The important role Vitamin A plays in anti-ageing

The important role Vitamin A plays in anti-ageing

Vitamin A is a wonder vitamin for the skin. By ingesting Vitamin A or applying it topically on the skin it:

– Protects against UV damage;
– Slows sign of aging;
– Encourages healthy cell production;
– Clears acne; 
– Evens skin tone and gives you a healthy glow;
– Smoothes wrinkles; 
– Protects against infection; 
– Encourages skin cell production.  

Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin A does not come in one form. It’s actually the name given to a variety of related nutrients, and each variety helps perform a different role in the body.

The two main forms; retinol and carotenoid, help the body to function in different ways. Retinol is the animal form of Vitamin A, and is found in some animal products, while carotenoids are from plant sources. Its pigment is responsible for giving orange and red vegetables their bright colours.

Vitamin A derivatives

Vitamin A derivatives like Retinyl Palmitate and Retinaldehyde claim to be the best form of Vitamin A, although they’re not necessarily stable or will do all the things that they promise.

Retinyl Palmitate has no supporting evidence for anti-aging benefits, are in fact a Vitamin A ester derivative and are considered one of the least effective topical retinoids.

Retinaldehyde is more active than retinol but very difficult to formulate and is very unstable. Retinoic Acid has a lot of evidence for anti-aging benefits and is an active form of Vitamin A in the body. It is prescription only however, and can cause severe irritation and dryness.

Pure Vitamin A


Retinol is the purest form of Vitamin A, the biologically available precursor to retinoic acid, and has scientific evidence to support anti-aging benefits. Retinol is found in different animal products including beef, calf and chicken liver, eggs, fish liver oils, whole milk, yoghurt, butter and cheese. Not only does it help with vision, but it’s also essential for skin health, bone growth and teeth remineralisation. It also helps with our immune systems by keeping epithelial tissue intact which acts as a physical barrier against infections. Retinol not only creates the pigments in the retina of the eye, according to NLM, but also is integral for good vision, especially night vision, and overall eye health.

No skincare regime should be without retinol, one of the most effective ingredients for improving the signs of ageing. As a pure form of Vitamin A, retinol helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, acne, sun damage and age spots. Retinol also induces the skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid; an essential component of the dermal matrix (along with collagen and elastin) helping plump and soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin’s surface. Working to increase your skin’s cell turnover, retinol will help the skin’s surface to appear smoother and more refined.


Carotenoids act as an antioxidant for the body, protecting cells from free radicals. They contain strong cancer-fighting properties, anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits and are found in many different fruits and vegetables. Carrots, yams, kumara, papaya, watermelon, mangos, spinach, kale, tomatoes, capsicum and oranges all contain carotenoids, which converts to vitamin A in the body.


It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Unlike with vitamin C, extremely high doses of Vitamin A can have adverse side effects on the body including skin and hair loss, as well as liver injury.The recommended dietary intakes for Vitamin A depend on age, gender and reproductive status. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for adult women is 700 micrograms (mcg), for adult men it is 900 mcg per day.


Eye Health

Retinol is integral for good vision, and overall eye health. High levels of vitamin A in the body can help reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration by almost 25%

Repair and Growth of Skin

Vitamin A is required for the development of epithelial cells, which occur in the outermost area of the skin. This is also where skin regeneration occurs, which helps to prevent wrinkles and blemishes.

Free Radical Damage Protection

Beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant within the body, protecting cells from free radical damage, which accumulate with age.

Maintenance of Body

Vitamin A helps in the formation and maintenance of teeth, bones, soft tissue, white blood cells, the immune system and mucus membranes.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness and skin disease. Read more >>

Best food sources of Vitamin A

  • Cod liver oil 
  • Eggs 
  • Fortified breakfast cereals 
  • Fortified skim milk 
  • Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits  
  • Other sources of beta-carotene such as broccoli, spinach, and most dark green, leafy vegetables.