinary tracts. This vitamin occurs in foods such as dark green and yellow vegetables, milk, liver, eggs, cheese, squash, carrots, and in fruits such as apricots and cantaloupe.
Vitamin A is used as a supplement for treatment of vitamin A deficiency, and it can also be used to treat acne, measles, dry eyes, and night blindness, as well as Crohn's disease, Kyrle's disease, and Darier's disease. The vitamin can also help with cancer prevention and promoting growth.
Vitamin A helps with the transfer of light into nerve signals needed for vision. It is required for cell growth and the process of making stem cells into various kinds of cells, bone growth, and reproduction. It helps with maintenance of healthy urinary, respiratory, and intestinal tracts, as well as with controlling genes for structural proteins, such as those in the skin.
What should I know before taking vitamin A?
Before taking vitamin A, you should inform your healthcare professional of any health issues that you have, and whether you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, herbal or dietary supplements. Also inform your healthcare professional if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing because large doses of the vitamin can cause birth defects and may affect a nursing child.
You should never have a greater intake of vitamin A than what is recommended. Do not take more than one vitamin product at the same time unless your health care professional directs you to do so.
Who should use vitamin A?
You should not use vitamin A if you are allergic to it. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, breathing difficulties, and swelling of the face and mouth area. If you are taking birth control pills; Targretin® (bexarotene); Soriatane® (acitretin); Accutane®, Amnesteem®, Claravis®, Sotret® (isotretinoin); Questran®, Prevalite® (cholestyramin); Atralin®, Avita®, Renova®, Retin-A®, Tretin-X® (tretinoin); Periostat®, Vibramycin® (doxycycline); Minocin® (minocycline); Sumycin® (tetracycline); Alli®, Xenical® (orlistat) or a blood thinners, such as Coumadin®, Jantoven® (warfarin) consult your healthcare professional prior to taking Vitamin A.
Inform your healthcare professional if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing because large doses of vitamin A can cause birth defects and may affect a nursing child. Individuals who have liver disease and high alcohol consumption can risk liver damage from vitamin A. Smokers who drink alcohol and take beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) can have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
Shop beta carotene supplements at Walgreens.com
Shop vitamin A supplements at Walgreens.com
See vitamin A test in our Health Encyclopedia
See vitamin A toxicity in our Health Encyclopedia
If you're looking for more specific answers to specific questions, ask a Walgreens pharmacist here.