Pregnancy / Childbirth

Retinol in pregnancy - where does retinol occur and how to avoid it?


Due to the new life developing in the mother's womb, a woman should follow the appropriate recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, and vitamin supplementation. Vitamins, as is known, are necessary for the proper functioning of the human body, taking part in many metabolic, immune and regenerative processes. Which can be surprising not all vitamins taken in pregnancy have a positive effect on the normal development of the fetus. We are talking about vitamin A and one of its ingredients - retinol, which is why it is recommended to avoid supplementation and consumption of products rich in it during pregnancy. Does retinol work during pregnancy? Let's take a closer look to see what properties this ingredient has and why experts are applying strict restrictions to it.

What is retinol?

Retinol is an organic chemical compound with the formulaC20H29OHbelonging to the carotenoids group. Together with other retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) it functions as vitamin A.

In the human body, retinol is produced in the liver from the so-called. provitamin A, or ╬▓-carotene found in, among others in carrot, egg yolk, kale, spinach and mango.The product of its oxidation, found in the retina of our eye, retinal, is involved in the correct vision process, and the biological effect of retinol and other compounds that are part of vitamin A consists in participation in many metabolic processes, among others in protein synthesis. It also enables the proper functioning of epithelial tissue, playing a role in the production of mucus, which is one of the body's innate defenses. Thanks to this, he makes a large contribution to prevention of skin infections respiratory system, digestive tract, as well as genital tract.

Vitamin A and retinol in pregnancy - demand and supplementation

Daily demand for vitamin A and its retinol as recommendedThe Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine is 750 µg for pregnant women aged 14-18 and 770 µg for women aged 19-50.

In special cases, vitamin A can also be used in pregnant women at higher than recommended doses, however such supplementation should be used with extreme caution due to the possibility of teratogenic effects, as discussed later in this article.

However, one cannot forget that vitamin A is involved in the synthesis of proteins necessary for the growth of the developing fetus. For this purpose, it is transported through the placenta from the mother's body on the basis of active transport.

As for women planning a motherhood, the Food Standard Agency (USA) in its recommendations on vitamin supplementation for women planning a pregnancy advises avoiding vitamin A supplementation and limiting the consumption of products rich in it (including chicken and calf liver).

Effects of using retinol in pregnancy

Retinol as a component of drugs and preparations for external and internal use, according to the FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) classification of drugs used in pregnancy has category X, meaning that "Studies in animals or humans have shown abnormalities of the fetus as a result of using the medicine or there is evidence of adverse effects on the fetus and the risk far outweighs the potential benefits of using it."

First data on the subject of teratogenic (i.e. malformative) effects of vitamin A and retinol were brought about by experiments in rats receiving doses of 35,000 IU / day, showing a relationship between an excess of this vitamin and the presence of an increased number of fetal defects.

Unfortunately, teratogenic effects have also been seen in children of mothers taking retinol for therapeutic purposes. Exposure to excess vitamin A and retinol causes fetal heart, nervous and skeletal disorders as well as cleft palate.

Currently, preparations containing retinol are marked as preparations of category X for pregnant women, and it is also considered that doses> 6000 U / d used in pregnant women may cause fetal defects. With this in mind, every pregnant woman should always carefully read the package leaflet that comes with the product before using any medicine or supplement, even a topical one, e.g. ointment, to ensure that it can be used safely during pregnancy.

Where can you find retinol - what to avoid?

Among the foods containing retinol in the lead arefish oil, butter, carrot and egg yolk. Other foods rich in retinol and vitamin A include chicken and veal liver, green vegetables such as: spinach, kale or parsley, citrus fruits, plums, cherries, pumpkin, mango, as well as dried apricots.

Retinol and other vitamin A ingredients are also used as active substances in many drugs. They are used in many dermatologicals ointments to combat skin problems such as acne vulgaris, husk or lichen planus, as well as in preparations used to restore damaged epidermis, e.g. after frostbite or burns. We will also find them in protective creamsas well as special eye and nose ointments.

Due to the possibility of teratogenic effects of vitamin A and retinol, it is recommended to stop vitamin A supplementation during pregnancy and to avoid eating foods rich in it. It should also be remembered that, being pregnant and breastfeeding, always read the medicine leaflet carefully before taking it - in this way the future mother cares about her and her baby's safety.

Bibliography:Obstetrics and gynecology Volume 1 red: prof. dr hab. n. med G. H. Br─ÖborowiczNutritionist Nutrition of a healthy and sick man Helena Ciborowska, Anna Rudnicka//dl.cm-uj.krakow.pl:8080/Content/779/Sochacka-Tatara%20-%20Zawartosc%20witaminy%20A%20w%20pozywieniu%20kobiet%20w%20okresie%20przedkoncepcyjnym%20a%20zdrowie%20.pdf