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Vitamin A

Why is this medication prescribed?

Vitamin A is used as a dietary supplement when the amount of vitamin A in the diet is not enough. People most at risk for vitamin A deficiency are those with a limited variety of food in their diet and in those with cystic fibrosis (an inborn disease that causes problems with breathing, digestion, and reproduction) and malabsorption problems (problems absorbing food). Vitamin A is used to prevent and treat xerophthalmia (unable to see in low light) and night blindness. Vitamin A is in a class of medications called an antioxidant. It is needed by the body to help with vision, reproduction, cell growth, and to support the immune system. It works to protect your cells against free radicals and to support cell growth and function.

How should this medicine be used?

Vitamin A comes as a capsule, gel capsule, and liquid drops to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day or as directed by your doctor. Vitamin A is available without a prescription, but your doctor may prescribe it to treat certain conditions. Follow the directions on the package or on your product label or doctor's instructions carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take vitamin A exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than recommended by your doctor.

Vitamin A supplements are available alone and in combination with other vitamins.

Other uses for this medicine

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking vitamin A,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to vitamin A, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in vitamin A products. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: cholestyramine (Prevalite); multivitamins; orlistat (Alli, Xenical); retinoid medications such as acitretin (Soriatane), adapalene (Differen, in Epiduo), alitretinoin (Panretin), bexarotene (Targretin), isotretinoin (Absorica, Accutane, Amnesteem, others), tazarotene (Avage, Fabior, Tazorac), or tretinoin (Atralin, Renova, Retin-A, others); or other vitamin A supplements and fortified foods. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any medical conditions.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking vitamin A, call your doctor to discuss your dose.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Vitamin A may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • headache
  • yellow-orange skin color
  • joint or bone pain

Vitamin A may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this vitamin.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • mood changes
  • yellow-orange skin color
  • inability to respond or wake up

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking vitamin A.

Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about vitamin A.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Aquasol A

Other names

  • beta-carotene
  • retinol
  • retinyl acetate
  • retinyl palmitate

This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.

Last Revised - 05/15/2021