Vital Nutrient Spotlight: Vitamin A
Each cell in the body has a life cycle. As we age, our cells turnover and regenerate at an increasingly slower rate. One nutrient that has been the gold standard for enhancing cell metabolism and regenerative growth is vitamin A.
Without enough vitamin A, the skin cannot go through its normal metabolic process, allowing it to become overly dry, or leaving it prone to breakouts or inflammation. As it turns out, skin is a retinoid-responsive organ (retinoid = type of vitamin A), able to easily absorb vitamin A when applied topically, and products with vitamin A in their formulation are fairly common. Having adequate amounts of this nutrient stimulates the production of new cells, with stronger cell walls, and both contribute toward having hydrated, younger-looking skin. There is even some research that indicates retinol can stimulate collagen production and reduce wrinkles when applied topically. Vitamin A derived products are also often used for treating acne because of its exfoliating and cell regenerating properties.
However, like so many things, the power and poison of any product is all in the dose. Some pharmaceutical-grade retinol products can deliver so much vitamin A that cell turnover goes into overdrive, which can lead to excessively dry skin, inflammation and skin irritation. A safer option would be to choose seaweed-based products. Seaweed and algae contain loads of beta-carotene, which naturally converts to vitamin A in the body but at a lower concentration than the products of pharma-labs. This helps skin attain a gradual exfoliation for healthy cell turnover which translates to a clear, glowing complexion.
Now, to get the systemic benefits of vitamin A, including eye health, reproductive health, and immune function, you’ll want to go beyond topical and be sure to have certain foods in your regular diet. Wild-caught salmon and grass-fed beef liver are great animal sources of vitamin A, while butternut squash and sweet potatoes are delicious plant powerhouses containing large amounts as well. Spinach, egg yolks, and broccoli are also decent sources, and are even easier to pair with almost any meal.
From immune-boosting properties to wrinkle fighting compounds, there are many reasons to make sure vitamin A is front and center in your skincare and dietary habits.