The Vitamin For Skin, Inside and Out

Vitamin A is called the skin vitamin, not just because of how it helps your external “fortress”, but because it also helps your internal fortress- the lining of your lungs and mucous membranes.

Called the epithelium, this skin requires vitamin A for its growth and maintenance. This includes the function of the respiratory system and the eyes. Adequate Vitamin A helps ensure that bacteria and viruses cannot colonize the tissue.

Vitamin A also supports cell growth and differentiation, and aids in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.

The earliest reference to eye treatment using Vitamin A is from an Egyptian papyrus dated about 1500 BC, “A treatment for the eyes: liver of ox roasted and pressed, give for it, very excellent.” [1]Liver is a great source of Vitamin A. The only known death from overdose of natural Vitamin A occurred when two explorers dined on Polar Bear liver. The arctic bears need high amounts of A because of the glare of ice and snow in their white winter world.

If the glare of oncoming headlights bothers you at night, you suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is essential for vision because it is a co-factor in the formation of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors. Vitamin A may help prevent Macular degeneration, and other eye problems. There is evidence it may play a role in cancer prevention, as well.

The best source of natural A is real fish oil, such as Cod Liver Oil. Fish Oil, a natural anti-inflammatory, is also excellent for allergies, asthma, susceptibility to colds and flus. Far safer to ensure adequate natural Vitamin A than to take a flu shot. Coal Miners fed cod liver oil showed a greater resistance to lung infection than miners not taking the fish oil. Studying or working under fluorescent lighting may deplete Vitamin A, also.  Children in Third World countries who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency are more likely to die from childhood diseases such as measles.

Vitamin A is fat soluble, so requires adequate healthy fat intake in the diet so the A may be absorbed and transferred to the liver for storage. You may notice that people who eat low fat diets have dry skin and hair. I had a patient who came to me after doing a detox program with another practitioner for a few months. She had not been counseled to eat healthy fats. Her hair had turned gray and fallen out, and her skin was dry, scaly and itchy. In just a few days on healthy fats her skin improved and in just a few months a full head of brown hair grew back.

You need a quarter pound of carrots or a large helping of green vegetables to get the same amount of Vitamin A in your system as that is contained in a teaspoon of cod liver oil.  800 micrograms or 4,000 IU is needed daily. The orange vegetables also contain Vitamin A, like squashes and yams. Liver, egg yolk, butter and dairy products are all sources of natural Vitamin A.

Can Vitamin A improve the health and beauty of your skin? Certainly lack of it will affect your skin. Fish oil is excellent for dry skin or inflamed skin. A generally healthy diet is vital for preventing or treating any skin conditions. And since it boosts over-all immunity, including more food sources of Vitamin A is a good idea. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, Vitamin A-rich foods can be part of your strategy to strengthen your mucous membranes.

Do not take high dose synthetic A (or synthetic Vitamin D) as both are toxic to the liver. It is a good idea to add up the total amount of A or D you may be taking daily, if you are using a multi-vitamin together with other supplements.

And even the natural forms can be toxic ,if too much is consumed, so do avoid polar bear liver.

[1] “Let’s Stay Healthy”, Adelle Davis. Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, 1981.