Doctor Garrett Smith, ND, a naturopath, recently purported to analyze my health, making inferences from blog posts, pictures, and comments I’ve made on the internet, concluding that I am suffering from vitamin A toxicity.

Smith runs a “comprehensive Poison/’Vitamin A’ Detox program” and lists an invitation to contact his office to work with him as part of this program at the end of his article.

Smith follows Grant Genereux in believing that vitamin A is a toxin and not a vitamin at all. 

Here I would like to respond to Smith’s analysis of my health.

The Nature and Extent of My Health Problems

First, for clarity, a few points about my health. The problems I am currently suffering from are, on a scale of 0-10, at about 0.5-1. The main problems are twitching, paresthesia, and a gait abnormality that started almost two years ago when I took terbinafine for a fungal infection. The night I started terbinafine, the twitching was at a 7-8 out of 10. After several days of experimenting with electrolytes, I got it down to a 1-2 out of 10. After developing strategies around acid-base balance, I got it down to a 0.5 out of 10, where it gave way to a subtle paresthesia in my cheeks, which very slowly has lessened in intensity and frequency to the point where it is now subtle and infrequent. The gait abnormality got progressively worse while on terbinafine, slowly reaching a 3 out of 10, and went away when I got off it. It recurred twice in the last year, and in both cases I suspected that B vitamin deficiencies were at the root of it, and I made it almost completely disappear within days by altering my B vitamin intake.

At the time I also was living in a moldy apartment and had very high levels of barium in my urine, which I traced to makeup I used to shoot my videos and paint dust from a chipping windowsill. I had also been under psychological stress from quitting my job and starting a business with no clear business plan, and had been putting my body through a lot of physical stress with CrossFit and Olympic lifting. All of these could have been contributors.

My Suspicions About Their Causes

Among all the potential hypotheses, I find it very interesting that terbinafine works by inhibiting the synthesis of ergosterol in fungal cell walls, and is 60% active against human cholesterol synthesis. My cholesterol, even on a diet very rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, never rises above 160. This year it has ranged between 142 and 157. Over 15 years ago I was a vegan, and my cholesterol was 106. I developed severe psychiatric problems that completely disappeared on a diet rich in organ meats. The parallel between the cholesterol-reducing activities of veganism and terbinafine, my always-low cholesterol levels, and the known association between very low cholesterol and neurological problems, makes me want to find a common explanation for these events. 

My suspicion is that  I have a rare, late-onset, moderate-severity genetic defect in synthesizing something that is not found in plants, rich in organ meats, and not found in any supplements I was taking as a vegan. So far my attempts to find a genetic defect in cholesterol synthesis have not been borne out, so my next suspicions are in candidates that would indirectly compromise my synthesis of cholesterol (for example, a problem synthesizing acetyl CoA, which is needed for cholesterol synthesis).  

Although my symptoms in their current state are not debilitating and are barely even a nuisance, I am currently working with a neurologist to identify the exact nature of the issue and plan to work next with a geneticist who can help me investigate my hypotheses about my genetics. Of course I am open to discovering completely non-genetic causes for this and I will follow the data where it leads me.

Can Dr. Smith Diagnose Me Using Blog Posts?

Dr. Smith does not have access to any of my lab work or imaging, did not ask me any questions about my data or my case history, did not ask me any questions to clarify anything I’ve said, and did not contact me to tell me about his analysis. I do not believe it is possible for him to make reasonable conclusions without access to my data. Below, I will provide what I consider data that refutes his hypothesis.

Do I Have Vitamin A Toxicity?

The probability of vitamin A toxicity can be assessed using both blood work and data about vitamin A intake. 

Blood Work 

A meta-analysis of 259 case reports found that the following serum markers were most commonly elevated: retinol in 89% of cases, γ-glutamyltranspeptidase in 83%, lipids in 80%, triglycerides in 75%, alkaline phosphatase in 67%, prothrombin time in 53%, cholesterol in 50%, aspartate aminotransferase in 49%, bilirubin in 48%, and calcium in 46%. 

I had my serum retinol checked prior to going on terbinafine precisely because I had a fungal infection and a history of health problems that seem to resolve when my vitamin A intake is high, and because vitamin A deficiency can cause vulnerability to fungal infections. My serum retinol was 45 in a range of 38-98, which is only 12% of the way into the normal range. The bottom of the range is approximately 1.4 mcmol/L or 39.5 mcg/dL, which is the level that rules out 95% of visual defects due to vitamin A deficiency. This is the marker that is most commonly elevated above the top of the reference range in vitamin A toxicity, but was near the bottom of the reference range, only slightly above the level that guarantees freedom from an important clinical sign of deficiency. 

My recent data indicate that my triglycerides (88 in a range of <150), alkaline phosphatase (84 in a range of 40-115), bilirubin (0.8 in a range of 0.2-1.2), cholesterol (142 in a range of <200), aspartate aminotransferase (25 in a range of 10-40) and calcium (9.4 in a range of 8.6-10.3) are all in range.

