Vitamin A deficiency and skin conditions

If there is an observation I have it is how the occurrence of skin conditions in adults, has accelerated over the years.

Earlier I wrote about Vitamin D deficiencies and skin conditions and today we are going to look at Vitamin A.

Restrictive diets have a great deal to answer for, the more people restrict the range of foods they consume, the more chance they have of developing deficiencies. People are not consuming enough true Vitamin A foods, foods that are rich in retinol A whereby the body can instantly use the micronutrient, also referred to as bio-available vitamins.

Animal sources of retinol is bio-available, which means the body can utilise it
Animal sources of retinol is bio-available, which means the body can utilise it

The other half of the health problem is our balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3, the majority of people have a diet far too high in Omega-6 promoting inflammation. I wrote about this to some extent in preventing premature ageing, the case for an old-fashioned diet.

Lacking Vitamin A in our diet results in many health concerns including:

  • Eczema and acne
  • Poor immune system
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Infertility
  • Mood disorders
  • Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism

I am a huge advocate for fruit and vegetables, organic if possible and say no to GM foods. When it comes to having a diet with good amounts of Vitamin A, it all becomes a little difficult, if you are not gaining vitamin A from animal sources.

You will notice that our juicing for better health article has three egg yolks or whole eggs in the Vitamin A juice. A single large egg yolk contains 270 IU of retinol A, bio-available ready for the bodies consumption. We need at a minimum 2.300 IU per day of retinol A so three eggs coming in at 810 IU is a good start.

But I have been told and read that many fruits and vegetables are high in Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it comes in two forms bio-available Retinoids or Carotenoids the form found in fruit and vegetables. The most significant factor about vitamin A is the distinction between retinoids and carotenoids. The vitamin A from animal sources is retinoids, also called retinol while plant source vitamin A is carotenoids, such as beta-carotene.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Capsicums (Peppers)
  • Carrots
  • Rockmelon (Cantaloupe)
  • Dark leafy vegetables

These all contain Carotenoids the precursor for the synthesis of Retinol A, our bodies turn the Carotenoids into bio-available A. Sounds good right, well nothing is that straightforward.

in the vicinity of 45% of adults are unable to convert carotenoids into Retinol A

Contrary to popular belief, plants will just not give the body the Vitamin A requirement, for good health

A is only found in animal foods. It’s a myth that plant foods are high in this nutrient. Instead, fruits and vegetables are high in a family of phytonutrients called carotenoids. The body must synthesise three of these compounds—beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin—to vitamin A. Despite in humans, this conversion is quite inefficient, with about 10 to 20 molecules of carotenoids needed to make one of vitamin A. Alternatively, 80% or more bio-available vitamin A from animal sources is absorbed, whereby only 3% or less of carotenoids from plant foods are absorbed.

Compounding the problem of efficient A synthesis is according to a study, in the vicinity of 45% of adults are unable to convert carotenoids into Retinol A. It is also my observation that over the years I have noted many people on restrictive diets, Vegans, for instance, have some of the worst skin health I have encountered. People are free to hold an ‘opinion’ on good health practices, albeit when the mountain of research contradicts their held ‘belief’ one should be mindful that education of nutrition should outmode unfounded ‘belief’ of what is a healthy diet. External skin health is a window to our overall wellbeing.

Other factors that inhibit the synthesis of A Retinol from carotenoids include:

  • People that have diabetes
  • People with Coeliac disease
  • People that have had their gallbladder removed
  • In those that have a restricted fat intake diet or have a history of low-fat dieting
  • In those with poor thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
  • Infants also do not readily synthesise carotenoids

If you agree that everything on the planet has a purpose, then just maybe we are warm blooded and designed to eat animal products for a very healthy valid reason.

Bio-available rich sources of true Vitamin A

  • Liver
  • Raw milk from grass fed cows
  • Dairy products derived from grass fed cows
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish

In the article the rise of raw milk and the health benefits, I highlighted the health benefits of drinking unprocessed milk and dairy products. An extensive list of suppliers in Ireland also included for sourcing unpasteurised and unhomogenised milk. Of course, the contradiction to that is for Acne sufferers dairy is often a severe acne trigger. None the less, if you are able to consume dairy I would recommend taking the time to source raw milk and derivatives.

With citation in hand, I am hoping I have sufficiently outlined that the majority of Vitamin A for good health and skin health, needs to come from animal sources.


Vitamin A and the Beta-Carotene Myth: “A” is for Athletics, Ageing and Advanced Health
By Dr. Phil Maffetone

The Absorption of Beta-Carotene and Its Conversion into Vitamin A

Vitamin A
Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

Vitamin A Saga
Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD

Variability in conversion of β-carotene to vitamin A in men as measured by using a double-tracer study design1,2,3
American Society for Clinical Nutrition

Treatment of psoriasis using vitamin A, vitamin A acid and oral retinoids
Orfanos CE, et al

Retinoids and Psoriasis

Vitamin A loaded solid lipid nanoparticles for topical use: occlusive properties and drug targeting to the upper skin
Volkhard Jenning et al

Gilbert Manso, MD

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Emma Ryall
Educator, Proprietor, Aesthetician at Zest Skin Clinic & Laser Hair Removal
Licenced Aesthetician, CIBTAC, ITEC and CIDESCO accredited professional therapist with over 14 years industry experience, specialising in skincare. Emma is also a master trainer City & Guilds – Accreditation No: 500/5753/4
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