Is My Prenatal Vitamin Too High in Vitamin A?

When you combine high-dose supplements with fortified foods, the dosages can add up quickly. How to make sure you're not over doing it. 

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

Q.  I am pregnant so my doctor recommended prenatal vitamins. Since I'm trying to eat healthy, I am worried about the amount of vitamin A in the prenatal vitamins (3500 IU).  I read that I shouldn't eat fortified breakfast cereals while I'm taking these vitamins. But if I am eating lots of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and milk, could I be getting too much vitamin A?

A. Congratulations on your pregnancy! I can understand why you are concerned. Although you want to be sure to get all the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy, Vitamin A can be harmful when consumed in excessive quantities--and that's the last thing you want for you or your baby.

See also: Can You Get Too Many Vitamins?

The maximum recommended intake for pre-formed vitamin A (which is the kind you'd get from supplements and fortified foods) is 10,000 IU. You're getting 3500 IU from your supplement, which means you could get up to 650o IU more from foods before you need to worry. To see how much pre-formed vitamin A is in common foods, see my Vitamin A Cheat Sheet.

But there's no need to worry about getting too much vitamin A from fruit and vegetables, because plants do not contain pre-formed vitamin A. Foods like sweet potatoes, kale, and carrots provide compounds that are converted into vitamin A in your body, but only as needed.  There's no danger of vitamin A toxicity from eating too many fruits and vegetables.  

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

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.