Vitamin A is already known for its amazing skin benefits when applied topically, but a new study shows that it may also help prevent skin cancer when consumed internally, as part of a healthy diet. Per the studies’ findings, “consuming increased amounts of vitamin A in your diet can lower your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer”.
The new study published in JAMA Dermatology, examined more than 48,000 men and 75,000 women over 26 years. They factored in health indicators, such as lifestyle and skin cancer risks, and found that increased vitamin A intake (from diet) was associated with a lower risk for developing SCC. The participants that had the highest intake of vitamin A were found to have the lowest risk (17% lower to be exact) than those who did not take as much.
Though these findings are very promising in the search for treating and preventing skin cancer, the findings are not surprising. We’ve already known the relationship between retinol (which is pure vitamin A) and skin cancer. However, this study was beneficial because it looked at the long term effects in a general population.
Further research would be helpful to see who specifically would benefit most from vitamin A, in what quantities, and in what forms. Especially since it can be toxic in excessive levels. “The recommended daily amount of vitamin A for adults is 900mcg for men and 700mcg for women”. Exceeding that amount can lead to problems such as visual changes, bone pain, lethargy, and other issues.
A safe way to up your daily vitamin A is to eat more food that contain carotenoids. Carotenoids can be found in carrots and other darkly colored fruits and vegetables. The carotenoids only convert to vitamin A when your body needs it, therefore it’s harder to overdose on. Other foods that contain vitamin A would include fish, dairy, tomatoes, leafy greens like kale, sweet potatoes and fruit including mango and grapefruit.
As mentioned, vitamin A applied topically is also amazing for the skin itself. Retinol helps speed up cell turnover. This, in turn, exfoliates the skin, softens fine lines and wrinkles, and prevents new ones from forming. We recommend starting to use retinol as early as possible, but it is not completely necessary until your early 30’s.
Before you go picking up a vitamin A supplements though, consult with your doctor or dermatologist to see if it’s safe for you. The best approach to upping your intake is to eat a healthy balanced diet with lots of antioxidants.