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Vitamin A, Serum

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Vitamin A, also called retinol, is a fat-soluble alcohol that plays an important role in vision, bone growth, cell growth, reproduction, and keeping your eyes, skin and mucous membranes healthy. Vitamin A also helps regulate your immune system and helps lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells) function more effectively in fighting infections.

Vitamin A comes mainly from animal-based foods such as liver, eggs, and whole milk. However, some plant-based foods (typically colorful fruits and vegetables) provide beta carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is thought to be a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage by neutralizing free radicals that could potentially lead to cancer or chronic disease.

In the United States, vitamin A deficiency can result from serious dietary problems, excess alcohol intake, or a severe zinc deficiency. A Vitamin A deficiency diminishes the ability to fight infections and can lead to blindness by damaging the retina and cornea. Night blindness is typically one of the first signs of a vitamin A deficiency.