Is Vitamin A good for the Menopausal Transition?

vitamin Feb 27, 2023

I’m often asked if Vitamin A is good for the menopausal transition? Spoiler alert YES it is very good. Even though it may not be the first vitamin most women think of in regard to menopause, it is one I highly value and often recommend.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is part of a family that also includes Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. Remember this as we go along as they work together and are often supplemented together unless you have a higher need for one of them over the others.


Please don’t confuse beta carotene with Vitamin A. Vitamin A is retinol and is solely derived from animal sources such as butter, cheese, egg yolk, ghee, organ meat (think liver), and some seafood sources like eel.

Whereas beta carotene and the rest of the carotenoid family are sources of provitamin A, this may be in the right conditions, able to be converted to weaker amounts of Vitamin A. These days with genetic testing it has been discovered that more and more people are missing specific enzymes necessary for this conversion and need to top up with actual Vitamin A. SNPs to consider here are connected with the BCM01 genes. 


One of the key reasons I love Vitamin A is its ability to restore health to your mucus membranes. Think about all the areas of your body that could potentially become dry. Such as your vagina, your skin, your eyes, your mouth, your nasal passages, your lungs, and your digestive tract. 


One study from the University of Massachusetts trialed applying a Vitamin A cream vaginally for post-menopausal women suffering from vaginal atrophy. All women in the treatment group of this study reported various degrees of relief of symptoms. This is because Vitamin A improves vaginal epithelial health at a cellular level. 

Remember when I said Vitamin A worked together with the other fat-soluble vitamins, I often recommend a combination of vitamins from this family to be made up as vaginal pessary or you might know this as a suppository. This works well as a hormone-free option for women looking for improved vulvovaginal health and lubrication. 


Skin is another area that becomes drier with age and vitamin A either orally or topically may help restore moisture, normalize the appearance of pigmentation, promote collagen and elastin formation. Anyone who suffered from acne as a teenager might remember its use to help reduce acne. 


How are your eyes? Many women experience dry eyes during their menopausal transition. Vitamin A can assist with eye lubrication but it’s more importantly needed for vision, especially night vision and it may play a role in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration. I would even go as far as to say that Vitamin A is possibly the most important vitamin in regard to eye health and vision.


Is anyone experiencing dry mouth? Vitamin A is needed by your salivary glands to produce saliva. It is also needed for the production of enamel on your teeth. 


How about dry nasal cavities? Vitamin A is thought to restore the nasal mucus membranes and increase the production of nasal secretions. It is also thought to help restore the sense of smell. This is an area of Vitamin A research with increased interest due to the number of people experiencing post-viral loss of smell. In this case, it’s nasal vitamin A drops that they are using.


Vitamin A is also involved in lung health. It is needed for the regeneration and maintenance of your respiratory mucus membranes. Having adequate levels is linked with better respiratory health and lower levels of asthma decreased allergies and fewer infections. It might even reduce a persistent cough by protecting your mucus membranes from cough-producing irritants.


And then there is your digestive mucosa. Vitamin A again helps to restore its integrity, and by doing this helps to reduce intestinal inflammation and intestinal permeability aka leaky gut. Reducing inflammation and restoring the integrity of the mucosa also allows for greater nutrient absorption. (It's a key vitamin to consider for improving iron absorption) It may also be protective against intestinal infections and beneficially influence your immune response in general. 


Vitamin A plays a key role in iron usage and should be considered for both high or low iron levels as it's an essential co-factor in the production of ceruloplasmin. Ceruloplasmin can be thought of as a cup that holds iron in the blood, but it is also a transporter of iron in and out of your cells. 


While we are talking about immunity, Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an array of auto-immune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroiditis. 

In regards to general thyroid health, vitamin A is needed for the activation of your thyroid hormone receptors, correlation studies have linked lower vitamin A levels with lower thyroid function, and the development of a goiter.  


Vitamin A’s role in gene transcription and cellular regeneration comes in very handy when we examine the health of the brain. It has been suggested that Vitamin A may improve age-related cognitive declines and memory deficits by enhancing neural plasticity. 


Vitamin A is a great team player and is known to enhance the actions of minerals. It works synergistically with iron to reduce the risk of anemia. Vitamin A enhances the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. And it has an interesting relationship with calcium. Too much vitamin A increases calcium in the blood by removing it from your bone but too little vitamin A and things are even worse for your bone. The moral of the story involving Vitamin A and calcium is balance, not too much but certainly not too little. Vitamin A and zinc coexist together and each requires the other to help reach their full potential. 


When it comes to deficiency, some women are at a higher risk than others. Deficiency may be due to a low dietary intake such as in a vegan diet, some individuals have the inability to convert beta carotenoid to Vitamin A, there could be inadequate fat in the diet or fat malabsorption, remember this is a fat-soluble vitamin and needs fat in order to be absorbed and utilized by the body. Chronic exposure to toxins such as cigarette smoke and excessive alcohol consumption can accelerate the use of your vitamin A stores. Women with higher BMIs tend to have lower levels of all fat-soluble vitamins as their adipose tissue sequesters them away.


Did you know too much vitamin A can be lethal? Vitamin A likes to be stored in the liver and if you are an Arctic explorer eating the liver of polar bears you could be in big trouble. The other way to take in too much is by taking a high-dose supplement for long periods of time. Please remember that all supplements come with cautions, interactions, and contraindications. Please don’t take large doses of Vitamin A without the supervision of a health care practitioner.


Vitamin A has 3 big medication interactions worth mentioning. The first is with blood thinning medication like warfarin as it can potentiate its action. Don’t take it with other retinoid drugs such as accutane as this increases your risk of toxicity and finally, weight loss medications like Xenical block the absorption of fat together with all your fat-soluble vitamins.


A quick recap on Vitamin A. It loves mucus membranes, is brings hydration to all the potentially dried-out parts of the body. On top of this it modulations the immune system by improving poor immunity and calms down an overactive auto-immune response. It may help your brain stay young and flexible while assisting your minerals to do their jobs. 



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