Last update July 16, 2022

Vitamin A

Very Low Risk

Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.

Vitamin A is widely distributed in animal and plant foods. Except in certain nutritionally deficient populations, with a varied and balanced diet, vitamin A supplements are not necessary in most women. (Gannon 2020)

Retinol or vitamin A is a natural component of breast milk. It contains about 750 μg/L (1 μg = 1 mcg = 1 microgram = 3.33 IU of Vit. A).

The daily needs of the infant are 400-500 μg and in the nursing mother 1,200-1,300 μg (NIH 2018, Ares 2015, Hall 2010). Doses of more than 3,000 μg daily (10,000 IU) should be avoided in the nursing mother (NIH 2018). There is a risk of serious poisoning with isolated doses of 25,000 IU and chronic doses of 5,000 IU per day.

Vitamin A deficiency leads to xerophthalmia, anemia, growth retardation, and increased infectious morbidity and mortality (Sommer 2002). In regions with serious socioeconomic problems, there is a high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency. (Souza 2012, Ahmed 2003)

There is no conclusive evidence that the administration of mega doses (200,000 - 400,000 IU) of postpartum vitamin A is effective in reducing maternal or infant morbidity and mortality (Oliveira 2016, Grilo 2016, McCauley 2015, Fernandes 2012, Gogia 2011 and 2010) or that it reduces the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (Wiysonge 2017) and may increase the risk of HIV transmission and mastitis in HIV-infected mothers (Villamor 2010, Arsenault 2010). Administering mega doses of vitamin A increases the colostrum concentration of vitamin A but reduces that of alpha-tocopherol or vitamin E. (Grilo 2016 and 2015)

WHO 2002 Essential Medicines List: Compatible with breastfeeding. (WHO 2002)

Alternatives

We do not have alternatives for Vitamin A since it is relatively safe.

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Vitamin A is also known as


Vitamin A in other languages or writings:

Group

Vitamin A belongs to this group or family:

Tradenames

Main tradenames from several countries containing Vitamin A in its composition:

Pharmacokinetics

Variable Value Unit
Oral Bioavail. 90 - 100 %
Molecular weight 287 daltons
Protein Binding 5 - 65 %
pKa 16.44 -
Tmax 2 - 5 hours

References

  1. Keikha M, Shayan-Moghadam R, Bahreynian M, Kelishadi R. Nutritional supplements and mother's milk composition: a systematic review of interventional studies. Int Breastfeed J. 2021 Jan 4;16(1):1. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  2. Gannon BM, Jones C, Mehta S. Vitamin A Requirements in Pregnancy and Lactation. Curr Dev Nutr. 2020 Aug 24;4(10):nzaa142. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  3. NIH. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2018 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  4. Wiysonge CS, Ndze VN, Kongnyuy EJ, Shey MS. Vitamin A supplements for reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Sep 7;9:CD003648. Abstract
  5. Oliveira JM, Allert R, East CE. Vitamin A supplementation for postpartum women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 25;3:CD005944. Abstract
  6. Grilo EC, Medeiros WF, Silva AG, Gurgel CS, Ramalho HM, Dimenstein R. Maternal supplementation with a megadose of vitamin A reduces colostrum level of α-tocopherol: a randomised controlled trial. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2016 Oct;29(5):652-61. Abstract
  7. Ares Segura S, Arena Ansótegui J, Díaz-Gómez NM; en representación del Comité de Lactancia Materna de la Asociación Española de Pediatría. La importancia de la nutrición materna durante la lactancia, ¿necesitan las madres lactantes suplementos nutricionales? [The importance of maternal nutrition during breastfeeding: Do breastfeeding mothers need nutritional supplements?] An Pediatr (Barc). 2015 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. McCauley ME, van den Broek N, Dou L, Othman M. Vitamin A supplementation during pregnancy for maternal and newborn outcomes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Oct 27;(10):CD008666. Abstract
  9. Grilo EC, Lima MS, Cunha LR, Gurgel CS, Clemente HA, Dimenstein R. Effect of maternal vitamin A supplementation on retinol concentration in colostrum. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2015 Abstract
  10. Souza G, Saunders C, Dolinsky M, Queiroz J, Campos A, Ramalho A. Vitamin A concentration in mature human milk. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2012 Abstract
  11. Fernandes TF, Figueiroa JN, Grande de Arruda IK, Diniz Ada S. Effect on infant illness of maternal supplementation with 400 000 IU vs 200 000 IU of vitamin A. Pediatrics. 2012 Abstract
  12. Gogia S, Sachdev HS. Vitamin A supplementation for the prevention of morbidity and mortality in infants six months of age or less. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Abstract
  13. Gogia S, Sachdev HS. Maternal postpartum vitamin A supplementation for the prevention of mortality and morbidity in infancy: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Int J Epidemiol. 2010 Abstract
  14. Villamor E, Koulinska IN, Aboud S, Murrin C, Bosch RJ, Manji KP, Fawzi WW. Effect of vitamin supplements on HIV shedding in breast milk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Abstract
  15. Arsenault JE, Aboud S, Manji KP, Fawzi WW, Villamor E. Vitamin supplementation increases risk of subclinical mastitis in HIV-infected women. J Nutr. 2010 Abstract
  16. Hall Moran V, Lowe N, Crossland N, Berti C, Cetin I, Hermoso M, Koletzko B, Dykes F. Nutritional requirements during lactation. Towards European alignment of reference values: the EURRECA network. Matern Child Nutr. 2010 Oct;6 Suppl 2:39-54. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  17. Ahmed F, Azim A, Akhtaruzzaman M. Vitamin A deficiency in poor, urban, lactating women in Bangladesh: factors influencing vitamin A status. Public Health Nutr. 2003 Abstract
  18. WHO / UNICEF. BREASTFEEDING AND MATERNAL MEDICATION Recommendations for Drugs in the Eleventh WHO Model List of Essential Drugs. Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development (WHO/UNICEF) 2002 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  19. Sommer A, Davidson FR; Annecy Accords.. Assessment and control of vitamin A deficiency: the Annecy Accords. J Nutr. 2002 Sep;132(9 Suppl):2845S-2850S. Abstract
  20. Doran L, Evers S. Energy and nutrient inadequacies in the diets of low-income women who breast-feed. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997 Abstract

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