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Vitamin A plays many roles in the body, but it is especially important for promoting eye health. Vitamin A is also known as retinol because it helps develop the pigments in the retina of the eye and it plays a key role in maintaining night vision. In fact, studies have shown that vitamin A deficiency can impair night vision.
To keep your eye sight healthy and strong, consider the dosage. The RDI is 5,000 International Units (IU). Vitamin A comes from two sources: pre-formed retinoids and pro-vitamin carotenoids. Pre-formed retinoids are used immediately and come from fish oil, while pro-vitamin carotenoids are converted to vitamin A and come from plant sources. Carotenoids such as beta-carotene have strong antioxidant properties and can be converted to vitamin A as needed.
And if you have some macular degeneration, research suggests that taking high doses of beta-carotene may prevent further vision loss.
Similarly, the antioxidant lutein and the herb bilberry may promote eye health by reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
But vitamin A's benefits go beyond the eyes. Inadequate vitamin A also may make you more susceptible to infectious diseases. The mucous lining is the body's first barrier against infection and adequate vitamin A helps keep this important defense mechanism healthy.
Vitamin A also contributes to the development of healthy teeth, bones and skin. When you use a skin care product that contains retinol, you're benefiting from vitamin A, too.
Although you can get vitamin A from food sources, supplements can be beneficial for many people, especially those who are watching their fat and cholesterol. Many foods that are high in vitamin A come from animal sources (meat, milk, eggs, cheese, liver) and they are also high in cholesterol and saturated fat.