Vitamin A For White Spots On Your Skin
Vitamin A is one of the vitamins recommended for nutritional support in the treatment of vitiligo. Read on to find out why vitamin A is useful in vitiligo treatment.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin most known for its central role in the formation of the light-absorbing molecule of the eye (retinal) which enables both color vision and low-light accommodation.
Besides retinal, other forms of vitamin A are found in dietary sources.
These other vitamers include retinol and the 4 carotenes (alpha, beta, gamma and xanthophyll beta-cryptoxanthin). Retinoic acid is another important form of the vitamin. It is formed from retinol and acts as a growth factor especially in skin cells.
Retinol is the most active form of vitamin A and the other vitamers are compared against it. It is obtained solely from animal sources. By comparison, beta carotene has half the vitamin A activity of retinol and the other carotenes only have 1/24 of the vitamin A activity of retinol.
Dietary sources of vitamin A include liver from beef, pork, poultry and fish including fish liver oil; carrot, broccoli, sweet potato, butter, kale, cheddar cheese, egg, milk and pea.
The daily recommended intake for vitamin A is 600 – 900 micrograms per day for male and 600 – 740 micrograms per day for female. Lactating women need 1300 micrograms per day while the upper limit for all adults is 3000 micrograms per day.
Because vitamin A is fat soluble, it can be stored in body fat and, therefore, it is not as easy to eliminate as water-soluble vitamins. Signs of vitamin A toxicity include anorexia, hair loss, weight loss, dry skin, anemia, fatigue, insomnia, bone fractures and mental disorientation.
Vitamin A deficiency is common especially in children. It can be caused by low intake of the vitamin or malabsorption of the intestine. Zinc deficiency can also cause vitamin A deficiency. Therefore, supplementations of the vitamin and mineral are often combined.
Signs of vitamin A deficiency include impaired vision, night blindness, impaired immunity and the accumulation of keratin in different sites in the body.
Vitamin A supplements are used to treat a deficiency in the mineral but the vitamin also has specific medical uses.
Besides its support for vision, vitamin A is also an antioxidant and it improves immune function and contributes to the transcription of genes; it is absolutely essential for the development of fetuses and for bone metabolism as well as the formation of red blood cells.
Lastly, vitamin A plays a central role in maintaining skin health. This is why it is a commonly prescribed supplement for skin diseases ranging from acne to vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a skin pigmentation disorder. Specifically, it is the hypopigmentation of the skin caused by the progressive destruction of melanocytes.
Melanocytes are the skin cells responsible for producing melanin. They are found in the epithelium of the skin and they give the skin its pigment.
Melanin is a photosensitive compound that protects the skin from sunburn and other photodamage from incident ultraviolet radiation of sunlight. However, when melanocytes are destroyed, melanin production falls off and the areas of the skin affected turn white.
The first wave of vitiligo appears as white spots. These spots are mostly found on the face, hands and wrists. These spots can easily spread to other parts of the body including the trunk, the legs and the scalp.
Vitiligo spots are also sometimes found clustered around body orifices such as the lips, eyes, nostrils, navel and genitals. Vitiligo can also affect the choroid of the eyes and the inner ear.
This skin pigmentation disorder affects about 1% of the population. It is usually first diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Vitiligo affects both male and female equally. It also affects people of all races and ski types equally although it is more visible in dark-skinned people and on tan skin.
Each vitiligo spot is made up of at least 3 color zones corresponding to different degrees of depigmentation.
The central zone is the widest and it represents an area of active melanocyte destruction. This zone is white and bordered by another zone of tan color where the destruction of melanocytes is just started. The third zone is a thin border between the vitiligo spot and normal, pigmented skin.
Vitiligo spots grow out from the center. They change shape and size as they expand and merge with other spots to form large patches.
Vitiligo spots may stay localized in a particular part of the body or become generalized by spreading.
Different causes have been proposed for vitiligo. The most popular of these are listed below.
There are clinical evidences for each of these proposed causes of vitiligo are documented. However, a new approach to understanding and treating the skin pigmentation disorder is to see vitiligo as a form of nutritional imbalance.
Vitamin A can help stop and repigment vitiligo spots because of its antioxidant properties, its immunomodulatory activities and also because it helps in the maturation of specialized skin cells.
As an antioxidant, vitamin A can reduce the oxidative stress on the cells of the skin such as melanocytes.
Harmful free radicals and reactive oxidative species such as hydrogen peroxide are known to cause vitiligo. They break down melanocytes and if their actions are left unchecked, these free reactive species can wipe out the melanocyte population in any given area.
Usually, the levels of antioxidant enzymes such as catalase are reduced in vitiligo patients while oxidized compounds accumulate in the skin. These show that the natural antioxidants responsible for keeping the skin free of these free radicals can no longer cope with the oxidative stress placed on the skin.
Therefore, supplementation with vitamin A helps mop up these harmful reactive species and protect melanocytes. Antioxidant protection from vitamin A can stop further depigmentation of the skin and even promote repigmentation of vitiligo spots especially when other natural antioxidants are combined with vitamin A.
Furthermore, vitamin A is known to help maintain the functioning of the immune system.
Therefore, the vitamin can help regulate the cells of the immune system and prevent autoimmune attack on melanocytes.
The exact mechanism by which vitamin A could achieve this is unknown but it is quite possible that some of the anti-vitiligo properties of the vitamin are due to this effect.
Lastly, vitamin A promotes skin health at the cellular level. For example, the vitamin is needed for the maturation of epidermal skin cells. Since melanocytes are specialized skin cells found in the epidermis, vitamin A can help speed up the development of these cells.
By increasing the population of melanocytes, it is possible for vitamin A to tilt the growth balance of melanocyte population from negative growth (more dying cells than new ones) to positive growth.
Vitamin A can be obtained from dietary sources or from supplements. Often dietary sources are enough but supplements can help especially where foods containing the vitamin are lacking.
The best way to use vitamin A in the treatment of vitiligo is in combination with other natural antioxidants and vitiligo supplements. Great results have been obtained from combining vitamin A with antioxidant vitamins and mineral such as vitamins C and E as well as zinc and selenium.
The B vitamins (especially vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid) are also excellent anti-vitiligo supplements.
Vitiligo supplements such as callumae contain vitamins, amino acids and herbal extracts proven to help stop the depigmentation of the skin and resume its pigmentation. These supplements can be used to treat vitiligo or combined with conventional vitiligo drugs.
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*Callumae is a Vitiligo Remedy designed to help get rid of white spots on your skin. Use in conjunction with light therapy (or natural sun light) to help get the most repigmentation to your skin.