Momentum in the Mountains 2024


Why is Vitamin A Named Retinol

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/27/2024

As someone who values their health, I've always been fascinated by the intricate ways our bodies work. Recently, I found myself diving into vitamins and their impact on our well-being. One vitamin that particularly caught my attention? Vitamin A.

You see, vitamin A isn't just another nutrient on the list. It plays a vital role in maintaining our vision health. Our eyes can't function at their best without enough of this essential vitamin.

So, I decided to share what I've learned about vitamin A and why it's so crucial for our sight.

The Role of Vitamin A in Vision

Vitamin A is a crucial nutrient that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy vision. This fat-soluble vitamin, particularly in its active form called retinol, supports the retina and helps convert light into visual signals that our brain can interpret.

Without adequate vitamin A, our eyes struggle to function correctly, leading to various vision problems and even blindness in severe cases.

Let's explore how retinol aids in creating rhodopsin and how retinal receptors use vitamin A to maintain light sensitivity and overall vision health.

Retinol and Rhodopsin Formation

Retinol, the active form of vitamin A, is essential for creating rhodopsin, a light-sensitive protein in the retina's rod cells. Rhodopsin is crucial for converting light into electrical signals our brain interprets as vision.

When light enters the eye and hits rhodopsin, it triggers a series of chemical reactions that ultimately lead to the transmission of visual information to the brain.

Without enough retinol to form rhodopsin, our eyes struggle to process light effectively, leading to impaired vision, especially in low-light conditions.

Light Sensitivity and Vision

Retinal receptors, specifically rod and cone cells, rely on vitamin A to maintain their sensitivity to light. Rod cells are responsible for low-light and peripheral vision, while cone cells handle color perception and detail.

Vitamin A helps these receptors function optimally by supporting the regeneration of visual pigments. Visual pigments break down when the retina is exposed to light; vitamin A is needed to regenerate them.

This process ensures that our eyes remain sensitive to light and can adapt to different lighting conditions, maintaining clear vision.

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to various eye-related issues and negatively impact overall health. Some common symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include night vision loss, dry eyes, and damage to mucous membranes in different body parts.

It's essential to recognize these symptoms early on and address the underlying deficiency to prevent further complications. Let's delve into why night vision loss is an early indicator of vitamin A deficiency and how lacking this vital nutrient can affect the eyes and mucous membranes.

Night Vision Loss

One of the earliest signs of vitamin A deficiency is night vision loss, known as nyctalopia. This condition occurs when the rod cells in the retina, which are responsible for low-light vision, don't have enough rhodopsin due to a lack of retinol.

As a result, people with vitamin A deficiency may struggle to see clearly in dim light or at night, often requiring more time to adjust to low-light environments. If left untreated, night vision loss can progress to more severe forms of vision impairment.

Watery eye red and inflamed

Dry Eyes and Mucous Membranes

Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining the health of mucous membranes, including those in the eyes. A deficiency can lead to dry eyes, as the tear glands struggle to produce enough moisture to keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable.

This dryness can cause irritation, itching, and a gritty eye sensation. In severe cases, vitamin A deficiency can lead to xerophthalmia, characterized by dry, thickened conjunctiva and cornea, resulting in blindness if left untreated.

If you lack vitamin A, it's not just about missing out on its vital biological benefits.

Sources of Vitamin A

Adequate vitamin A intake is essential for maintaining healthy vision and overall well-being. This nutrient can be obtained from various sources, both animal-based and plant-based.

However, it's crucial to prioritize natural sources over synthetic options to minimize potential complications.

Let's highlight some of the best natural sources of vitamin A, like cod liver oil, and discuss the potential issues associated with synthetic versions like retinol palmitate.

Natural Sources

Animal-based sources, particularly liver and fish oils, are among the best natural sources of preformed vitamin A, or retinol. Cod liver oil, for example, is an excellent source, providing high levels of retinol and other beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.

Other natural sources of preformed vitamin A include egg yolks, butter, and dairy products. Plant-based sources, such as carrots and leafy greens, contain provitamin A carotenoids that the body can convert into retinol.

Synthetic Complications

While synthetic forms of vitamin A, like retinol palmitate, are available in supplements, it's essential to be cautious when using them. Excessive intake of synthetic vitamin A can lead to toxicity, causing symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, and liver damage.

Moreover, some studies have raised concerns about the safety of synthetic retinol palmitate, suggesting that it may have potential carcinogenic effects when applied topically or ingested in high doses.

To minimize risks, it's generally recommended to prioritize natural sources of vitamin A and consult with a healthcare professional before using synthetic supplements.

Health Benefits Beyond Vision

While vitamin A is best known for maintaining healthy vision, this essential nutrient offers a wide range of health benefits beyond eye health. From supporting mucous membrane health to reducing measles-related complications, vitamin A plays a crucial role in our well-being.

Let's explore how vitamin A contributes to maintaining healthy mucous membranes across different body systems and how supplementation can help alleviate measles symptoms and complications.

Mucous Membrane Health

Vitamin A is essential for the body's health and the integrity of mucous membranes. These membranes line various organs and cavities, including the eyes, nose, mouth, lungs, and digestive tract, as a barrier against pathogens and other harmful substances.

Adequate vitamin A intake helps maintain the structural integrity of these membranes, promoting their ability to secrete mucus and other protective substances. This, in turn, enhances the body's natural defense mechanisms against infections and irritants.

Measles Complications

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that can lead to severe complications, particularly in children with compromised immune systems or malnutrition.

Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of measles-related complications, such as pneumonia and diarrhea.

Studies have shown that vitamin A supplementation can significantly reduce the severity and duration of measles symptoms and decrease the risk of complications and mortality associated with the disease.

The World Health Organization recommends vitamin A supplementation for children in areas where measles is prevalent or where vitamin A deficiency is common.

In addition to its role in measles management, vitamin A's immune-supportive properties make it a valuable nutrient for overall health and well-being.

By ensuring an adequate intake of vitamin A through a proper diet rich in natural sources, we can support our vision, our body's natural defenses, and the health of our mucous membranes.

Selection of keto-friendly foods

Diet for Clear Vission

A diet rich in essential nutrients is crucial for maintaining clear vision. Foods high in vitamins A, C, and E and minerals like zinc support eye health and protect against age-related vision problems.

Leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and fatty fish are excellent choices. Additionally, incorporating nutrient-dense, low-carb options like keto pumpkin muffins can provide a delicious way to boost your intake of eye-friendly vitamins while adhering to a ketogenic diet.


Vitamin A, especially in its active form, retinol, is a true hero in our vision health. It helps our eyes convert light into the signals our brain needs to see clearly, even in low-light conditions. However, more information is required to understand its impact on our well-being.

While vitamin A deficiency can lead to night vision loss and dry eyes, getting enough of this nutrient from natural sources like cod liver oil can make a difference.

And the benefits don't stop at our eyes – vitamin A supports healthy mucous membranes throughout our body and even helps reduce complications from measles.

So, the next time you need to support your vision and overall health, remember the power of vitamin A. Your eyes will thank you.

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