Carry on reading if dryness is your problem – dry eyes, dry skin, dry hair, dandruff, acne. If nights are too dark, if cornea is thickening. If pregnant and you wonder how to minimize risks of poor fetal development and birth defects in your baby. If you reckon you might suffer from leaky gut. If cancer.
The name for all is called vitamin A deficiency. Check your symptoms, these should always be guiding you, as often blood tests are inconclusive.
Vitamin A is one of the four fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K2), meaning they are soluble in lipids and will be stored in body tissue, unlike water soluble vitamins. A is also known as retinol, pointing to its fame in health of retina of the eyes.
Around 30% of children under 5 in the world are vit A deficient, which is even more worrying as they really need to be well provided with nutrients, vitamins and minerals during their developmental stages. If during their growth (baby, toddler, child, teenager), vitamin E is particularly important, A is essential for pregnant women in order to feed the fetus and prevent birth defects (it’s all about balance, excessive vitamin A will have the same effect). In the African and South Asian developing countries, almost half million children go blind as vit A food is missing from their diet.
Plant based vitamin A (pro-vitamin A) is way harder to synthetized in the body than animal – based vitamin A (pre-vitamin A). I will later tell you of the myth surrounding carrots. Vegans and vegetarians are particularly asked to investigate possible depletion.
How can you miss it?
Obviously, first reason is poor diet, namely a diet lacking fats; I had pointed out that A belongs to fat soluble group vitamins. This means excess will not be excreted in urine but rather kept for later use. Liver is the place where vit A will be piled up; if, out of blue, you decide to go through a restrictive diet, you still have a stock of vitamin A you can use for a short while, if you had a brighter and healthier past consumption. Early weaning of children will not equip them with enough vitamin A, mother nature in its wisdom made the mother milk very fat rich, enabling the brain (60% of which is fat) to be sustained during the accelerated neuronal growth.
The secondary vitamin A deficiency cause is fat malabsorption. You need a healthy bile in order to do the job, so if you had it removed, time to help yourself with bile salts, digestive enzymes, bitter food. Alcoholism and smoking are big enemies. Zinc is the helping hand in vitamin A synthesis, so include zinc rich food in your diet (oysters, seafood, pumpkin, hemp, almonds).
Hormones, stress, cancer
Vitamin A is critical when we speak of hormonal balance. Of the three axis we have in mind when thinking of hormones, namely Hypothalamus – Pituitary- Adrenals, Hypothalamus – Pituitary – Gonads, Hypothalamus – Pituitary – Thyroid, everywhere you look, you find vitamin A playing a massive role for a good functionality. It converts cholesterol into aldosterone and cortisol (the adrenal hormones, when you’re stressed, you might be depleted), cholesterol into all sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, androstenedione, DHEA) and it’s most needed by thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. An experiment administering vitamin A and iron to short boys was as efficient as administering testosterone supplements.
In 1946, when Dr. Max Gerson, a German physician, was called to testify before the US congress of the efficacy of his cancer treatment, he came with an extraordinary history of cured patients, unlike the western based approach. His protocols were including raw cod liver juice, which is best source of all fat-based vitamins, A included. However, the massive lobbyists for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association were all too powerful and Dr Gerson ideas were much too challenging for the establishment.
“All the hope and promise and excitement were for naught: today, the Pepper-Neely bill, which might have opened The door to a new life of worry-free health for the present and future generations of the world. which might have saved uncountable lives, itself lies forgotten behind closed doors: a dusty testament of man’s eternal folly and a legacy of bitterness for the children of tomorrow.”
Full article here:
Should you supplement?
Digging into history, now is the best moment to tell you the story of carrots. Lovely vegetable, such that it has a museum dedicated to it.
During second world war, British propaganda campaign popularized the myth that carrots help you see in the dark, in order to confuse German pilots. In truth, the ability of British air force to spot German fighters wasn’t due to over-consumption of beloved carrots, but to development of a new, secret radar technology. The on-board Airborne Interception Radar (AI), first used by the RAF in 1939, had the ability to pinpoint enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel. However, legend remains.
In its defence, carrot is indeed an excellent source of beta carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, but you need a chunky amount, the conversion rate being somewhere at 12 micrograms of beta carotene necessary to get 1 microgram of vitamin A. On top of it, conversion happens only with the help of bile salts and digestive enzymes, which are stimulated when consuming fats. When you eat your carrot sticks, have some fat food on your plate.
Those at risk of poor conversion are kids, diabetics, those having gall bladder removed, those with gut issues, zinc deficiency. Strenuous exercise and certain medication will also impair your ability to get vitamin A.
And the prize goes to….
Top 7 of dietary intake sources for the sake of vitamin A are:
Cod liver oil
Liver of any animal, some richer than others: turkey, beef, pork, fish, chicken
Recommended daily intake is currently 2,500 i.u. A portion of liver will give you 40,000 i.u, which will be smartly stocked for later usage.
Be at peace, it’s very hard to overdose, if you have been frighten by vitamin A toxicity news. To be in that potion, it would take 42 days of constant consumption of 250gr duck/beef liver or 9 yolks per day. Or if you supplement, several months of 100,000 i.u per day will lead you there (but you will not find such supplements).