Guide to Vitamin A and Beta Carotene Supplements

Vitamin A and beta-carotene , carrots

Vitamin A: An Essential Nutrient

  • Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient found in animal products as preformed vitamin A (retinol) and in fruit and vegetables as the provitamin A, beta-carotene.

  • It is necessary for healthy vision, the immune system, and reproduction, and also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.

  • Vitamin A is required for regulating the growth and specialization of almost all cells in the human body.

  • It takes part in embryonic development, organ formation during fetal development, normal immune functions, and eye development and vision.

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

Deficiency of vitamin A is linked to various health issues, including:

  • Increased susceptibility to night blindness.

  • Infections, thyroid disorders, and skin disorders are also associated with vitamin A deficiency.

New RDA Regulations for Vitamin A

The FDA has introduced new labeling regulations for foods and dietary supplements containing vitamin A.

  • Vitamin A will be listed on product labels only in μg RAE (retinol activity equivalents) and not IUs.

  • The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 700 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (μg RAE)/day for women and 900 μg RAE/day for men.

  • The upper intake level for vitamin A in adults is 3,000 μg RAE/day, but it only applies to non-carotenoid forms of vitamin A.

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0–6 months*400 mcg RAE400 mcg RAE  
7–12 months*500 mcg RAE500 mcg RAE  
1–3 years300 mcg RAE300 mcg RAE  
4–8 years400 mcg RAE400 mcg RAE  
9–13 years600 mcg RAE600 mcg RAE  
14–18 years900 mcg RAE700 mcg RAE750 mcg RAE1,200 mcg RAE
19–50 years900 mcg RAE700 mcg RAE770 mcg RAE1,300 mcg RAE
51+ years900 mcg RAE700 mcg RAE  

* Adequate Intake (AI), equivalent to the mean intake of vitamin A in healthy, breastfed infants.

Food Sources of Vitamin A

  • Animal-based food sources of vitamin A include dairy products, liver, and fish liver oils.

  • Rich sources of provitamin A carotenoids, which can be converted to vitamin A in the body, include orange and green vegetables like sweet potato and spinach.

Contraindications for Vitamin A Supplements

Pregnant women should not consume excessive amounts of preformed vitamin A in supplement form (such as retinol, animal-based vitamin).

While sufficient vitamin A intake is necessary for healthy fetal development, it is recommended to obtain it from plant-based sources like beta-carotene.

Prenatal multivitamins typically contain vitamin A derived from beta-carotene in low dosages.


The tolerable upper intake level for vitamin A in adults is set at 3,000 μg RAE/day (but it does not apply to vitamin A derived from carotenoids).

References-

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