Best Vitamin A Supplements

Updated September 2020
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best vitamin A supplements

Last Updated September 2020

Vitamin A is one of four fat-soluble vitamins, along with vitamins E, K, and D. Vitamin A plays a pivotal role in a variety of bodily functions from eye health to immune function. While most people easily consume enough of the vitamin from food to remain healthy, a few select circumstances may call for supplementation.

You should consult your doctor before considering taking a vitamin A supplement. If you’re curious about why you might need to take extra vitamin A and whether it’s something you need to think about, we’ve got you covered.

Choosing the right supplement can be confusing, and not all supplement brands offer quality vitamins with rigorous quality control standards. Read on to discover our buying guide to vitamin A supplements, including information on deficiency symptoms and tips for choosing a supplement. Check out a few of our favorites, too.

Supplement manufacturers don’t have to prove the purity of their products, but reputable companies often seek third-party verification. If purity is important to you, check for products with a USP Verified or NSF Certified label. Note that products with these certifications may cost more

Key considerations

What is vitamin A?

Vitamin A encompasses a group of fat-soluble retinoids that are important for the body’s immune system function. Vitamin A is also an essential contributor to eye health, cell communication, and the body’s reproductive system.

People take vitamin A for a host of reasons, including the following:

Acne and skin treatments: Retinoids can help heal and repair skin tissue when applied topically.

Disease treatment: Vitamin A is used to treat a variety of illnesses, including leukemia and measles.

Deficiency: For those with a deficiency, a doctor may prescribe vitamin A supplements.

Why do you need vitamin A?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin A is between 700 and 900 micrograms for adults (or 2,310 to 3,000 IU). There are many reasons the body needs vitamin A, including the following:

Eye health: Without vitamin A, the body is unable to produce an essential protein for vision function. Without the protein, things like night blindness and corneal ulcers can occur. There’s also some evidence that regular consumption of vitamin A can help stave off vision issues that come with aging.

Skin health: Topically administered retinoids can help treat a variety of skin issues from texture irregularities to general signs of aging. Without vitamin A, epithelial tissues throughout the body run into trouble.

Immune system function: Without vitamin A, the immune system is in dire straits. The vitamin is vital in the creation of T cells, which help the body fight off intruders like bacteria and cancer cells.

Types and sources of vitamin A

There are two forms of vitamin A: preformed and provitamin A carotenoid. Most people get the required daily amount of vitamin A through food sources, and the majority of experts recommend food sources over supplements.

Preformed vitamin A, also known as retinoids, is typically sourced from animal products. Natural sources of retinoid vitamin A include eggs, organ meat, poultry, oily fish, dairy products, and fortified foods such as cereal and milk

Provitamin A carotenoid comes from plant sources. It includes beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. The body turns provitamins like these for into usable vitamin A as needed. Natural sources of beta-carotene include carrots, spinach and other leafy greens, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds, and fruits. Note: Beta-carotene does not build up in the body in the same way as preformed vitamin A. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A as needed, so it’s a much safer source of vitamin A.

Vitamin A deficiency

Most people have no trouble getting enough vitamin A through their diet. Those with a deficiency usually have a low-quality diet or suffer from a disease (often affecting the digestive tract). People in impoverished countries are more likely to have a vitamin A deficiency. Symptoms of a deficiency are typically more pronounced in children. An untreated deficiency can eventually lead to blindness. In some developing countries, the deficiency is a common cause of childhood blindness.

Along with infants, pregnant and breastfeeding women are also at higher risk for this type of deficiency. People with medical conditions like cystic fibrosis or anorexia nervosa are also at risk for vitamin A deficiency. Symptoms of a deficiency may include vision problems, including night blindness, excessively dry skin, brittle hair, and a weakened immune system.

