Can You Take Vitamin A If You're Pregnant?

Can you take Vitamin A when pregnant? 

Today, we're diving into a topic that's often surrounded by myths and misconceptions: the safety and benefits of consuming organ meats and, specifically, vitamin A during pregnancy. Buckle up and get ready for an engaging journey through the world of nutrition for expectant mums!


Vitamin A & Accutane 

Now, let's start by debunking a popular belief about vitamin A in pregnancy. You see, there's this famous acne medication called Accutane that created quite a stir. Sadly, some women who took this drug while expecting experienced heartbreaking outcomes like miscarriages or giving birth to babies with deformities. But here's the thing: Accutane is a form of vitamin A called isotretinoin, which is quite different from the vitamin A found in our food. It’s a form of Vitamin A that I would never, ever recommend. 

In reality, NATURAL vitamin A is a superstar nutrient when it comes to fertility and pregnancy. It plays a vital role, not only in ensuring healthy eye development, but also in the growth of your baby's brain, kidneys, heart, and lungs. Even the development of the nervous, circulatory, and respiratory systems in your little one relies on this fantastic vitamin.

Now, I know there's conflicting evidence on vitamin A intake during pregnancy, but it's always better to play it safe. To be cautious, many experts recommend avoiding synthetic vitamin A in doses exceeding 10,000 IU per day before and during pregnancy. 

Unfortunately, due to misguided fears, most prenatal supplement manufacturers have removed vitamin A from their products. And guess what? This has led to a rise in deficiencies, especially among those following a plant-based diet since retinol, the active form of vitamin A, is mainly found in animal products.


Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency: 

  1. Night blindness: One of the classic signs of vitamin A deficiency is difficulty seeing in low-light conditions or at night. If you find it increasingly challenging to navigate in dimly lit environments, it could be a clue that your vitamin A levels are running low.

  2. Dry and rough skin: Vitamin A plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin. When you're deficient in this nutrient, you may notice that your skin becomes dry, rough, and even prone to developing rashes or bumps. So, if your skin has lost its natural glow and feels parched, it's worth considering your vitamin A status.

  3. Poor immune function: Vitamin A is known for its immune-boosting properties. When your body doesn't have enough of this vitamin, your immune system may weaken, making you more susceptible to infections, particularly in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Frequent colds, respiratory issues, and other infections could indicate a deficiency.

  4. Delayed wound healing: Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the healing process. If you notice that your wounds or injuries take longer than usual to heal, it might be a sign that your body lacks sufficient vitamin A to support efficient tissue repair.

  5. Brittle hair and nails: Your hair and nails can provide valuable insights into your overall health. Inadequate vitamin A levels may result in brittle, dry hair that lacks its usual lustre. Similarly, your nails might become weak, brittle, and prone to breakage.

  6. Poor growth in children: Vitamin A is vital for the growth and development of children. A deficiency can hinder their growth, leading to stunted height and weight gain.

Vitamin A and Iron Deficiency

But wait, let's take a closer look at vitamin A and how it can help prevent iron deficiency. 

Iron is a crucial mineral that plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells and the transport of oxygen throughout your body. When you don't consume enough iron-rich foods or your body has difficulty absorbing iron, it can lead to iron deficiency anaemia, a condition characterised by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood.

Now, here's where vitamin A steps in as the superhero sidekick. It turns out that vitamin A is involved in the process of iron metabolism and helps optimise iron utilisation in your body. Let me break it down for you:

  1. Enhancing iron absorption: Vitamin A aids in improving the absorption of nonheme iron, which is the form of iron found in plant-based foods. By enhancing the absorption of this type of iron, vitamin A ensures that more of it gets into your bloodstream and is available for use in essential bodily functions.

  2. Supporting iron storage: Vitamin A also contributes to the proper storage of iron in your body. It helps mobilise iron from storage sites, such as the liver, and transports it to the areas where it's needed most, such as the bone marrow for red blood cell production.

  3. Promoting red blood cell production: As mentioned earlier, iron is essential for the production of red blood cells. Vitamin A plays a supportive role in this process by ensuring that iron is available and utilised effectively in the formation of healthy red blood cells.

By working in tandem, vitamin A and iron help maintain optimal iron levels in your body and prevent iron deficiency. It's like a beautiful partnership, with vitamin A maximising the benefits of iron and ensuring it's utilised efficiently.

How much Vitamin A should we have?

Now, here's a fun fact to ease your worries about vitamin A in food causing birth defects. Ready? There are zero documented reports of such cases! Even if we were to be ultra-cautious and consider the recommended limit of 10,000 IU, you'd need to gobble down a whopping 60 grams of liver, which is rich in Vitamin A, every day or around 400 grams per week. Now, hold on a minute! Liver, with its intense flavor, tends to be a self-limiting food. Trust me, your taste buds will likely set the boundaries before you come close to reaching that threshold.


Should we be worried about vitamin A?

The studies carried to support vitamin A as being toxic during pregnancy were carried on large doses of vitamin A such as 25,000 IU and this was the synthetic form, not the natural form.  

 In supplements, vitamin A is usually reported in IU (international units) on its labels and if it is the natural form coming from beta carotene, up to 15,000 IU is allowed.

When your vitamin A supplies are low, then the conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A will be higher. However if you have enough vitamin A, the conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A will be much lower. So, there is no risk for toxicity when you have vitamin A in the form of beta carotene because the body will self-regulate making it a very safe vitamin. 

The Bottom Line

So, to all the wonderful expecting mums out there, let go of those worries and make sure you’re giving your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs!

Vitamin A is needed during pregnancy and the danger comes with mega dosing or with the synthetic forms of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate) but certainly not at 1500 IU of the natural form of beta carotene found in the Daily Essential Formula . This is the same form found in carrots and sweet potatoes.

 If you’re following a plant-based diet, then you might be lacking some essential nutrients, so make sure you’re SAFELY supplementing. The Daily Essential Formula contains 28g of organic pea protein along with all your essential vitamins and minerals, including safe, natural, non-toxic and absorbable Vitamin A! 

The Daily Essential Formula is not only safe for pregnant women, but recommended.

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