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Question

What is Vitamin A and what does it do?

Answer

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin needed for the growth of cells and bone, reproduction, healthy eyes and skin, and the maintenance of healthy respiratory, intestinal, and urinary tracts. This vitamin occurs in foods such as dark green and yellow vegetables, milk, liver, eggs, cheese, squash, carrots, and in fruits such as apricots and cantaloupe.

Vitamin A is used as a supplement for treatment of vitamin A deficiency, and it can also be used to treat acne, measles, dry eyes, and night blindness, as well as Crohn's disease, Kyrle's disease, and Darier's disease. The vitamin can also help with cancer prevention and promoting growth.

Vitamin A helps with the transfer of light into nerve signals needed for vision. It is required for cell growth and the process of making stem cells into various kinds of cells, bone growth, and reproduction. It helps with maintenance of healthy urinary, respiratory, and intestinal tracts, as well as with controlling genes for structural proteins, such as those in the skin.

What should I know before taking vitamin A?

Before taking vitamin A, you should inform your healthcare professional of any health issues that you have, and whether you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, herbal or dietary supplements. Also inform your healthcare professional if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing because large doses of the vitamin can cause birth defects and may affect a nursing child.

You should never have a greater intake of vitamin A than what is recommended. Do not take more than one vitamin product at the same time unless your health care professional directs you to do so.

Who should use vitamin A?

You should not use vitamin A if you are allergic to it. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, breathing difficulties, and swelling of the face and mouth area. If you are taking birth control pills; Targretin® (bexarotene); Soriatane® (acitretin); Accutane®, Amnesteem®, Claravis®, Sotret® (isotretinoin); Questran®, Prevalite® (cholestyramin); Atralin®, Avita®, Renova®, Retin-A®, Tretin-X® (tretinoin); Periostat®, Vibramycin® (doxycycline); Minocin® (minocycline); Sumycin® (tetracycline); Alli®, Xenical® (orlistat) or a blood thinners, such as Coumadin®, Jantoven® (warfarin) consult your healthcare professional prior to taking Vitamin A.

Inform your healthcare professional if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing because large doses of vitamin A can cause birth defects and may affect a nursing child. Individuals who have liver disease and high alcohol consumption can risk liver damage from vitamin A. Smokers who drink alcohol and take beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) can have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.

Shop beta carotene supplements at Walgreens.com.

Shop vitamin A supplements at Walgreens.com.

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DISCLAIMER:

Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a Walgreens.com pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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