I don’t have a prothrombin time measurement, but this is elevated when blood clotting becomes defective, and I have no indication of excess bleeding. 

I don’t have γ-glutamyltranspeptidase, but since it’s not a specific marker of vitamin A toxicity, it’s unlikely that the absence of one marker would reveal a problem contradicted by seven other markers.

Vitamin A Intake

According to the above-cited meta-analysis, the main risk factor for vitamin A toxicity arise months or years of consistently taking at least 165 IU per kilogram body weight per day, and in the majority of cases greater than 2300 IU per kilogram body weight per day. For a person weighing 70 kilograms (154 pounds), this is a minimum of 11,550 IU and higher than 161,000 IU per day in the majority of cases. These figures apply to cases where vitamin D was not supplemented alongside it. 

When vitamin D is taken alongside vitamin A, the majority of vitamin A toxicity cases involve months or years of consistently taking more than 4620 IU vitamin A per kilogram body weight per day, which for a person weighing 70 kilograms is 323,400 IU per day. Almost all vitamin A is prepared in oil; however, vitamin A preparations that are water-soluble, emulsified, or solid may cause toxicity in weeks rather than months and at ten times lower doses.

I do eat animal products that are rich in vitamin A, but I rarely exceed one or two servings of liver per week. At the time of the fungal infection that preceded the onset of my symptoms, I was eating some liver but was not supplementing with vitamin A. When I went on the terbinafine, I tried some B vitamins that made the fungal infection much worse, so I became paranoid of taking any supplements. 

There’s no way that during this time I was exceeding an average of 10,000 IU of vitamin A per day.

The terbinafine helped roll back the fungal infection, but it lingered. After I was off the terbinafine and most of the neurological problems had subsided, I tried experimenting with ways to clear up the fungal infection for good. I found that supplementing with 10,000 IU of vitamin A per day, a half a shot of vodka per day (which I suspect enhances the conversion of retinol to retinoic acid by increasing expression of alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenases), and regular use of a mixed UVA/UVB tanning bed did the trick and completely cleared up my skin.

Currently, I do eat meat, eggs, and either take some liver capsules or eat ground beef mixed with liver, but my liver consumption does not exceed an average of 4-8 ounces per week, capsules and food combined. I don’t take vitamin A on top of this unless I feel like I might be getting sick.

My lab data, vitamin A intake, and case history all contradict the idea that I have vitamin A toxicity, or that vitamin A toxicity caused any of my neurological issues.

I’m certainly open to changing my mind, but I’m more interested in following what the data best indicate rather than falling into a “pro-” or “anti-” vitamin A school of thought.

My Alcohol Use

Smith opens by suggesting I drink alcohol in a way that negatively impacts my health:

In this article, I will lay out the science that shows that Chris has a severe and worsening chronic Vitamin A toxicity problem, severe B-vitamin (particularly thiamine) deficiency problems, and that both of those issues are being exacerbated by continued alcohol consumption.

I'm not going to re-post any of the post's associated pictures, as I think the words above are enough.  I did note that in two of the three associated pictures he posted he was holding a beer, and in this post he talks about four drinks in one night while the picture is of yet another beer.

While it’s true that I occasionally will drink four drinks in one night, I keep myself to an average of four drinks per week. If I have four drinks one night, I’ll abstain for a week.

People who drink occasionally or an average of up to two drinks per day have the lowest total mortality. Those who drink an average of two drinks per day have the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Those who drink an average of one or two drinks a day have the lowest risk of colorectal cancer. Those who drink an average of one drink per day have the lowest risk of stroke. Those who drink an average of between ¼ a drink per day and two drinks per day have the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.

I don’t think we can assume that these associations represent causal relationships. However, I find it plausible that low doses of ethanol have a hormetic effect, which means it is bad in high doses but a little bit can be good for you. From my personal experimentation, I believe I do best when I have an average of a half a drink per day, which is 3-4 drinks per week.

It’s clear that ethanol is a toxin, that it can destroy the liver at high enough doses, and that alcoholics suffer from all kinds of health problems. Ethanol interferes with vitamin A’s function, and inhibits the absorption, activation, and/or storage of not just thiamin, as Smith notes, but of virtually every B vitamin. However, it’s entirely possible that small amounts of ethanol are beneficial. For example, one of the reasons ethanol hurts vitamin A function is that ethanol is metabolized by some of the same enzymes that activate vitamin A, which means that ethanol competes with vitamin A for use of those enzymes and inhibits its activation. But ethanol also causes us to make more of these enzymes so that we can metabolize it. It’s quite possible that small intermittent doses of ethanol could enhance vitamin A activation by increasing the activity of the enzymes that activate it.

Regardless, I don’t think it makes sense to generalize from the harms of alcohol abuse to light drinking.

Do I Believe Food Can Cause Vitamin A Toxicity?

