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How much vitamin A should you take? continued...

The tolerable upper intake levels of a supplement are the highest amount that most people can take safely. Higher doses might be used to treat vitamin A deficiencies. But you should never take more unless a doctor says so.


(Children & Adults)

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) of Retinol* in micrograms (mcg) of Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE)

0-3 years

600 mcg/day

(or 2,000 International Units/day)

4-8 years

900 mcg/day

(3,000 IU/day)

9-13 years

1,700 mcg/day

(5,610 IU/day)

14-18 years

2,800 mcg/day

(9,240 IU/day)

19 years and up

3,000 mcg/day

(10,000 IU/day)

* There is no upper limit for vitamin A from beta-carotene.

Can you get vitamin A naturally from foods?

Half to 65% of the adult RDA for vitamin A is easily obtained simply by eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Good food sources of retinoid vitamin A include:

  • Eggs
  • Whole milk
  • Liver
  • Fortified skim milk and cereals

Plant sources of vitamin A (from beta-carotene) include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and apricots.

What are the risks of taking vitamin A?

  • Side effects. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include dry skin, joint pain, vomiting, headaches, confusion.
  • Interactions. If you take any medicines, ask your doctor if vitamin A supplements are safe. Vitamin A supplements may interact with some birth control pills, blood thinners ( Coumadin), acne medicines ( Accutane), cancer treatments, and many other drugs.
  • Risks. Don’t take more than the RDA of vitamin A unless your doctor recommends it. High doses of vitamin A have been associated with birth defects, lower bone density, and liver problems. People who drink heavily or have kidney or liver disease shouldn’t take vitamin A supplements without talking to a doctor.

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