Last update Aug. 19, 2021

Vitamin A

Very Low Risk

Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.

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

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).


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

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.

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:


Vitamin A belongs to this group or family:


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


Variable Value Unit
Oral Bioavail. 90 - 100 %
Molecular weight 287 daltons
Protein Binding 5 - 65 %
pKa 16,44 -
Tmax 2 - 5 hours


  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. NIH. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2018 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  3. 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
  4. Oliveira JM, Allert R, East CE. Vitamin A supplementation for postpartum women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 25;3:CD005944. Abstract
  5. 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
  6. 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
  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. 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
  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. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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)
  16. 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
  17. 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)
  18. 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
  19. 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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