Smith goes on to suggest that I don’t believe that vitamin A from food can be toxic:

Chris Masterjohn is well-known in nutritional circles as being a superfan of the Weston A. Price Foundation's (WAPF) general dietary guidelines of consuming MASSIVE amounts of Vitamin A from foods (liver, eggs, dairy, cod liver oil, squashes, etc.) and incorrectly believing that food-based Vitamin A is somehow magickally, completely, and utterly non-toxic.  How wrong they are, and their followers (who often become my clients trying to fix the damage) and their children pay the price for it.

Actually, my guide to managing nutritional status has a section on vitamin A toxicity, I have videos on my site about how to know if you have vitamin A toxicity and what to do about it, and the vitamin A lesson of Vitamins and Minerals 101 also has a section on vitamin A toxicity. I do not say anywhere that food vitamin A is exempt, and I routinely recommend a default of limiting liver to no more than eight ounces per week, partly on the basis of avoiding too much vitamin A.

Smith cites articles I wrote for the Weston A. Price Foundation as early as 2004, and of course my views have evolved since then. However, even at that time, Sally Fallon came to me of the persuasion that food vitamin A was not a problem while synthetic vitamin A was, and when she asked me to write articles on the topic, I did enormous amounts of research and wrote articles that nowhere supported that distinction. I instead argued what I saw in the literature, that vitamin D strongly protects against vitamin A toxicity, and that balance between nutrients was at least as important as the absolute amounts of the nutrients.

Can You Become Deficient in Vitamin A in One Month?

Smith goes on to argue that my belief one can become vitamin A deficient in a month is impossible:

Who can forget the article & video he did about how he somehow got ‘Vitamin A deficient' in less than one month, which is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to do!  How do I know this? First, with his assumed/implied Vitamin A-heavy diet, he is nowhere near deficient in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, which means it is stored in the liver and all over the body.  Medscape says: ‘An adult liver can store up to a year's reserve of vitamin A.' He absolutely did not ‘get deficient' in one month of eating a ‘low-Vitamin A' diet, certainly not when he regularly eats as many Vitamin A foods as he does! What likely happened is that his body started DETOXING/DUMPING that poison, causing him detoxification symptoms, because it FINALLY had the opportunity to do so!

The fact that the liver can hold a year’s worth of vitamin A does not mean that everyone’s liver at every moment is holding that much.

In fact, the RDA for vitamin A is explicitly based on providing enough vitamin A for liver stores to last for only four months, and the amount of vitamin A stored in the livers of Americans and Canadians varies 140-fold. 

People with clinical vitamin A deficiency typically have liver stores of 10 micrograms per gram (mcg/g) or less, while 20 mcg/g provides a margin of safety. 

More recent research suggests that the biochemical signs of vitamin A deficiency stop around 28.6 mcg/g, which is almost 50% higher than what the RDA shoots for, suggesting that the optimal intake of vitamin A might be closer to 5000 IU per day.

Current research also suggests the risk of hypervitaminosis occurs at liver stores that are ten times this, while outright toxicity occurs at liver stores that are 100 times this.

The window between the liver stores associated with freedom from deficiency and the liver stores associated with hypervitaminosis and toxicity is very large. While someone who gets the RDA for vitamin A should have a four-month reserve before hitting clinical deficiency signs or symptoms, people who currently have these signs and symptoms do not have any reserve at all. They are already in the range of liver stores (10 mcg/g or less) associated with clinical deficiency.

I have no idea what my liver stores are. Further, I do not know what my rate of vitamin A utilization is. The RDA assumes that you eliminate 0.05% of your liver stores per day, but for all I know I use up vitamin A at a faster rate. If that’s true, I would have deficient liver stores even getting more than the RDA, and I could easily slip into the range of clinical deficiency within a month.

Is My Fructose Malabsorption Caused by Vitamin A?

Smith cites something I apparently wrote that he doesn’t link to about “not being able to absorb fructose well.” I searched my site and can’t figure out where that quote is coming from. If it is a direct quote from me, I was simplifying.

Smith suggests my issue with fructose is because of vitamin A toxicity:

Note the part about “not being able to metabolize fructose well.” Research has shown in rats that Vitamin A toxicity slows down a key enzyme directly involved in FRUCTOSE metabolism: Early effects of hypervitaminosis A on gluconeogenic activity and amino acid metabolizing enzymes of rat liver. 

This study has nothing to do with my issue.

I have testing showing that I don’t absorb fructose well in my intestines. I don’t have any data suggesting that I have trouble allowing it to enter the glycolytic pathway.

Smith cites a study where 70,000 IU was given daily to rats weighing 70-90 grams, which is the bodyweight-adjusted equivalent of me consuming the absurd amount of 58,210,988 IU per day, something I’ve never even remotely approached.

The activity of phosphofructokinase-1 and pyruvate kinase were decreased. Phosphofructokinase-1 is an important enyzme that allows glucose to be used for energy. Fructose skips this enzyme when it enters glycolysis. Pyruvate kinase is important for the final burning of glucose and fructose for energy. There is nothing specifically impacting fructose about this effect.

And, again, my problem is intestinal fructose absorption, which does not necessarily have anything at all to do with glycolysis.

