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Menopausal/Post-menopausal | Vitamin A Supplementation Does Not Cause Osteoporosis

Vitamin A Supplementation Does Not Cause Osteoporosis

Previous studies showed that increasing vitamin A intake is associated with an increased risk of hip fracture; however, the relevance of those studies is questionable. As pointed out in Healthnotes Newswire (January 31, 2002), the main sources of vitamin A in the diet are vitamin A-fortified foods such as margarine, sugary breakfast cereals, and milk and circumstantial evidence suggests that some or all of these foods can promote the development of osteoporosis for reasons unrelated to their vitamin A content. If that is the case, then vitamin A was a victim of “guilt by association.”

Although taking too much vitamin A can cause a wide range of adverse effects (including neurological disease, liver damage, and even death), bone loss has not been mentioned as a consequence of chronic vitamin A poisoning.

Studies suggest that a safe level of intake of vitamin A is 25,000 IU per day for most healthy adults and 15,000 IU per day for individuals over the age of 65. Larger amounts, which are used by some doctors to treat acne, some cancers, menstrual irregularities, or other problems, should be taken only with medical supervision. Early warning signs of vitamin A excess include headaches, joint pain, muscle aches, bone pain, dry skin, and hair loss. These signs disappear if the vitamin is discontinued.

Preliminary research suggests that pregnant women should not take more than 10,000 IU per day, though not all studies agree on this point. Although the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, taking large amounts of beta-carotene does not lead to vitamin A toxicity. That is because there is a limit to the amount of beta-carotene that can be converted to vitamin A.

Alan R. Gaby, MD, an expert in nutritional therapies, testified to the White House Commission on CAM upon request in December 2001. Dr. Gaby served as a member of the Ad-Hoc Advisory Panel of the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine. He is the author of Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis (Prima, 1994), and co-author of The Natural Pharmacy, 2nd Edition (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), the A–Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), Clinical Essentials Volume 1 and 2 (Healthnotes, 2000), and The Patient’s Book of Natural Healing (Prima, 1999). A former professor at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, in Kenmore, WA, where he served as the Endowed Professor of Nutrition, Dr. Gaby is the Chief Medical Editor for Healthnotes, Inc.

Copyright © 2002 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Healthnotes® content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Healthnotes, Inc. Healthnotes Newswire is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. Healthnotes, Inc. shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Healthnotes and the Healthnotes logo are registered trademarks of Healthnotes, Inc.

Contrary to a report published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, supplementation with moderate amounts of vitamin A does not cause bone loss, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition (2002;132:1169–72). In the new study, 80 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 58 years were given a vitamin A supplement (25,000 IU per day) or placebo for six weeks. Blood tests taken at the beginning and end of the study revealed that vitamin A supplementation had no effect on various measures of bone breakdown and bone formation. Thus, at least in the short term, taking a moderate amount of vitamin A is unlikely to promote bone loss.
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The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.

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