Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant that can help protect your cells from free radicals. Free radicals are produced when your body breaks down things like tobacco smoke, foods or radiation. Your body also uses vitamin A to help maintain your immune system, reproduction, bone growth, cell function and vision. You can take in vitamin A from colorful fruits and vegetables, whole milk or liver. Many foods like cereal are fortified to contain extra vitamin A. You may find that your children need extra vitamin A to help ward off conditions like Crohn's disease, liver disease or cystic fibrosis.
Benefits of Vitamin A for Acne
Vitamin A is one of the most important nutrients to help you maintain healthy skin. If you have a vitamin A deficiency you can experience flaky, dry, itchy skin. You might also notice stunted growth, dry eyes and night blindness. Vitamin A helps to maintain a variety of functions throughout the body including the immune system that can help your body avoid illness that will take away from its ability to maintain structures like the skin effectively.
- Immune System. Getting enough vitamin A is crucial to keeping your immune system functioning at its peak level. This helps your skin resist bacteria that cause acne. It will also help your body keep your hormone levels in balance so excess sebum production does not cause you to break out.
- Antioxidant Protection. Vitamin A is a natural antioxidant, so eating a diet that has plenty of this vitamin can help you neutralize free radicals in your system so they cannot damage the skin. This will help you reduce your risk for premature aging and skin cancer. It will also strengthen the outer barriers of the skin so it will be easier for the cells to resist bacteria that cause blemishes.
- Skin Cell Growth. Your body uses vitamin A to grow healthy epithelial cells that make up the mucus membrane of the skin. This will help you maintain a healthy metabolism, fat storage and protein synthesis so your skin will be able to replenish itself at a healthy rate. Getting enough vitamin A is also essential to maintaining your urinary and digestive processes so you do not age prematurely. This combination of activities will help your skin's complexion remain clear so you are less likely to break out.
- Skin Tissue. Vitamin A helps your body repair your skin tissue so it is stronger and more able to prevent eruptions. This makes you less likely to break out and will help your body control breakouts should they occur.
How to Use Vitamin A for Acne
In most cases you can take vitamin A capsules to help treat your skin. You will need to be careful to avoid taking too much vitamin A per day as this can lead to an overdose. Overdosing on this vitamin can cause physiological risks including hepatic damage or acute neural damage. You may experience headaches or nausea if you have consumed too much vitamin A. Excess amounts of this vitamin cannot be expelled through the urine like other vitamins, so it can start causing trouble. If you plan to start taking vitamin A supplements, work with your doctor to determine the healthiest amount of vitamin A to consume.
Where to Get Vitamin A
1. Foods Rich in Vitamin A
- Spices. Several spices including paprika, cayenne, red pepper and chili powder contain high doses of vitamin A. Paprika contains as much as 3691 IU (international units) for every 100 grams, with cayenne providing 41610 IU by comparison.
- Liver. Liver, particularly turkey liver or cod liver oil, provides a high amount of vitamin A. This can be consumed fried with herbs and onions or served as a pâté.
- Dark Leafy Greens. Fresh or steamed greens like kale, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, collards or dandelion greens contain high levels of both calcium and vitamin A.
- Lettuce. Like other greens, lettuce leaves with a dark or red color provides plenty of vitamin A with lighter varieties like iceberg containing less of this nutrient.
- Dried Herbs. Plenty of herbs like parsley, basil, oregano or marjoram contain high doses of vitamin A.
- Carrots. Cooked or raw carrots contain as much as 1019 IU of vitamin A in a single serving.
- Sweet Potatoes. Vitamin A is what gives sweet potatoes their bright orange color, making these roasted or mashed potatoes a great source of this vitamin.
- Butternut Squash. Like sweet potatoes, this orange squash can contain as much as 22868 IU of vitamin A per cup.
- Cantaloupe. Cantaloupe can provide as much as 68 percent of your daily value of vitamin A per serving.
- Dried Apricots. Dried apricots can contain as much as 4685 IU of vitamin A per cup.
- Others. Foods including fortified oatmeal, fortified skim milk, whole milk, mangoes, papaya, peaches, red bell peppers, tomatoes or green peas are good sources of vitamin A.
2. Derivations of Vitamin A
- Adapalene. This is a retinoid that can be purchased in gel or cream form. You apply this ingredient to the skin to help rid yourself of acne. Apply adapalene to the skin once a day and then gently wash the face with your normal face wash just before bed.
- Isotretinion. Isotretinion is one of the most costly retinoids on the market and is only prescribed if other acne treatments have failed. This ingredient has a high toxicity, so users should only take small doses ranging from .5-2 mg per day for the first 4-6 months. They will then have to weight 8 weeks before attempting another course. Isotretinion is most effective against acute cystic acne and can help remove acne scars because it helps to dry out the septic sebum.
- Tazarotene. Tazarotene is commonly prescribed as a gel that is applied to the skin. Because this ingredient is quite drying you will need to pair it with a strong moisturizer to protect your skin.
- Tretinion. This is commonly prescribed by dermatologists to help treat stretch marks, wrinkles and acne. It helps to repair the damage and discoloration that is caused by excessive exposure to UV rays. This cream or gel should not be given to those that have sensitive skin.