Also known as retinyl palmitate and retinol palmitate, vitamin A palmitate is one of the most commonly found of all the synthetic vitamin isolates. Virtually all the homogenized milk that children have drank for decades has been fortified with the additive vitamin A palmitate.

“The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and New York Senator Chuck Schumer have called attention to the fact that high doses of topical retinyl palmitate were shown to accelerate cancer in lab animals …” (Source: Wikipedia)

The first question anyone might ask is why is a synthetic vitamin isolate being put into so many food products, including milk, when it has been shown to accelerate cancer in animals undergoing laboratory tests?

The debate about vitamin A palmitate has been raging in research institutions and university laboratories since it was first synthesized. Because it has been used in advertising for so long as a food and body product enhancer, revealing its downside health risks and adverse side effects would expose many a company to serious legal action and subsequent financial liability.

“In virtually every study on vitamin A toxicity, it is isolated, synthetic supplements that are associated with adverse effects, not foods. Experimental animals and human subjects receive or are taking retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, or a synthetic retinoic acid derivative. Even small amounts of synthetic forms of vitamin A may be toxic, the actual amount differing with individuals and factors such as liver health. It is the toxicity of synthetic forms of vitamin A that produce the publicity about alleged dangers of vitamin A. Natural food sources of vitamin A are well tolerated at even high doses.”

(Source: TheHealthCoach1)

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What are the adverse side effects from ingesting too much synthetic vitamin A?

The following excerpt well explains some of the more serious side effects which can occur from ingesting too much vitamin A palmitate.

Allergic Reaction

One sign of vitamin A palmitate overdose is some type of allergic reaction. This can manifest itself in itching, rash or hives. It can result in swelling of the hands, face, mouth or throat. You may also be having an allergic reaction if your chest feels tight and/or your breathing is labored.

Stomach Problems

All of the following stomach problems, if they occur while you are taking the vitamin, are signs of toxicity: nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and stomach pains.


Too much vitamin A results in several types of dryness. You may see significant hair loss, dry lips, itchy lips or skin that is cracking, flaking, peeling, significantly dry or itchy.

Eye & Mouth Problems

Call your doctor if you experience any changes in your eyes or mouth. Check to see whether the whites of your eyes have yellowed. If you have any trouble seeing, including double vision or a pain behind your eyeballs, you may be experiencing overdose. Oral symptoms include a sore mouth and/or bleeding gums.

Whole-Body Problems

Certain side effects of vitamin A palmitate affect your entire body. Look out for severe headaches or migraines, sleepiness or fatigue, dizziness or confusion, a feeling of bodily weakness, irritability, or pain in your bones and joints.

Liver Toxicity

Taking too much vitamin A can result in serious liver damage. Signs of liver damage are usually seen when the vitamin is taken over a long period and heavily over-consumed (25,000 to 33,000 IU every day). Look out for the signs of chronic toxicity as listed above, and only take large doses of vitamin A under the supervision of a doctor.

Birth Defects

High doses of vitamin A palmitate should not be taken during pregnancy. Overdose of vitamin A has been linked to birth defects. If you’re taking a palmitate supplement, do not get pregnant (this is also why it’s so dangerous to get pregnant while on Accutane, which is a form of vitamin A). If you do get pregnant, tell your doctor immediately and stop taking the vitamin.”

Vitamin APalmitate
Vitamin A Palmitate


One of the side effects mentioned above is “pain in your bones and joints.” Horticulturalist Dr. Norman Childers was one of the first researchers to determine how long-term ingestion of vitamin A palmitate can significantly contribute to arthritic type pains and joint stiffness.

He went so far as to prohibit the intake of any synthetic vitamin A while adhering to his famous nightshade-free diet. He knew that those who ate processed food fortified with vitamin A palmitate would experience arthritic pains very similar to those caused by the solanine and other glycoalkaloid poisons found in nightshades.

Another Example of Harmful Synthetics – Vitamin E

Another great example of where harmful synthetic vitamins are being used in place of wholefood options can be seen with vitamin E. On average, the synthetic source is far less desirable (and cheaper) than the organic (food based) source. If you’re taking the synthetic version of vitamin E, which is a petrochemically derived analogue of natural vitamin E, you could actually be disrupting your endocrine system and sending your body into a perilous state of health.

This is why you might see mainstream news sources such as CNN reporting that vitamin E causes cancer. This is, in fact, the synthetic form.

If you opt to take the natural form of vitamin E, however, you’re going to be reaping benefits ranging from anti-aging effects to combating oxidative stress. See the difference?

So the takeaway here is to recognize that there are synthetic vitamins and vitamins from wholefood sources. Do a little research into the supplement you’re buying and check to see which ones are being used.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.

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