May 23, 2019
Should I worry if my child has been getting too much preformed vitamin A?
In the study of American toddlers, the vast majority of kids taking vitamin supplements were getting too much vitamin A. But that doesn’t mean they were suffering adverse effects.
When health agencies set a tolerable upper intake level, they include a safety margin. Typically, the value is set at 2.5-fold lower than the daily intake associated with documented health problems.
It’s also not clear how often multivitamin supplements and fortified foods actually deliver what they claim. For instance, sunlight reduces the potency of retinol, and many children’s vitamins are sold in trasparent plastic bottles. How potent are kids’ vitamins, really? I haven’t found any answers to that question. Perhaps researchers will address this point in the future.
What’s more certain, however, is that many children — healthy, well-nourished children — are taking in more preformed vitamin A than they need. It’s wasteful at best. If a child is consuming lots preformed vitamin A, it may contribute to long-term health problems.
As noted above, chronic over-consumption of preformed vitamin A can cause symptoms of illness, and bone loss.
Vitamin A overdose during can also cause birth defects, which is why prenatal vitamin supplements are supposed to contain beta carotene–NOT preformed vitamin A.
And children’s multivitamins are often packaged as sweets or gummy candies, which can entice kids to consume too much. It’s important to keep vitamins stored in child-proof bottles, and talk to your doctor if you suspect your child has gotten into them.
In short, there’s no reason to panic. But it’s wise to be aware of the sources of preformed vitamin A in your child’s diet, read labels, and chose vitamin supplements carefully.
Unless a child is vitamin A deficient, he probably doesn’t need to consume any preformed vitamin A supplements at all. In fact, a well-nourished kid can satisfy her vitamin A requirements by eating fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids. A half cup of raw carrots contains more than 450 RAE µ of vitamin A