Q&A: Can too much vitamin A harm my baby?
This may be the strangest question you've ever gotten! At about 5 weeks pregnant, I had a craving for butternut squash soup. I made a big pot of it and throughout the day, probably ate about seven large bowls of it (so much for moderation, huh?). The next day, I realized how much vitamin A I must have consumed and really got nervous. I've been on Accutane® twice before, so am well aware of the effects of vitamin A on a fetus. Could the intake of so much butternut squash have harmed my baby?
Good news for you! Toxicity from vitamin A, which can cause birth defects, is limited to some meat sources, vitamin supplements, or medications like Accutane®. Vegetable sources of vitamin A have never been shown to cause birth defects, and in general represent healthy foods that are good for Mother and Baby.
Retinol, the medical name for vitamin A, isn’t actually the version of vitamin A in vegetables. To get vitamin A from vegetables, your body metabolizes a provitamin (like beta carotene) into vitamin A. If your vitamin A stores are full, your body doesn’t turn the provitamin into vitamin A. (Smart, huh?!) Ingesting excessive vitamin A supplements, vitamin A fortified foods, and certain animal livers, though, can swamp your system with high levels of vitamin A, which may be dangerous to a developing fetus. But vegetable sources are never toxic, no matter how much you eat. So enjoy your butternut squash binges, and the remainder of your pregnancy!