Vitamin A During Pregnancy: Is It Safe to Take a Lot?

Once you’re pregnant, you can’t help but be more careful about the food you’re eating. What to eat, what nutrients are good…the list of worries you have are endless. You might want to eat everything that’s supposedly good for pregnant moms, but what happens when you take too much of something? Vitamin A is one such nutrient that is good, but an overdose of it can have negative effects on the body. Let’s find out more.

Vitamin A during pregnancy: Boosts immunity

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Vitamin A, although not produced in the body naturally, strengthens the mucous membrane and boosts the body’s immunity system, so eating it on a regular basis will help you fight off the cold. According to the WHO, the recommended nutrient intake (RNI) of vitamin A for expecting moms is 800µg retinol equivalents a day. Although vitamin A deficiency is most common in the third trimester, moms are susceptible to it throughout pregnancy.1Vitamin A deficiency can lead to a host of problems, but you must be careful when obtaining vitamin A from animal sources.

Get vitamin A from vegetable sources during pregnancy

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What about vitamin A in plant sources? Vitamin A from plant sources are called carotenoids and include beta-carotene. Beta-carotenoids are converted into vitamin A in the body and can be eaten in excess, so you don’t have to skimp on your vegetables. Leafy, green and yellow vegetables like komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), garland chrysanthemum, spinach, ashitaba (angelica keiskei), beefsteak plant (JAP), or jute mallow (mulukhiya), are sources rich in vitamin A. These vegetables are also rich in nutrients like folate, iron, calcium, dietary fiber – and so are highly recommended foods for pregnant moms.

Avoid taking vitamin A from meat sources during pregnancy

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Unlike plant sources of vitamin A, you have to watch your intake of meats that contain vitamin A. Vitamin A in meat sources are called retinoids and include retinol. One meat source that can possibly become a problem is liver. The body cannot effectively expel vitamin A from liver out of the body and an accumulation of vitamin A in the body leads to birth defects in babies like cleft lip, cleft palate, or hydrocephalus. The fetus is most vulnerable in the first trimester of pregnancy as that is when the detailed parts of the body are forming. Be extra careful in the first trimester.

Sources rich in retinol (vitamin A) include eggs, fish liver oils, dairy products, shellfish, eel, salmon roe, sablefish, and the livers of chicken, cows and pigs. The food you need to avoid eating too much during pregnancy is the livers of chicken, cow and pig. However, if you’re not eating these foods every day, then you don’t have to worry too much.

If you’re using supplements to help you get the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, be careful not to take too much as well. Try to get it from your meals and have as balanced a diet as possible!

Striking a balance with vitamin A

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Taking too much vitamin A is dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat liver at all! If you watch the amount you’re eating, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t eat too much liver. Rather, vitamin A is essential to your body during pregnancy, and stopping yourself from eating isn’t ideal either. Think “moderation is key”, and make a conscious effort to take in vitamin A to meet Baby’s and your body’s demands. When it comes to vitamin A, less is more, so be careful and continue to watch over your baby’s growth!