Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also known as retinol. Good sources of vitamin A include liver, cheese, eggs, oily fish (such as mackerel), milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you don’t need it every day because any of the vitamin your body doesn’t need immediately is stored for future use.

If you’re pregnant, you should avoid eating liver because it contains a lot of vitamin A.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need from your daily diet. This is:

    • 0.7 mg a day for men
    • 0.6 mg a day for women

What does it do?

Vitamin A has a number of important functions. For example it:

  • helps in maintaining healthy skin and mucus linings (in the nose for example)
  • aids in healthy immune function
  • may aid vision in dim light

What happens if I take too much?

Having large amounts of vitamin A over a long time, either in your diet or from supplements, can affect your bones and make them more likely to fracture.

If you’re pregnant, having large amounts of vitamin A can harm an unborn baby. Ask your GP or midwife if you would like more information.

Some concerns have been raised about the large amounts of vitamin A that some people get from their diet. The Agency is carrying out further work on this.

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take vitamin A supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Having a total of 1.5 mg or less of vitamin A a day from diet and supplements combined is unlikely to cause any harm.

If you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, Agency advice is:

  • avoid taking vitamin A supplements (except on the advice of your GP)
  • avoid eating liver or liver products such as pâté because these are very high in vitamin A