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Vitamin A (Retinol)

Vitamin A (Retinol)

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About

Vitamin A is a vitamin. It can be found in many fruits, vegetables, eggs, whole milk, butter, fortified margarine, meat, and oily saltwater fish. It can also be made in a laboratory. Carotenoids are a group of yellow or orange chemicals found in plants. Some of these can be converted to vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin A is used for treating vitamin A deficiency. It is also used to reduce complications of diseases such as malaria, HIV, measles, and diarrhea, and to improve growth, in children with vitamin A deficiency.

Women use vitamin A for heavy menstrual periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), vaginal infections, yeast infections, "lumpy breasts" (fibrocystic breast disease), and to prevent breast cancer. Some women with HIV use vitamin A to decrease the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding. It may also be used to prevent various complications during and following childbirth and to improve infant development.

Men use vitamin A to raise their sperm count.

Some people use vitamin A for improving vision and treating eye disorders including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and cataracts. It may also be used to promote healing after eye surgery.

Vitamin A is also used for skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, wounds, burns, sunburn, keratosis follicularis (Darier's disease), ichthyosis (noninflammatory skin scaling), lichen planus pigmentosus, and pityriasis rubra pilaris.

It is also used for gastrointestinal ulcers, Crohn's disease, parasites in the intestines, gum disease, diabetes, Hurler syndrome (mucopolysaccharidosis), sinus infections, hayfever, respiratory infections, osteoarthritis, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). It is also used to reduce symptoms of a liver disease associated with drinking too much alcohol (alcoholic hepatitis) and of Parkinson's disease.

Vitamin A is also used for shigellosis, diseases of the nervous system, nose infections, loss of sense of smell, asthma, allergy prevention, persistent headaches, kidney stones, overactive thyroid, iron-poor blood (anemia), deafness, ringing in the ears, and precancerous mouth sores (leukoplakia).

Other uses include preventing and treating cancer, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and to reduce side effects during cancer treatment. It is also used for protecting the heart and cardiovascular system, slowing the aging process, and boosting the immune system.

Vitamin A is applied to the skin to improve wound healing, reduce wrinkles, and to protect the skin against UV radiation.

How does it work?
Vitamin A is required for the proper development and functioning of our eyes, skin, immune system, and many other parts of our bodies.

Traditionally used for

Vitamin A deficiency.
Breast cancer.
Cataracts.
Measles.
Precancerous lesions in the mouth (oral leukoplakia). \
Pregnancy-related death.
Pregnancy-related nightblindness.
Diarrhea after giving birth.
Eye disease affecting the retina (retinitis pigmentosa).

Dosage

Adults

By Mouth:

General: Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) levels for adults have been established: men 14 years and older, 900 mcg/day (3000 IU); women 14 years and older, 700 mcg/day (2300 IU); pregnancy 14 to 18 years, 750 mcg/day (2500 IU); 19 years and older, 770 mcg/day (2600 IU); lactation 14 to 18 years, 1200 mcg/day (4000 IU); 19 years and older, 1300 mcg/day (4300 IU). Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for vitamin A have also been established. The UL is the highest level of intake that is likely to pose no risk of harmful effects. The ULs for vitamin A are for preformed vitamin A (retinol) and do not include provitamin A carotenoids: adolescents 14 to 18 years (including pregnancy and lactation), 2800 mcg/day (9000 IU); adults age 19 and older (including pregnancy and lactation), 3000 mcg/day (10,000 IU).

Vitamin A dosage is most commonly expressed in IU, but dosage in micrograms is sometimes used. Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day provides about 50% to 65% of the adult RDA for vitamin A.

For precancerous lesions in the mouth (oral leukoplakia): Weekly dose of 200,000-300,000 IU of vitamin A has been used for 6-12 months.

For reducing death during pregnancy: Weekly doses of 23,000 IU of vitamin E have been used before and during pregnancy.

For reducing night blindness during pregnancy: Weekly doses of 23,000 IU of vitamin E have been used before, during, and after pregnancy. It seems to work best if taken in combination with 35 mg of zinc daily in women who also have low levels of zinc.

For diarrhea after pregnancy: Weekly doses of 23,000 IU of vitamin E have been used before, during, and after pregnancy.

