Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thumbs Up or Down for Vitamin A

Is Vitamin A during pregnancy ok?  The answer is thumbs up AND down, making the acceptable dosage during pregnancy confusing to figure out.  Here is the scoop.  Vitamin A comes in two main forms: preformed (retinoid form- found in meats and fortified foods) and beta-carotene (which converts to the retinol form within the body- found in fruits and vegetables).  Multivitamins (including prenatal vitamins) may contain either form of Vitamin A.

Too much of the preformed Vitamin A can lead to birth defects and liver toxicity. This risk is highest during the first few weeks of pregnancy. You may consume as much beta-carotene as you wish at any stage of pregnancy. Beta-carotene only converts to the retinol form of Vitamin A when needed. Because of this built-in limiting mechanism, you cannot overdose on beta-carotene.

When looking for a prenatal vitamin, check both the source and amounts of Vitamin A to ensure that you do not exceed the recommended limitations (10,000 IU) during pregnancy. You must also keep in mind the amount of Vitamin A that you receive through your diet. Promise Prenatal vitamins (Stage 1) contain no Vitamin A for the pre-conception period through the first trimester. Stages 2 and 3 contain Vitamin A in the beta-carotene form to help nurture the baby’s growth and maintain the mother’s health.

Vitamin A helps maintain eye health and fight off infections and helps your body rebuild and recover after pregnancy. Your baby benefits from Vitamin A through cell growth, eye and health development, fat metabolism and bone growth.

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