The relationship between vitamin A and skin care is one of love. What does that mean? It means that your skin loves vitamin A as much as vitamin A loves your skin. But what is the nature of this relationship? What are its pros and cons?
And if should use vitamin A for skin health, how should we use it? Better yet, how much vitamin A should we use? Well, these are the questions that this article explores and answers. Interested?
On Vitamin A
Vitamin A is one of the most critical vitamins in our body. It disintegrates in oils and lipids and plays a vital role in the production of proteins. Also, vitamin A participates in the formation and construction of epithelium, one of the four primary tissues.
It also plays a vital role in our growth, and it affects our eyesight and derma. Vitamin A also has antioxidant powers, which means that it connects and sweeps free radicals that are floating around in your body. Despite all these and many other benefits, too much of vitamin A can be detrimental to your health.
In fact, most of the problems related to vitamin A emerge as a result of overusing it. Specifically, people that overeat food rich with vitamin A (like milk, butter or fish) can intake large quantities of vitamin A, thinking that “the more you use it, the better you’ll feel.” It is therefore always best to consult with your doctor before you act on your own, just to make sure that you aren’t taking too little or too much vitamin A.
The Benefits Of Vitamin A
Ancient Egyptians didn’t know that vitamin A exists, but they did figure out that consuming cooked liver helps with eyesight. Why? It is because the liver is one of the most significant sources of vitamin A, and because vitamin A plays an important role in your eyesight.
This vitamin was officially discovered in 1915, but we still aren’t fully aware of its benefits. What we do know is that this vitamin is found in both animals and plants. We also know that it helps synthesize rhodopsin, a receptor protein that helps us see the world (literally!)
And most importantly (at least for our topic), vitamin A keeps our skin alive. And not just ours: it builds tissues in animals and plants too. And because it has a beneficiary effect on our skin, many people use it to treat their skin conditions naturally and safely without any special or expensive treatments.
What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin A For Skin Health?
Taking care of your skin can be challenging even if it is reasonably healthy. The problem with skin is that it is everywhere, right? It is also our first line of defense against external danger. And interestingly, when we have internal health issues, our skin will often indicate these problems and manifest them like a rash, swelling or something else.
Today we know that regular use of vitamin A helps with skincare. We also know that underusing or overusing this vitamin can be problematic, but manageable. But before we discuss the use of this vitamin, let us first examine its skin-related benefits.
We already mentioned that vitamin A combatants antioxidants, right? Imagine antioxidants as Wild West outlaws and vitamin A as sheriffs if it helps to understand.
And so what do these radicals do in your body? Generally speaking, they create havoc, chaos, and disorder. It starts slow and often is insignificant, but if the number of these outlaws grows, you need to bring backup right? You need more sheriffs to help you control the situation and restore order.
When it comes to our skin, free radicals tend to spend most of their destructive time in collagen. Collagen is that which holds your skin in place, that which keeps it together, just as a foundation of a building keeps it in place (aside from gravity and earth, but you get the point.)
And so when these radicals attack collagen, your skin deteriorates. But this change is often minimal, slow and negligible, so insignificant that we don’t notice it, or we ignore it. So what happens when you remove a foundation beneath a building? It starts to collapse!
First, you’ll notice that your skin starts feeling less elastic and firm. Then you start seeing fine lines, or that your skin is becoming saggier. Eventually, you reach the point where the collagen is so weakened that it compromises your whole body. You might even notice that your skin has become oversensitive to sunlight or UV light, which, as we know, can cause skin cancer.
So, to slow down the aging process and to protect yourself from UV light, you can increase the number of sheriffs and reduce the number of free radicals. The good news is that vitamin A tolerates UV light and is in no way threatened by it. In fact, in a one on one battle, I would bet on vitamin A.
Many (if not all) skincare products are boosted with vitamin A. Of course, we don’t just use vitamin A, but various versions and subversions (but natural and synthetic) of vitamin A to tackle specific issues.
We already mentioned that this vitamin builds collagen. Well, collagen helps you heal faster, literally! When you cut yourself on a knife as you are slicing an apple, it is collagen that helps regenerate and bind your skin together. In fact, it is recommended for people to take vitamin A with zinc before and after the surgery to accelerate healing. Cool right?
But skin isn’t collagen; it consists of different compounds and various cell types. We know that vitamin A helps build those cells, meaning that it helps revitalize and rejuvenate your skin. Here’s just one example: vitamin A stimulates the production of fibroblasts.
A fibroblast is that which keeps your skill elastic, but not on the surface. You have to keep in mind that skin isn’t that which you see on your body; skin is much more than that. The skin has its structure, hierarchy, layers, and system.
When our bodies have enough vitamin A, our skin will produce enough new cells to replace dead cells, which is why you’ll skin look nice and shiny on the surface. But if we don’t take enough vitamin A, our skin will deteriorate because it won’t be able to produce new cells to replace those that are dead.
