WHAT IS VITAMIN A?

Core Messages

• Vitamin A (vit. A) is essential for normal differentiation and maintenance of epithelial tissues in skin and mucous membranes, vision (retinaldehyde), reproduction (retinol), and embryonic morphogenesis.
• Retinoids (compounds with biological activities similar to those of vit. A) are used as therapeutic agents for hyperkeratotic and parakeratotic skin diseases, acne and acne-related disorders, and hand eczema. They are also used as prophylaxis for epithelial skin tumors in immune-suppressed patients and as therapy for nonmelanoma skin cancers and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
• Regular monitoring is essential for the avoidance and management of a wide range of adverse effects.


Retinoids refer to compounds that have biological activities similar to those of naturally occurring vitamin A (vit. A) but not necessarily the same chemical structure (Zouboulis and Orfanos 2000). The definition of retinoids does not include a structural homology to vit. A. Retinoids are used as therapy and prophylaxis systemically or as local applications for various skin diseases and tumors.
They are also used in the cosmetic field for acne, seborrhea, psoriasis, epithelial tumors, and hand eczema. Retinoids perform their actions through binding to retinoid receptors (RAR and RXR), members of the hormone nuclear receptor subfamily. In addition to its toxicity, a deficiency of vit. A causes skin manifestations. Owing to the wide range of adverse effects of retinoids, precautions and regular monitoring are essential for long-term therapy.

Daily Dose of Everything

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Daily Dose of Everything