Vitamin A is fundamentally one of the most important vitamins because it controls growth and differentiation of all of our cells right from the embryo through to full maturity. Vitamin A is the dominant vitamin of the skin because it has a fundamental role in the control of normal activities of DNA in the nucleus.
Vitamin A is normally found in our skin in low concentration but is absolutely essential for healthy skin.
However, vitamin A is rapidly destroyed by exposure to light, so our skin develops a chronic, unrelenting deficiency of vitamin A that manifests aspigmented blotches, wrinkles, thin skin, and pre-cancerous lesions that can eventually develop into skin cancer. All of this simply because the skin is not kept at optimum levels of vitamin A.
As early as 1938 it was pointed out that vitamin A deficiency probably developed in all areas that are exposed to sunlight. The reason for this is that vitamin A is extremely sensitive to sunlight and particularly to ultra-violet light A (UVA).
In the 1930s it was claimed that skin exposed to sunlight aged faster than skin that was protected from sunlight. Once it was recognized that the deficiency of vitamin A caused by exposure to light is responsible for wrinkled aged skin, the natural route was to see if administering vitamin A to the skin would reverse these changes.
Today it is acknowledged that vitamin A is not only good for aging skin, but also almost essential, so that rejuvenation of skin can be achieved.
Vitamin A affects the genes of the cells so that the skin cells (keratinocytes) grow and look more normal. It increases the growth of the basal layer (growth layer) of skin cells, which may be the predominant reason for the thickening of the skin. Not only does skin get thicker; it also heals faster because the cells are growing faster. It has been clearly demonstrated that vitamin A should be used every day by every person to keep the skin healthy.
Vitamin A, particularly as retinyl palmitate, is probably the safest way to protect skin from solar irradiation and may also be used to rejuvenate skin if used for protracted periods. The ideal treatment would be to apply topical vitamin A to the skin starting at an early age, soon after our first exposure to light, and continuing the daily replenishment of vitamin A into old age. Not only would this maintain healthy young looking skin, but could also protect against cancer.
Vitamin A should be used daily, if used during daylight hours it should be accompanied with anti oxidant vitamins like vitamin C, E and beta carotene, so that it is better protected from ultra violet light. Vitamin A metabolism is strongly tied to vitamin C, and vitamin C is essential for the proper function of vitamin E.