Vitamin A (a form of which is beta-carotene) is a fat soluble vitamin. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the bodys liver and fat cells. Even fat soluble vitamins have to be continuously replenished but excess amounts can be toxic.
Vitamin A is essential for the maintenance of good health. It helps to maintain eyesight, bone growth, skin and membranes.
Symptoms of Deficiency
Night blindness, dry eye, poor growth, dry skin, defective teeth and gums, lack of appetite and vigor, increased rate of infections, (skin has goose-bump appearance often at the back of the upper arm).
Causes of Deficiency
Poor diet, chronic diarrhea, diseases of the bowel that can affect fat absorption (such as Crohn’s disease), pancreatic insufficiency.
Fish liver, animal liver, egg yolks, milk, butter, green and yellow fruits and vegetables.
Discuss the dosage and duration of use with the pharmacist before taking the medication. It can be taken with other medications for other conditions on the advice of a pharmacist or a doctor.
Health Canada has recommended a minimum and a maximum daily requirement for Vitamin A:
under 6 yrs - 333 ug/day
over 6 yrs - 533 ug/day
0-12 months - 600 ug/day of preformed vitamin A
1-3 years - 900 ug/day
4-13 years - 1700 ug/day
14-18 years - 2800 ug/day
19 years and older - 3300 ug/day
Recommended daily intake is 1000-5000 IU. Any dosage above 50,000 IU is toxic.
1 IU (international unit) =
0.3 ug of all trans-retinol
0.344 ug of all trans-retinyl acetate
3.6 ug of all trans-beta-carotene
0.55 ug of all trans-retinyl palmitate
7.2 ug of other provitamin A cartenoids
If serious overdosage then contact the poison control center or emergency room. If you miss a dose then take it as soon as remembered, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose, and go back to the regular dosing regimen. If taken an extra dose by mistake then contact the pharmacist or a doctor.
Some of the symptoms of overdosage: dry scaly lips, dry skin, tiredness, hair loss, nausea, headache, nausea, vomiting and liver damage
Tell the pharmacist/doctor if pregnant or planning to become pregnant or if breast feeding. It is safe to use but one must discuss the dosage. Doses taken in excess of 5000 IU per day by pregnant women may increase the risk of birth defects.
Possible Side Effects
When starting to take any new medication, if one notices any side-effect, contact the physician or pharmacist:
Normally side effects are the symptoms of overdosage.
This is not an all inclusive list, discuss it with the pharmacist:
Cholestyramine, clofibrate, antacids containing Aluminum, Accutane, Soriatane, oral contraceptives.
Store medication in a safe place at room temperature; away from heat, light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink or on top of the fridge. Out dated medications must be returned to the pharmacy for safe disposal.
Tell the pharmacist/doctor your complete medical history.
One must inform the pharmacist or doctor if taking any prescription medication, over the counter medication, herbal or alternative medications before starting any new medication, food supplement, herb or vitamin.