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Is Vitamin A Palmitate Natural?

By Sylvie Tremblay, MSc

Your body utilizes several vitamins each day to carry out your cells' daily function and support your overall health. Among the essential vitamins your body requires is vitamin A, a group of related chemicals called retinoids. Vitamin A palmitate, also called retinyl palmitate, is a specific form of vitamin A that can come from both natural and synthetic sources.

Types of Vitamin A

The vitamin A in your diet can come in a number of forms. Vitamin A palmitate is considered a preformed vitamin A: Your body can immediately utilize this form of vitamin A to carry out functions within your cells. In contrast, carotene forms of vitamin A -- the red, orange and yellow pigment in some foods -- is considered a vitamin A precursor. Upon ingestion, your body breaks down carotene molecules into vitamin A before it can be used in your cells. Vitamin A palmitate can occur naturally in some foods, but it can also be synthesized within a lab then added to foods to boost their vitamin content.

Vitamin A Palmitate Function

After consumption, both natural and synthetic forms of vitamin A palmitate benefit your health. The vitamin supports your immune system by maintaining your skin, plays a role in cellular communication to guide tissue maturation and nourishes tissues like your retinas. In addition, sufficient vitamin A intake -- from vitamin A palmitate or other forms of the vitamin -- proves important for expecting mothers, since it plays a role in proper fetal development. Any unused vitamin A palmitate in your body moves to your liver, where it is stored for future use.

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Sources

A number of foods provide a source of preformed vitamin A palmitate. Food manufacturers sometimes add vitamin A palmitate to dairy products, such as milk or low-fat yogurt, since processing and removing fat from the milk reduces its natural vitamin A content. Re-adding synthetic vitamin A helps restore the food's vitamin A content and helps to fight vitamin A deficiency. In addition, meats like beef, fatty fish and organ meats naturally contain retinyl palmitate. Many vitamin supplements also contain retinyl palmitate as a source of vitamin A.

Considerations

Consuming too much synthetic or naturally occurring vitamin A palmitate can pose a health risk. Excess vitamin A palmitate can begin to accumulate in your liver, causing liver damage as well as a number of negative side effects, including a risk of brain damage. In addition, excessive vitamin A palmitate consumption can harm a developing fetus, increasing the risk of birth defects. To prevent negative side effects when consuming vitamin A palmitate, talk to your doctor to discuss a safe intake level.

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