The recommended daily intake for an adult varies between 800 micrograms (male) and 600 micrograms (female) and also changes with age (less for young people).
If a significant lack of vitamin A can lead to diseases, an excess may also cause more or less serious problems, particularly affecting the liver. Watch out for excess vitamin A, especially in people whose kidneys work poorly. Generally, vitamin A supplements should be taken with caution.
Where is Vitamin A?Vitamin A is present only in products of animal origin. Some of its derivatives - provitamins A or carotenoids - are found mainly in certain fruits and vegetables:
- Cod liver oil, liver, fatty fish,
- Dairy products.
Carotenoids, including beta-carotene:
- Carrots, chervil, spinach, broccoli,
- Orange, mango.
> Avoid taking vitamin A supplements for a long time without medical advice, in France very few people are short of this vitamin.
> Vitamin A deficiency mainly affects people living in developing countries. Vitamin A supplementation in children living in these countries is essential, preventing many diseases and saving lives.
> In France, pregnant women are advised to take vitamin A supplements because of the risk of fetal malformations.
Sources: Safety of vitamin A during pregnancy and breastfeeding, Recommendation and reports of a consultation, World Health Organization, 1998. Nutrition: Vitamin A, summary sheet (25/08/2006), Unicef La France. Stephensen CB. Vitamin A, infection and immune function. Annu Rev Nutr 2001; 21: 167-92.
To read also our files:
> Quiz about vitamins
> Cook to stock up on vitamins
> Learn more about all vitamins!