This Is What Happens When You Get Too Much Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient. A fat soluble vitamin, Vitamin A is important to maintain healthy vision, your immune system, and healthy reproductive function. It also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work at their optimal levels. There are actually two natural forms of Vitamin A that we get from our food. The first is called preformed vitamin A, ant it is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. The second type is called provitamin A, which is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods. When reading the label of a vitamin supplement, the most common form of Vitamin A to see on the label is beta-carotene. It is also the most common form of the vitamin found in food (via

The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A for the average adult is 900 mcg RAE for men and 700 mcg RAE for women, and for certain conditions, extra Vitamin A can be useful; acne, cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and Vitamin A deficiency can all be treated with higher doses of Vitamin A (via Mayo Clinic). But what happens if you overdo it on Vitamin A? Is it harmful or dangerous? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. 

What can happen if you get too much Vitamin A

According to the Mayo Clinic, even a single too-large dose of Vitamin A — over 200,000 mcg — can cause health problems like nausea, vomiting, vertigo, and blurry vision. Taking more than 10,000 mcg a day of oral vitamin A supplements over a longer period of time can cause even worse conditions including headache, bone thinning, liver damage, diarrhea, skin irritation, joint and bone pain, and birth defects in pregnant women. That's why you need to be careful to follow a doctor's prescription or the directions on the bottle when taking a Vitamin A supplement.

But what about skin products that contain Vitamin A? You may have heard rumors that retinol can cause you to overdose on Vitamin A. Is this true? According to Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, the answer is a clear (and anxiety-relieving) no. She told Refinery 29 such rumors are "crazy" and explained, "First of all, there's never been a case [of hypervitaminosis A] from someone using too much on their body. Retinol is the most naturally abundant form of vitamin A within the skin, so there's a natural limitation to how much you retain at any given point. If you become saturated, it just passes right through. It's certainly not being absorbed."

So bottom line? Make sure, maybe with the help of your doctor, that you're getting enough Vitamin A, but don't overdo it on supplements and don't worry about that retinol.