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What Could Happen If You Have Too Much Vitamin A?

author image Lynne Sheldon
Lynne Sheldon has over 12 years of dance experience, both in studios and performance groups. She is an avid runner and has studied several types of yoga. Sheldon now works as a freelance writer, editor and book reviewer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and art history from Boston University and recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in writing from Pacific University.
What Could Happen If You Have Too Much Vitamin A?
A woman with a headache looks miserable as she sits on the couch. Photo Credit: TatyanaGl/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin A is essential for good eyesight and cell reproduction; and if you are pregnant, your fetus needs it to develop properly. But because this vitamin is fat-soluble, your body stores the excess, and consuming too much vitamin A can be dangerous. You can experience toxicity symptoms, as well as heighten your risk of certain diseases. Discuss your vitamin A intake with a licensed physician.

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Hypervitaminosis A

Hypervitaminosis A occurs when you have too much vitamin A in your body. It occurs in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute occurs when you take too much vitamin A over a short amount of time, while chronic occurs when the amount of vitamin A is built up and present in your body over a longer amount of time. Both forms have symptoms that include blurred vision, bone pain, a decreased appetite, dizziness, headaches, increased intracranial pressure, irritability, liver damage, weight gain, hair loss and skin peeling. Tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. During treatment, you will stop consuming excess vitamin A, and most people experience full recovery.

Health Risks

Aside from the formation of hypervitaminosis A, having too much vitamin A in your body can pose additional risks to your health. If you have liver disease and consume a large amount of alcohol, taking too much vitamin A can increase your risk of hepatotoxicity. People who both smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol may have an increased risk of developing heart disease or lung cancer from consuming this vitamin. Even in healthy people, vitamin A may increase your triglyceride levels and potentially your risk of dying from heart disease. Finally, in pregnant women, synthetic vitamin A can cause birth defects and should be avoided.

RDA and Upper Limits

Adult women need 2,333 IU of vitamin A each day, and men need 3,000 IU, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you are pregnant, you need 2,567 IU, and if you are breastfeeding, you need 4,333 IU. For adults who are not pregnant, the tolerable upper limit of vitamin A is 10,000 IU a day. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor regarding your upper limit. Always discuss exceeding the recommended dietary allowance with a physician before exceeding it, whether through foods or supplements.

Additional Considerations

As with all supplements, vitamin A has the potential to interact with certain medications, especially if you consume it in high doses. Tell your doctor about all the medications, supplements and other drugs you take to avoid potentially harmful interactions. If you suspect a vitamin A toxicity or are otherwise concerned about your intake of this vitamin, seek medical attention.

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