Vitamin A comprises a group of lipid-soluble compounds, including retinyl esters, retinol and retinal. A risk assessment of retinol and retinyl esters in cosmetics has recently been conducted by VKM, based on tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) previously derived by the European Scientific Committee on Food. Critical was vitamin A’s teratogenic potential, and its effects on the bone and skin.

Diet is the main source of exposure to vitamin A, followed by food supplements, and both can be high in parts of the Norwegian population. However, intake of retinol and retinyl esters from cosmetics may, in worst-case scenarios, contribute 42-58% and 98% of the ULs for children (aged between 1 and 9 years) and adolescents (13-year-olds) respectively, and may exceed the UL for adults (115%). Of particular concern is exposure above the UL before and during pregnancy, with an increased risk of birth defects anticipated. A lower guidance level (GL), set for people with a greater risk for reduced bone mineral density, osteoporosis and fractures (especially post-menopausal women), was said to be exceeded by around 10% of Norwegian adult women based on vitamin A intake from food and food supplements, and by around 75% with the additional contribution from cosmetics.

Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM). Opinion of the Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids, Materials in Contact with Food and Cosmetics. Risk assessment of vitamin A (retinol and retinyl esters) in cosmetics. 10-405-3 final. 22 August 2012.


The above item was taken from the October 2012 issue of Toxicology and Regulatory News which is sent automatically to members of bibra (click here for more details).

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