CAUTION

While you’ll excrete excess vitamin C and other vitamins through urine, excess vitamin A is stored in the body, which is why consuming high amounts of it can be dangerous

Vitamin A side effects

Not everyone needs to take a vitamin A supplement. Most healthy individuals are not deficient in vitamin A. Here’s what to watch out for when supplementing with this vitamin:

Toxicity: Taking too much vitamin A can lead to skin issues, such as excessive dryness, aches, and pains in the joints, headaches, confusion, and vomiting.

Birth defects: Pregnant women should not take vitamin A supplements without the guidance of a physician, since high levels of this vitamin may lead to congenital disabilities.

Liver and kidney problems: Heavy drinkers and people with diseases that affect these organs should refrain from supplementing with vitamin A.

Drug interactions: Vitamin A supplements may interact with certain kinds of birth control, cancer drugs, acne treatments, and blood thinners. People taking any of these types of medications should consult their doctor before taking a supplement.

DID YOU KNOW?

Because vitamin A is found in a variety of plant-based foods, vegans and vegetarians don’t have to worry about a deficiency like they would with vitamin B12.

Features

When browsing available vitamin A supplements, opt for a well-known brand to ensure you’re getting accurate dosage information.

Source

Consider the source of vitamin A when purchasing a supplement. Choose between preformed or provitamin A sources. Some supplements include a combination of both types. Plant-based forms of vitamin A are less likely to cause serious side effects, but there is still some evidence that high levels of beta-carotene are dangerous for particular individuals.

Form

Vitamin A supplements are available in multiple forms, such as tablets, soft gels, liquid, and sublingual melts. Note that tablets may not dissolve readily in your stomach if you’re also taking antacids for heartburn.

Multivitamins

Vitamin A is a common component of multivitamins. If you have multiple deficiencies, a multivitamin may be a more convenient and economical choice.

Serving size

Check the serving size on the packaging to determine how many tablets or capsules are required per dose. Most labels also show you the size of the capsules, which is useful information for people who have trouble swallowing pills. Check also that the dosage is appropriate for your needs. Because vitamin A is fat-soluble, taking too much is not only a waste of money but also potentially dangerous.  

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Topical vitamin A used to treat skin conditions, such as acne vulgaris, should not be consumed orally.

Vitamin A supplement prices

Vitamin A is one of the cheaper supplements available. Prices vary between $0.06 and $0.30 per serving. Higher-priced supplements usually contain other vitamins and minerals in addition to vitamin A.

Topical retinoids intended for skincare are generally much pricier than oral vitamin A supplements.

Talk to your doctor if you experience any side effects while taking vitamin A supplements. They may be a sign of toxicity.

FAQ

Q. How much vitamin A should I take?
A.
For adults, the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for vitamin A is 3,000 IU. Talk to your doctor about the right dosage for your needs. Remember that vitamin A is fat-soluble and stored in the liver if taken in excess quantities, so there is a higher risk of toxicity when supplementing with vitamin A.
 

Q. Is it possible to consume too much vitamin A?
A.
Yes. Since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, any excess is stored in body tissues like the liver. Your body doesn’t excrete vitamin A like it would a water-soluble vitamin, so levels can build up over time if you’re consuming too much of it. There’s evidence that high levels of vitamin A can increase a person’s risk for osteoporosis. In smokers, too much beta-carotene may increase the risk of contracting lung cancer. Acute toxicity is also a concern. Signs of a vitamin A overdose include hair texture changes, dry skin and lips, bad headache, and general weakness. What makes diagnosis difficult is that the symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency and overdose are incredibly similar. In cases of a beta-carotene overdose, the skin takes on an orange tinge. Yes, your grandma was right: eating too many carrots will turn you orange!
 

Q. Is vitamin A good for the skin?
A.
Retinoids are well known for their ability to rejuvenate the skin. Retinoid vitamin A helps regulate oil production, reduces pigmentation, increases collagen production, and helps heal skin. Topical retinoid treatments can help reduce the look of wrinkles, treat acne, and fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

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