Too Much of a Good Thing?-The Realities of Vitamin A Overdose

Vitamins are pivotal for our optimal health. These micronutrients play a vital role in numerous physiological functions, including a stronger immunity to more effective healing of wounds.

When vitamin A is consumed within the recommended daily amounts, it’s known to promote healthy vision, optimal lung, heart, and kidney functioning, and better skin health. 

However, as with any other thing in life, moderation is crucial. Excessive amounts of vitamin A can cause a long list of side effects. This is why keeping the vitamin A levels balanced is important.

Vitamin A Explained 

Vitamin A is fat-soluble and participates in numerous physiological functions. There are two forms of it: one is the preformed vitamin A in foods like meat, fish, and dairy and the other is provitamin A in plant-based foods like veggies and fruits. The major sources of this important vitamin are sweet potatoes, kale, and carrots.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin A for adult men is around 900 mcg while for adult women, this amount is 700 mcg. For children between the ages of four and eight, the RDA is 400 mcg, 600 mcg for children between ages nine and 13, and between 700 mcg and 900 mcg for teens between the ages of 14 and 18. 

Despite these general recommendations, the amount may vary depending on the individual’s needs. This is why you should consult a healthcare professional to ensure you’re consuming adequate vitamin A.

The Health Benefits of Vitamin A 

As a powerhouse nutrient, vitamin A is crucial for numerous physiological processes that play a role in maintaining optimal health. Let’s check out some of the major benefits of ensuring optimal levels of vitamin A in the body:

  • Healthy vision 

Vitamin A is important for healthy eyesight. It gives the retina the support it needs to detect light and adapt well to darkness. Vitamin A is important so that we can navigate through the environment even in low light conditions. 

  • Strong immunity

Vitamin A is important for keeping our immunity strong. It strengthens the defenses of the body and improves the ability to fight off infections and illnesses. With sufficient amounts of vitamin A, we can help our immune responses to become more efficient and robust. 

  • Reproduction & cellular-level communication

Vitamin A is essential in the reproduction process. It gives the necessary support to the male and female reproductive systems. 

It’s an indispensable tool for the healthy development of fetuses. As it also participates in the communication between cells, it ensures seamless interaction and a harmonious functioning of the body. 

  • Healthy bones 

Vitamin A is significant for healthy bones. It promotes bone growth and helps maintain the bones robust. Lack of vitamin A may contribute to weaker bones.

  • Healthy skin 

The largest organ in the human body, that is, the skin, needs sufficient vitamin A for optimal tissue production, supple and vibrant skin, and antioxidant properties that serve as protection from premature aging and environmental damage. 

When Vitamin A Becomes too Much 

Vitamin A has plenty of health benefits to offer, that’s a no-brainer. However, the problem occurs when we consume more than the RDA, which may increase the risk of hypervitaminosis or vitamin A toxicity. 

This problem happens when there’s a lot of accumulated vitamin A in the body, either from over-supplementation or consuming a lot of vitamin A-rich foods. 

Short-term overdosing or acute toxicity happens when you consume a large amount of vitamin A over a short period, for example, within a few hours or days. It’s associated with symptoms like strong headaches, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, dizziness, blurry vision, tiredness, etc.

Long-term overdose or chronic toxicity is when a person consumes more than the recommended amount of vitamin A for a prolonged time like months or years. The associated symptoms are dry and itchy skin, cracked lips, infections, swollen and painful bones, hair loss, etc.