Vitamin A

How does Vitamin A work?

Vitamin A is required for the proper development and functioning of our eyes, skin, immune system, and many other parts of our bodies.

Are there safety concerns?

Vitamin A is safe for most people when used in doses less than 10,000 units per day. Some scientific research suggests that lower doses might increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture, particularly in older people. Adults who eat low-fat dairy products, which are fortified with vitamin A, and a lot of fruits and vegetables usually don't need vitamin A supplements or multivitamins that contain vitamin A.

Long-term use of large amounts of vitamin A might cause serious side effects including fatigue, irritability, mental changes, anorexia, stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, mild fever, excessive sweating, and many other side effects. In women who have passed menopause, taking too much vitamin A can increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture.

There is growing concern that taking high doses of antioxidant supplements such as vitamin A might do more harm than good. Some research shows that taking high doses of vitamin A supplements might increase the chance of death from all causes and possibly other serious side effects.

Vitamin A is safe for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in recommended amounts of less than 10,000 units per day.

Vitamin A is safe for children when taken in the recommended amounts. When amounts greater than those recommended are taken, side effects can include irritability, sleepiness, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, headache, vision problems, peeling skin, increased risk of pneumonia and diarrhea, and other problems. The maximum amounts of vitamin A that are safe for children are based on age:
  • Less than 2000 units/day in children up to 3 years old.
  • Less than 3000 units/day in children ages 4 to 8 years old.
  • Less than 5700 units/day in children ages 9 to 13 years old.
  • Less than 9300 units/day in children ages 14 to 18 years old.
Do not take vitamin A if:
  • You drink a lot of alcohol.
  • You have an uncommon form of high cholesterol called "Type V hyperlipoproteinemia."
  • You have liver disease.

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