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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Vitamin A

What is vitamin A? Why do we need it?

Vitamin A is part of a group of compounds known as retinoids. Vitamin A promotes good eyesight and helps keep the skin and mucous membranes resistant to infection. Vitamin A also enhances immunity, enabling the body to defend against colds, influenza, many infections, and certain cancers, and prevents certain skin disorders.

What are some good sources of vitamin A?

Vitamin A can be found in a number of common foods, including fish liver oils, egg yolks, butter and cream, and dark green and yellow fruits and vegetables (especially carrots, asparagus, apricots, spinach, yellow squash, and sweet potatoes).

What can happen if we don't get enough vitamin A?

Night blindness, dry hair and skin, insomnia, fatigue, frequent colds and other respiratory infections, skin disorders (such as acne) and weight loss have been attributed to vitamin A deficiencies. Children are most at risk of vitamin A deficiency because they have not yet developed adequate vitamin A stores.


  • Ross CA. Vitamin A and retinoids. In: Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed.,1999: pp305-328. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD.
  • Balch JF, Balch PA. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 2nd ed., 1997: Avery Publishing Group, New York.
  • Tyson JE, Wright LL, Oh W, et al. Vitamin A supplementation for extremely-low-birth-weight infants. New England Journal of Medicine 1999:340, pp1962-68.
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