Q. Do high intakes of vitamin A increase your risk for osteoporosis?
A. Research supports an association between high intakes of preformed vitamin A (such as that found in animal foods, supplements and fortified foods) and lower levels of bone mineral density, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. However, scientists are not at a point where they can explain the cause of this, and they can’t exclude the potential that this link might be caused by something other than vitamin A. More research is needed in this area, so stay tuned. In the meantime, it’s best to get most of your vitamin A by eating plenty of deep-orange fruits and vegetables (think: carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.) and leafy green vegetables (e.g., spinach and kale), which supply good amounts of beta carotene. The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A. Getting loads of beta carotene from foods doesn’t pose any health risk. Eat too many carrots and—worst-case scenario—your skin may take on a yellow tinge (the unconverted beta carotene collects under your skin). This condition is harmless and temporary.