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During pregnancy, the woman must take care of her diet for a correct gestation and for an optimal development of the baby. To avoid possible malformations, the extra intake of some vitamins through supplements is recommended at this stage. But let's not be mistaken, there are some that taken in excess can be dangerous. It is the case of the vitamin A in pregnancy. Know the reason!
Vitamins are micronutrients of great importance for health, both in childhood and in adulthood. Although they do not provide energy because they have no caloric value, they are essential both for metabolic reactions in the body, as well as for the production of enzymes or hormones or for the use of certain compounds by the body.
Additionally, in special moments, such as pregnancy, some vitamins are even more necessary, since they contribute, for example, to the formation of bones or the development of the brain, and therefore vitally affect the proper growth and development of the fetus.
The Vitamin A, for example, it is a fat-soluble vitamin, that is, it is solubilized in the fatty parts of food, and due to this fat solubility, it is difficult to be eliminated when consumed in excess. Therefore, vitamin A has a tendency to accumulate in the liver and fatty tissues in the body.
Within what we know as vitamin A, not only is vitamin A present in food as such, but also those precursors capable of generating active vitamin A, such as carotenoids or retinol. Unlike carotenoids, retinol can not only come from food, but can be administered as an artificial supplement. It is in fact retinol or compounds derived from it that constitute the vitamin A contribution of vitamin complexes.
In addition to being essential for reproduction, vitamin A plays an essential role in fetal development. During pregnancy, in addition to contributing to the development of cells, organs and tissues, Vitamin A plays essential roles in the development of the fetus' vision and bone growth. Additionally, it is responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of both the immune and nervous systems. Current recommendations for vitamin A for pregnant women reach 800 micrograms per day, relatively easy to obtain by following a healthy and varied diet.
What foods in our fridge can help us consume vitamin A? Here's a must-have list!
- The most interesting foods in terms of vitamin A are, within those of animal origin, milk and its derivatives, especially if they retain all the fat, and the egg, particularly the yolk.
- Foods of plant origin do not contain vitamin A, but rather beta carotene. Beta carotene is a red, orange or yellow pigment that is transformed into active vitamin A in the body. Vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, red, yellow or orange peppers and fruits such as peaches, plums, apricots or medlars are those that contain the most relevant amounts.
- In addition, green vegetables and greens such as spinach, chard or green pepper, also contain attractive amounts of beta-carotene despite not detecting its color, masked by the green of chlorophyll.
According to the most recent research on this vitamin, the ingestion of vitamin supplements with amounts of retinol higher than recommended represents a health hazard.
In addition to the typical symptoms of hypervitaminosis, extensively studied and known for years, where the toxicity of vitamin A affects the central nervous system, liver, bones and skin, the toxicity of synthetic derivatives of retinol has been studied in animals with less than encouraging results.
It has been more than 60 years since the teratogenic effects (its ability to produce congenital defects during pregnancy) of excess retinol in pregnant women were discovered, observing abnormalities in the fetus such as exencephaly (the skull does not close in its entirety, leaving part of the exposed brain), cleft lip or palate, among other jaw defects or vision defects.
Later it has been discovered that, depending on when excess vitamin A is administered, the defects can vary. An excess of vitamin A prior to pregnancy or during the first weeks results in malformations that affect the skull or brain and the cardiovascular system, while when ingested later in pregnancy, these malformations occur in the extremities and the reproductive and renal systems.
Accordingly, all women of reproductive age should be informed that vitamin A can be dangerous for your baby if it is consumed in excess, both before and during pregnancy, and that it is better to limit the contribution of vitamin A through the diet, avoiding vitamin supplements.
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