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The Truth About Vitamin A Safety in Prenatal Vitamins

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The Truth About Vitamin A Safety in Prenatal Vitamins

By Dr. Dean Raffelock

The most common question that pregnant women ask me goes something like this: “My obstetrician says that it is very dangerous for me to take vitamin A while I am pregnant.  As an expert in nutrition, what is your opinion?”

No doubt, there is a lot of fear and confusion on this topic. So let’s get right down to the truth of the matter. As usual, the truth is to be found in the middle of two opposite points of view. One point of view is that pregnant women should avoid taking any vitamin A. The other point of view is that pregnant women do not need to be concerned at all with their vitamin A consumption, because the risks are minimal.

So let’s clarify the issue so you can make the most informed choice for yourself and your baby:

In 1995, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published a study that showed strong evidence that approximately 1.7 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. consuming greater than 10,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin A (retinol) per day during the first 7 weeks of their pregnancy gave birth to children afflicted with some form of birth defect. This was one out of every 57 women. This created a wave of fear in obstetricians and their pregnant patients that continues to this day.

The good news about this study is that it alerted doctors to strongly caution their pregnant patients that consuming over 10,000 IUs of vitamin A per day for the first 7 weeks of pregnancy can be risky. To my thinking, this should also hold true for women of childbearing age who are actively trying to become pregnant. Women who are given very high dosages of vitamin A for acne treatments should avoid becoming pregnant until their blood levels of vitamin A are well within the normal range.

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Read more: Eating for Health, Health, Obstetrics, Pregnancy, Women's Health, , ,

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7:11PM PDT on Sep 11, 2010


2:53AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

This created a wave of fear in obstetricians and their pregnant patients that continues to this day.

11:57AM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

Thank you for the info. Thing is, OB's are now trying to make sure that they have a team to work with a patient, but I'm not sure if it's limited to ones who are gestationally diabetic. Yet many of these nutritionists/dieticians have less than an associates degree, and it also factors in the fitness end of it.

It leads me to wonder how qualified these people are. Though I did meet a guy who has a masters in nutrition, who after finding that out, I trust his judgment and advice. More should be like him.

9:26AM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

Vitamin A can not be taken overdose, especially for pregnant women to avoid complication happens.

Vitamins Nutrition Supplements - Vitamin A

12:54PM PDT on Aug 28, 2010

Vitamin A and Vitamin D should only be taken once a day. Small units. It's good for you. You don't need a lot. If you take too much it'll make you sick. In fact there are vitamin companies that make a combination of A and D. Look into every vitamin before you take it.

1:30AM PDT on Aug 27, 2010

wow, thank you

4:36PM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

Good advice. It further supports the philosophy, "Everything in moderation."

10:42AM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

Vitamin deficiency and excess are not good for our body. eat natural and healthy food.

10:30PM PDT on Aug 24, 2010


8:31AM PDT on Aug 24, 2010

Mary Swan-In 1989 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that measured plasma levels of carotenes within two groups. One group ate vegetables and the other ingested purified beta-carotene in equal amounts. The purified beta-carotene was absorbed significantly better than the beta-carotene in the vegetables. Many people, even young people of childbearing age have digestive disturbances which limit nutrient absorption. This is one of the many reasons that dietary supplements exist in the first place.

Your other question seems to assume that every woman in developed countries has a diet containing sufficient amounts of vegetables and fruits and that all women in developed countries can afford high quality food and nutritional supplements. I'm sure that if you reflect upon this you will understand that third-world countries do not have have a monopoly on poverty and the lack of high quality food that co-exists with poverty.

Kind regards,

Dr. Dean Raffelock

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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