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Vitamin A is one of the major vitamins that play a crucial role in the health of the eyes. It also helps in formation and maintenance of teeth, soft tissues, and skin. Its role in the immune system is being widely researched.

Vitamin A play a crucial role in the health of the eyes

It has been noted to function in coordination with other vitamins and minerals in the regulation of the immune system. Some of the areas where vitamin A plays a vital role in the immune system are discussed in the below sections.

Action against Measles Virus

vitamin-package.jpgA study performed in Canada evaluated the ability of vitamin A to reduce the death rate associated with the measles virus. The measles virus replicates by affecting the cell signaling in our body wherein the affected cells are not able to send warning signs. Administration of vitamin A was noted to block this effect of the measles virus by strengthening the immune cells. Vitamin A improves the functioning of the uninfected cells and makes them resistant to the viral replication. This effect of vitamin A can help to augment the effects of the vaccinations or antiviral drugs being administered to counter viral infections. Boosting of the cells ability to resist an infection and improving the cell signaling mechanisms helps in reducing the virulence (infective capability) of a virus.1

Vitamin A Promotes T-lymphocytes and Associated Cells


Administration of vitamin A helps the progression of certain components of the T- lymphocytes. It was noted that the concentration of certain proteins related to the T-cells was significantly increased following administration of vitamin A supplements. The functioning of other immune cells known as monocots was also increased. Furthermore, the concentration of natural killer (NK) cells and T-helper cells in the blood were noted to increase as levels of vitamin A increased. These cells play a vital role in maintaining the anticancer and antiviral ability of the immune system.2

Several other studies have reported that vitamin A has a role in the regulation of the genes and proteins controlling the activation of T-cells and the production of cytokines. Adequate amounts of vitamin A in the body helps in better functioning of these processes and thereby improves the immunity of an individual.2, 3

Retinoic Acid and Phagocytes

Retinoic acid is a derivative of vitamin A which helps in the growth and development of the bone and skin cells. Retinoic acid is required for the production and regulation of B- lymphocytes by the cells present in the cells lining the digestive tract. Further role of vitamin A has also been noted in the maturation of the phagocytes in the bone marrow. A deficiency of vitamin A can hamper these functions leading to decreased accumulation of B- lymphocytes and production of immature phagocytes that would weaken the immune response.4

  • 1. Trotter C, Colombo M, Mann KK, Miller WH Jr, Ward BJ. Retinoids inhibit measles virus through a type I IFN-dependent bystander effect. FASEB J. 2009 Sep, 23(9):3203-12. Epub 2009 May 15
  • 2. Ahmad SM, Haskell MJ, Raqib R, Stephensen CB. Markers of innate immune function are associated with vitamin a stores in men. J Nutr. 2009 Feb, 139(2):377-85. Epub 2008 Dec 17
  • 3. Kim CH. Roles of retinoic acid in induction of immunity and immune tolerance. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2008 Dec, 8(4):289-94
  • 4. Dawson HD, Collins G, Pyle R, Key M, Taub DD. The Retinoic Acid Receptor-alpha mediates human T-cell activation and Th2 cytokine and chemokine production. BMC Immunol. 2008 Apr 16, 9:16.Photo courtesy of SOCIALisBETTER by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/27620885@N02/2603602172/

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