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Establishing an upper level of intake for vitamin A in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) postsmolts


Correspondence: R. Ørnsrud, National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research, PO Box 2029 Nordnes, 5817 Bergen, Norway. E-mail:


The vitamin A (VA) concentration in salmon aquaculture feeds is varying and may lead to sublethal adverse effects. In this study, 135 g Atlantic salmon postsmolts were given eight diets in duplicates with 6, 12, 26, 55, 82, 112, 360 and 749 mg retinol (ROL) kg−1 for 116 days. Subsequently, fish given 6, 82 and 749 mg ROL kg−1 were transferred to a common net pen and given a standard commercial diet for further 28 weeks. Feed conversion rate, liver functionality and markers of VA homoeostasis were not negatively affected by dietary VA level, but chronic high VA intakes led to adverse effects on growth and bone health. In plasma, there was an antagonistic effect of dietary ROL on circulating 1,25 (OH)2 vitamin D3 (calcitriol). Moreover, a dose–response of VA on craniofacial deformities, condition factor and vertebral morphometry and mechanical strength was observed. Vertebral deformities were observed after 28 weeks on a standard diet and not immediately after the 116 days on the experimental diet. Elevated VA is a risk factor for bone deformities, and the dietary intake of VA should not exceed 37 mg ROL kg−1 body weight day−1 in Atlantic salmon postsmolts.