Do I Have Skeletal Deformations?

Smith suggests that my gait abnormality — which quickly disappeared in response to B vitamins the second and third time it happened, and which was never provoked by a change in vitamin A intake — is from vitamin A toxicity. 

In support, he cites a study in cats where toxic levels of vitamin A caused extensive bone spurs in the cervical spine and an abnormal hindquarter gait. He also cites a study in pigs, where joint deformities are the cause of the gait abnormality.

To my knowledge, I do not have bone spurs in my cervical spine or joint deformities causing a gait issue. 

Did Terbinafine Damage My Liver?

Smith continues: 

Terbinafine is an anti-fungal medication that has a known reputation for being very hepatotoxic (toxic to the liver). The liver happens to be the main location of both Vitamin A storage and detoxification.  Damage that, damage everything.”

Here is my article about other antifungal medications that are known to inhibit the breakdown/detoxification of Vitamin A, eventually leading to chronic Vitamin A toxicity.

While terbinafine can damage the liver, I had my “liver enzymes” tested while I was on it. ALT and AST were both 22, which is right in the middle of the range. Right up until this summer, at my most recent test, my “liver enyzmes” have remained middle of the range.

I agree with Smith that liver damage will make vitamin A more toxic, because it can cause fibrosis, which requires vitamin A-storing cells to convert to cells that lay down scar tissue, causing the liver to lose its vitamin A-storing capacity. It’s unlikely I had this level of liver damage if my liver enzymes never budged.

Can We Make Inferences About Vitamin A From Accutane?

Smith goes on to equate Accutane with vitamin A, in order to invoke an Accutane/terbinafine drug interaction:

13-cis retinoic is also sold to people in pharmaceutical pill form.  It's called isotretinoin, or more familiarly, ACCUTANE. There is NO difference between the 13-cis retinoic acid that you take in an ACCUTANE pill and the 13-cis retinoic acid that your body turns carotenoids and retinoids into in your body.  If you choose to argue, please take that to the chemists and biochemists who know much more about these things than internet armchair “Appeal to Nature” fallacy warriors, OK? They will tell you that there is NO difference. They cannot tell the difference between “natural” 13-cis retinoic acid and “synthetic” 13-cis retinoic acid in any bodily fluid. Therefore, they are the SAME.

While some vitamin A is converted to 13-cis retinoic acid in the body, most of it is converted to all-trans retinoic acid. There are very good reasons to consider Accutane and vitamin A antagonists.

13-cis-retinoic acid interacts with the genome in a completely different and far less regulated way than all-trans retinoic acid. In a mouse model of emphysema, vitamin A is protective while 13-cis-retinoic acid is not. 13-cis-retinoic acid accumulates in the eyes of rats and interferes with vitamin A recycling; in fact, rats taking it took fifty times longer to recover from exposure to intense light than rats that did not take it. This is a sign of functional vitamin A deficiency.

This antagonism is also supported in human case reports. Accutane caused night blindness in a child with cystic fibrosis, and vitamin A supplementation resolved it. Two patients developed depression on Accutane; going off the drug and supplementing with 10-12,000 IU of vitamin A for seven to ten days resolved it, and they were able to go back on the drug without it recurring.

It is not an “armchair ‘Appeal to Nature’ fallacy to distinguish between Accutane and vitamin A. It is simply a requirement of scientific precision and logic to make this distinction.

He goes on to cite a entry stating that terbinafine and isotretinoin (Accutane) can interact to produce “myopathy, rhabdomyolysis, and myoglobinuria.”

I don’t believe I have ever had myoglobinuria, as this would discolor my urine and I would see it. My neurologist has ordered blood tests that would reveal a myopathy and they are pending. In a case report of a terbinafine-isotretinoin interaction involved leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and an EMG characteristic of myopathy. I don’t have leukopenia or thrombocytopenia, and my EMG was completely normal. 

It’s an incredible stretch to generalize from isotretinoin (Accutane) to vitamin A from liver or butternut squash, and there’s nothing about my case that stands out as remarkably similar to isotretinoin-terbinafine interactions. 

Is My Eczema Caused by Vitamin A Toxicity?

I agree with Smith that skin problems can be a sign of vitamin A toxicity. However, my eczema seems like it probably has a fungal basis, my vitamin A was at very low levels when the fungal infection was at its worst, and adding vitamin A was one of the most important things I did to clear my skin up in the post-terbinafine phase.  

Did Tanning Deplete my Thiamin?

Smith then argues that tanning may have precipitated my gait abnormality by destroying thiamin.

Well, I have no disagreement here, but I don’t see why Smith is so focused on thiamin. UV light destroys many nutrients, including vitamin A, and including riboflavin, folate, and B12. It also causes DNA damage that increases the turnover of niacin. 

One of my key hypotheses when the gait abnormality crept up this last time was that tanning was destroying B vitamins. So I started supplementing with all the B vitamins, including 100 mg/d of thiamin, and boom. Gone. While it sometimes seems there are traces remaining, by the time I went into the neurologist, she could not observe the gait abnormality when she asked me to walk. 

