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Taking Vitamin A During Pregnancy

Vitamin A is a pivotal nutrient for eyes and vision but too much of it during pregnancy can be a bad thing. Find out what vitamin A is safe and what doses are acceptable.

Have you thought about how much vitamin A you’ve been consuming? If you haven’t, you might want to start paying attention.

While taking vitamins is a good thing for baby, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. One vitamin that may not be beneficial to overdo is vitamin A.

Maternal Benefits of Vitamin A
You can thank your color and low light vision to vitamin A. When you eat animals or fruits and vegetables, the vitamin A components in it, retinol and carotenes, convert to energy to help you see.

Vitamin A isn’t only for your eyes though, it can also help you with your delivery by helping your tissue heal after you give birth. So that you stay healthy, beneficial vitamin A will prevent infection too.

Maternal Vitamin A Deficiency
When you are deficient in vitamin A, which is more likely during pregnancy, you may experience difficulty seeing at night. Other signs of vitamin A deficiency include:

  • Marternal anemia
  • Weakened immune system
  • Xerophthalmia – dry or thick cornea

It was once believed that vitamin A increased the risk of maternal death, however, a recent study reported in ScienceDaily disputes this finding indicating that vitamin A makes no difference in maternal survival rates.

Embryo Benefits of Vitamin A
While you may be afraid to take too much vitamin A during pregnancy because of the toxicity to your baby, you still need to get enough of it to provide your baby with what he needs for proper development. What does this vitamin help with?

  • Bones
  • Eyes
  • Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Circulation
  • Respiration
  • Central Nervous System
  • Prevent infection
  • Metabolize fat

Vitamin A Toxicity to Baby
So if vitamin A has so many benefits what exactly is everyone talking about when they say that too much is harmful for your baby? Well, it’s not all types of vitamin A – just one type.

According to the Teratology Society[1], a few cases have shown that overdosing on one type of vitamin A, specifically retinol or retinyl in doses of at least 25,000 IU, has showed birth defects but a causal relationship is unknown. In rat studies, cognitive and behavioral deficits were noted as a result of vitamin A toxicity.

Since the type of vitamin A that showed birth defects was retinol/retinyl, you can eat as many fruits and vegetables as you would like to eat with no fear of toxicity. All you need to be weary of is how much vitamin A retinol sources you consume or supplement. Beta carotene isn't the issue with vitamin A in pregnancy.

Differences in Prenatal Vitamins
Check your prenatal vitamins. If you get your prenatal from your doctor, it’s most likely okay. However, some of the over-the-counter ones have a different form of vitamin A. Consult with your doctor to make sure it has the appropriate dosage for your needs.

Prescriptions with Retinol
This is why people who are prescribed the acne drug Accutane receive a warning that if they are at risk for pregnancy they should not take it. The prescription has retinol as one of its ingredients in it. Retin-A also has a component of this ingredient and should be avoided if there is a risk for pregnancy.

How Much Is Too Much?
The National Research Council releases recommendations to follow for expectant mothers.

You can have 3,300 IU of retinol a day.

When you combine retinol and beta-carotene, you can consume 5,000 IU a day.

To follow this accurately, you have to know what type of vitamin A you consume. Talking to your doctor or a nutritionist can help you determine if you are taking in enough or too much.

The Health of You and Your Baby
Your baby’s health depends on what you do with your health. Feel good about yourself for taking the time to educate yourself on what is good for you and your baby. Always check in with your doctor when you plan to try something new.



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