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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Food Components and Health Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344097

Title: Vitamin A

item DEBELO, HAWI - Purdue University
item Novotny, Janet
item FERRUZZI, MARIO - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Advances in Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2017
Publication Date: 11/7/2017
Citation: Debelo, H., Novotny, J.A., Ferruzzi, M.G. 2017. Vitamin A. Advances in Nutrition. 8:992-994.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Vitamin A (VA) is an essential micronutrient that plays an important role in a wide array of physiological processes including the vision, immune response, cell differentiation and proliferation, intercellular communication, and reproduction. Humans and animals must obtain vitamin A from the diet or through supplemental sources. These are primarily derived from animal products that provide preformed vitamin A (retinol or retinyl esters, which the animal has consumed as preformed VA or has converted from provitamin A carotenoids) or from fruits and vegetables as sources of provitamin A carotenoids. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is one of the most prevalent nutrition-related health problems, affecting an estimated 190 million preschool children worldwide. The classical manifestation of VAD is xerophthalmia, which is a disorder related to dryness of the eye, resulting in a range of ocular expressions of VAD from night blindness, conjunctival and corneal xerosis, to corneal ulceration and keratomalacia, and ultimately blindness if left untreated. Prophylactic supplementation of vitamin A has been widely used in vitamin A-deficient populations, and current World Health Organization guidelines recommend prophylactic oral administration of vitamin A supplements be given to children of age 6-59 months in regions where vitamin A has been recognized as a public health problem. Vitamin A as all-trans retinoic acid is used to treat a form of cancer called acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Vitamin A as retinyl palmitate at high doses has been used to slow progression of retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder characterized by breakdown of the retina.