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Vitamin A: Retinol or Beta-Carotene

Vitamin A has two dietary forms we can use, Retinol from animal products and beta-carotene from plant products.

Retinol is a fat soluble version and is preformed, meaning we can use it in its natural form and our body does not need to convert it. Beta-carotene is a water-soluble version but requires conversion in the body.

People with diabetes or impaired thyroid function can have difficulty converting beta-carotene to the usable retinol version and should therefore take Vitamin A in it’s retinol form. Alternatively, people with liver issues would fair better with a water-soluble version of this vitamin and opt for beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene also has anti-oxidant properties that go above the primary benefits of Vitamin A, which is why sometimes people opt to take both together. A healthy liver is able to convert 3IU of beta-carotene to 1IU of retinol so units and amounts need to be looked at closely when making vitamin purchases.

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