What does vitamin A do for the skin?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
In nature, vitamin A (retinol) protects plants from UV-induced free-radical damage. In skin products, vitamin A is described as an antioxidant that protects the skin against photoaging by fortifying each cell against damage by exposure to free-radicals. In higher concentrations, vitamin A can act as a humectant, drawing water to the surface of the skin. Moreover, vitamin A (topical retinol) is described as improving fine wrinkles associated with aging. Thus, vitamin A actually treats the signs of aging or photoaging.
Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin A may improve the texture, moisture and elasticity of your skin. Vitamin A has an essential role in the development and maintenance of the skin. This vitamin has a pivotal role in the development and maintenance of the epithelial tissue -- the lining of eyes and skin. One of the main functions of the epithelial tissue is to serve as a barrier to bacteria. Low levels of Vitamin A can lead to a dry, flaky complexion. Vitamin A can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Therefore, increase your intake of carrots, spinach, kale, apricots and papaya.

Ways to increase your vitamin A by simply adding grated carrots to spaghetti sauce and salad greens or replace tomatoes with papaya in a homemade salsa.
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Vitamin A is found in fish oil, salmon, carrots, dairy products, spinach, and broccoli. Since it promotes normal keratinization (the turnover of skin cells), it helps with conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Without it, skin becomes extremely dry and dull. It's important to note that if you use a synthetic retinoid (a derivative of vitamin A) on your skin, you may need to stop vitamin A supplementation, since too much of this vitamin can lead to hair loss and liver dysfunction. 
Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

More About this Book

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

Continue Learning about Vitamin A

What are the sources of vitamin A?
Environmental Working Group (EWG)Environmental Working Group (EWG)
Preformed vitamin A occurs naturally in dairy products, eggs, fish and meat, especially liver. Carot...
More Answers
What role does vitamin A play in my diet?
Lorenzo Rawls , NASM Elite TrainerLorenzo Rawls , NASM Elite Trainer
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, also known as retinol because it produces pigments in the eye's ...
More Answers
What are good sources of vitamin A and beta carotene?
Dariush Mozaffarian, MDDariush Mozaffarian, MD
The following are selected food sources of vitamin A and beta carotene from the U.S. Department of A...
More Answers
How to Avoid Vitamin and Prescription Drug Interactions
How to Avoid Vitamin and Prescription Drug Interactions

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.