Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential to protect and maintain eye health, enhance the immune system, cellular interaction, and reproduction.
To maintain proper vision health, vitamin A, along with many other nutrients are vital (1). Other important vitamins and minerals to consider for eye health include vitamin E, vitamin A, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, lutein, and more. Other Vitamin A benefits include its a role in preventing macular degeneration, acne, many types of cancer, and even measles.
This micronutrient is a crucial element in enhancing your immune system as well. Many people think of vitamin C only when they want to give their immune system a boost. Vitamin A is sometimes left behind, but it is just as crucial as other nutrients like vitamin C (2).
Vitamin A also protects the epithelium and mucous tissues, which are tissues that run throughout the body to protect body cavities, tissues in glands, and even organs in the body. Vitamin A is so powerful that another name for it is the anti-infective vitamin (3). It is also a crucial micronutrient to protect the respiratory system, including the lungs (4).
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How Much Vitamin A is Too Much?
Unlike other water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, it is easier to take too much vitamin A. That is because fat-soluble vitamins and not easily excreted from the system through urine or sweat. It is typically extremely difficult to take too much of a water-soluble vitamin for that reason.
But vitamin A is in a different category since it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Read on to find out how much vitamin A you need to take and if you are getting enough in your daily diet to fully support you.
It is extremely difficult and rare to get too much vitamin A from your diet alone. But if you are supplementing, you want to make sure you do not take too much vitamin A for several reasons.
Another name for too much vitamin A or vitamin A toxicity is hypervitaminosis. It can happen through oral vitamin A supplementation or topical treatment. Fat-soluble vitamins accumulate in the body, unlike water-soluble vitamins (5).
As many as 60,000 Americans experience vitamin toxicity each year, whether it is acute or chronic. If you are eating plenty of foods high in vitamin A, you are likely getting enough, although small supplementation doses usually cannot hurt.
There are also many interactions, where vitamin A can react with other medications. Be aware that these include blood clot medications like anticoagulants, retinoids (6), topical cancer drugs, drugs used for liver damage, and more.
Taking more than 10,000 mcg a day of vitamin A supplements can cause bone thinning, liver damage, diarrhea, headache, nausea, skin inflammation or irritation, joint pain, and birth defects.
Make sure to keep a healthy balanced diet with plenty of vitamin A and be cautious about the amount and dosage in your supplements.
Symptoms of Too Much Vitamin A (Overdose)
There are many symptoms to keep in mind if you are getting or taking too much vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency and overdose can be extremely serious, so make sure to pay attention to these symptoms carefully.
Some common symptoms of taking too much vitamin A are gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, and skin issues like rashes or peeling skin.
If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to speak to a doctor or a healthcare professional to get your levels tested. Remember that vitamin A can not easily pass through the body through sweat or urine, because it is not water-soluble. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is possible to take too much.
If you do take too much vitamin A, there are many common side effects to be aware of. They can range from severe to extreme. Be sure to keep an eye on your vitamin A intake and pay attention to any of these side effects.
Some of the less severe side effects that above include nausea, rashes, skin peeling, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. More severe side effects include blurry vision, vertigo, and even coma and death, to name a few. These types of symptoms typically occur when you take more than 200,000 mcg, which is extremely rare.
How Much Vitamin A Should I Take?
There are plenty of foods high in vitamin A that you can add to your regular diet and routine. An easy way to remember what foods are high in vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene is to think of orange and yellow foods. Sweet potatoes, carrots, carrot juice, oranges, and other yellow fruits and vegetables.
But there are many other foods beyond the yellow and orange color that also provide vitamin A in the form of retinol. These include eggs, cod liver oil, cheese, butter, chicken, beef, and especially the liver, fortified cereals, skim milk, dark leafy greens like bok choy, spinach, kale, and much more. There are two types of vitamin A, preformed and provitamin A.
Preformed comes from animal sources and supplements, while provitamin comes from plants, fruits, and vegetables. Both forms play a role in maintaining adequate levels of vitamin A in the tissues, cells, and the body overall.
A balanced diet is the most important factor to keep your vitamin A levels up high, but it may sometimes benefit you to include a supplement with vitamin A as well. Everyone is different in what they need, but if you experience eye strain, acne, and low immune function, it may be time to add a multi-vitamin with vitamin A to your diet.
The average woman should get no more than 2,700 international units (IU) of vitamin A. More than 10,000 supplemented IUs a day can create disability for pregnant women. One study shows that 1 in 57 babies had a congenital disability when the mothers took more than 10,000 IUs of vitamin A per day (7).
The daily recommended intake of vitamin A for men is 900 mcg and for women who are not pregnant, it is 700 mcg per day. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet, and see if it is necessary to supplement with a doctor before trying it out in larger doses.
Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient that everyone needs to maintain a healthy body overall. It is especially vital to boost eye health to prevent macular degeneration, prevent illness and cancer, and even to prevent acne.
This vitamin is a crucial piece of the wellness puzzle for all humans to consider. It is important to consider your diet and supplementation, depending on your sex and stage of life.
While pregnant women need more supplementation, too much can cause more harm. Vitamin A toxicity can cause severe side effects, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin that builds up in the body over time.
Be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and more foods rich in vitamin A to meet your daily recommended requirement.