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Vitamin A Toxicity

Updated on January 1, 2012

Although vitamin A is good, there is potential of vitamin A toxicity. It is one of the vitamins that one should be careful of.

Most doctors do recommend multivitamins for most people and I do take vitamins myself. And it is okay to have vitamin A in multi-vitamins, as Dr. Oz says here.

However, there can be a problem of too much vitamin A. So much so that Dr. Andrew Weil recommends taking beta carotene form of it instead. And let the body makes vitamin A from that.

The reason why beta carotene is safer is because it is water-soluble. That means the body can eliminate excess more readily through the urine. Vitamin A is fat-soluble so it has the potential to accumulate in the body.

Use beta-carotene instead

In an interview with Katie Couric on the Today show (video here) , Dr. Weil says to get vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene instead of retinal form. Let the body make its vitamin A from beta-carotene.

Dr. Weil writes in his book Natural Health, Natural Medicine ...

"Vitamin A toxicity is a real problem, however, so much so that I discourage you from taking it. Instead, give your body the much safer precursor, beta-carotene, which is water-solube, and let it make vitamin A from it as it needs." [page 239]

In his own brand of Dr. Weil Daily Multi-vitamin (which is the brand that I take), he puts the beta-carotene form of vitamin A in it.

If you are shopping around for a multivitamin, check for that. Read how to choose a multi-vitamin here.

How Much Vitamin A?

WebMd says ...

"Vitamin A is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in amounts less than 10,000 units per day"

That means for adults. For children it should be less depending on age. It does warn that ...

"Some research shows that taking high doses of vitamin A supplements might increase the chance of death from all causes and possibly other serious side effects."

Vitamin A Toxicity is Rare

Although vitamin A toxicity can happen, it is rare.

Even Dr. Weil says so ...

"But actual cases of toxicity are rare to the point of being medical curiosities." [page 235]

Dr. Khalsa agrees. In his book Brain Longevity, he says ...

"Extremely high amounts of vitamin A can be toxic (although I have never spoken to a physician who has actually seen this occur)" [page 243]

Don't Eat Polar Bear Liver

Also, if you are in the habit of eating polar bear liver, don't eat the whole thing in one meal. It has too much vitamin A in.

Doctor Chopra said this on page 140 of his book Doctor Chopra Says: medical fact and myths everyone should know. His exact words were ...

"If eaten in one meal, polar bear liver can be deadly."

Dr. Mark Hyman writes in HuffingtonPost that ...

"the way the Inuit used to kill explorers in the Arctic was to feed them polar bear liver, which gave them toxic doses of vitamin A"


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