Health Guide

Vitamin A

What is it?

Vitamin A is an essential vitamin. Supplements are used to treat problems caused by not having enough vitamin A in the body. These may include dry eyes, night blindness, and skin problems.

Other names for vitamin A include: retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, vitamin A1.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement).
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine (13).
  • are breastfeeding.
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease.


Talk with your caregiver about how much vitamin A you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking vitamin A. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take vitamin A without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Acitretin (Soriatane(R)) (9)
  • Bexarotene (Targretin(R)) (3)
  • Etretinate (Tegison(R)) (12)
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane(R)) (10)
  • Blood thinning medicine (examples: warfarin (Coumadin(R))) (2,5)
  • Minocycline (Dynacin(R), Minocin(R)) (4)
  • Tretinoin (Vesanoid(R)) (11)
  • Carob foods (8)


  • Before taking vitamin A, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Too much vitamin A can cause problems during pregnancy (13).
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have liver disease or kidney disease (6).
  • If you are a smoker, please talk to your doctor before supplementing vitamin A.

Side Effects:

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hand, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash
  • Double vision, yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (6,7.14)
  • Severe drowsiness or trouble sleeping, changes in behavior, depression (6)

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Hair loss, unusually dry skin and hair, dry and cracked lips or skin (6)


1. Schlierf G, Vogel G, Kohlmeier M et al : Long-term therapy of familial hypercholesterolemia in young patients with colestipol: availability of mineral and vitamins. Klin Wochenschr 1985; 63:802-806.

2. Hansten PD: Effects of vitamins on drug action. Drug Interactions Newsletter 1981; 1:35-38.

3. Product Information: Targretin(R), bexarotene. Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated, San Diego, CA, 1999.

4. Moskowitz Y, Leibowitiz E, Ronen M et al: Pseudotumor cerebri induced by vitamin A combined with minocycline. Ann Ophthalmol 1993; 25:306-308.

5. Anon: Vitamin supplements. Med Lett Drugs Ther 1985; 27:66-68.

6. Meyers DG, Mololey PA & Weeks D: Safety of antioxidant vitamins. Arch Intern Med 1996; 156:925-935.

7. Gleghorn EE, Eisenbery LD, Hack S et al: Observations of vitamin A toxicity in three patients with renal failure receiving parenteral alimentation. Am J Clin Nutr 1986; 44:107-112.

8. Kasper H, Rabast U, Fassl H et al: The effect of dietary fiber on the postprandial serum vitamin A concentration in man. Am J Clin Nutr 1979; 32:1847-1849.

9. Product Information: Soriatane(R), acitretin. Roche Laboratories, Incorporated, Nutley, NJ, 2003.

10. Product Information: Accutane(R), isotretinoin. Roche Laboratories, Incorporated, Nutley, NJ, 2003.

11. Product Information: Vesanoid(R), tretinoin. Roche Laboratories, Incorporated, Nutley, NJ, 2002.

12. Product Information: Tegison(R), etretinate. Roche Laboratories Incorporated, Nutley, NJ, 1994.

13. Hall JG: Vitamin A teratogenicity (letter). N Engl J Med 1984; 311(12):797-798.

14. Geubel AP, De Galocsy C, Alves N et al: Liver damage caused by therapeutic vitamin A administration: estimate of dose-related toxicity in 41 cases. Gastroenterology 1991; 100(6):1701-1709.

Last Updated: 6/4/2018
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