Vitamin A Vs Vitamin E
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
Both vitamins A and E are important to the skin, eyes, immune system, and overall health. They both are fat-soluble vitamins and are considered essential micronutrients that have been found to have noticeable antioxidant activities. Comparing vitamin A vs vitamin E will help us understand which one to choose in what specific conditions. So, keep reading to learn more about these substances.
In this article, we’ll be putting vitamin A vs vitamin E against each other mainly in terms of their potential health benefits. But before we get into the difference between vitamin A and vitamin E, first, we’ll need to learn the basics of these essential nutrients a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is vitamin A?
- What is vitamin E?
- Vitamin A vs vitamin E: types and forms
- Vitamin A vs vitamin E: potential health benefits
- Vitamin A vs vitamin E: how to use
- Final words
What is vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a micronutrient that’s fat-soluble, meaning it dissolves in fats or gets stored in fat cells in the body so that the body can use it whenever required. It’s essential for the proper growth and function of nearly every cell and tissue throughout the body, especially for those related to eye, skin, and immune health.
Vitamin A is naturally present in various animal and plant foods including fish oils, beef livers, eggs, yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, winter squash, and leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli, and kale. Besides, a large number of fortified foods like breakfast cereals, dairy products, and juices and also dietary supplements contain significant quantities of vitamin A.
What is vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a vital micronutrient that serves as a powerful antioxidant in the human body, meaning it attracts and neutralizes unstable and unpaired electrons of free radicals that can cause large chain reactions and eventually damage cells and tissues.
An adequate level of vitamin E is also important for a healthy heart and blood vessels, the body’s natural defense, and vision. Though there are several forms of vitamin E, the human body can utilize only one form called alpha-tocopherol.
A number of foods contain vitamin E. Common sources include nuts, seeds, wheat or cereal germ, and various plant oils such as olive, corn, soy, sunflower, and rapeseed oil.
Vitamin A vs vitamin E: types and forms
Vitamin A comes in several forms. They are broadly classified into two major types -
Preformed vitamin A - preformed vitamin A refers to a group of substances called retinoids that are readily usable in the body and usually more efficient in nature. There are three retinoids - retinol, retinoic acid, and retinal.
Provitamin A - some carotenoids (a class of organic pigments) are converted into vitamin A when get ingested and reach the small intestine inside the body. Examples include beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. These are found only in plant sources, especially yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, and pumpkins.
On the other hand, vitamin E is a family of eight substances. Like vitamin A, vitamin E is also classified into two major groups -
Tocopherols - this group includes four similar molecules such as alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol.
Tocotrienols - this group also includes four molecules such as alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol.
Vitamin A vs vitamin E: potential health benefits
Potential health benefits of vitamin A
- Supports functions of the body’s natural defense system (immune response) against infections and illnesses
- Assists with vision in dark or dim light and helps prevent and manage age-related eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Helps keep the skin healthier and look more youthful
- Protects mucous membranes that line different body parts such as the nose, mouth, and airways
- May help prevent certain types of cancer such as prostate and lung cancer
- Supports healthy hair growth and prevents free-radicals-induced hair loss (for details see our article - Beta-carotene for hair growth)
- Helps maintain a healthy fertility
Potential health benefits of vitamin E
- Provides tremendous antioxidant support to the body and helps protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage
- Helps prevent clots from building up inside the blood vessels and reduces the risk of developing serious cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack
- Improves cognitive function and lowers the risks of developing various neurodegenerative diseases such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease
- Serves as a conjunctive therapeutic ingredient to protect from developing age-related vision diseases
- May help provide cancer prevention support against certain types of cancer
- May help improve symptoms of certain liver diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD
Vitamin A vs vitamin E: how to use
Both vitamins A and E are fat-soluble and should be taken with foods, especially those that contain healthy fats such as nuts and avocados. Taking fat-soluble vitamins with foods can help improve absorption and lower the risks of adverse effects. They can also be taken together as well.
In general, the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for adults of vitamin A and vitamin E range from 700 mcg to 900 mcg and 15 mg to 19 mg, respectively. But the actual doses of vitamins are individual and may widely vary from person to person based on specific health conditions.
Therefore, it’s highly important to consult with a professional nutritionist, dietician, or naturopathic healthcare provider prior to using any vitamin supplements.
In the comparison of vitamin A vs vitamin E, we find that both are vital for many different bodily functions and overall health, majorly for their significant antioxidant properties. As they both are fat-soluble vitamins, they are better absorbed with fatty foods such as nuts and avocados. Besides, they can be taken together in certain situations.
But it’s important to keep in mind that too many vitamins may cause toxicity and show up unpleasant side effects. Therefore, it’s always best to work with a qualified dietician, nutritionist, or naturopathic doctor prior to using any vitamin supplements.
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