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Vitamin A is an essential nutrient required for life and serves two very different biological functions. First, in the form of retinaldehyde, it constitutes the lightsensitive component of the retina, rhodopsin, and second, in the form of retinoic acid, it activates a large number of transcription factors (McCaffery & Drager 1993). ANTIOXIDANT

Vitamin A exhibits free radical scavenging properties. GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

Vitamin A is essential for embryonic growth. Deficiency, as well as excess, has been shown to be teratogenic in animal studies, suggesting the same may be true in humans. It is currently unclear whether vitamin A itself or one of its metabolites or

both are responsible for the teratogenic effects seen with high exposure (Miller et al 1998).

Vitamin A is also necessary for healthy bone formation in children.

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