Vitamin A and Pregnancy

 Vitamin A – what is it and what does it do ?

Vitamin A (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid) is found in apricots, carrots (through its precursor betacarotene), fish liver oils (cod, salmon, halibut), green leafy vegetables, kohlrabi, liver, mint, egg yolk.

It is a fat soluble antioxidant and therefore requires fats for proper assimilation and absorption. Vitamin A is involved in steroid and adrenocorticoid hormone synthesis, bone growth, controls gene expression, increases resistance to infections, increases iron utilisation for haemoglobin formation, vision, visual purple synthesis, protects against epithelial carcinogenesis etc. [1]

A complete list of functions, demand increasing factors, conditions caused by deficiency and its therapeutic uses can be found in The Nutrient Bible which is available for purchase via our online store.


The Role of Vitamin A in Pregnancy

In their bestseller The Natural Way To Better Babies, the authors Francesca Naish & Jeanette Roberts are stating this:

"Vitamin A is an antioxidant and therefore has an important role to play in detoxification. It enhances the metabolic efficiency of essential fatty acids. It is necessary for the maintenance of the gastronintestinal tract, lungs and mucus membranes, and it keeps the cilia (tiny hair-like projections) inside the Fallopian tubes healthy. It is also necessary for health of the testes, for sperm production, and is needed for the conversion of cholesterol to the male hormone testosterone. It can prevent heavy periods and premenstrual depression."

"Vitamin A is an oil-soluble vitamin and is stored by the body. It is usually recommended that doses of this supplement are carefully monitored before and during pregnancy, since an excessive intake has been linked to birth defects. However, the doses of Vitamin A found to cause foetal abnormalities were in the range of 25,000 to 500,000 iu (international units) per day."

"On the other hand, Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to infertility, miscarriage and to a number of abnormalities such as cleft palate and absence of eyes. Therefore, do not avoid supplementation with this nutrient completely. Worldwide studies which showed a lowering of the incidence of birth defects, gave supplements which contained levels of Vitamin A up to 6,000 iu per day. Alternatively you may prefer to supplement with beta-carotene which your body will convert to Vitamin A as required." [2]

In my practice I usually recommend to my fertility patients a well balanced multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, which, if used as prescribed, does not exceed 4,000 iu of Vitamin A per day. This level even leaves room for some Vitamin A obtained occasionally from the diet of the client without causing concern. However, if the client still has concerns, the intake of beta-carotene which converts into Vitamin A as needed may alleviate these concerns. On the other hand, conversion of beta-carotene to Vitamin A is fairly poor.

Alternatively you may want to make an appointment for a one-on-one consultation – please contact us .


[1] “The Nutrient Bible”, Henri Osiecki, 7th edition, Bio Concepts Publishing, Eagle Farm, Australia 2008

[2] “The Natural Way To Better Babies”, Francesca Naish & Jeanette Roberts, Random House Australia Pty. Ltd., Sydney, 1996-2000, p. 42

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