Commonly, vitamins and minerals are essential and necessary for health, but over-consuming them may cause side effects, especially when we over-consume vitamin A, (Hypervitaminosis A).
What is hypervitaminosis A?
Hypervitaminosis A occurs when large amounts of vitamin A enter the body exceeding its need. This condition is temporary because of consuming large amounts of vitamin A in a short period, or it may be chronic due to the accumulation of this vitamin in the body gradually over time. (1, 2)
Causes of hypervitaminosis A
Excessive amounts of vitamin A are stored in the liver, and these accumulate over time. One of the following may cause an overabundance of vitamin A:
Take supplements that contain large doses of vitamin A.
Some long-term acne treatments contain vitamin A.
Vitamin A dietary sources
Most of us often get enough vitamin A from food, especially the following foods:
Fish and fish oil.
Fruits are dark in color.
Green leafy vegetables.
Orange and yellow vegetables.
Tomatoes in all their forms.
Some vegetable oils.
And also fortified foods like breakfast cereals.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin A
The amount each person needs varies depending on their age (5):
Infants 6 months of age and less: 400 mcg.
Infants, 7-12 months: 500 mcg.
Children, ages 1-3 years: 300 mcg.
Children 4-8 years old: 400 mcg.
And Children, ages 9-13: 600 mcg.
Children, ages 14-18: 900 mcg for males, 700 mcg for females.
Adults 19 years and over: 900 mcg for males, 700 mcg for females.
Taking large, excess doses for several months may cause toxicity due to hypervitaminosis A. So, it is a condition that may appear faster in infants and children, given their smaller bodies. (6)
Symptoms of hypervitaminosis A
Symptoms of hypervitaminosis A vary depending on the severity of the condition and whether it is chronic or acute (7). So, these are some of the symptoms:
Symptoms of severe hypervitaminosis A:
Symptoms of chronic hypervitaminosis A:
Changes in the visual sense.
Lightheadedness and dizziness.
Sensitivity to sunlight.
Dry and rough skin.
Itch and flake skin. (15)
Cracked and broken nails.
Cracks at the lips corners.
Infections of the respiratory tract.
Confused and Baffled.
Symptoms of hypervitaminosis A in children:
Difficulty gaining weight
Swelling of the eyeball
Complications and risks of hypervitaminosis A
Hypervitaminosis A can cause many health risks, such as:
Disposition of large amounts of calcium in the body.
Damage of kidneys due to calcium disposition.
Risks of hypervitaminosis A in pregnant women
In pregnant women, hypervitaminosis A may cause birth defects. So, if you are pregnant and you have to take an extra dose of a specific vitamin. Increase just the dose of vitamin A. Also, do not double the doses of the general pregnancy vitamins. (20, 21)
Pregnant women should also avoid using skin creams that contain vitamin A, such as retinol cream.
So, this condition is diagnosed through regular blood tests to discover the amount of vitamin A in the blood and body and compare it to normal.
Hypervitaminosis A treatment
The most common treatment of hypervitaminosis A is to stop taking large amounts of vitamin A, whether from supplements or food, and recovery takes only several weeks. (22)
So, if hypervitaminosis A has caused kidney or liver damage, doctors treat these conditions independently.