If you believe that vitamins are safe and natural substances that are beneficial for our health, you are mostly right, but some vitamins can cause severe problems when the recommended dosage is exceeded. Vitamin A is one such nutrient -- it is absorbed into our fat cells, and can cause toxicity if levels build up too high. Symptoms of vitamin A overdose include nausea, vomiting, irritability, digestive discomfort, poor vision, headaches, weakness and drowsiness. Seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms, and begin a program of detoxifying the vitamin A from your system.
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Stop consuming sources of vitamin A such as supplements, fish oils, over-the-counter medications and foods containing high amounts of vitamin A such as carrots, dark leafy greens, dairy products and animal livers. According to an article published on the website "Emedicine" by Mohsen S. Eledrisi, M.D., from the King Abdulaziz National Guard Medical Center, the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A in healthy adults is 5,000 IU per day, and 8,000 IU in pregnant women. Taking more than this dosage over a long period of time can cause acute toxicity and overdose.
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Drink plenty of water, especially if you are experiencing nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Herbal teas may be a beneficial way of maintaining hydration levels and of managing symptoms. In a study written by E. Ernst and M.H. Pittler and published in the "British Journal of Anaesthesia" in 2000, researchers found that ginger root was effective as an anti-nausea agent in post-operative nausea, morning sickness, travel sickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Taken as a tea, ginger can help increase fluid intake and reduce symptoms of vomiting.
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Take 15g of milk thistle extract once daily. Milk thistle is an effective herb in protecting the liver from chemical damage, regenerating damaged liver tissues and aiding the detoxifying processes of the body. As vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient, only the liver can detoxify it from the body. According to a review published in "The Indian Journal of Medical Research" in 2006, researchers S.C. Pradhan and C. Girish found milk thistle was suitable for treating alcoholic liver diseases, liver cirrhosis, hepatitis and toxic and drug-induced liver diseases.
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Increase fibre in your diet by eating more foods with lots of natural roughage in them. For example, good high-fibre foods include most vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, apples, pears and grapefruit. Fibre has a beneficial effect on the body, giving toxins in the intestinal tract something to bind to so that they can be carried out of the body. Without enough fibre, these toxins might be reabsorbed through the large intestine and enter the blood stream again.
- If you are taking several supplements, check the labels to make sure that you are not receiving vitamin A from multiple sources. Many fish oil products contain vitamin A, so be sure to check the nutritional information of any brand of fish oil you purchase. In the last 25 years, only 11 people in the U.S. have died from vitamin-related deaths.
- Consult with your health care professional before taking supplements and over-the-counter medications. Vitamin A is contraindicated if you are using birth control pills and blood thinners. If you are taking prescribed medication, consult with your health care professional before taking vitamin A supplements.