By Renchia Droganis
CEO of Africology
Pregnancy is a beautiful time, and being a grandmother myself with both my daughters using Africology products during their pregnancies, I am deeply aware of the importance of clean formulation. It is my intention, when selecting ingredients, to be mindful of what is important during the development stages, and how Africology can support the correct and beautiful formation of the child, from embryo right through to birth.
We are one of the very few companies that does not use harmful chemicals, and when the contradictions arrived regarding the safety of vitamin A, we did much research on the safety of it in skin care. We also worked with a number of laboratory and health experts on this issue to make sure we got it absolutely right.
Our Vitamin A forms part of a blend of vitamin E & C. There are many factors to be taken into account when using Vitamin A in skin care formulations, such as allowed percentage for usage and benefits.
Firstly, it is difficult to get high doses of vitamin A into the skin by applying it topically. It is the high dosages of Vitamin A consumed orally that are a concern. Not only for expecting mothers, but across the population in general. To absorb it through the skin, one has to go to extraordinary measures like iontophoresis, sonophoresis and needling to increase penetration.
Our topically applied facial mask is therefore safe for use. The Africology Anti-Oxidant Masque uses inactive Vitamin A, with a low percentage forming part of a vitamin complex that was bio-identically created to embrace a complex of vitamins and minerals. Therefore it is not an active ingredient, but rather a supportive ingredient in the complex. Shop Africology Anti-Oxidant Masque here.
Prior to formulating our ranges, we take into consideration safety factors, and look at risk versus benefits. As we often use biotechnology and have the complete formulation approved for safety.
We considered an interesting study which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It indicates that high dosages of Vitamin A, (above 3,000 Micrograms or 10,000 IU of Vitamin A Palmitate) can cause birth defects. We looked at further studies by the Boston University School of Medicine, as they reported on the effects of vitamin A in the November 1995 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. This study indicated that women who consumed more than 15,000 IU of vitamin A per day from food and supplements had 3.5 times the rate of birth defects compared to those who consumed less than 5,000 IU per day while pregnant. It was concluded that values of 3,000 IU up to 15,000 IU in supplements are not safe during pregnancy. Taking high doses before the seventh week of pregnancy appeared to increase the risk, but not conclusively.
For context, a pregnancy vitamin contains 2,600 IU of vitamin A, whereas a single medium carrot of 61g contains 10,190IU. According to the Teratology Society for Birth Defects Research,
The USRDA (recommended daily allowance) established by the Food and Drug Administration is 8,000 IU/day. Supplementation of 8,000 IU vitamin A (as retinol/retinyl esters) per day should be considered the recommended maximum prior to or during pregnancy until further evaluations can be performed in the human population. It is important to determine the type of vitamin A consumed, since beta-carotene has not been associated with vitamin A toxicity in animals or man.
It is also important to note, according to MH Zile, as published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Journal, that vitamin A has a vital role to play in embryonic development. This is why it is included in prenatal vitamins, though in very small amounts. Major target tissues of vitamin A deficiency include the heart, central nervous system and structures derived from it, the circulatory, urogenital and respiratory systems, and the development of skull, skeleton and limbs.
From a safety perspective, I do think that a lot of fear has been created around vitamin A. However, our research indicates that the use of this vitamin, when used in a topical application in synergy with other nutrients, is safe. It is important to understand the vast amount that can be taken in oral doses for daily intake, versus the low dose percentage in skincare.
To all the expectant mothers who are reading this, I wish you every good thing in this profound time – please do take the very best care of yourself, now and always.