Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the biggest factors in having overall good health. Being extremely overweight or underweight can lead to a lot of conditions or diseases that are unfavorable and even life-threatening. Despite best efforts, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain a healthy weight, especially in this modern society where eating processed foods and fast foods is the norm.
A lot of processed foods and fast foods have little nutritional value, meaning none of the important vitamins and minerals that help keep our body’s systems balanced. When these systems are out of whack, it begins to cause a chain reaction of problems that can lead to unsightly and unhealthy weight gain. For example, fatigue can be a side effect of eating a lot of foods with no nutritional value. Fatigue can lead to less physical activity and less physical activity can lead to weight gain. For this reason, ingesting the right amount of vitamins is crucial to weight loss.
One vitamin in particular, vitamin A, is not usually thought of when it comes to managing our weight. Vitamin A is usually considered for more aesthetic reasons. In this guide, we will tell you why vitamin A is important to maintaining a healthy weight, how it can help you lose weight if you are overweight, and how you can make sure you get the recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
What Exactly is Vitamin A?
Most people think of vitamin A as a single thing, when in fact it is a blanket term that encompasses a group of things. There are two types of vitamin A. The first vitamin A is from animal sources. It is called preformed vitamin A and is the name given to unsaturated fat-soluble retinoids. Retinoids are very popular in the beauty industry because they improve the look and health of the skin. They have been shown to do things like softening fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin discolorations, fight acne, moisten the dry skin, and more. It also has an effect on vision as well as the functioning of other organs.
The second type of vitamin A is called provitamin A, and is also known as carotenoids. This type comes from plant-based sources. Beta-carotene is the most popular carotenoid in the provitamin A group.
With vitamin A being mostly pushed as a beauty solution, many people don’t usually think of vitamin A for weight loss. While vitamin A does have a lot of natural properties that is beneficial to the appearance of skin, at its core it is a catalyst for cellular growth. It also has a hand in regulating the lungs, heart, and kidneys. This is where it can have an effect on weight loss. We will discuss how this happens in the section below.
How Does Vitamin A Affect Weight Loss?
Vitamin A isn’t a specific weight loss supplement. With vitamin A you don’t pop a pill, get a caffeine boost, and burn fat. It is more of an indirect collaborator in helping people lose weight. Vitamin A provides a lot of cellular support in organs that can help your body on a metabolic level.
You could compare Vitamin A to a pit crew in a race–the driver and the car are doing all the work but every now and again they have to stop and get their car serviced. If there was no pit crew, they could still keep going–for a while–but eventually, their fuel will run out and the car will break down. This is how Vitamin A helps you with weight loss. It’s a support system that helps you make it to the weight loss finish line. In the next section, we will give you three reasons to consider vitamin A in your weight loss plans.
1. Vitamin A as an Antioxidant
You probably hear about antioxidants all the time. Many people know that antioxidants are good for them, but have no idea what they are or what they do. Antioxidants help to clean up harmful waste in our digestive systems, especially free radicals. Free radicals are substances that come from external sources, but can also be generated internally. Free radicals can bind to your cells and damage them. They can even cause conditions as serious as cancer.
So how does cleaning up free radicals help you with your weight loss journey? While there has been no direct link between antioxidants and losing weight, the foods that supply antioxidants are healthy and low in calories, and they also contain a good supply of other vitamins. If you make it a point to ensure that you have a good supply of antioxidants in your body from your eating habits, you will automatically be eating foods that are great for losing weight.
2. Vitamin A for Heart Health
Having a healthy heart is important for weight loss. For one, your body is going through a radical change as you lose weight so your heart needs to be strong enough to cope with it. Another consideration is that you will most likely be exercising on your weight loss journey, so you definitely need your heart in tip-top shape for that.
Just like with antioxidants, vitamin A doesn’t directly keep your heart in shape for weight loss and exercise, but it has been shown to aid in preventing certain conditions that would affect your ability to lose weight and/or exercise safely.
Hypertrophy is one of these conditions. Hypertrophy is an enlargement of the heart. More specifically, it is a response to certain internal or external stimuli such as hypertension. It can also be caused by and/or compounded by sarcomeric gene mutations. Hypertrophy can rarely (very rarely) be a good thing–sometimes it can normalize wall tension, but in general, it’s very bad and can lead to sudden death.
