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This one is about: Vitamin A - Suggestions on Pregnancy

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Hi everybody.

There are plans to expand my family, so I am swallowing folic acid every morning, and I've been looking a bit more into the vitamin A issue. I found several useful Web sites, which those of you with similar plans may want to have a look at; one that explains it all very clearly is

Basically, from what I understand the danger comes from preformed vitamin A found in animal products (and vitamin supplement capsules). The so-called pro-vitamin A carotenoids (such as Beta Carotene), found in particular in green vegetables and carrots, are not linked to Vitamin A toxicity.

The recommended RDA for pregnant women in 2.700 IU (810 micro grams) vitamin A. The risk of birth defects would increase with daily intakes of vitamin A above 10.000 IU (3.000 micro grams).

It seems hard to exceed that limit with a normal healthy diet and without taking vitamin A supplements. There is only one exception: LIVER. The following numbers come from the Dutch public information service on food (free translation!):

100 grams of calf liver contains 17.390 micro grams of Vitamin A, i.e. almost six time the upper limit and more than 20 times the RDA!!! (Sorry guys for the metric system. You'll have to convert. Basically, 100 grams of meat is a small portion). For other types of liver the number are:

chicken - 7.950 micrograms per 100 grams of meat
cow - 10.900
pork - 13.050
pate - 7.420 (watch out too for products that contain liver!)

All other food products are vitamin A safe, unless you'd really stuff yourself with fat cheeses, cream and egg yolk. The numbers for cheeses are in the range of 200-400 micrograms per 100 grams, with a few exceptions:

     brie 533
     bluefort 468
     kernhemmer 415
     Gruyere and stilton contain 400 micrograms per 100 grams
     Finally: Egg yolk - 530;  cream about 350.

When I was pregnant with Nicolas, I did not know any of this. I read the books about what to eat and what to avoid, I listened to advice, but I did not read or hear anywhere about the dangers of eating liver. On the contrary, I heard it was good to eat a good piece of liver once a week, for all the iron and folic acid it contains. So that's what I did, eating probably about 200 grams of calf liver once a week. Did it cause Nicolas' cleft? Did it contribute to the clefting? We will never know for sure, but all of you please, spread the word:

When you are pregnant or if you are thinking about it...

                 STAY AWAY FROM LIVER!!!!!!

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