Vitamin A

If you eat a well-balanced diet AND take a supplement that contains more than 3,000 IU (800 RE) of Vitamin A, you may want to re-consider taking the supplement before you get pregnant. Vitamin A is a suspected teratogen, and some Vitamin A-type compounds are documented teratogens. A teratogen is a substance which can cause birth defects.

Vitamin A is an essential, fat-soluble vitamin required for proper vision, the growth of bone and epithelial tissue, and also needed in the reproductive process. Recommendations about Vitamin A (retinol) consumption in pregnancy are complicated by the following factors:

  • The Food and Drug Administration’s RDA for Vitamin A in pregnant women is 8,000 IU.
  • The Teratology Society states that an average, balanced diet contains 7,000-8,000 IU of Vitamin A.
  • Vitamin A is a well-known teratogen in animals.
  • Extreme DEFICIENCIES of Vitamin A have been implicated in several cases of human fetal malformations.
  • Excessive consumption (in amounts greater than 25,000 IU per day) has been associated with human fetal malformations in some studies, but not in other studies.
  • Two synthetic chemicals related to Vitamin A (isotretinoin [the acne drug, Accutane] and etretinate) are clearly human teratogens.
  • Beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor, has NOT been shown to be a human teratogen, since the conversion of beta-carotene to Vitamin A in the body is regulated by that body’s need for more Vitamin A.