Studies have shown that retinoic acid a derivative of vitamin A, can suppress sarcomeric gene mutations. With the suppression of gene mutations, a person has a significantly smaller chance of developing hypertrophy which means they can safely exercise and meet their weight loss goals.
3. Vitamin A and Overall Health
Losing weight is hard when you don’t feel well. If your body isn’t running at its best, efficiency can take a hit and all the exercise you do could be less efficient than you think it is. That would be a waste of time and energy.
Vitamin A has a big impact on the body’s immune system. It helps to fight off infections which is especially important when you’re working out in a gym because people spread a lot of germs. You also need a strong immune system to help your muscles recover from strenuous weight exercises.
Being able to recover from exercises helps you with your weight loss because you can keep going. In a sense, vitamin A is what keeps your weight loss going.
How Can I Get Enough Vitamin A Each Day?
Vitamin A is abundant in a lot of healthy foods, especially colorful vegetables. In fact, it is one of the most abundant vitamins that you can find in healthy foods. If you are focused on weight loss, you will probably be eating a lot of these foods already so you won’t have to change much to get your recommended daily dose. Foods that are rich in vitamin A tend to be really rich in it. That can have a lot more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount.
As stated before, preformed vitamin A is available from animal sources and provitamin A is available from plant sources. Sources that provide preformed vitamin A usually has over 100% of the recommended daily amount. Fruit sources, which provide provitamin A, usually have the least amount. Here is a list of some of the best foods, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in vitamin A along with their daily value percentage.
Preformed Vitamin A Sources
- Animal Livers
- Beef liver, lamb liver, liver sausage, and cod liver oil all have a lot more than the recommended daily amount. In fact, one serving of beef liver has 716 percent of the daily recommended amount vitamin A! Eating it could actually be more harmful than helpful. Chicken liver has 81 percent of the recommended daily amount and goose liver pâté has one of the lowest daily recommended amount at 14 percent.
- Fish can be thought of like a superfood because it has so many beneficial vitamins and minerals but only a few of them have enough of preformed vitamin A for it to be effective. King mackerel has 43 percent per serving and salmon has 25 percent per serving. Bluefin tuna is another one and it has 24 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A.
- There are a lot of cheeses that have a small amount of preformed vitamin A. Their percentages rarely reach double digits, so you would have to eat a lot of cheese to get to 100 percent of the recommended daily amount (unless you eat it with another food rich in vitamin A). Goat cheese has one of the highest amounts with 13 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A. Limburger cheese has 11 percent and cheddar cheese follows right behind it with 10 percent. Roquefort cheese comes in at nine percent and blue cheese comes in at 6 percent. Most other cheeses have five percent or less.
- In general, colorful vegetables have a fair amount of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes have one of the highest recommended daily amounts of vitamin A. They have 204 percent so you have to be careful of how much you eat. Winter squash has 127 percent. Leafy green vegetables are a really good source of vitamin A. Kale has 98 percent of the daily recommended amount, Collard greens have 80 percent, and turnip greens have 61 percent. Peppers are also a great source of provitamin A. They do have lower amounts, but they are usually eaten with other foods that have vitamin A.
- Fruit usually has small amounts of vitamin A, but they are still good sources, especially since they are rarely eaten as a “main meal”. Mangos have one of the highest daily recommended amounts out of all fruit. The percentage is around 20 percent. You would think that all melons have around the same amount of provitamin A as others, but cantaloupe has twice as much as watermelon, around 19 percent. Most other fruit have very small amounts under five percent.
What If I Can’t Get The Amount of Vitamin A That I Need From Food?
It isn’t likely that you don’t get the amount of vitamin A that you need from food. However, there are certain circumstances that may prevent you from getting it. Around 45 percent of people have a condition where their bodies can’t absorb the full amount of vitamin A from vegetables.
If you are trying to lose weight, you will probably be eating a lot of vegetables. If you happen to be one of the 45 percent, then you may not get the recommended daily amount that you need which means that you won’t be ingesting enough of vitamin A for weight loss. In this case you could take supplements. Vitamin A supplements are usually marketed for skin issues, but this can still help you with your weight loss goals.
While vitamin A isn’t your typical weight loss vitamin, it still has a lot of benefits that will assist you in your weight loss goals. The best part is that it is abundant in a lot of healthy foods, so you most of the time you don’t have to do anything extra if you’re already eating healthy. Vitamin A is just as important as any other vitamin and will help you be successful in your weight loss goals.