Do I Have a Financial Interest Blinding Me to Vitamin A Toxicity?

Smith suggests my financial interest is blinding me to my vitamin A toxicity:

It should also be known that on his website he promotes discounts–and thus likely has financial arrangements with–at least two companies that sell organ meats in various forms.  Why is this important? The old saying, ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!' applies here.

Most of my revenue comes from sales of my cheat sheet, memberships in my Masterpass, and consultations. It’s true that I earn commissions from two companies that sell organ meats, but this is an exceedingly small proportion of my revenue. Year to date that has generated $2,720.76, which is a very small part of what I need to pay for my business expenses. Further, I actually give away these commissions to my members! This removes the incentive to sell a specific product and creates an incentive to deliver great content and deals to my members.

Sure, I make some money here, but not enough to blind me to vitamin A toxicity as the root cause of a neurological problem. I’d gladly give up $3K for the sake of my neurological health.

I find it deeply ironic that Smith draws attention to my finances and then concludes with this: 

If you like what you see, know that I take private clients from around the world for “Nutritional Restoration” based on testing, not guessing.  I also have a private network at where my “Vitamin A, Aldehydes, and Glyphosate Detox” Program can be purchased for the do-it-yourself-ers.

Interested in my comprehensive Poison/”Vitamin A” Detox program? Contact Us

Want to work directly with me? I work with US and International clients! Contact my office

Enjoy seeing this work? Want to see more of it? Donations gratefully accepted! Click Here

If you order from iHerb, use my affiliate coupon code NCJ477 to get 5% Off!

If you order from Amazon, here is the Nutrition Restored Amazon Product List.

Smith and I both need to make money, but my revenue is not directly tied to my position on vitamin A in the way it would be if I were selling programs specifically about vitamin A or consultations specifically about correcting vitamin A-related problems.

I have no doubt that Smith offers these programs because he genuinely believes in their efficacy, but with financial interests that are directly rooted in vitamin A-related programs and guides, and an analysis of my health problem that literally leads directly into a sales pitch for his program, I don’t think it is fair to suggest that my own views are being shaped by my financial interests.

Looking for the Root Cause

Smith quotes me as saying, “The last bout of twitching is highly effectively managed with strategies targeting acid-base balance and glutamate (currently emphasizing beta-alanine and B6).”

Then he retorts:

“Managing” symptoms is not what I do.  I am after the ROOT CAUSE.

Me too! That’s why I’m investigating what this actually is

Which is more likely to turn up the root cause? 

Seeing a neurologist with expertise in distinguishing between different neuromuscular disorders that may present similarly but have different root causes? 

Or just assuming that all health problems of any sort are driven by vitamin A toxicity?

I’m inclined to think precisely identifying what is going on, and then doing additional work to investigate all the possible root causes, is the approach that will lead me to the root cause.

Smith is willing to jump to a conclusion of vitamin A toxicity without having access to my data or needing to discuss my case with me at all. I can’t imagine that’s an effective way to get to the root cause of anyone’s case.

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  1. There is something to Dr Smith’s theories and Grant Genereux’s findings I believe (n=1), but the way he arrogantly and unprofessionally “diagnosed” you based on online content means most reasonable people will be inclined to give him a wide berth. Garret Smith’s behavior in this instance should and most likely will taint anything he may achieve in the future. Hopefully someone more professional will expand on Genereaux’s work.

  2. Chris, I believe your neurological problems, and the fungal issues, and eczema and healing from organ meats all show low copper, and you benefitting from copper in liver meat.

    My New book: “The Copper Revolution: Healing with Minerals”

    Join us at the Copper Revolution Facebook Group:

    Furthermore, the side effects of the antifungal medicine read to me as a list of copper deficiency symptoms.

  3. As a patient of Smith, he took me off vit A for 3 months. I ate NO A at all, formed or unformed, for 3 months. I read the books and believed my “doctor.” I came to my senses when my low energy symptoms didn’t improve like he promised they would and I could not get an erection anymore. I started supplementing retinol and the boners came back within a week. Smith is a total quack and so is Genereaux. Nothing sells like a medical cult.

  4. I took accutane, now have parasthesia and pain in both forearms , anxiety , nerve pain in forearms and pain near belly button..I got a hair mineral analysis test , it shows I have very high calcium , high barium and uranium….what are your thoughts?

  5. Chris,

    Forgot 2 things:

    Are you familiar with “culinary ash”?

    A number of Native American nations pursue specific plants which tend to have deep roots, they then burn the plants and use the ash in specific food prep.

    Turns out the burning process results in mineral forms that are ideal for uptake into our bodies.

    The interesting theory from here is changing from open fire cooking to gas and electric cooking, may have actually contributed to mineral deficiencies. Versus cooking on or in and open fire and this having some ash in our diets to pickup otherwise difficult to obtain minerals.

