Vitamin A is vital for healthy skin... and here's why...
Vitamin A comes in a couple of different forms. We can eat it directly through animal products such as liver, egg yolk, fish and dairy. Or we can make it ourselves by eating what’s known as provitamin A, found in beta carotene rich foods such as yellow/orange ones like butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, mango and apricots. Or dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
But how does Vitamin A actually help our skin?
It helps to regulate our immune response. Inflammation underpins many skin conditions, such as eczema, and so supporting the immune system is vital.
It maintains the structure and function of the epithelium (body tissue which lines the inner and outer surfaces of the body) which includes our gut, our respiratory airways and the skin. Vitamin A plays an important role in the formation of the cells that form this lining.
Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant… which in a nutshell can help protect against premature ageing.
Vitamin A is also important for eye health... so eating carrots to help you see in the dark has science behind it!
By eating a varied diet, you should be able to get all the vitamin A you need from your diet. But it is fat soluble, which means it needs fat in order to be absorbed. Roasting butternut squash in extra virgin olive oil, topping some full fat Greek yoghurt with mango or sautéing some dark leafy greens with butter and garlic are some of my favourite ways to eat these vitamin A rich foods.
It is important to be aware though that excess vitamin A can be toxic. The body stores any excess that we don’t need to utilise upon eating. These stores are predominantly found in the liver and if we consume too much then these stored levels can accumulate. This is particularly relevant for animal sources of vitamin A which are in a useable form. Liver is particularly high in this preformed vitamin A, in fact 100g of beef liver contains more than six times the recommended intake of vitamin A!
On the other hand, large amounts of beta carotene have not shown any adverse toxicity effects as our body only converts them into usable vitamin A when it is required. So you can comfortably pile up your plate with these antioxidant rich plant based sources of provitamin A.