Pregnancy can be a beautiful time. It is a time of blessings and you are about to be blessed with a newborn that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Many first time expecting mothers find themselves overwhelmed by the various stages of pregnancy and the changes brought to their lifestyle during pregnancy. Not only is the whole process new to them, they simply don’t know everything that is necessary to ensure a safe pregnancy and birth. Hence, regardless of how you came across this article, it is good that you have. This article will work to inform you of the dangers of using a normally harmless vitamin A supplement during pregnancy.
Vitamin A is responsible for the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, skeletal tissue, mucus membranes and of course skin. Due to their role in the function of healthy teeth and skin, many people often take vitamin A supplements to enhance the health of their skin and teeth.
Further to this, vitamin A, also known as retinol, produces the pigments in the retina of the eye. The vitamin works to promote good eyesight and has a role to play in a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding.
However, there is something known as too much vitamin A when it comes to pregnancy. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.
Don’t get us wrong, you do need vitamin A during pregnancy. Just not so much that you would have to use supplements for. You should be very careful if you are prone to using vitamin A supplements and ensure the measure that you are taking isn’t more than the recommended daily value of vitamin A.
Dangers of Vitamin A During Pregnancy
Though vitamin A may be a regular part of your skincare routine, you should be very careful about this supplementation during pregnancy. Not many people understand the real dangers of vitamin A during pregnancy, hence often take high doses of the vitamin in supplementation form.
This runs a real risk to the baby’s health. Excess amounts of vitamin A in the body of the mother can lead to toxic levels of the vitamin being build up in your baby’s system. It can lead to birth defects and increased liver toxicity.
Taking excessive amounts of vitamin A during the first quarter of the pregnancy can lead to adverse effects such as congenital malformations involving the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. It can even cause spontaneous abortion.
It is a misconception that vitamin A supplements will help with problems such as stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight or anaemia in newborns. In fact, there is no definitive proof linking vitamin A as the solution to these problems. Instead, excessive amounts of vitamin A works to increase the risk of complications for the baby, which is something that you should look to avoid at all costs.
Vitamin A does help reduce the risk of maternal anaemia, maternal infection and maternal night blindness. However, you do not have to take vitamin A supplements to counteract these conditions. You can simply attain a good amount of vitamin A from a well balanced and controlled diet.
Remember, vitamin A plays an important role in pregnancy, however, excessive amounts of vitamin A as those attained through supplementation can be dangerous for the baby. Hence, unless prescribed by a healthcare professional, avoid vitamin A supplements and attain the necessary vitamin A from diet and diet alone.
How Much Vitamin A is Safe During Pregnancy
Due to the teratogenic effects (causing abnormal fetal development) of consuming an excessive amount of vitamin A, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that a safe dose of vitamin A during pregnancy should be less than 10,000 IU daily or 25,000 IU weekly, after the first 60 days of gestation.
1 IU is equivalent to 0.3 mcg (micrograms) of vitamin A. To give you a better idea about consumption, one egg containing as much as 520 IU and you should be able to properly source your vitamin A requirements by simply adding vitamin A rich food into your diet.
Though vitamin supplements that contain folic acid are popular when trying to get pregnant, you should really look to avoid vitamin A supplements after getting pregnant. Though you can still take a prenatal vitamin each day which contains about 600 mcg of folic acid, (consult a healthcare professional first) the vitamin A which is a common ingredient of multivitamins is a reason to worry.
DO NOT take any vitamin supplementations without consulting a healthcare professional first. Though vitamins during pregnancy are common, as you may have realised, not all vitamins are safe for your unborn child. Hence, always consult a healthcare professional prior to adding a vitamin supplement during pregnancy.
Vitamin A Deficiency In Pregnancy
Vitamin A does play a significant role during pregnancy, however, carries the dangers of excessive consumption. That being the case, is there a risk to the health of the baby if you consume too little vitamin A?
A deficiency of vitamin A brings with it the same effects during pregnancy as it does for those who are not pregnant. Though a deficiency can increase the risk of preterm delivery, this is due to the effects the deficiency has on the mother.
A vitamin A deficiency can cause maternal anaemia, which impacts the proper growth and development of the child in your womb. Deficiency can also impair immunity and hematopoiesis, the formation of blood cellular components. It can cause rashes to appear and can even impair the ocular system and cause xerophthalmia and night blindness.
During a standard check-up with your healthcare professional, they will be able to access the amount of vitamin A in your body and ask you to make the necessary changes. If you observe any of the tell-tale signs of vitamin A deficiency, do not simply jump to conclusions and add a vitamin A supplement into your diet. It can otherwise be easy as eating vitamin A rich food. Hence, consult a healthcare professional if you suspect yourself of being deficient in vitamin A and they will be able to best direct you in a safe and healthy manner.
What to Do if you Accidentally took Vitamin A During Pregnancy
If you have been taking vitamin A supplements unknowingly during pregnancy and have only now come to realise the effects this could have on the health of your baby, the first thing that you would have to do is stop taking the supplement and consult a healthcare professional.
There is no real way to undo any damage that may have been caused by high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy. Only a healthcare professional would be able to assess the damage involved and advise accordingly.
Remember, you do not need vitamin A supplements to attain the necessary amount of vitamin A to prevent deficiency. There are many foods that contain vitamin A that provides a great nutrient fix. For instance, fruits and vegetables contain plenty of beta-carotene, which is a much safer source of vitamin A.
Natural Sources of Vitamin A
You really do not have to worry about taking a vitamin A supplement to prevent deficiency. There is plenty of vitamin A rich foods that you can include in your diet to ensure that you are getting a good dose of the vitamin from food alone.
Natural sources of vitamin A are considered safer, however, some natural sources do contain high levels of vitamin A. Hence, it is important that you understand how much vitamin A these foods contain, so you have a good idea of how much you can safely consume. Remember, you want to stay below the 10,000 IU upper limit for vitamin A.
The chart below will give you a good idea of the various foods that include vitamin A and will also provide you with the amount of vitamin A each of these foods contain. Simply add some of these foods into your diet to ensure that you are getting a good amount of vitamin A and make sure that you do not overconsume. Overconsumption is just as bad as taking a vitamin A supplement. You want to sidestep excessive vitamin A consumption, whether it is through a vitamin A supplement or diet.
|Quantity||Amount of Vitamin A (IU)|
|Sweet Potatoes||100 grams||6,530|
|Red Peppers||1 Cup||5,057|
|Eggs||1 boiled egg||520|
|Oily Fish||100 grams||50|
Vitamin A is an important part of pregnancy, however, you shouldn’t make the mistake of taking vitamin A supplements during pregnancy. The supplement will contain way too much vitamin A than what is considered safe for you and your baby and could bring about various complications.
As you may have noticed from the chart that we provided above, there are plenty of foods that you can include in your diet that provide the body with an ample amount of vitamin A.
If you didn’t know prior, now you do. We sincerely do hope that this article reaches you in good time and that you haven’t been taking vitamin A supplements during pregnancy. If you have, however, we recommend that you stop and consult a healthcare professional for advice and direction on how to proceed.
We aimed to provide you with an informative article that will help you better understand the dangers of vitamin A supplements during pregnancy. After reading this word to word, we hope you know better than to keep taking vitamin A supplements without the recommendation of a healthcare professional.
Remember, pregnancy is a beautiful time. It is the time in your life when you start to learn to care for another human being in a way that you had never done before. Hence, cherish the moments and take good care of your unborn loved one.