The importance of Vitamin A in Pregnancy

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Getting adequate vitamin A during pregnancy is crucial for your baby’s developing organs, eyes, and bones. It’s also essential for the development of your baby’s circulatory system, respiratory system, and central nervous systems. Vitamin A is particularly vital during the third trimester due to increased fetal growth and development in this phase.

There are two forms of vitamin A: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A carotenoids. Preformed vitamin A (retinol) is that which is found in animal products like eggs, milk, and fish oils. These types of preformed vitamin A are readily used and absorbed by the body. In contrast, provitamin A carotenoids (beta-carotene) are those found in fruits and vegetables. The body mostly converts these provitamin A sources into retinol. 

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of blindness in the world. With the abundance of food in the United States, cases of VAD are not as prevalent as those in developing countries, however, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), VAD still affects approximately 19 million pregnant women.  Signs of deficiency include weakened immune system, impaired night vision, or the inability to see in low light.

During pregnancy, there is a 10-20% increase in the need for vitamin A. The WHO recommends up to 10,000 IU daily or 25,000 IU weekly of Vitamin A after the first 60 days of gestation. The conversion of IU to the standard of measurement for vitamin A is RAE (retinal activity equivalents). This is based on the potency of the source of vitamin A. One microgram of preformed vitamin A (retinol) is equal to about 1 mcg RAE. However, it would take 12-24 mcg of provitamin A to equal 1 mcg RAE. To convert the recommended 10,000 IU to mcg RAE, the source of Vitamin A would need to be known. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, the adequate intake (AI) for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers is 770mcg, and 1200mcg respectively.  

However, too much preformed vitamin A (that which comes from milk and eggs), can cause birth defects and liver toxicity at higher doses. For women ages 19 and over, whether pregnant, breastfeeding, or not, should not exceed 3000mcg RAE of preformed vitamin A. However, it’s safe, and beneficial to eat a variety and abundance of fruits and vegetables high in provitamin A).

That’s why Protea Nutrition’s Nourish+ Prenatal and Multivitamin was formulated with 1500mcg or Vitamin A. While the name may say prenatal, the premium blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbs, can be taken whether or not you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding.  For those women not pregnant or breastfeeding, taking just half the recommended scoop would also be sufficient as a dietary multivitamin supplement. 

As a bonus, Nourish+ comes as a delicious Strawberry and Pineapple flavored drink mix. All Protea Nutrition supplements are free of gluten, dairy, artificial sugars, dyes and are vegan and cruelty free.  

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