Is Vitamin A Toxic?
This really needs to be addressed as I have been seeing more and more about it. My close friend Christina over at Uncaged Health has already covered this extensively as well- check her post out here!
**Vitamin A is not toxic***
There are several other bloggers/practitioners going around claiming that vitamin A is toxic- that we need to avoid it and that we need to detox it from our bodies. Unfortunately, these people are also claiming that beta carotene rich foods are involved in this, which (for me) throws the argument out the window. Vitamin A from plant sources is NOT the same as animal sources. It is the precursor to real vitamin A and has the potential to be converted- if there is enough of it and if the liver is up to the conversion.
So here are some facts about vitamin A that will hopefully help those that might be getting confused about this:
*Vitamin A is essential for gut and immune health (source)
*Vitamin A is crucial for vision, skin, reproduction, and so much more
*We need anywhere from 6-12 times the beta carotene just to convert it to retinol.
** Many of us don’t even have the ability to convert it anyway because of our ancestry (think Northern European!). The SNP called BCM01 can give you more insight if you’ve done a test for genetics. (read more about this SNP here). Couple our ancestry with an environment that has made our liver, gut, and adrenals sluggish and it really decreases our ability to use vitamin A or beta carotene.
**SYNTHETIC vitamin A is absolutely toxic to the liver and should be avoided. Most of the studies you are going to see claiming to be “proof” that vitamin A is bad are referencing synthetic, isolated, and usually high doses of vitamin A supplementation.
**We need happy adrenals to mobilize vitamin A from the liver to be utilized. We need bile, digestive enzymes, and zinc to use vitamin A correctly. This is why in this site we recommend work on gut and liver healing FIRST before throwing retinol rich foods/supplements in. We have to be able to utilize it properly, otherwise you’re just wasting your money and possibly stressing your body out. This is why I do not always recommend things like beef liver or cod liver oil to clients right off the bat.
Vitamin A is one of the most common deficiencies we’re dealing with and there is a lot that goes into proper utilization (I include it with copper balancing for this reason- it’s all connected!). This is my own post that I wrote 3 years ago- I call vitamin A the miracle vitamin because once we can introduce it and utilize it correctly, it can help immensely with healing.
Use common sense and critical thinking when on this journey back to better health. One big thing to think of it- what did our ancestors eat? Many of them consumed retinol rich foods more than anything- butter, liver and other organ meats, fresh dairy, etc. They did not have the tendency for sluggish livers like we did though because they were eating a diet filled with nothing but whole foods and they did not have the same toxin exposure that we did.
We have the job of undoing the damage that has been done to us first- healing will happen in layers because of this. Not everyone can or should use vitamin A rich foods at the beginning of their journey. But this does not mean it is toxic, evil, or detrimental.
We really need to stop this “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to health. There is usually more than meets the eye, especially when it comes to nutrients. I have seen “proof” that all of these nutrients are toxic: vitamin A, vitamin D, copper, iron, manganese, calcium, potassium, and zinc. They are NOT all toxic, but if we’re overdoing things with supplementation then yes, we have the potential for making things shift too much in one direction. This is why whole food nutrition and true holistic health needs to be better appreciated.