Role of Vitamin A in Immune System: How Does it Benefit Your Health?

Dr. Rajkumar Vinod Desai

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rajkumar Vinod Desai

General Physician

4 min read

Key Takeaways

  • The role of vitamin A in immune system is a crucial one
  • Vitamin A deficiency can make you more prone to infections
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin A to boost immune system like fish and dairy

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for your health. Also known as retinol, this vitamin gets dissolved in oils and fats. Vitamin A plays an important role in many body processes including:

  • Promoting healthy vision
  • Aiding in the proper development and growth of the fetus
  • Maintaining normal functions of your immune system [1]

Compounds of vitamin A are present in both plant and animal products. The two common forms of vitamin A are provitamin A and preformed vitamin A. The active form of vitamin A is preformed, which means your body uses it as it is. This is most commonly found in animal products like:

  • Fish
  • Diary
  • Meat
  • Chicken

Provitamin A is the inactive form found in plant products. Called carotenoids, these compounds are converted to active form in your body. For instance, beta-carotene, which is a provitamin A, is converted into retinol in the small intestine [2]. With a sufficient intake of vitamin A, the immune system of your body remains at its peak. Read on to know the different ways vitamin A ensures your wellbeing.

Promotes a healthy immune system

You may know the importance of vitamins for immunity. It is essential to eat foods rich in vitamin A to boost immune system. The key role of vitamin A is that it helps in maintaining your body’s defense mechanism. The natural mucous barriers in your eyes, gut, genitals and lungs protect you by restricting the entry of harmful pathogens. Vitamin A is also responsible for maintaining epithelial tissues.

Additional Read: Nutrition for Better Immunity

T cells are white blood cells that help in eliminating bacteria and other harmful pathogens from your blood. The role of vitamin A for immunity is that it regulates T cell differentiation and helps build the innate immune system [3]. Since vitamin A contains anti-inflammatory properties, it aids in the production of regulatory T cells. Therefore, vitamin A deficiency can make you more susceptible to infections.

Additional read: What is T Cell Immunity and How Does it Help Against COVID-19?

Helps in the reproduction process

Besides the role of vitamin A for immunity improvement, it is also important for maintaining a healthy reproductive system. It helps in the normal growth of an embryo during pregnancy. Sufficient intake of vitamin A ensures proper development of vital organs like the heart, skeleton, kidneys and eyes in the fetus. However, it is always better not to exceed the recommended quantity as excess vitamin A can lead to birth defects in the fetus.

Improves your bone health

Vitamin A and immune system are connected in multiple ways. Your bone health is also dependent on this vitamin. It is one of the key nutrients that plays a vital role in making your bones stronger. If you don’t have an adequate amount of vitamin A, you have a high risk of fractures, as per a study [4].

Additional read: How to deal with the Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

how much vitamin a should i take

Protects your eyes from visual impairments

Amongst different vitamins for immunity building, vitamin A is also essential for promoting healthy vision. It helps in preserving your eyesight. First it converts the light, which reaches your eye, to an electric signal. This signal is then sent to the brain. The most common condition that occurs due to vitamin A deficiency is night blindness.

Lowers the risk of cancer

When cells begin to grow in an uncontrolled manner, it results in cancer. Since vitamin A plays a vital role in the development and growth of your cells, adequate intake of vitamin A in your diet may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Bladder cancer, lung cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma are few cancers that may be prevented when you have enough vitamin A.

While it is necessary to include sufficient amounts of vitamin A in your diet, take care not to overdo it. Since it gets stored in your body, excess consumption can be toxic for your health. You may even experience a condition called hypervitaminosis A with symptoms like headaches and nausea. So, it is ideal to have the recommended amount of vitamin A for good health.

To understand this in more depth, you can talk to specialists on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an appointment with a doctor close to you and get your blood work done regularly. This can help you tackle any deficiency with ease. This way, you can maintain a healthy immune system.

Published on 17 Nov 2021Last updated on 5 Apr 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Rajkumar Vinod Desai

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rajkumar Vinod Desai

, MBBS 1


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