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Are vitamin A supplements safe for pregnant or nursing women?

Pregnant women should not take high doses of vitamin A supplements and should be cautious with foods and personal care products that contain high amounts. Snack bars that contain 50% of the adult daily value for preformed vitamin A can be an unsuspected source. The nutritional needs of pregnant and lactating women are unique. Optimal nutrition is essential for growth and development of the fetus and the newborn, but ingesting preformed vitamin A in amounts above the tolerable upper level can cause serious congenital birth defects such as malformations of the eye, skull, lungs and heart.
Both too little and too much vitamin A can cause serious problems for pregnant women and their unborn children. It is known that the mother taking too much vitamin A can cause various birth defects in the fetus. But this is true only for preformed vitamin A, such as retinol, and not true of pro-vitamin A, such as beta-carotene. This is why beta-carotene is considered a safer type of vitamin A for pregnant women. Vitamin A travels through breast milk, but it is unclear if the child is endangered when the mother uses too much vitamin A. If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are nursing, consult your doctor before taking vitamin A.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.