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Vitamin A

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Vitamin A supplements are used to treat vitamin A deficiency, repair ageing skin, enhance child development, manage HIV/AIDS, and treat cataracts, infections, and other conditions. It is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally obtained from food like fish, fruits and vegetables

Vitamin A comes in different forms called retinoids; they include retinoic acid, retinol, retinyl ester, and retinal. All the forms of vitamin A play vital roles in maintaining the health of the reproductive system, eyes, skin, and immune system. Its antioxidant properties also help to protect the cells, and in children, it has also been used to prevent diarrhoea.

Dosage

The dosage for natural vitamin A is based on the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), so the RDA for vitamin A is 900 mcg per day for adult males and 700 mcg daily for adult females. For pregnant women, the RDA is 770 mcg daily, while breastfeeding mothers should take 1300 mcg daily. In children, the RDA depends on their age.

Vitamin A supplements are available in two forms: provitamin A (carotenoids) and preformed vitamin A (retinol or retinyl ester). Some products contain both, but the maximum daily dosage is only for preformed vitamin A. The supplement can be available in tablet form, creams, lotions, serums, etc. The recommended dosage for treating vitamin A deficiency is 3000 mcg, to be taken daily for two months. 

Side Effects of Vitamin A

When taken in recommended doses, the supplement is considered safe for most people, but when taken in higher doses or for more extended periods, it can result in side effects, including:

  • Sticky skin.
  • Hair loss.
  • Facial dermatitis.
  • Acne lesions.
  • Inflammation of the lips.
  • Dry mucus.

Some side effects can also be severe, including corneal opacities, serious allergic reactions, stratum corneum fragility and conjunctivitis.

Precautions

Vitamin A is likely safe for most people, but taking higher doses for more extended periods may increase your risk of side effects such as mental changes and congenital disabilities in pregnant women. 

Vitamin A supplements should only be taken when recommended; this is when it can’t be gotten naturally from diet. Excessive alcohol when taking vitamin A can make it harmful to the liver.

Also, if you have any condition that disrupts the absorption of fat in the body, such as jaundice, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, gut syndrome, etc., taking water-soluble vitamin A called carotenoids will be the best option. 

Iron deficiency can inhibit the body’s ability to use vitamin A, and zinc deficiency can exhibit the same symptoms as vitamin A deficiency, so you should be careful about what you need to treat. Vitamin A supplements can worsen liver disease, and malnutrition can cause excess vitamin A in the body, especially in people with severe protein malnutrition.

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