All the benefits of vitamin A

Here are the countless positive activities of this essential nutrient.

If we think about vitamin A, the first thing that comes to mind, probably, are the eyes. The deficiency of this nutrient was in fact correlated, at the beginning, with the appearance of visual disturbances. But its activities are countless.

Thanks to its antioxidant power, anti-inflammatory properties, ability to promote connective tissue repair processes and to stimulate melanin production as well as cell differentiation and development, the areas of action of vitamin A go far beyond the classic function in vision.

Here are some of the beneficial properties consolidated or even suggested by different scientific studies, which we can use.

Eye protection

Long hours spent on books or in front of the computer put a strain on your eyesight. The eyes begin to burn, tend to tear, sometimes it seems to us that a buzz has entered.

But the rebellion of our visual apparatus does not stop there: eye pain and dryness, headaches, blurred or split vision appear.

A stress that, especially if continuous, should not be underestimated because it can cause a progressive reduction in the functionality of vision.

It is therefore good to take some precautions, especially if you work on the computer, such as keeping the environment properly lit, keeping at least 40 cm from the monitor.

Look away for at least 15 minutes every two hours, use eye drops and tear substitutes at the first symptoms of dry eye and perform, during the day, relaxation exercises, squinting your eyelids for 1 or 2 minutes.

But no less important is the contribution of antioxidants taken with the diet. In particular, the contribution of vitamin A and carotenoids can protect the eyes from stress from visual fatigue, from environmental aggressions, from free radicals.

And in addition to counteracting the degeneration processes caused by free radicals, vitamin A, together with C and E, are an important investment for the future.

Numerous studies have in fact shown their effectiveness in the prevention of age-related diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the main cause of blindness in Western countries.

A for Learning

And, if with a good and rested sight you can read pages and pages of notions, then you also need help to process and memorize them.

Do not worry: according to a study published in Neuroscience, vitamin A would in fact play an important role in the brain processes of learning and memory, influencing the activity of some cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that presides over these functions.

For the health of bronchi

Low plasma levels of vitamin A and vitamin C expose you to an increased risk of asthma. This is the result of a meta-analysis, published in Thorax, conducted at the University of Nottingham reviewing 40 important studies carried out over the last thirty years.

Dietary intake of vitamin A was significantly reduced in asthmatic patients (one-third of the recommended dose) compared to non-asthmatics, the authors point out. And subjects who took little vitamin C had a 12% higher risk of developing the disease.

Although it is not yet possible to confirm a cause-effect relationship between vitamin consumption and asthma, the known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, both of vitamin A and of C, make reason for these findings.

A cancer shield for smokers and ex-smokers

There are numerous studies that have highlighted, in smokers, the lack of important antioxidant substances, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium.

So that free radicals, produced in high quantities in smokers, can act undisturbed causing damage of different kinds.

Among the harmful effects there is the increased risk of lung cancer, which remains quite high even for many years in those who have abandoned cigarettes.

One more hope comes from a derivative of vitamin A able to reverse some precancerous lesions in the lungs of former smokers by increasing the receptors for retinic acid (generally lower among smokers), a substance necessary for the normal development of epithelial cells that line the lungs.

But also against breast cancer

And always a derivative of vitamin A, phenretinide, seems able to prevent recurrence of breast cancer.

This is stated by an Italian-American team (National Cancer Institute and European Institute of Oncology in Milan): in women under 40, as long as they are not yet in menopause, treatment with fenretinide is able to halve the risk of a second tumor.

Cosmetic effects and more

Known for its Anti-Wrinkle properties , as it is able to promote the repair processes of the connective tissue, vitamin A is an all-round friend of the skin.

Also aided by vitamin E and vitamin C, it counteracts the harmful effects of pollution and aging, making the skin young, healthy and luminous.

At the Michigan University Medical School, they demonstrated how retinol -based lotions (a form of vitamin A) give clear results: increased levels of hydration and cellular turnover processes, significant reduction in wrinkles tags. Even in older people.

Without forgetting that vitamin A also stimulates the production of melanin, which acts as a sunscreen on the whole body, protecting the deepest layers of the skin from radiation.

And that’s not all

According to a study published in Pediatrics and conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, vitamin A could save the lives of many children.

Giving an oral dose of this substance to infants in developing countries can reduce the risk of mortality by 15%.

The mechanism? Administration at an early age seems to be essential to reduce the incidence of infectious diseases, which in less developed countries are one of the major causes of death of newborns and children.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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