During pregnancy, every meal the mother consumes is essential to the development of the little one. Intake of Vitamin A during pregnancy is important because it helps in your baby’s overall development. It is crucial for the healthy development of the heart, kidneys, eyes, lungs. Vitamin A also improves the organ systems such as the respiratory, circulatory, and central nervous systems of the baby. It also helps the new mothers with postpartum tissue repairs. It is not only essential to getting adequate Vitamin A but also to stay at appropriate levels.
Vitamin A is an essential organic substance existing inside the human body. They are the fat-soluble substance which exists in all primary food that we consume. Our body stores vitamin A in the fatty tissues or the liver and absorbs them through the intestinal tracts. It serves as a power-house for:
Technically, there are two forms of Vitamin A in our food regime – Preformed Vitamin A and Provitamin A:
It is also known as Retinol. It is mainly found in non-vegetarian food, including dairy products. The name is derived from the fact that it helps produce pigments in the eye’s retina.
It is present in food from plant sources, including all vegetables and fruits. Carotenoids, a pigment present in all the plants, especially dark-colored plants, are the most basic Provitamin A. The human body converts the plant pigments into Vitamin A. More than 600 carotenoids are found in plants. But not many of them can be converted into Vitamin-A.
Alpha-Carotene and Beta-Carotene are the two forms of Carotenoids present in fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin A.
The Alpha-Carotene is considered as the precursor for creating retinol in the body. While it is more important, it is less commonly convertible. It has to be consumed with fat to be absorbed. Good source of Alpha-carotene includes:
Beta-Carotene is an antioxidant that helps the human body to fight against sickness. Expecting women can take Vitamin A as beta carotene while pregnant. The Beta-carotene is easily convertible into retinol. While it is important to consume adequate Beta-carotene, it is suggested to avoid the intake through supplements.
It is not surprising to note that every other food that we consume has Vitamin A. The following food items are the best source of Vitamin A:
Maintaining the Vitamin A requirement in pregnancy is a tricky balancing task. Following a balanced diet will help you to achieve a balanced level of nutrients. The next question in your mind would be how much Vitamin A is safe for pregnancy?
When it comes to how much vitamin a during pregnancy, in general, the recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin A for pregnant women is 770 mcg per day. During pregnancy, your body requires slightly increased levels. The incremental requirement becomes essential during the third trimester.
It is wise to foods high in vitamin A to avoid in pregnancy. The following table enlists the various fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin A and the corresponding RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalents)
RAE (In MCG)
|Baked Sweet Potato||1 (Medium)||961|
|Canned Pumpkin||½ Cup||953|
|Butternut Squash||½ Cup||572|
|Canned Sweet Potato||½ Cup||555|
|Raw Carrot||½ Cup – Chopped||534|
|Spinach||½ Cup – Cooked||472|
|Cantaloupe||½ or Medium||466|
|Kale||½ Cup – Cooked||443|
|Collard greens||½ Cup – Cooked||361|
|Fortified Oat cereal||1 ounce||215|
|Non-fat milk||8 ounces||149|
|2% fat-milk||8 ounces||134|
|Whole Milk||8 ounces||110|
|Broccoli||½ Cup – cooked||60|
Note: Retinol Activity Equivalents is the standard of measurement for Vitamin A consumption. One microgram of retinol (preformed Vitamin A) equals 1 microgram of RAE.
So the answer to the question “Is vitamin A safe in pregnancy?” entirely depends on how much vitamin A in pregnancy. This essential vitamin is safe if you stick to its optimum dose.
The risk of deficiency of Vitamin A during pregnancy is higher during the third trimester. It is a phase where the baby’s growth and development are at a rapid pace, so your Vitamin A requirement also increases. What does this deficiency do to you?
It is essential to consult your doctor and follow their instructions to bring the Vitamin A levels per the body requirement.
It is always important to note that adequate Vitamin A is stored in the liver. Whatever you eat today is only stored to use on a different day. It is crucial to streamline and avoid the consumption of too much Vitamin A-rich food. Consuming too much Vitamin A during pregnancy may:
In general, Vitamin supplements are not recommended during pregnancy as they can take an adverse toll on your health. The supplemented Beta-carotene can increase the risk of heart and lung diseases. Beta-carotene from natural food is considered safe and healthy even when consumed excessively. The deficiency of Vitamin A during pregnancy can be met by following a properly balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits of different colors, including whole grains. Consuming Vitamin A supplements may increase the absorption of RAE per day.
Now you know the importance of taking Vitamin A during pregnancy. It is equally important to have an idea about high vitamin A foods to avoid during pregnancy.