You probably know retinol is one of the active ingredients in your night cream. Retinol has a very solid reputation in the beauty industry for its strong ability to help us slow down aging and improve the appearance of wrinkles. What you might not know is that retinol is not some fancy ingredient it is actually just vitamin A1. Skincare companies have been calling vitamin A retinol for a long time now which sounds very scientific but it’s really just simple vitamin A.
Retinol Deficiency Hypothesis
Now I’m not sure any beauty experts are going to agree with me on this but my theory is that applying retinol to your skin only makes your skin look younger if you actually have a retinol deficiency to begin with. The World Health Organization has estimated recently that around one-third of all children have a severe vitamin A deficiency.
And so this is why I personally chose to get my dose of retinol through diet rather than creams.
The Best Types of Foods for Retinol
There are many websites claiming that vegetables are also a great source of vitamin A but please be aware that the type of vitamin A in these vegetables is Pro-Vitamin A which is a different form of vitamin A that your body will not necessarily be able to convert into retinol and so if you’re eating it for the anti-aging benefits, don’t go for the vegan option first unless you are vegan and can’t eat these foods.
Please don’t get me wrong I think it’s wonderful that some people care so much to be vegan. But we also need to acknowledge the fact that humans are destroying all of the world’s soil through our overuse of pesticides and unsustainable farming practices and at some point we are going to need to use livestock to help us regenerate the soil if we want to keep growing crops. Animals are an important part of the circle of life, what we really need to do more than anything is start treating them better as a whole society, and buying organic is the best way to support that.
Foods High in Pro-Vitamin A
- Sweet Potatoes
- Honey Dew Melons
- Bell Peppers
Vitamin A is essential for good health and deficiency in this vitamin is actually the leading cause of blindness. Below are some of the noncosmetic benefits of eating a vitamin A-rich diet.
Health Benefits Of Vitamin A
- Supports reproductive health and reduces the risk of infant mortality
- Supports the immune system and stops the transport of pathogens from the gut to organs
- Supports eye health and can counteract the effects of macular degeneration
- A lack of vitamin A in the body can cause chronic inflammation
- A lack of vitamin A has been proven to sometimes lead to obesity and weakened muscles
- Has cancer-suppressing properties
- Supports stem cell renewal in blood
- A lack of vitamin A can be the cause of anemia
The Best Foods High in Retinol
1. Liver & Pate
The absolute best way in the world to be sure that you’re feeding your skin plenty of retinol is to eat liver. Now if you want to go hardcore on this or require large amounts of vitamin A for health reasons then actually buying real liver and cooking this up is going to be the richest source possible. However, if you’re like me and the thought of eating chicken liver for dinner is not too appealing then don’t worry, this is what the French invented pâté for!
I’ve been having this on toast as a snack most weeks and I’m starting to really like the stuff. My favorite is to top it with cherry tomatoes and a bit of salt and cracked pepper.
Nutritional contents of pâté per 100g
Vitamin A: 992% Daily Intake
2. Cod Liver Oil
Now cod liver oil is not something you’d want to try cooking with because of its fishy flavor but it is highly effective when taken as a supplement. You can either purchase cod liver oil in a capsule for or as an actual oil which would probably be the most affordable way to do it. Taking just one teaspoon of cod liver oil will provide you with 150% of your daily intake of retinol.
Caviar is thought of to be one of the most sought-after luxury foods on the planet and this is not just because it is hard to come by, it is also actually incredibly good for your health.
100g of caviar contains
18% of your daily intake of vitamin A
And 58% of your daily intake of vitamin D
As well as being high in omegA-3 FATTY ACIDS.
4. Grass Fed Butter or Ghee
Butter is something that most people today associate with weight gain and heart disease but butter has a bit of an unfair bad reputation. There is plenty of science that supports the idea that animal fats are actually good for our health and that a low-fat diet is harder to lose weight on than a high-fat diet. This might sound strange but this is why the famous Atkins diet works so well. I myself eat a diet rich in animal fats and since doing so my metabolism has sped up and I have less belly fat. Not to mention feeling more lively in general.
The thing with a low-fat diet is, cutting fat out makes your body think it’s being starved as it expects to get fat but does not. You’re not getting all the nutrients that you require and so you crave extra food to compensate for this. And because fat is essential for our bodies to run we go into overdrive trying to convert all carbohydrates into fat and store them whenever possible.
Butter is high in calories but you only need a small amount to get the nutritional benefits and it will fill you up more than carbohydrates usually. Like most things, butter is only going to be fattening if you overindulge.
100g of butter contains 71% of your daily intake of vitamin A
Now you are probably not going to want to eat 100g of butter each day, this indeed would be fattening but if you get a little bit here, a little bit there, it all adds up.
If you can’t have lactose (like me) then you can actually remove the lactose from butter by baking it, this is what ghee is. Ghee is a common ingredient in India but it can be hard to come by anywhere else and so I make my own. It’s so great if you love the taste of butter but don’t normally eat dairy because of the lactose.
Preferably you’d want to cook a fresh tuna steak to get vitamin A as I know processed food does not hold vitamins in it for very long on the shelves but there may still be some nutrition left in the canned tuna, I can’t tell you for sure. I just eat everything fresh whenever I can, that way you can’t go wrong but I understand that the cost of food is a big issue for most people. Not that it isn’t for me, I just chose to put my health before saving money – spending a little now and saving a lot later by not getting cancer is my motto.
100g of tuna contains 44% of your daily intake of vitamin A
6. Goats Cheese
Goats cheese isn’t super high in vitamin A but it’s defiantly going to top up your supply if you eat it regularly. I like to use goat’s cheese in salads or dips.
100g of goats cheese contains 21% of your daily intake of vitamin A
7. Pasture Raised Eggs
Ideally, you want to buy pasture-raised, free-range eggs if you’re eating them for nutrition. The reason is the grain-fed chickens aren’t being fed many nutrients themselves in the first place and so their eggs do not then come out rich in nutrients either. Pasture-raised chickens are healthier and happier and the difference in the price of eggs is reflective of the amount of nutrition in them.
1 pasture-raised egg contains 16% of your daily vitamin A intake
And 8% of your daily vitamin D intake
8. Blue Cheese
Blue cheese I love because it’s not just high in vitamin A but it’s also really good for gut health. Blue cheese contains pro-biotic bacteria that support a well-functioning digestive system.
100g of blue cheese contains 15% of your daily intake of vitamin A
It’s hard for me to say just how much vitamin A mackerel contains because health claims about this fish vary greatly but although it contains retinol it’s not as high in it as the other foods on this list.
Around 4% of your daily intake of vitamin A is what I believe is correct.
Salmon contains retinol also but 100g is equal to just 3% of your daily intake roughly, potentially more if it is wild-caught salmon.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, not many foods are terribly high in retinol. It is however possible to get all of your retinol from food very easily if you consume liver or take a cod liver oil supplement. This is what I am doing anyway and so I hope that you will find my research helpful. I do actually feel like my wrinkles are looking slightly reduced since doing this so I’m sure it’s doing me good.