    Also, more obscure vitamin B’s degrade very quickly after death of a plant. Thus our buying foods produced at great distance guarantees B deficiencies. Kefir produces B’s when the bugs digest their food. In other words, lining ones gut with Kefir flora means dietary B intake is a none issue, feeding the flora something they can make B’s out of is more important. And thus the flora provides B’s that are so unstable that supplements for them can not even be produced.

    Seems everyone glosses over gut flora as if its impossible to consider. Yet the raw milk and its flora are very stable and available to “impose” onto our gut, should we choose.



  6. Hi Chris,

    Just found you and your site, that you for all the info you have provided.

    In some of the videos I watched you made some comments that struct a cord with my and my own health issues through the years, and how they were resolved. Finding this thread, I note you comment on some of the very things I too experienced and overcame, thus my interest in posting this for you consideration.

    My background in nutrition is having accepted responsibility for my own health when at age 13 I gave up all simple carbs and have continued that into my current late 50’s.

    Many speak of diet and nutrition and the variable of gut bacteria. This was one of the final issues for me to figure out about my own health. Doug Kaufmann’s book Know the Cause gave me the key I needed to address health issues I’d never been able to figure out: Systemic fungal infection from eating massive amounts of sugar as a child.

    I now make daily Kefir from raw milk. Consuming this imposes the bacteria and mold profiles onto the digestive biofilm of my digestive tract, which the kifer “bugs” were intended to form. It is well understood that 80% of our immune system is in the digestive tract, this very biofilm which in my case varies little because of the kefir I consume and the massive amount of beneficial bacteria and mold it contains.

    These “bugs” don’t come from man, they come from the spontaious forming grains in raw milk, and ad then harvested. These are the bugs mammalian give their young to digest their food and form 80% of their immune system. Is the GI biofilm that a doctor destroys the first time an antibiotic is prescribed, thus leaving us open to the bugs in the food we eat.

    Further to this, and here is where Doug comes in, the history of Statins seems to be antifungal research resulting in recognition of a decrease in cholesterol which then lead to the current fad of lowering cholesterol. I say fad because from what I can see the contributors to Kaufmann’s book seem to have pointed out something no longer discussed. Cholesterol seems to be a clearing mechanism for fungal infections. That is the fungus is incapsulated by the Cholesterol, which in the extreme causes gall stones.

    Consuming Kefir to maintain a baseline of symbiotic gut flora has another interesting effect, it makes you move to a fat and protein diet. Those bugs produce a lot of CO2 when you eat carbs. The result is a diet that starves fungus.

    Please consider reading Doug’s book, and researching what I have presented about Kefir. Please also look into what Kefir does to fats and proteins, as it produces virtually all the Vitamins we need. In other words they create the condition such that we feed the bugs, and the bugs feed us, is less an issue of what our body needs so long as we have the right bugs digesting our food. They also form a barrier to pathogenic bugs getting into our body.

    I also concluded “leaky gut syndrome” is a fallacy. Those voids are where Kefir gain flora attach to the lining of the gut to get close to our blood stream to excrete our nutrition into our blood stream. Leaky gut occurs when our gut flora is so far off that the bugs we have dont do seal those holes or are in those holes excreating toxins.

    Suffice it to say, when Introduced home made Kefir into my diet, the health issues I was having went away in 4 months and over the next year many “age related issues” went away. When my mother say me she was stunned by how young I looked as my skin had also changed.

    Our ability to control gut flora via natural methods of cultured raw milk is overlooked everywhere. If you have a dog offer it store bought whole milk, and raw milk. Then leave a bowl of each out over night and offer them to your dog, notice the result is the same. Kefir is just accelerating that process. And people think dogs like milk, no, they just recognize toxic food when it is presented to them. Then there is the issue of how control of gut flora prevents systemic fungal infections which is also never discussed, except by Doug. I think these are very key issues for you to consider and try in your own diet and see what happens.



    1. Thanks for sharing that information in your comment Charles. I wish I knew as much about how to get and keep healthy as you apparently do.

  7. Garret Smith has been relentlessly soliciting to people with chronic health problems after Accutane (a form of vit A) for a couple years now.

    Still have a persistent symptom a decade after you took the drug? Garret will try to shoehorn that symptom into the “retinoid toxicity theory” and make claims that your vit A levels are still dangerously elevated after 10+ years, despite normal or low-normal range levels in blood work.

    Ask for his (often patently wrong) associations made between a study about Accutane and his/Grant’s theory to be explained in a way that isn’t nonsensical tripe…. Nothing but silence from him.

    Ask why 20+ years of post-Accutane patients trying vit A restricted diets hasn’t yielded notable results… Silence.

    Don’t pay his predatory methods of patient recruitment any attention for too long… Wah! Nobody wants to be fixed.

    It’s amusing how the many people he claims to have helped with lasting side effects from Accutane are entirely absent from any discussion of the drug. It must make for too easy of a mark when you have groups full of people freshly initiated into the post-Accutane world and all you have to do is explain how the drug is a type of vitamin A and how he can help.

