Vitamin A

Prenatal vitamins typically contain vitamin A because it offers important health benefits for you and also your developing fetus. Vitamin A contains important anti-oxidants to fight toxins. It's also important in the development and maintenance of healthy eyes and vision. You probably remember your mother telling you to eat carrots so you would have good eyesight. That's because of vitamin A. In fact, prenatal vitamins contain the vegetable form of vitamin A, called beta-carotene. This is a healthy form of vitamin A and does not carry any known risks.

That's not the case for the animal form of vitamin A, known as retinol. It has been found that retinol can cause birth defects if taken in excessive amounts, more than 10,000 IU a day. Certainly, retinol is not recommended for use by pregnant women or those soon to become pregnant, and it is not typically used in prenatal vitamins.

It's easy to see the controversy and confusion surrounding the vitamin A issue. In fact, some health care providers have even gone so far as to advise against any vitamin A for pregnant women or those wishing to become pregnant. That is simply not good advice. Just remember that the vegetable form (beta-carotene) is healthy and useful to you and baby. But be sure to avoid the animal form of vitamin A, retinol.

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