There are many supplements that supposedly help you lose weight. What about the essential vitamin A, does it play a role in weight loss?
The relationship between vitamins and minerals and weight loss is often interesting. If there is any relationship, weight loss usually comes from resolving an insufficiency or avoiding an excess intake of the vitamin or mineral.
However, there are currently no clear signs that vitamin A is heavily involved in processes that benefit weight loss. That means that for most people consuming more vitamin A will have no weight loss benefits.
On the other hand, many people can use some extra vitamin A intake for the related health benefits.
If you think you think your levels of vitamin A may be insufficient you can take a look at your diet or get your levels measured. Actively working on increasing your vitamin A intake may not benefit weight loss but it may benefit your health.
Keep in mind that too much of certain types of vitamin A can cause negative side effects.
How vitamin A may help you lose weight
Vitamins and minerals play important roles in all kinds of processes inside of your body. If you don’t consume enough of these vitamins and minerals many of these processes take place in lesser or even zero amounts. This is usually bad for your health.
The opposite is also sometimes the case. Consuming too much of certain vitamins and minerals can cause negative side effects too.
Right now it doesn’t look like vitamin A is heavily involved in processes that benefit weight loss.
You may want to ensure your vitamin A levels are at a level great for your health anyway, not for any weight loss benefits.
Vitamin A daily recommendations
Below you can find a table with the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamin A for adults, infants, and children (1).
While they are all named “vitamin A”, there are different types of vitamin A. Some are more easily used than others. To represent this the daily recommendations are in “retinol activity equivalents” (RAE).
One mcg RAE is equivalent to 1 mcg retinol, 2 mcg supplemental beta-carotene, 12 mcg dietary beta-carotene, or 24 mcg dietary alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin.
Obviously, not all people have the same bodyweight, body composition, and activity levels. Hopefully one day there will be more specific dosage recommendations available. For now, these are some general intake numbers you can aim at.
|0-6 months*||400 mcg RAE||400 mcg RAE|
|7-12 months*||500 mcg RAE||500 mcg RAE|
|1-3 years||300 mcg RAE||300 mcg RAE|
|4-8 years||400 mcg RAE||400 mcg RAE|
|9-13 years||600 mcg RAE||600 mcg RAE|
|14-18 years||900 mcg RAE||700 mcg RAE||750 mcg RAE||1200 mcg RAE|
|19-50 years||900 mcg RAE||700 mcg RAE||770 mcg RAE||1300 mcg RAE|
|51+ years||900 mcg RAE||700 mcg RAE|
People at risk of vitamin A deficiency
Some groups of people are more at risk of a vitamin A deficiency than others. Examples include (1):
- Premature Infants
- Infants and young children in developing countries
- Pregnant and lactating women in developing countries
- People with cystic fibrosis
If you are in one of these groups you may need to pay more attention to get an adequate vitamin A intake.
Other people may want to talk to their doctors and get their levels checked first before heavily supplementing with vitamin A to see if there is any need for it.
Ways to get enough vitamin A
In many cases it is luckily not that hard to increase your vitamin A levels. This can be done both naturally with whole foods and supplementing.
Eating whole foods with vitamin A in them is usually the most recommended way to increase your intake. The reason for this is the wide variety of additional nutrients you get.
Some examples of foods with relatively high amounts of vitamin A include:
- Beef liver (cooked): about 7745 mcg RAE per 100 grams (4)
- Sweet potatoes (cooked): about 961 mcg RAE per 100 grams (5)
- Carrots: about 835 mcg RAE per 100 grams (2)
- Spinach: about 469 mcg RAE per 100 grams (6)
- Eggs: about 169 mcg RAE per 100 grams (3)
- Ricotta cheese: about 120 mcg RAE per 100 grams (7)
When you know what foods to focus on it becomes a lot easier to reach your daily recommended intake for vitamin A. Besides these examples, liver, fish oils, and milk generally contain nice amounts of preformed vitamin A. Many vegetables contain nice amounts of provitamin A.
The next option to increase your vitamin A intake is by taking dietary supplements. These are pills, capsules, tablets, or liquids with concentrated quantities of vitamin A.
The same as foods applies to supplements. There are different types of vitamin A in supplements.
Too much of certain types of vitamin A can cause negative side effects. That’s why it may be smart to talk to your doctor before heavily supplementing. At least keep a close eye on the dosage of the supplements and how much vitamin A is already in your diet.
Can you consume too much vitamin A?
One thing you do have to keep in mind is that you can also consume too much of certain vitamins and minerals. This is called the tolerable upper intake level, the highest level of nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects for almost all individuals in the general population (8).
There are tolerable upper intake levels established for certain types of vitamin A. This means that having too much vitamin A can cause adverse health effects.
These ULs only apply to products from animal sources and supplements whose vitamin A comes entirely from retinol or its ester forms (1).
|0-12 months||600 mcg||600 mcg|
|1-3 years||600 mcg||600 mcg|
|4-8 years||900 mcg||900 mcg|
|9-13 years||1700 mcg||1700 mcg|
|14-18 years||2800 mcg||2800 mcg||2800 mcg||2800 mcg|
|19+ years||3000 mcg||3000 mcg||3000 mcg||3000 mcg|
Even if an individual would be insufficient in vitamin A, resolving this insufficiency may not influence weight loss.
You can ensure that your vitamin A levels are healthy to avoid any side effects from insufficiencies but adding vitamin A to your diet will likely not benefit your weight loss in significant amounts.
Since there are tolerable upper intake levels you also don’t want to consume too much of certain types of vitamin A. This can cause negative side effects. Before drastically increasing your vitamin A intake it may be smart to talk to your doctor first.