Beta Carotene And Vitamin A

Vitamin A (Retinol) is a fat soluble nutrient and need to be combined with fats (oils) to improve its absorption. Like other fat soluble vitamins it stored in the liver and transported by the biliary system. Retinol is found only in animal foods and Beta Carotene is found in plant foods. Unlike vitamin A, Beta Carotene is not toxic and more suitable during pregnancy. Most good multi-vitamin formulas are using Beta Carotene instead of vitamin A.

Vitamin A properties.

  • It is a potent antioxidant
  • Vital for healthy eyesight and night vision in particular. The functional compound in the eye, found in photoreceptor cells in the retina, consists of protein Opsin bound to retinal – a form of retinol, which is an active vitamin A. The cells that regulate night vision are more sensitive to vitamin A deficiency.
  • Essential for bone development and growth, especially in children.
  • Needed for normal cell differentiation – the cell ability to perform specific functions. Retinol helps to make healthy epithelium tissue, which found in skin, membranes, glands and the lining on respiratory, genito-urinary and gastro-intestinal systems. This makes it vital to maintain healthy skin and mucus membranes. It is best to take Beta Carotene as a precursor to vitamin A for skin health. If taken long-term, Beta Carotene can protect the skin from UVB and UVA rays and reduce the risk of sunburn. 50mg over 6 weeks, 30mg over 10 weeks or 25mg over 12 weeks prior to sun exposure were shown to be effective in protecting fair-skinned people from sun damage. One a side note: do not use a sunblock with added vitamin A as retinyl palmitate!
  • Vitamin A is needed to synthesise sex hormones and plays a role in reproduction.
  • Retinoic acid plays an important role in gene transcription.
  • Vitamin A assist immune function through T cell formation. Beta Carotene supplements increase the amount of white blood cells (proliferation of lymphocytes).
  • High intake of Beta Carotene for a prolonged period of time may reduce risk of certain cancers and heart disease

Vitamin A deficiency results in blindness (in acute cases), impaired vision and night blindness and impaired bile production and release.

Available supplement forms.

As Retinyl Palmitate it is available in:

  • liquid form in a base of some oil, e. g. olive oil. Good for elderly or anyone who have difficulty swallowing tablets and capsules and can be diluted in water or taken sublingually.
  • emulsified liquid. This form is supposed to be easily absorbable because of pre-emulsifying process, which allows fat soluble vitamins to be dispersed in water. This process predigests the nutrient, increasing its absorption.

Also available in Beta Carotene tablets or Vitamin A tablets.

Formulas of natural mixed carotenoids in tablets or capsules are the best, as the most bio-available ones. One of the best sources to derive beta carotene for supplements is green algae – Dunaliella Salina. It has been shown to significantly restore the antioxidant enzymes – catalase, SOD and peroxidase. Synthetic carotenoids do not perform the same function.

Food sources.

Beta Carotene found in: carrots, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkin and squash and other yellow or orange coloured fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin A found in: liver, dairy products, fish and fish oils and eggs (yolks).

Recommended Daily Intake.


  • Not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Not suitable for anyone with kidney stones
  • Some people can be sensitive to vitamin A
  • Read the label if allergic to Soy
  • In cosmetic uses, Vitamin A is often added to creams and lotions as Retinyl Palmitate, made from Retinol and Palmitic Acid from palm oil. While it is good for problem skin, prone to eczema and it does regulates pigmentation, it actually accelerates cancer with exposure to sunlight. So once again: avoid sunblocks with Vitamin A inside. Other creams and lotions are fine.
  • Prolonged intake of preformed vitamin A causes liver toxicity, especially in individuals with high alcohol intake and liver diseases.

Recommended product: Viridian Beta Carotene Mixed Carotenoid Complex (veg. caps.)


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