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Vitamin A And Fetal Development Essay

1024 words - 5 pages

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient. It plays an important role in vision, maintenance of epithelial cells, immune functions, and participates in the processes of growth, development and reproduction. Vitamin A is characterized into two chemically distinct yet structurally related forms. The first form is retinoid, which is present only in foods of animal origin, such as fish and organ meats. “Retinoid is also known as 'preformed vitamin A' because it can be metabolized directly into compounds that exert the biological effects of vitamin A” (Ross, 2005, p. 329). Preformed vitamin A retinoids are found in liver, fish, fish oils and eggs. A second form of vitamin A is β-carotene, which is ...view middle of the document...

Acute is caused by taking too much vitamin A over a short period. Chronic occurs when too much of vitamin A is present over a long period of time. Both types of vitamin A hypervitaminosis exhibit symptoms such as abnormal softening of the skull bone, blurred vision, decreased appetite, liver damage, and nausea.
According to Stanner (2005), “an adequate intake of vitamin A is required for normal embryonic development, and an inadequate supply of vitamin A during pregnancy can result in malformations, in the offspring as well as increased risk of infectious diseases, such as diarrhea, measles, and respiratory infections” (p. 6). Therefore, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), has revised and stated the recommended dietary allowances(RDA) of vitamin A for adult men and women to be 700 to 900 micrograms (μg). In addition, due to the severe consequences caused by an excess of vitamin A, guidelines were established for tolerable upper intake limits (UL). “It is defined as the highest intake of a nutrient that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects in nearly all healthy individuals” (Ross, 2005, p. 337). The tolerable upper intake limit for adult men and women is 3000 μg per day. This is based on the increases in the birth defects, liver toxicity and reduced bone mineral density which could result in osteoporosis.
According to the World Health Organization, about 10% of birth defects such as neural tube defects are due to environmental influences i.e. exposure to teratogens. However, its effect on the fetus depends on the dose, timing and duration of the exposure. Thus, it is highly recommended to avoid excessive preformed vitamin A retinoids (>3000 μg) during pregnancy, especially in the early months. Its potential teratogenicity “may cause fetal malformations and spontaneous abortions because vitamin A binds to DNA, and so influences the cell development.” Even acne medications like isotretinoin, which is used to treat severe acne is not recommended during pregnancy due to high risks of birth defects. However, high intakes of vitamin A carotenoids do not have the same teratogenic effects because they do not readily convert into vitamin A. Moreover, “their absorption rate from...

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