Some people have a higher need than others for vitamin A, breastfeeding women included. The Recommended Dietary Intake of this vitamin for women who are breastfeeding is 1200 mcg or 1300 mcg, depending on your age. Since serious toxicity can occur if you take too much vitamin A, breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare providers before deciding to supplement.
Should I Take Vitamin A When Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding women have a higher need for vitamin A, compared to other adults (including pregnant women). However, these women have no trouble getting enough vitamin A through their diet. Certainly, most prenatal vitamins contain plenty of vitamin A for the typical breastfeeding woman.
Recommendations on Breastfeeding and Vitamin A
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDA) of vitamin A for breastfeeding women is 1200 mcg daily for women age 14 to 18 years old or 1300 mcg daily for women 19 and older. However, most supplement labels use international units (IUs) instead of mcg, and the conversion between the two is not straightforward (it depends on the type of vitamin A used). The easiest way to get a good idea of how much vitamin A your prenatal vitamin contains is to look at the "% Daily Value." All the calculations and conversions have been done for you. Make sure you are getting 100 percent or less.
Since vitamin A is found in a wide variety of commonly consumed foods, most people don't have any trouble getting enough. In fact, taking too much can easily lead to vitamin A toxicity. Vitamin A passes through breast milk, but it is not clear if it is dangerous to the child for the mother to take too much vitamin A, although it is certainly dangerous for the mother.
You should talk with your healthcare provider about vitamin A and breastfeeding. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision about vitamin A and breastfeeding that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed October 6, 2008.
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin A and carotenoids (4/23/2006). NIH Web site. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamina.asp. Accessed October 7, 2008.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002. Available at: www.nap.edu/books/0309072794/html/. Accessed October 6, 2008.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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