Vitamin A and Pregnancy

Hi Sue,

I've read that pregnant women must be careful about their intake of Vitamin A because an overdose can cause birth defects. I'm worried that I may accidentally "overdose" on Vitamin A with my prenatal vitamin combined with additional amounts in my diet. Is that possible?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dulcie,
It is highly unlikely that you will overdose on vitamin A. Prenatal vitamins are developed using a safe dosage. The additional amount of vitamin A in your diet is most likely in the form of beta-carotene, which does not act the same way in the body (from a toxicity standpoint) as preformed vitamin A, and therefore will not contribute to the level of preformed vitamin A retained in your body.

Vitamin A is required for growth, for cellular differentiation, and for the normal development of fetuses. Signs of toxicity usually appear only after sustained daily intakes exceeding 50,000 IU in adults. These doses are more than 10 times higher than the RDA and usually cannot be obtained from foods, except by the ingesting large amounts of liver or fish liver oils which are especially rich in vitamin A. Notice how much vitamin A is in your supplement, and if that is not more than 100% of the RDA, and if you are not eating lots of liver and fish oil, than you can rest assured that you are not overdosing on Vitamin A.

Thank you for writing.

Sincerely,
Sue Gilbert

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