Weight Loss Made Practical » Nutrition

Is Vitamin A Good For Weight Loss?

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.

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0-6 months*400 mcg RAE400 mcg RAE
7-12 months*500 mcg RAE500 mcg RAE
1-3 years300 mcg RAE300 mcg RAE
4-8 years400 mcg RAE400 mcg RAE
9-13 years600 mcg RAE600 mcg RAE
14-18 years900 mcg RAE700 mcg RAE750 mcg RAE1200 mcg RAE
19-50 years900 mcg RAE700 mcg RAE770 mcg RAE1300 mcg RAE
51+ years900 mcg RAE700 mcg RAE
recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamin A | *Adequate Intake (AI)

You can see how much of a difference the RAE makes when looking at food examples. Carrots contain about 16705 IU vitamin A per 100 grams which translates into 835 mcg (2).

On the other hand, eggs contain only 586 IU vitamin A per 100 grams but because of the type of vitamin A this translates into 169 mcg RAE (3).

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.

Whole foods

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.

Dietary supplements

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).

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0-12 months600 mcg600 mcg
1-3 years600 mcg600 mcg
4-8 years900 mcg900 mcg
9-13 years1700 mcg1700 mcg
14-18 years2800 mcg2800 mcg2800 mcg2800 mcg
19+ years3000 mcg3000 mcg3000 mcg3000 mcg
Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for preformed Vitamin A

Conclusion

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.