Vitamin A: Retinol, Retinal, Retinyl Esters and Carotenoids

You’re in Sephora or a local drugstore, surrounded by it all the time. You might even be looking for a product with vitamin A without even realizing it!

Yep: retinol, that secret ingredient companies claim is the fountain of youth. People always talk about it when advertising anti-wrinkle products, but did you know that it’s actually a fancy word for vitamin A?

Along with retinal and retinyl esters, retinol is a hot term for vitamin A. Retinol and retinyl esters are the biggest sources of retinoid in the body, and retinoid is essential to fetal development, your organs, bones, adult growth, the immune system, and sight [1], [2].

 

Two Types 

There are two kinds of vitamin A: preformed (aka retinol), found in animal products like dairy, meat, and eggs [3]. The second is Pro-vitamin A, which is found as carotenoids in plant-based foods, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and grapefruit [4]--see a pattern here? Pro-vitamin A is bright!

 

Orange is Key 

Did you ever hear a family member warn you about eating too many carrots because you would turn orange? They were talking about carotenemia, a skin yellowing condition caused by the carotenoids that are in popular vegetables, such as carrots. (Don’t worry though, it’s not harmful.)

Beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid, is the version of pro-vitamin A that you can find in a lot of brightly colored/orange fruits and vegetables. Orange nose or no, make sure you’re getting the majority of your nutrition through loads of healthful, whole foods like these.

 

At Risk Groups

Vitamin A deficiencies in all their forms is incredibly rare in the United States, however, it does happen. Certain groups are more at risk than others. These include premature infants as well as children and pregnant women in specific developing countries.

Also, people with cystic fibrosis experience lower absorption rates of vitamin A.

Vegans should be extra mindful of incorporating enough vitamin A rich foods, as they cut out the biggest sources of preformed vitamin A there is.

  

Symptoms and Conditions of Low Vitamin A 

Here are some symptoms of being low on A below, but always consult a medical professional if you believe you are deficient.

In young children and pregnant women, a rare eye condition called xerophthalmia can occur if there is a lack of vitamin A, which can lead to blindness. Other symptoms may include low immune function and acne.

It can slow infant growth, and women who consume alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which is thought to have to do with a lack of vitamin A during gestation.

In developing countries, vitamin A deficiency can lead to more severe measles in children, and this deficiency is the largest cause of child blindness in the world to this day [2].

 

Your Doctor Visits are Essential

Now, all that information above might be scary, but that’s not our aim! We are incredibly lucky to have access to so many fresh foods with all of our necessary vitamins and minerals, but sometimes we may overlook them for quick fixes to hunger--no judgement!

The right supplements can be extremely helpful in living a long, happy life. Just make sure you consult a doctor before using, as there can be negative consequences to taking too much of certain vitamins, such as vitamin A.

 

The EZ Melts Difference

If you try supplements, see why EZ Melts is better--Our vitamins are fast melting, EZ to take, and have delicious customer-approved flavors. Unlike many major vitamin brands, our tablets don’t include harmful toxic ingredients or artificial flavors. Give our Zero Sugar, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Vitamin A supplement a try and see the difference!

 

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679378/#:~:text=Retinol%20and%20retinyl%20esters%20are,the%20retinyl%20ester%2C%20is%20formed.
  2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/#:~:text=Vitamin%20A%20is%20a%20fat,different%20types%20of%20vitamin%20A.
  3. https://www.livescience.com/51975-vitamin-a.html
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-a#what-it-is 

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Written by Annie-Eliza Stevens