It does not appear that a person can consume too much beta-carotene, as the body will only convert it into vitamin A as necessary.
Vitamin A toxicity
That said, consuming too much preformed vitamin A can lead to vitamin A toxicity, or hypervitaminosis A.
Symptoms can include:
changes in skin color
peeling on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
cracked skin on the fingers
allergic contact dermatitis
ectropion, which affects the skins around the eyes
dry lips, mouth, and nose, which can increase the risk of infection
reduced sebum production
Long-term overuse can lead to:
changes in bone formation
high cholesterol levels
nervous system changes leading to headaches, nausea, and vomiting
During pregnancy, consuming too much retinol can increase the risk of an infant being born with:
hydrocephalus, or water on the brain
problems with the thymus gland, which produces white blood cells
The use of the topical treatment retinol may also increase vitamin A levels to an unhealthy level. People tend to use retinol as an anti-aging skin cream.
Topical products can have adverse effects on the skin, though these will likely be less severe than those resulting from oral overconsumption. However, people should avoid using them during pregnancy.
The highest risk of overconsumption is with supplements. A healthful, balanced diet is unlikely to lead to toxic levels of vitamin A. It should also provide enough vitamin A without needing supplements.
Another possible cause of vitamin A toxicity is the use of retinol-based medications. Isotretinoin (Accutane) is one such example. Doctors sometimes prescribe isotretinoin for severe acne.
Anyone using this treatment should avoid taking vitamin A supplements because this drug is a vitamin A derivative.
A doctor will not prescribe isotretinoin if a person is pregnant or may become pregnant.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that contributes to many functions in the body, such as protecting eye health.
In the U.S., deficiency is rare. Most people can meet their needs for vitamin A through their diet.
In some cases, however, a doctor may recommend supplements. Anyone who uses vitamin A supplements should take care to follow the doctor’s instructions, as some forms of vitamin A can be toxic in high doses.
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