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Condition

Hypervitaminosis A

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Hypervitaminosis A?

Hypervitaminosis A is a disorder in which there is too much vitamin A in the body.

What are the alternative names for Hypervitaminosis A?

Vitamin A toxicity

What are the causes for Hypervitaminosis A?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver. Many foods contain vitamin A, including:

  • Meat, fish, and poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Some fruits and vegetables

Some dietary supplements also contain vitamin A.

Supplements are the most common cause of vitamin A toxicity. It tends not to occur just from eating vitamin A-rich foods.

Too much vitamin A can make you sick. Taking large doses during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

  • Acute vitamin A poisoning occurs quickly. It can happen when an adult takes several hundred thousand international units (IUs) of vitamin A.
  • Chronic vitamin A poisoning may occur over time in adults who regularly take more than 25,000 IU a day.
  • Babies and children are more sensitive to vitamin A. They can become sick after taking smaller doses of it. Swallowing products that contain vitamin A, such as skin cream with retinol in it, can also cause vitamin A poisoning.

What are the symptoms for Hypervitaminosis A?

Symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal softening of the skull bone (in infants and children)
  • Blurred vision
  • Bone pain or swelling
  • Bulging of the soft spot in an infant's skull (fontanelle)
  • Changes in alertness or consciousness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision (in young children)
  • Drowsiness
  • Hair changes, such as hair loss and oily hair
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Liver damage
  • Nausea
  • Poor weight gain (in infants and children)
  • Skin changes, such as cracking at corners of the mouth, higher sensitivity to sunlight, oily skin, peeling, itching, and yellow color to the skin
  • Vision changes
  • Vomiting

What are the current treatments for Hypervitaminosis A?

Treatment involves simply stopping supplements (or in rare cases, foods) that contain vitamin A.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Hypervitaminosis A?

Most people fully recover.

What are the possible complications for Hypervitaminosis A?

Complications can include:

  • Very high calcium level
  • Failure to thrive (in infants)
  • Kidney damage due to high calcium
  • Liver damage

Taking too much vitamin A during pregnancy may cause birth defects. Talk to your health care provider about eating a proper diet while you are pregnant.

When should I contact a medical professional for Hypervitaminosis A?

You should call your provider:

  • If you think that you or your child may have taken too much vitamin A
  • You have symptoms of excess vitamin A

How do I prevent Hypervitaminosis A?

How much vitamin A you need depends on your age and sex. Other factors, such as pregnancy and your overall health, are also important. Ask your provider what amount is best for you.

To avoid hypervitaminosis A, don't take more than the recommended daily allowance of this vitamin.

Some people take vitamin A and beta carotene supplements in the belief it will help prevent cancer. This may lead to chronic hypervitaminosis A if people take more than is recommended.

Vitamin

REFERENCES

Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2001. PMID: 25057538 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25057538/.

James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Nutritional diseases. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 22.

Mason JB, Booth SL. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 205.

Roberts NB, Taylor A, Sodi R. Vitamins and trace elements. In: Rifai N, ed. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 37.

Ross AC. Vitamin A deficiencies and excess. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 61.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Bilateral varus knee deformity caused by premature epiphyseal closure induced by hypervitaminosis A
  • Journal: BMC musculoskeletal disorders
  • Treatment Used: Correction osteotomy
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
The study researched a case of bilateral varus knee deformity caused by premature epiphyseal closure induced by hypervitaminosis A.