A number of symptoms can accompany a vitamin A overdose, depending on the level of overdose and the individual patient. One of the most distinctive signs of vitamin A overdose is yellowish or orange skin. Since this symptom can also be caused by jaundice, it is important to see a doctor who can consider the patient's other medical symptoms and make a diagnosis. Fortunately, a fairly large amount of vitamin A has to be consumed to reach the state of overdose.
Vitamin A is a collective name for a group of fat soluble vitamins including retinol, an easily absorbed form of the vitamin. This vitamin serves a number of vital functions in the body, and it is required for a healthy, active life. Humans can also get vitamin A from carotene, a precursor which the body can convert into vitamin A. A number of foods including carrots are great sources of vitamin A, and the vitamin can also be consumed in supplemental form.
For children under three, recommended vitamin A intake is around 300 micrograms (MCG) a day. Four to eight year olds need to consume 400 MCG daily, while nine to 18 year olds generally need around 600 MCG a day. Adults need varying amounts of vitamin A, depending on their gender and whether or not they are pregnant or lactating. Adult dosages range from 700 MCG each day to 1,200 MCG. In order to overdose, someone one need to consume around double his or her recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
One of the more serious symptoms of overdose is bone loss, which can result in weak or brittle bones. Prolonged overdosage can cause osteoporosis. Vitamin A overdose is also associated with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, an upset stomach, exhaustion, irritability, dry or cracking skin, hair loss, and damage to internal organs, particularly the liver.
In pregnant women, an overdose of vitamin A can cause birth defects. Women who are pregnant should receive prenatal care and counseling to discuss their unique dietary needs. A doctor can provide advice about the best foods for pregnancy, along with changing dietary needs through the pregnancy and during lactation.
Most people who eat a balanced diet will not experience a vitamin A overdose because it is rather challenging to eat too much of this vitamin. However, such overdoses have been observed in athletes taking supplements and in people with eating disorders. Always read the packaging for vitamin supplements carefully to make sure that you are not exceeding recommended dosages of vitamins and minerals.