What, How, When, and Why to Supplement with Vitamin A and Beta Carotene

Milk, cheese, butter, eggs, liver, and fatty fish like herring, sardines, and tuna are all good sources of vitamin A. Shark, halibut, and polar bear liver oils are particularly high in the vitamin A. Spinach, carrots, papaya, oranges, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupes are all excellent food choices that are high in pre-vitamin A. Vegetable oils, white lard, white corn, cereals, meat, and legumes are all bad options for getting your daily dose of vitamin A and pre-vitamin A Supplement.

Supplement with Vitamin A and Beta Carotene

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, according to its biochemistry. Retinal, retinol, retinoic acid, and b-carotene are all types of vitamin A. Retinyl esters make up the bulk of vitamin A in foods of animal origins, such as eggs, milk, butter, and liver. In the form of retinyl esters, retinol molecules are esterified with fatty acids like palmitic acid. Retinol’s hydroxyl group is where the fatty acid is attached. While plants don’t have vitamin A themselves, they do have plenty of pre-vitamin A compounds. Carotenoids are a class of chemicals that might be thought of as pre-vitamin A. There are around 500 carotenoids found in nature, but only roughly 50 of them serve as viable vitamin A precursors. All-trans b-carotene is the most crucial. When a compound is labelled “all-trans,” it means that all of the double bonds are in the trans conformation as opposed to the more common cis conformation. Carotenoids can be found in abundance in dark green, orange, and yellow vegetables. Besides a-carotene, cryptoxanthin is another component of the pre-vitamin A family. Mammals are unable to convert all carotenoids to vitamin A. Canthaxanthine, lycopene, and lutein are only a few examples.

Besides from its use in the visual cycle, vitamin A helps maintain the health of epithelial cells (in the lungs and trachea), promotes foetal growth and testicular vitality, and helps maintain the health of the reproductive system. Only the first purpose can be bolstered by retinoic acid in the diet. You won’t be able to keep any retinoic acid in your system. It’s possible to convert between retinal, retinyl esters, and retinol. To get retinoic acid, retinal must be oxidised. Dietary retinyl esters, retinol, or retinal can all help with vitamin A’s three roles. Even while they can all be converted to retinoic acid, it appears that retinoic acid cannot be metabolised back into retinal. Retinoic acid and topical tretinoin are effective therapies for a wide range of dermatological conditions, including acne, psoriasis, Darier’s disease, and the signs of skin ageing.

Patients with chronic bowel disease, cancer, malaria, pneumonia, and anorexia nervosa in the United States are at risk for vitamin A deficiency. Those undergoing appendectomy, those with severe burns, those with cirrhosis, and those with biliary obstruction have greater needs for this vitamin. Excretion rates may rise under stress. Lack of zinc and protein can slow movement. Children born prematurely and those with underlying medical conditions like cystic fibrosis or rheumatic fever are also vulnerable.

Night blindness is the first noticeable symptom of a vitamin deficiency.

Xerophthalmia is caused by a lack of vitamin A and can lead to blindness, corneal ulcers, and Bitot’s spots. Bone thickening, lung edoema, epithelium keratinization, hearing loss, urinary calculi, and salivary gland keratinization are other symptoms. Men no longer produce sperm. Fetuses are absorbed by females throughout the reproductive process.


Ingesting large amounts of preformed vitamin A is associated with numerous health risks. Liver damage and probable birth deformities are among the side effects that might result from consistently consuming 7,500-15,000 mg preformed retinal equivalents (RE) daily over the course of months or even years. Daily ingestion of 7,500 RE (25,000 IU) is safe for adults aged 18 to 54. It took six years of use for the drug to have a harmful effect on the liver. One case of toxicity at doses as low as 1,500–3,000 mgm (5,000–10,000IU) has been reported; however, these findings cannot be replicated and run counter to the rest of the medical literature. Normal adults, including pregnant women and the elderly, can use 3,000 mg RE (10,000 IU) supplements without risk.

Even when beta-carotene is consumed in large quantities, there is no evidence that the conversion to vitamin A leads to vitamin A toxicity. Hypercarotenemia-related skin discoloration has been the only well-documented risk associated with high beta-carotene consumption. Lung cancer and beta-carotene will be examined further on. Two investigations, the ATBC trial and the CARET, imply detrimental effects after reviewing all available evidence on beta-carotene. Beta-carotene has been confirmed to be safe by the other available evidence.

Skin changes (dryness, pruritus) are early indicators of chronic hypervitaminosis, as are liver changes (enlargement, cirrhosis), and nervous system changes (increased intracranial tension, which might be mistaken for those of a brain tumour). Congenital abnormalities such as premature skeletal growth and temporary hydrocephalus have been linked to maternal hypervitaminosis. Other symptoms include anorexia, nausea, diarrhoea, hair loss, nystagmus, gum disease, glossitis, swollen lymph nodes, and a prolonged bleeding time. Because of the risk of teratogenic effects, isotretinoin should never be used on women who could get pregnant unless they have severe, unresponsive acne that has left them disfigured. Isotretinoin causes hyperlipidemia when used over an extended period of time. Symptoms of hypervitaminosis include neurotoxicity from the vitamins themselves. Headaches, a swollen brain (pseudotumor cerebri), and embryotoxic consequences are all symptoms that have been documented in patients who have been administered vitamin A analogues or retinoids, and they are all closely related to the neurological symptoms of hypervitaminosis. Vitamin A neurotoxicity is more likely than that of any other vitamin because vitamin A and its analogues are better able to penetrate the central nervous system, and because retinoids have multiple impacts on enzyme function and gene expression. There is a risk that the side effects of taking megadoses of vitamins will lead people to believe they have a serious illness. Using retinol for 49 months resulted in a 7% increase in alkaline phosphatase, 11% increase in triacylglycerol, 3% increase in cholesterol, and a 1% decrease in HDL, according to a study. The subjects were given either retinol (7,576 RE, or 25,000 IU) or a placebo every day. Long-term intake of 7,576 RE vitamin A should be regarded with caution due to reports linking a 1% increase in cholesterol concentrations to a 2% increase in the risk of coronary artery disease.

Too much vitamin A in the diet has been linked to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Bone density decreased by 6% and the risk of hip fracture increased by 100%, according to two studies, when participants consumed more than 1.5 mg of vitamin A each day. Because of its role in raising the rate of bone resorption, this vitamin in excess causes bone weakness.


It’s impossible to have healthy reproduction and growth without vitamin A. Malformations were documented in a single epidemiological investigation involving doses of vitamin D3 more than 10,000 IU/d used as a supplement. In doses up to 30,000 IU/d, there was no teratogenicity in nonhuman primates. Pregnant women in industrialised countries or with otherwise nutritionally adequate diets may not need to consume more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance of preformed vitamin A as supplements (2670 IU or 800 RE/d), even though no studies have reported any negative effects from a dose of 10,000 IU/d. Several animal studies do indeed suggest only a very low danger if vitamin A doses up to 30,000 IU/d (9,000 g RE/d) occur inadvertently during pregnancy. Several species exposed to extremely high dosages of beta-carotene showed no signs of teratogenicity or vitamin A toxicity.

Older people

The risk of vitamin A excess is higher for the elderly if they use vitamin A supplements. Long-term vitamin A supplement use (>5y) was linked to higher fasting plasma retinyl esters and biochemical evidence of liver damage. Supplemental vitamin intakes between 5,001 and 10,000 IU/d resulted in a 2.5-fold rise in plasma retinyl esters in the elderly compared to non-users, and a 1.5-fold increase in the young.


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