Vitamins Explained: Vitamin A
A handful of vitamins on the table.

Vitamins Explained: Vitamin A

pathmedical Nutrition

What It Is

Vitamin A is an essential vitamin found in both animal-derived foods as well as plant-based foods. Vitamin A has two main forms, Retinoids and Beta-carotene. Retinoids, the dominant and active form of the vitamin is derived from animal products while Beta-carotene can be found in plants. Generally, Vitamin A does not need to be consumed through supplements as a healthy diet will provide an adequate amount of levels needed for each individual.


Vitamin A is essential for maintaining multiple functions in the body including growth, vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Some key benefits of Vitamin A include the following:

  • Protect the eyes from age-related issues
  • Protect vision from night-blindness
  • Protecting against certain forms of cancer such as colon cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer
  • Treating type 2 diabetes
  • Skin and hair health
  • Supporting a healthy immune system
  • Bone health
  • Promoting healthy reproduction
  • Promoting body growth and development

Where To Find It

Vitamin A can be found in some animal-derived foods as well as in orange fruits and vegetables. The following are some foods that contain Vitamin A:

  • Liver and other organ meats
  • Eggs
  • Fatty fish such as salmon
  • Cheese, milk, and butter
  • Orange colored vegetables
  • Orange colored fruits
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables


Too much Vitamin A is not recommended as it can cause unwanted health issues. High levels of Vitamin A can lead to toxicity due to the fact that it is a fat-soluble vitamin which gets stored in your body. Overconsumption of Vitamin A can lead to side effects including bone and joint pain, headaches, vomiting, liver disease, confusion and in severe cases, death. Overconsumption risk is typically higher when Vitamin A is consumed as a supplement rather than by food, though overconsumption through food is still possible.

Bottom Line:
Vitamin A is vital for many processes and functions of the body. Although too little of it or overconsumption of it can both cause health issues, a normal level can be achieved through a healthy diet. Achieving the right balance of Vitamin A through food will ensure your body is enjoying the benefits it has to offer.