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One of the 13 essential vitamins required by the human body, vitamin A is an important part of a healthy diet. If you're not getting enough of this vital nutrient from food alone, a vitamin A supplement can help you avoid deficiency. CVS makes it easy to purchase the right supplement for your needs with vitamin A products that you can purchase online.

Functions of Vitamin A

Vitamin A has a number of important jobs in the body. Without vitamin A, your body cannot produce certain pigments in the retina of your eye, making the nutrient essential for healthy vision. In addition, vitamin A helps your body produce and maintain your teeth, bones, soft tissues, mucus membranes and skin. The vitamin is also crucial for sexual reproduction and breast milk production.

Understanding Vitamin A Deficiency

Since your body cannot produce vitamin A on its own, you must absorb it from the foods that you eat. There are two types of vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A or retinyl palmitate is found in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. The second type, Provitamin A or beta carotene, comes from plants. Sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, peppers and mangos are among the best sources of vitamin A. In the United States, vitamin A deficiency is rare. Premature infants and individuals with cystic fibrosis have increased needs for vitamin A and are more likely to be deficient of the vitamin.

Vitamin A Benefits

Research indicates that vitamin A is an antioxidant, a nutrient that protects the body from reactive particles called free radicals. As a result, people sometimes take vitamin A to promote healthy aging. Due to vitamin A's importance to the eye, supplements may be used to support vision. Medical providers sometimes recommend vitamin A to people with age-related macular degeneration, a condition that causes loss of vision in older adults.

Choosing and Using Vitamin A Supplements

Before adding a vitamin A supplement to your diet, take the time to discuss your concerns with your medical provider. He or she can help you decide if vitamin A is right for you and recommend the best dosage. Once you have his or her recommendations, you can compare the strengths and forms of the available vitamin A supplements and choose the best option. Always follow the directions for use provided by the manufacturer on the packaging unless you are given other instructions from your health care provider.

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