Vitamin A

Symptoms of retinol deficiency: Abscesses forming in the ear, sinusitis, frequent cold and respiratory infections as well as skin disorders, such as acne, boils and a bumpy skin, as well as weight loss might be indicative of the vitamin being in short supply. Insomnia, fatigue and reproductive difficulties may also be indicative of the shortage of vitamin A. Your hair and scalp can also become dry with a deficiency, especially if protein is also lacking.
Vitamin A is essential in the conversion of cholesterol into female estrogens and male androgens. An adequate supply of zinc is needed so that the liver can mobilize vitamin A out of its storage depots.

Frequent respiratory infections

If you’re having frequent cold and respiratory infections, try the fat soluble vitamins. They made a huge difference for me.

Cold sore

Sara from Houston, Texas: “Break open a vitamin A capsule and apply. I’ve tried everything. This helps me prevent a full blown outbreak. I get the virus on my nose!
I tried this myself and it works really well and quickly: it stops the virus in its tracks. I don’t need to put it on cold sores any more, because my vitamin A levels are back up and the virus has no chance now.

Heavy flow

Vitamin A is known to help with excess estrogen so a simple increase in the amount of natural Vitamin A in the diet can help reduce heavy cyclical bleeding.
My experience is that this works really well, but I have to add in zinc to get good results. This also helps against spotting (= bleeding in between menstruations).
Vitamin A may play a critical role in production of energy in our cells, says an international team of researchers who claim to have solved the “nearly 100-year-old question” of why vitamin A deficiency causes so many diseases.

Cod liver oil

Most brands of cod liver oil go through a process that removes all of the natural vitamins. The resultant product contains very low levels of vitamin A and virtually no vitamin D. Some manufacturers add manufactured vitamins A and D to the purified cod liver oil and until recently, one manufacturer added the natural vitamins removed during processing back into the cod liver oil. Fortunately, we now have available in the U.S. a naturally produced, unheated, fermented high-vitamin cod liver oil that is made using a filtering process that retains the natural vitamins.
Recommended brands


Vitamin A stores are rapidly depleted during exercise, fever and periods of stress.
So any illness, stress, allergy, strenuous exercise should be backed up with liberal amounts of vitamin A. If this doesn’t happen, recovery will be much slower.

Protein and lean meats

Eating a lot of protein (as I do) raises your need for vitamin A.
One aspect of vitamin A that deserves more emphasis is its role in protein utilization. Kwashiorkor is as much a disease of vitamin-A deficiency, leading to impaired protein absorption, as it is a result of absence of protein in the diet.
High-protein, lowfat diets are especially dangerous because protein consumption rapidly depletes vitamin-A stores. Children brought up on high-protein, lowfat diets often experience rapid growth. The results—tall, myopic, lanky individuals with crowded teeth, and poor bone structure, a kind of Ichabod Crane syndrome—are a fixture in America. High-protein, lowfat diets can even cause blindness as occurred once in Guatemala where huge amounts of instant nonfat dry milk were donated in a food relief program. The people who consumed the dried milk went blind.
Primitive peoples understood this principle instinctively, which is why they never ate lean meat and always consumed the organ meats of the animals that served them for food.
Growing children actually benefit from a diet that contains considerably more calories as fat than as protein. A high-fat diet that is rich in vitamin A will result in steady, even growth, a sturdy physique and high immunity to illness.
The great discrepancy between what science has discovered about vitamin A and what nutrition writers promote in the popular press contributes to awkward moments. The New York Times has been a strong advocate for lowfat diets, even for children, yet a recent NYT article noted that vitamin-A-rich foods like liver, egg yolk, cream and shellfish confer resistance to infectious diseases in children and prevent cancer in adults. A Washington Post article hailed vitamin A as “cheap and effective, with wonders still being (re)discovered,” noting that recent studies have found that vitamin-A supplements help prevent infant mortality in Third World countries, protect measles victims from severe complications and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV virus. The article lists butter, egg yolk and liver as important sources of vitamin A, but claims, unfortunately, that carotenes from vegetables are “equally important.”

Carotenes vs Vitamin A

Start reading at: Vitamin A Vagary
A short piece (but do read the whole article!):
But the transformation of carotene to retinol is rarely optimal. Diabetics and those with poor thyroid function, a group that could well include at least half the adult US population, cannot make the conversion. Children make the conversion very poorly and infants not at all — they must obtain their precious stores of vitamin A from animal fats— yet the low-fat diet is often recommended for children. Strenuous physical exercise, excessive consumption of alcohol, excessive consumption of iron (especially from “fortified” white flour and breakfast cereal), use of a number of popular drugs, excessive consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, zinc deficiency and even cold weather can hinder the conversion of carotenes to vitamin A, as does the lowfat diet.
Thyroxine, a thyroid hormone, stimulates the conversion of carotene into a usable nutrient, fat-splitting enzymes and bile salts convert carotene. So if you’re low on thyroxine, that is you’re hypothyroid, the conversion of carotene to vitamin A will be impeded.

The vitamin A scare

Start reading at: The anti-vitamin-A campaign began in 1995 …
Short summary (but read the whole article!): 
Natural vitamin A occurs as a mixture of various isomers, aldehydes, esters, acids and alcohols. Pure retinoic acid, a metabolite of vitamin A used to treat adult acne, is well known to cause birth defects. Apparently pure retinol has teratogenic properties in high amounts as well.
Research into vitamin A has indicated that many factors interfere with its absorption and utilization. Inadequate fat in the diet, poor production of bile salts, low enzyme status, and compromised liver function can all interfere with the uptake and usage of vitamin A, especially when given as a supplement in the form of retinol, rather than as a component of whole foods. It may be that the teratogenic effects of commercial vitamin-A preparations are exacerbated in women whose dietary practices and general health status are poor.
Natural vitamin A provided by liver, eggs, butter, cream and cod liver oil is well recognized as providing excellent protection against birth defects.
Distinctions between synthetic and natural vitamin A have been absent in the extensive media coverage of this study—on the contrary, the newspaper reports contain implied warnings against pregnant women eating liver, dairy products, meat and eggs, but none against eating fabricated foods like margarine and breakfast cereals to which synthetic vitamin A is added. And there has been no media coverage for subsequent studies, which found that high levels of vitamin A did not increase the risk of birth defects. A study carried out in Rome, Italy found no congenital malformations among 120 infants exposed to more than 50,000 IU of vitamin A per day.16 A study from Switzerland looked at blood levels of vitamin A in pregnant women and found that a dose of 30,000 IU per day resulted in blood levels that had no association with birth defects.
Start reading at: The Myth of Vitamin A Toxicity
Short summary:
Unless you are an arctic explorer, it is virtually impossible to develop vitamin-A toxicity from food. The putative toxic dose of 100,000 IU per day would be contained in 3 tablespoons of high vitamin cod liver oil, 6 tablespoons of regular cod liver oil, two-and-one-half 100-gram servings of duck liver, about three 100-gram servings of beef liver, seven pounds of butter or 309 egg yolks. Even synthetic vitamin A is not toxic when given as a single large dose or in small amounts on a daily basis. Children in impoverished areas of the world are routinely given two 100,000-unit doses of retinol per year for infants and two 200,000-unit doses for children over 12 months.
Take vitamin A in a whole food like liver or cod liver oil.
When taken as retinol in a supplement without adding vitamin D and K or worse, as synthetic vitamin A used for acne, high levels can lead to birth defects.

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