  8. I much appreciate your meticulous and clearly explained research. Regarding getting to the root cause, I encourage you to investigate BioAcoustics as pioneered by Sharry Edwards. Basically this is a decades old energy medicine area of research that provides both diagnostic and treatment applications based on frequencies found in the voice. Lab tests are fine, but your body provides real-time health status. Quite remarkable results have been achieved, but it does take some sleuthing and your vast knowledge of human nutritional science would make it all that much more impactful. See, or visit my little introductory site where I try to explain this paradigm-shifting approach to wellness at

  9. Chris, just wanted to mention… I also had a chronic fungal infection that was horrible and nothing was getting rid of it… was suffering for 9 months… probiotics were keeping it from spreading, tea tree oil helped for the pain … finally I stumbled upon a cure. Topical apple cider vinegar, of all things, did the trick. I applied it with soaked cotton pads at least twice a day for a month. It started dying off within the first day and took a month to completely go away. No recurrence for a year now. On another note, I’m interested to read if you have ever experimented with high dose Thiamine. I started down the Thiamine rabbit hole recently and I think deficiency might be implicated in PANDAS and/or OCD and/or Trichillomania.

    1. super interesting.

      I have had elevated strep antibodies (both the main types) on bloods without an obvious infection multiple times, also showed on stool test as elevated. anxiety/panic vanished on erythromycin (not placebo since I wasn’t expecting anything to happen).

      I’ll look in to the thiamine.

  10. magnificent submit, very informative. I ponder why the opposite
    specialists of this sector do not notice this.

    You must proceed your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

  11. Hello, Dr. Masterjohn,

    I don’t really know where to leave this comment, but this post seems rather appropriate.

    I serve beef liver to my husband and myself once a week. They are not a consistent amount, but usually over 100 grams each, not exceeding 200. I have a 6-year history of severe insomnia, but I always sleep very well those nights. I also take a zinc glycinate pill with it, which has given great results for my sleep too.

    My husband, however, sleeps very badly every time. This time I had him take a zinc pill (about 20 mg) with it, though it’s not the first time. Again it didn’t work: he slept badly.

    We tested our vitamin D around 6 months ago and he was low, around 20. He has not been consistent about taking drops (5,000 IU) but does so occasionally. He doesn’t have the time nor the desire to retest. ( Actually, I’m no longer consistent about taking mine either!)

    Is this likely why he sleeps badly? Low vitamin D? He sleeps decently otherwise except when very stressed. He doesn’t want to eat the liver anymore now that I’ve brought the pattern to his attention. The next morning I had him take 10,000 IU D3 and…he slept very badly again!

  12. Chris,
    You mentioned water-soluble vitamin A as quoted below:

    “Almost all vitamin A is prepared in oil; however, vitamin A preparations that are water-soluble, emulsified, or solid may cause toxicity in weeks rather than months and at ten times lower doses.”

    What are these “water-soluble, emulsified or solid” vitamin A preparation and where can I read more about them?


  13. I’m very glad that you have taken the time to respond to this.
    Although being an NT myself, I have become more and more confused by the vitamin A debate and I have to say that some of the studies quoted by Grant and Dr Smith have made me worried about vitamin A. I would love it if you had the time one day to take these studies apart.

    I used to be one of Dr Smith’s clients – back then it was all about too much calcium, vitamin D and iron. Not long ago, he actually used vitamin A supplementation as his main approach to reduce calcium…
    Whilst being on his protocol, I did develop some issues probably related to vitamin A toxicity, which got better after stopping supplementation and eating lower vitamin A diet. At the time he was very dismissive when I raised the issue and then funnily enough completely changed his opinion to ‘vitamin A being the cause of everything’. The way he dealt with me at the time as a client was dismissive, arrogant and not at all compassionate or caring, so I ended up falling out with him and he’s completely lost my respect (my gut feeling was that he himself wasn’t looking healthy at all, yet he was following his own protocols – so how can they be right? Unfortunately I ignored that thought for a while).

    However, some of the studies him and Grant have listed are worrying to me, especially since I have developed a lot of related symptoms whilst being on vitamin A supplementation (25.000 IU a day for a year) – so I don’t think they’re completely wrong and we need to keep the discussion going and look at both sides.

    I’m really hoping you’ll take the time one day to look at these studies and give us your view on them.

    1. James, “water-soluble, emulsified or solid” water-dispersible Vitamin A is what they add to skim milk in the United States.

    2. It doesn’t surprise me at all you had that experience with him. Based on his personal attack on Chris which is obviously to push his agenda/make money, that tells us all we need to know about his professionalism.

    3. Bernise,

      How are things going for you?

      I’m beginning to think that any/all “supplementation” is a bad idea. Rather, getting the nutrients from food — as much as possible, anyway — is almost certainly a better idea.

      Our Body Stores ALL Vitamins — Including Water-Soluble Ones

      How to Make Your Own Multivitamin with Your Diet

      I hope you’re doing well.


    4. Garrett Smith is crazy… diagnosed me with Vitamin a toxicity based on absolutely nothing: He should be stripped of his license: so many people are sick and looking for help: He preys on them.

