Some people have wondered why we include the retinol form of vitamin A, along with Beta Carotine, in our Ultimate Foundation multi-nutrient product. After all, isn’t beta-carotene a safer way to get vitamin A since the body only converts it to vitamin A as it needs it?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, it is true that beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A as needed, but there is more to the story.
We know vitamin A is great for you. It protects you from free radical activity damaging your fatty acids. Researchers recently discovered that vitamin A can significantly boost your energy. And it can fight cancer at the same time. In fact, the results of the study surprised these researchers. They didn’t realize just how intimately involved this vitamin is in your ability to make energy.
But, the rest of the story is that natural vitamin A (not pro-vitamin A or beta carotene) has three forms. These are retinal, retinoic acid, and retinol.
Retinal is essential for your retina (from whence the term for vitamin A originates), and your body converts provitamin A (beta carotene) to retinal on demand.
Retinoic acid is essential for skin and bone growth.
Retinol we are going to look at a little closer.
This process of beta-carotene conversion is not as efficient as once thought. You might have lots of beta-carotene on board, but your conversion still might be deficient. What’s more, your body can get irreversibly metabolized retinal to retinoic acid. Or it might reversibly alter it into retinol.
For many years, scientists have been baffled about vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency causes many different illnesses that are seemingly unrelated to retinoic acid action.
In a new study, scientists identified a crucial new role for retinol. This one is at the mitochondrial level. (Remember, the mitochondria are the energy furnaces of your cells.) They found that retinol is crucial for the enzyme kinase C delta.
Without retinol, there’s nothing to activate this enzyme in the mitochondria. Absent retinol, cellular respiration (energy production and oxygen consumption) fell considerably. But when the researchers added retinol, ATP (energy) production took a sharp jump up.
The scientists stated that retinol acts like a “nutritional sensor.” Retinol is essential for energy production and regulation. This research may demystify vitamin A. It’s a matter of energy production regulated specifically by retinol.
This also might explain why cancer pioneer William Donald Kelley was so high on using vitamin A in his program. Cancer cells have damaged mitochondria. They don’t make energy efficiently. Other research shows that if you can restore the mitochondria of cancer cells, they can signal the cell to commit apoptosis. Apoptosis is programmed cell death for wayward cells.
The good news is that a high quality vitamin product, like our Ultimate Foundation, contains real vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate – as well as abundant beta-carotene. Your body can hydrolyze the palmitate off the retinyl part freeing up active retinol. Yet, the beta-carotene is still there for natural conversion when needed for other forms of vitamin A.
Remember, supplements are not a substitute for a good diet. They are exactly what they say – supplements. However, if you think you are not getting sufficient vitamin A, found mostly in organ meats, butter, cheese, fish, and to a lesser extent in meat, a good multiple vitamin might just fill in some or the entire shortfall.
Our best to all your health needs!