The antioxidant properties of vitamin A help combat acne. Oxidative stress can cause upheaval in the oil-producing sebaceous glands. When the body is compromised by free radicals, the sebaceous glands can produce imbalanced amounts of oil (sebum). This makes it easier for acne bacteria to collect and create blemishes.
The antioxidant skills of vitamin A reduce the amount of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands and also assist the body in shedding dead skin cells. However, eating foods rich in vitamin A can help balance the body’s production of sebum. Doctors also use topical and oral supplements that use synthetic vitamin A, or retinol, as an active ingredient. The vitamin A stimulates new skin cells to grow and prevent dead skin cells from clogging the pores.
Since the 1980’s, these synthetic retinoids have been used effectively to attack acne and other skin problems. The trade names for these products include Accutane, Retin-A and Sortret. Those who desire a natural supplement instead of a prescription for acne may find success using retinyl palmitate or other vitamin A supplements. These can be effective both as an oral supplement or a topical ointment.
Vitamin A for Skin Health
Vitamin A can help other skin issues besides acne. A boost of vitamin A can help skin that’s dry, rough or scaly. Conditions like psoriasis or keratosis pilaris are also commonly treated with foods rich in vitamin A. Doctors may prescribe synthetic retinoids to treat certain skin conditions, but some natural health practitioners have had success treating the skin with natural sources of vitamin A. Some of the skin conditions treated with vitamin A include eczema, cold sores, wounds, burns, sunburn and ichthyosis. Vitamin A retinoids can also treat wrinkles and lines of aging by stimulating collagen production and new blood vessels. This improves skin color, diminishes age spots and softens rough, scaly patches of skin. In studies, this has usually taken from six months to a year of treatment.
Vitamin A for Eye Health
Clinical studies at Harvard Medical School combined a treatment of vitamin A palmitate plus natural foods to increase natural vision in individuals diagnosed with several eye diseases.
Columbia University researchers used a synthetic form of vitamin A to slow the progression of a genetic eye disease called Stargardt’s disease. This condition typically causes vision loss at a young age.
The National Eye Institute funds research to explore the link between vitamin A and retinal eye diseases, which could provide promising reports for the future.