  14. Have you read Grant Genereux’s book, though? Try to have an open mind and just give it a chance. Or, if you can’t do that, read it so you can debunk it and show everyone where Genereux’s theory is wrong.

    If you don’t have the time to read the whole thing, at the very least, just read Chapter 5 of ‘Poisoning for Profits’ where Grant points out the fatal errors made in the original Vitamin A Deficiency experiments from up to a century ago, which became the flawed foundation of all VA research since.

    Genereux has put all his research out there for free on his blog. Here’s the book:

    1. Franko, debunking chapter 5 will be too easy for Chris.

      Chris, please don’t take chapter 5 as a challenge to debunk, because you’ll be very disappointed by how easy it was. Extremely easy.

    2. Well, Grant did show that his No A diet can reduce the lifespan of Gerbils from about 2 years to only 6 months. With proof like that, what needs debunking?

  15. Dr. Smith is a charlatan that much is quite obvious. His mind links everything back to A like psychotic mental patient thinking he’s a great detective. The guy is a lunatic man and the only person who’s worse is that idiot Grant genereux. He looks like a low T middle aged women when I saw him on YouTube. His books are literally children’s connect the dots book. Blaming every problem in history to vitamin A with bad science and huge stretches of reality to make it all fit. You should really read the books just to make an entertaining critique.
    Vitamin A theory is hot garbage

    1. Did you actually read the books? The critique of how far reaching retinol damage extends is perfectly warranted. However, the lack of understanding of what VA even was back when the studies on the rats were being conducted does warrant a reexamination. If a belief rests upon a faulty foundation, how much of said belief becomes warped?

      Case studies of the carnivore people eating exclusively fatty steak (no organs) and apparently doing fine, indicates what about the ‘necessity’ of VA?

      Where Genereux did dismiss glyphosate early on, Dr. Smith has not. The dramatic increase in illness surrounding the widespread implementation of glyphosate is a critical component, imo. Glyphosate not only chelates minerals, it also has antibiotic effects and more besides. Disruption to nutrient, enzyme, and microbiome processes seems like a valid hypothesis to understanding the tidal wave of health problems.

      Hyprvitaminosis A was likely quite rare before things went awry, but there are cases. If it is simply another plant toxin, and isn’t necessary, it is critical to us understanding that since so many people are having trouble tolerating plant matter due to the inability to filter these things out of the body properly these days.

      Connecting dots is actually proper investigation. Distinguishing the correlations from the causations requires further examination, which Dr. Smith is in the process of doing.

      The minds involved in this are intelligent and delve into research. That is much needed as most doctors do not do this. A friendly dialogue would serve the community better than yet more hostile ranting, insults, accusations, and diatribe.

      Smith is tired of the dismissal, as the WAPF crowd has been like a brick wall on this topic for, oh, maybe 15 years now and patience is running thin. Dr. John Cannel said be cautious with VA at a WAPF speech back in like 2005 or so, as he was having some success with vitamin D and autism, but VA ended any progress. He noted the response was religious in nature… “they reached for their cod liver oil flasks”…or something along those lines. The diet failed my family in spectacular fashion, so my patience is thin on this too. But it may have just been the cod liver oil that was the problem (it certainly wasn’t the beef flesh from small responsibly raised farms, for which things I applaud the WAPF). At a bare minimum, the WAPF needs to vocally express caution with excess VA. Masterjohn extrapolated 59 million units in his response to the rat studies. People have become sick on far far less, so this rebuttal is simply evasion and invalid. Accutane doesn’t get anywhere near that much, yet look at the carnage it has wrought. Many people seem to be getting more sensitive to things, so toxicity doses could vary widely.

  16. I’m only n=1, but I developed many, many of the symptoms of hypervitaminosis A (and lots of the associated issues on labwork eg potassium deficiency, elevated blood glucose) after taking 25,000 iu for just 4 weeks – yes, weeks – (I took 50,000 iu for 2 days of that). I was not eating liver regularly (though I had done in the past), and although I had previously supplemented A and D, I hadn’t done so for about 2 years beforehand. My labwork did not indicate liver problems, but I was almost certainly B6 deficient at the time. I don’t know anything about AST, but according to this study, in the case of vit B6 deficiency, ALT may not be elevated even in cases of liver damage caused by hypervitaminosis A.

    I haven’t had a liver biopsy, so I can’t be absolutely 100% sure my problems were related to hypervitaminosis A, but they have improved a LOT by stopping supplements and eating a low VA diet. I now feel better overall than I did before I started supplementing despite still dealing with substantial and numerous health challenges.

    I don’t believe that vitamin A is always a poison and is the cause of all disease, but I do think it’s possible to develop toxicity at much lower doses than has previously been thought possible. I knew about Dr Smith’s work before I gave myself hypervitaminosis A, and thought he was just another crackpot with a bee in his bonnet and dismissed it pretty much out of hand. Now while I have some reservations about some of his approach, I wish I’d listened more carefully to his warnings about people developing toxicity on much lower doses than has previously been thought likely.

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