Defense, Defense, Defense
The healthier your skin is, the healthier you are. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is that simple. Your skin is in alliance with your other defense mechanisms, alright? It acts as an actual physical border between you and the world. Generally speaking, your body doesn’t like the outer world.
Why? Germs, viruses, bacterias, allergens, dust, and so forth; all these things affect our health. If your skin is healthy and strong, it will recognize and stop as many enemies as it can, freeing your internal defense mechanism to focus on other issues.
Vitamin A helps a key role in this war between good and evil. It, as an agent of production, stimulates cell production and participates in the formation of skin tissue. And here’s the biggest problem; if this problem isn’t addressed correctly, it can spiral out of control.
Okay, fighting dry skin and even open wounds (from damaged skin) is one thing, but what are we going to do about internal issues? Remember, when your skin is weak, many of those nasty and destructive agents enter your bloodstream and weaken your immune system. The funny thing is that all this could have been avoided if we only took enough vitamin A.
How Do You Supplement Vitamin A For Skin Health?
Three things we want to discuss here: Where is vitamin A, should you supplement it, and how and how much should you intake.
In Search Of Vitamin A
We (Westerners) don’t generally struggle with vitamin A deficiency because we eat food rich with vitamin A. Some people take enough, some too much, but rarely people take too little vitamin A.
Why? Well, we mentioned that vitamin A exists in both plants and animals. We said fish, right? Wel fish like salmon are abundant with vitamin A. You can also find it in the liver of animals like cows or pigs. You’ll also see it all dairy products including milk, eggs, and butter.
Now these things are called retinoids (vitamin A in animals.) We also have carotenoids, which is vitamin A in plants. And as the name suggests, you can find lots of carotenoids in carrots. You’ll also find it in potatoes, tomatoes and most greens (spinach, lettuce and other leafy vegetables.) You’ll find less vitamin A in fruit, but some fruits like plums or avocados tend to have large quantities of vitamin A.
On Vitamin A Supplements
Sometimes our bodies (due to various reasons) can’t process or refuse to absorb vitamin A in its natural form. Or, sometimes we are allergic to the food we desperately need, and so we need to work our way around this food but still get chemicals and vitamins this food contains.
Generally, we supplement vitamin A by applying it to our skin. Large quantities of vitamin A are added to various skin care products such as sunscreens, moisturizers, and oils. Some products use only retinoids, some carotenoids, and some use both.
Difference? The difference is in effect. For instance, retinoids are good against rashes, inflammation or burning sensations. They also act as janitors, sweeping and declogging your skin. So if you have acne, you will probably use retinoids to unclog your skin and reduce inflammation and swelling.
We also mentioned fine lines, right? Well, both retinoids and carotenoids rebuild collagen, which then combats fine lines. But it’s not just skincare products that you can use to supplement vitamin A use. You’ll also find it in oils (massage,) pills, vitamin bombs, serums, and so forth.
How Much Is Enough?
How much vitamin A you need depends on you and you alone. We are all different, and so we need to discuss these issues with our doctors. Your skin problem will also tell you whether or not you need vitamin A supplements or not.
Plus, various side effects will tell you whether or not you are using too much vitamin A. The most common one is headaches. Of course, this doesn’t mean that if you have headaches that you are using too much vitamin A. But, if you start using vitamin A supplements and find that you are getting more headaches than usual, then you can look for a cause in vitamin A use.
Same can be said for eyesight problems, such as blurred or foggy vision. And which organ can be damaged if you overuse vitamin A? Liver, of course, since it is almost always rich with vitamin A anyway!
And don’t go crazy on beta-carotene either. If you notice that your skin is turning orange, it is probably a time to reduce or stop using your supplements. Don’t panic btw; your skin will sort this thing out when you stop oversing your supplements.
And most importantly, don’t forget that almost all skincare products have vitamin A. So if you are already using drugs to treat psoriasis or other heavy skin conditions, you probably have enough vitamin A.
Consult With Your Doctor?
If you are experiencing inconveniences regarding your skin, see a dermatologist or at least a family doctor. If your condition is heavy, your doctor might give you prescription-only drugs, which are generally very potent.
You should always use them gradually (your doctor will explain this) so that you don’t shock your organism. You might experience things like sensitivity to light, dryness or irritation, most of which you can manage with other skincare products (such as sunscreen and creams.) But, make sure that they don’t have too much vitamin A.
Vitamin A is strange but vital. You can obtain it via animal or plants, and by using vitamin A supplements. Talk to your doctor, measure your vitamin A count, and see if have enough vitamin A.
And don’t follow that “the more, the better” philosophy! Remember that, even though your skin is ferocious warrior and protector of your body, it is still sensitive and requires a lot of care and patience to rebuild itself.