Ask the Diva: Can You Get Too Much Vitamin A from Vegetables?

Is it possible to actually overdose on vitamin A? Can vegetables be bad for you? Nutrition Diva has the answer.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Q. I eat a diet with lots of kale, broccoli, sweet potato, and spinach. All are great sources of vitamin A, but could I be getting too much? Is it OK that most of my vitamin A comes from plants?

A. First, we need to distinguish between pre-formed vitamin A (retinol) and pro-vitamin A (carotenoids) because the answer to your first question depends on which form you’re talking about! Pre-formed vitamin A is found in animal sources like fish oil, liver, and (to a lesser extent) milk and eggs. It is definitely possible to get too much of this form of vitamin A, especially if you’re taking a lot of dietary supplements.

See also: Can You Get Too Many Vitamins?

Pro-vitamin A, on the other hand, comes from plant sources, including the ones you mentioned. It’s perfectly fine to get all of your vitamin A as pro-vitamin A from plants. And because pro-vitamin A is converted to retinol only as needed, there’s no danger of getting too much vitamin A from plant sources.

However, consuming large quantities of carotenoids can cause temporary and harmless discoloration of the skin. As long as your skin and eyes aren’t taking on an orange hue, you’re probably fine!

Broccoli photo from Shutterstock

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.