Vitamin A is a group of compounds found as either active retinoids or inactive carotenoids1. Inactive carotenoids can be converted to the active retinoid form in the body. It is thought that people need both the retinoid form and carotenoid form in the diet, as the conversion rate of carotenoids to active forms of vitamin A isn’t as efficient in some people2. Retinoids are only found in animal products, and carotenoids are high in mainly red and orange fruits and vegetables, therefore, it could be suggested that those on a plant-based diet could benefit from a retinol supplement. However, taking too much vitamin A can cause more harm than good. Vitamin A is fat soluble, and not water soluble, so it’s much harder for your body to get rid of excess compared to water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C.
Vitamin A deficiency has very serious health implications but is very rare in the developed world. The most common reason for vitamin A supplementation in the developed world is to treat acne. But how effective is vitamin A in acne treatment? Vitamin A has been shown to reduce inflammation and is a powerful antioxidant, both of which could contribute to healthier skin3. However, there is little evidence that shows vitamin A reduces the number of acne lesions, but reduced inflammation will help with the appearance4.
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