Vitamin A- truly a miracle vitamin!

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vitamin a



So many issues can be related to vitamin A deficiency. The 2 most abundant sources of retinol are liver and cod liver oil- 2 things which I had never even heard of until a few years ago (seriously, I didn’t know people could eat liver!). I am sure a majority of people in the Western world grew up the same- lots of process foods, very low fat and cholesterol, margarine, etc. We are severely lacking in this nutrient. It is very potent for people that start it too- many have to start beef liver or cod liver oil very slowly in order to prevent a healing reaction.

Vitamin A is a crucial nutrient needed to heal from copper dysregulation. It is a prime part of creating ceruloplasmin. (Source-PubMed) Most A is stored in the liver so blood tests can’t be very effective in telling us our A stores.  Low ceruloplasmin and low potassium on the HTMA are good indicators of an A deficiency. I know there is a blood test for A but it really wouldn’t reflect A in storage.

Autoimmune disorders, leaky gut, inflammation, ATP energy production, food intolerances, and more are connected with vitamin A. Retonic acid impacts about 500 different genes!! This article is probably one of the best I have ever come across. Vitamin A is so important for our healing process, but we do need to go slow with it and support our livers!

The Lie about Vitamin A

One of the BIGGEST lies we have been told is that beta carotene is the same as vitamin A. While beta carotene is an important nutrient, it has to go through a process to be converted into retinol. In order to make this conversion we need a healthy gut, healthy liver and gallbladder (bile flow is the KEY), and certain enzymes and nutrients (like zinc). From this study, “β-Carotene is absorbed from the intestine and is converted into vitamin A only in the presence of bile acids.” So we need a healthy liver, period!

Even a person in 100% health will still not get a full conversion of beta carotene to retinol- some experts say we need at least 6 times the beta carotene to be able to use it for retinol. Some say it is up to 12 times more beta carotene than retinol!

There has been so many misconceptions over the last few decades about vitamin A and the foods that contain it. Eggs, butter, liver, and cod liver oil are among the highest sources of retinol but we keep hearing that fat and cholesterol are bad or that animal products are not necessary because they are unhealthy. We’ve even been told that retinol is toxic- which stemmed from a story of people eating polar bear liver. This makes ZERO sense when you realize that our ancestors thrived on foods like this for thousands of years.  Toxicity from food sources is very unlikely.  Synthetic vitamin A supplements and medications (like Accutane) are more likely to cause toxicity issues, especially liver damage.

Fat and cholesterol are essential for health. We have an epidemic of obesity, hormonal disorders, and autoimmune diseases despite the “low-fat” craze that has been going on for decades. The problem is not the fat or cholesterol- it is the QUALITY of the food we are consuming. Factory farming, hundreds of pesticides used, genetically modified foods, added sugar, and artificial ingredients have ruined our food supply. Luckily more people are catching on now to the lies that we’ve been fed.

So what is vitamin A needed for?

The BIG eye-opener about retinol is that it is absolutely essential for gut and immune health. This article is absolutely A-mazing with its information on why vitamin A is a huge missing link to this auto-immune epidemic that we have going on. Vitamin A has a relationship with the gut lining, as well as making us able to have a wide tolerance of foods.

Vitamin A is also needed for vision (along with zinc): night blindness is often the first sign of vitamin A deficiency. Also, Vitamin A is a main part of the treatment of measles, chickenpox, and some cancers, because of its role in immune system health. Vitamin A is also essential for raising low potassium levels as this vitamin helps us retain potassium.

Signs of Vitamin A deficiency:

  • Night blindess (one of the first signs)
  • Poor vision (wear glasses? You most likely have a vitamin A deficiency)
  • Acne
  • Dry hair/ nails
  • Dry skin
  • Ridges on nails
  • Color blindness
  • Skin cancer
  • Reproductive issues
  • Weak immune system (chronic colds)
  • Infections: cold sores, boils, etc
  • Poor smell, taste or appetite
  • “Chicken Skin”- keratosis pilaris: Little bumps that show up mostly on the back of the arms, buttocks, and thighs.
  • Women of childbearing age are at a risk of vitamin A deficiency as well

Where to Find Retinol

You can find retinol in eggs, butter, liver (especially beef), cod liver oil, and dairy products.

My top supplement choices are Rosita’s Extra Virgin Cod liver oil, NutraPro Virgin Cod Liver oil and Nutricology Beef Liver Powder. Perfect Supplements also has a great desiccated beef liver supplement.

Now you can use my code SASSY for an extra 10% off on Perfect Supplements website where you can find the desiccated beef liver and either of the cod liver oils!

If you are brave, you can attempt to cook liver.  I’m not quite at that stage yet so I use the beef liver powder. Honestly, for those that are very sensitive I would suggest starting with a beef liver supplement before attempting to eat it that way you can get your body used to the nutrients. Beef liver is a very nourishing food and is abundant in retinol, copper, iron, zinc, B12, folate, choline and taurine.

Here is a classic liver and onions recipe. Or you can try Nutrient Dense Meatloaf.

Beta Carotene has its own benefits but there have been several studies about how poorly it is converted into retinol- this article talks about these studies.  There are about 600 different kinds of carotenoids, and only 50 of them are even able to be converted into true vitamin A.

You can find beta carotene in pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, and spinach.

Stay away from isolated vitamin D supplements as well as they kill vitamin A stores.  We actually need 25 times more A than D! That is how our ancestors lived- with a TON more a than D.