For eye disease affecting the retina (retinitis pigmentosa): Daily doses of 15,000 IU of vitamin A, sometimes along with 400 IU of vitamin E daily, has been used.

Children

By Mouth:

General: Adequate Intake (AI) levels of vitamin A for infants have been established: birth to 6 months, 400 mcg/day (1300 IU); 7 to 12 months, 500 mcg/day (1700 IU).

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) levels for children and adults have been established: children 1 to 3 years, 300 mcg/day (1000 IU); 4 to 8 years, 400 mcg/day (1300 IU); 9 to 13 years, 600 mcg/day (2000 IU). Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for vitamin A have also been established. The UL is the highest level of intake that is likely to pose no risk of harmful effects. The ULs for vitamin A are for preformed vitamin A (retinol) and do not include provitamin A carotenoids: infants and children from birth to 3 years, 600 mcg/day (2000 IU); children 4 to 8 years, 900 mcg/day (3000 IU); 9 to 13 years, 1700 mcg/day (6000 IU); and 14 to 18 years (including pregnancy and lactation), 2800 mcg/day (9000 IU).

For measles: Vitamin A 100,000 to 200,000 IU orally for at least two doses has been used in children less than 2 years-old.

Possible Side Effects

Vitamin A is SAFE for most people when taken by mouth or given as a shot into the muscle in amounts less than 10,000 IU daily.

Vitamin A is POSSBILY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses. Some scientific research suggests that higher doses might increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture, particularly in older people. Adults who eat low-fat dairy products, which are fortified with vitamin A, and a lot of fruits and vegetables usually do not need vitamin A supplements or multivitamins that contain vitamin A.

Long-term use of large amounts of vitamin A might cause serious side effects including fatigue, irritability, mental changes, anorexia, stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, mild fever, excessive sweating, and many other side effects. In women who have passed menopause, taking too much vitamin A can increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture.

There is growing concern that taking high doses of antioxidant supplements such as vitamin A might do more harm than good. Some research shows that taking high doses of vitamin A supplements might increase the chance of death from all causes and possibly other serious side effects.

Vitamin A is SAFE for children when taken in the recommended amounts. The maximum amounts of vitamin A that are safe for children are based on age:

Less than 2000 IU/day in children up to 3 years old.
Less than 3000 IU/day in children ages 4 to 8 years old.
Less than 5700 IU/day in children ages 9 to 13 years old.
Less than 9300 IU/day in children ages 14 to 18 years old.

Vitamin A is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for children when taken by mouth in high doses. When amounts greater than those recommended are taken, side effects can include irritability, sleepiness, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, headache, vision problems, peeling skin, increased risk of pneumonia and diarrhea, and other problems.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vitamin A is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in recommended amounts of less than 10,000 IU per day. Larger amounts are POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Vitamin A can cause birth defects. It is especially important for pregnant women to monitor their intake of vitamin A from all sources during the first three months of pregnancy. Forms of vitamin A are found in several foods including animal products, primarily liver, some fortified breakfast cereals, and dietary supplements.
Excessive use of alcohol: Drinking alcohol may increase vitamin A's potentially harmful effects on the liver.

Anemia: People who are anemic and have low levels of vitamin A might need to take iron along with a vitamin A supplement to treat this condition.

Disorders in which the body does not absorb fat properly: People with conditions that affect fat absorption, such as celiac disease, short gut syndrome, jaundice, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic disease, and cirrhosis of the liver, are not able to absorb vitamin A properly. To improve vitamin A absorption, these people should use vitamin A preparations that are water-soluble.

A type of high cholesterol called "Type V hyperlipoproteinemia": This condition might increase the chance of vitamin A poisoning. Do not take vitamin A if you have this condition.

Intestinal infections: Intestinal infections such as hookworm can reduce how much vitamin A the body absorbs.

Liver disease: Too much vitamin A might make liver disease worse. Do not take vitamin A if you have liver disease.

Malnutrition: In people with severe protein malnutrition, taking vitamin A might result in having too much vitamin A in the body.

Zinc deficiency: Zinc deficiency might cause symptoms of vitamin A deficiency to occur. Taking a combination of vitamin A and zinc supplements might be necessary to improve this condition.

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