Why is vitamin A so important during pregnancy?Dr. Ashish Kale
Vitamin A contributes to the development of one of the most intricate and extraordinary parts of your baby’s body – its eyes. It’s also important for their immunity and skin cell production1, as well as helping to develop the millions of tiny air sacs, called alveoli, in your baby’s lungs. These allow oxygen to transfer into the blood, and carbon dioxide to transfer back out2.
A healthy supply of vitamin A during pregnancy builds up your baby’s natural stores in preparation for the first few months of life3. A low level of vitamin A can affect your baby’s immune function after birth, leaving them more susceptible to infection and illness3.
Due to its supporting role in the immune system, vitamin A benefits your own health throughout pregnancy too4.
How much vitamin A do you need when you’re pregnant?
Getting the right amount of vitamin A during pregnancy is a bit of a balancing act. Too much can harm the development of the baby and lead to birth defects, while too little carries certain risks to the mother and baby’s development. If you aim to eat a healthy balanced diet, you should be getting all the vitamin A you need and should avoid taking any additional supplements containing it. A healthy intake will ensure the baby gets the nutritional support they need for normal development. And because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, your body can build up stores of it in your liver, ready for when you need it. If you’d like any more advice, do speak to your healthcare professional.
While a healthy intake is important throughout your pregnancy, your risk of deficiency is higher during your third trimester when requirements increase due to your baby’s accelerated development and increased blood volume. Your body naturally prioritises your baby’s needs, which is why you need more.
The good news is, you should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by enjoying a healthy, balanced pregnancy diet.