We need happy livers and adrenals to utilize vitamin A. If you are a slow oxidizer, this might be a problem for you: you need the vitamin A, but you can’t always utilize it. This is where liver lovers like bitter herbs, BioRay Liver Life, and herbs like dandelion root come into play. Read here for more about liver loving!

What else is involved in Vitamin A deficiency?

From Trace Elements, Inc:

  • Vitamin A deficiency is involved in hypothyroidism, and goiter formation
  • It is involved in estrogen sensitivity.
  • Adequate adrenal function is needed for moving vitamin A out of storage
  • Iodine can be antagonist to vitamin A!
  • Vitamin A is needed to reduce the toxic effects of too much vitamin D
  • Vitamin A is needed for iron metabolism: it helps with both iron deficiency and overload. (Most likely because of its role in ceruloplasmin)
  • Vitamin C helps with storing vitamin A
  • Vitamin A is needed for bone, skin, and teeth health
  • It is involved in adrenal hormone production as well as thyroxine output
  • It can prevent and treat many cancers
  • It helps with creating red blood cells, and strengthens the immune system
  • Adequate protein helps mobilize vitamin A from the liver to be utilized
  • It can help with anemia, adult onset diabetes, hypothyroidism, fatigue, depression, cold sensitivity, and more

More reading:

Check out WAPF’s article called Vitamin A Saga– a really great read!

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11 Replies to “Vitamin A- truly a miracle vitamin!”

  1. Just a couple of comments. Firstly, carotene can indeed be converted to vitamin A. However, this process only begins from age 18, so for children to get enough vitamin A, they need to eat animal fats, liver, etc which contain natural vitamin A.

    Secondly, I started eating liver by eating a tablespoon a day instead of having large amounts. Diced or grated can be added to soups or stews at the end of cooking or heating up.

    1. We need sufficient liver health and zinc to convert it- which is why most people cannot do so. Also, there are many people that claim that there could be a genetic influence as most of our ancestors wouldn’t have had need to convert BC to retinol since their diets were so high in real vitamin A.

      That is a great idea to start slow with liver, thank you for sharing!

  2. I began taking vitamin A and I noticed several improvements in skin and hair, including smoothing of rough dry spots, loss of excessive oiliness in my hair and the gradual shrinking and loss of warts. One unexpected benefit was that through the supplementation of vitamin A, I no longer needed beano when eating other than vary small amounts of fresh onions or garlic. Previously eating them would cause tremendous discomfort, even bleeding without taking beano. One aside, though the Cheeselave Blog has uncovered some questionable information about the owner of the NutraPro cod liver oil. It might be safer to go with the Rosita’s cod liver oil.

    1. That is awesome about your experience with A, Lori! It is truly amazing. Such a common deficiency.

      As for the Cheeseslave blog- I saw that, but I am waiting for a statement from WAPF. I find it very hard to believe that they wouldn’t do a background check on their recommendations. I can’t force Rosita’s on everyone with how crazy that price it.

  3. I’m trying to find a way to increase my Potassium and A, and have that be in balance and I’m totally lost. I have Hashis and MVP that has started again. I DO NOT like liver. How do you use the cod liver oil or powder? And please tell me someone makes it in a pill I can take. I’m also confused because I take 10,000 iu of Vitamin d a day at my docs recommendation and your article makes me think I shouldn’t. My head is spinning here!

    1. Hi Michelle! Yes, the CLO and beef liver both comes in supplemental form, luckily 🙂 I know that most docs have boarded the D train too, which has been so frustrating. It can help people short term, but over time it can really start to create more imbalances in the body (same with any other isolated nutrient though). The Cod liver oil is easy as most are flavored. We use NutraPro, and the lemon is pretty mild tasting. I throw beef liver powder in our smoothies too (a banana hides the taste/texture pretty well). But Perfect Supplements also has them in capsules. Hope that helps a bit. 🙂

  4. Please help me. I have keratosis pilaris and some mild acne. I’ve all of a sudden become depressed towards the end of summer. I was getting natural vitamin D and taking 2 to 4 capsules of cod liver butter oil a day, but now my keratosis pilaris is back with an extreme vengeance. I take 5,000 vit D a day now that it’s winter and I’m always terafied of having a Vitamin A or D overdose, which can cause depression and brain fog. My skin was great in the summer. But I can’t quite get this vitamin ratio. Should I be taking like 10 capsules of cod liver oil? It’s hard to know really if it’s doing anything. Are two capsules just too little. I’m sure a Vitamin A deficiency can cause depression, but I’m afraid to take 25,000 a day or something like that. I don’t want to have a toxic amount build up or something. 25,000 A to 5,000 D? Is that safe?

  5. Following. Crystal these are good questions. Did you ever get answers?? I am interested and have same questions as my doctor put me on high dose of vitamin D ( 50,000 per week).

  6. If we need 25 times more A than D then if we take 1000iu of D daily then we need 25000 IU of A daily. That means our daily requirment of A is pretty high and No body talks about A. Instaed everyone is stressing on D supplementation.
    I think that much A is only possible if we supplement with retinol. Correct?

    1. I wouldn’t recommend using 1000iu a day of D, so no we would not need to supplement with 25,000IU of retinol. More isn’t always better with nutrients. You have to have happy livers and overall digestion to utilize things correctly.

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