Dry eyes? Poor night vision? Get sick often? Bumpy or flaky skin? You may need more vitamin A. In this video, I tell you how to figure that out, and what to do about it.

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41 Comments

  1. There is something… people heal. Then some start to crave vital A food. This is when you have to listen to your body! Detox is enough.
    This is the experience after a few months of a familly. Their site is iheal.me
    I have found I’d better stay off caroten and some new studies say that it can be a bad source indeed.

  2. This is not BS at all, as some more people start to heal with low Vit.A diets! Results are quick, so we will know soon. There are ways to do it less strictly than Grant. Then it becomes easy to try! Butter nutrition is a blog that gives a good resumé.

    The zc or carnivore diet might also be working for this reasons (if they are low on liver). And… bingo! This diet also gives its best successes on auto-immune illnesses!

    I have read his 1000 pages, both ebooks… And NO, this is not Vit. A “detox”, but elimination by the only known way: natural use by the body. Then you can resume a more varied diet, but taking care to not accumulate too much again. Women on the pill are at greater risk of accumulating retinol and making retinoid acid. Apart from enriched foods, we still do not know why some people accumulate more, but my guess is that it happens when the lymphatic system is compromised. Carotenoids take the lymphatic route from the mesenterium to the liver.

    Grant Genereux might have been too touched to be able to relax his diet, because of cellular memory and memory of the limbic and ANS brains. In that case, you might not be able to stand any product that made you react, unless trying some somatic work to reduce the memory reaction and the fighting reaction of the ANS (Autonomic Nervous System)

    It happens that I got also better last year by eating a diet that by chance is low in Vitamine A… And no… No conspiracy, but just realizing that when people/companies make mistakes, they prefer to not sing it as a rooster on the roofs! What do you do at work and with your spouse when you fear to be fired? You try to hide and repair the consequences.
    ….We also all did this to our parents, as children! This is human nature. It is just the scale that makes the problem.

  3. I would also be interested in your reply to Matt Stone on vitamin A toxicity as he mentions you directly on his podcast. He says that your low vitamin A symptoms were actually detox symptoms starting up. Could vitamin A really be as toxic and destroying to health as he is saying and detoxing from it as critical?
    http://180degreehealth.com/vitamin-depletion-discussion-dr-garrett-smith/?fbclid=IwAR3LKeQtoiiCpGY3UZC614z2AABEffo4jXa_lwY_wxnAUvhqvxddPXfTV3U

    1. I am curious about this as well. While Matt’s work has helped me a great deal in overcoming dietary dogmatism, I think he is putting the cart before the horse on this one. I would take the word “detox” with a grain of salt, as it’s purely anecdotal. “Detox” symptoms can often be confused with legitimate feelings of malaise from deficient or depleted state. I would like to hear Chris’s thoughts on this topic as well.

      1. This stuff is flat-earth bullshit.

        I realize that so many are talking about it I need to address it at some point. But really, this feels like being invited to a debate with a flat-earther.

        1. Chris,

          Thank you for the response. I read the book out of curiosity and it was anecdote after anecdote. Lots of conspiracy theory and supposition. Not to mention, it’s based off of one guy’s theory, and he posts pictures of him and his family with good looking skin as “proof” of not needing much vitamin A.

          1. Chris, with all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about.
            I have done extremely low Vit A for 7 months now. It has changed my life. Acne, hairloss, low muscle mass – a thing of the past, but that is just part of the list.
            I know, I know, Steven, another anecdote. Mindboggling, really, how you could ever call the book anecdote after anecdote. You probably missed the whole point of that book. It is also very scary that you, Chris, actually work in a field where you tell others what to eat. Very scary.

          2. Antonio,

            With all due respect, what are your credentials? Chris studies this stuff for a living at an academic level. I am an RD who has worked in the nutrition field for years alongside dozens of doctors, monitoring thousands of patients. What’s “mindboggling” is that a keyboard warrior can read one book by a man who is an engineer of all things, who is not qualified to be making any claims about vitamin A toxicity, and subscribe that his theory of everything is above all past and current scientific textbook information about vitamin A. Nothing in that book impressed me in the least. His conclusions and claims are scientifically untenable and are not based on actually research, just assumptions that he personally made based off of his interpretation of an elimination diet that he tried. How do we know that a diet of beef, rice, and white potatoes are not eliminating some other substance besides vitamin A, and that’s what’s causing the health improvements? The answer is, we don’t and it would be utterly foolish and futile to make any claims of whether or not it is from reducing vitamin A intake or not without actual scientific research that can be replicated. I’m all for going on an elimination diet and if you get better than more power to you, but I am not for you incorrectly interpreting the mechanism behind your health improvements and then making broad assumptions for what the rest of us should eat. Ever hear of confounding variables? The scientific method?

          3. I am happy about Antonio’s answer, as I have read more success about low Vit. A! Do not forget that Grant got a cure but had been eating VA fortified foods, explaining his previous overload.
            Some guys also have a cure with the carnivore diet, and it might be for some of them, that they deplete Vit.A, which can explain the real success against auto-immune illnesses.
            I would also suggest to read about the CELL DANGER RESPONSE, Dr Naviaux research, because this explains the similar reactions from different toxins, as they are different hammers on the same bell!
            I can fairly well imagine that VA can be such a “hammer” on the cell danger response – CDR – and that this will vary from person to person.

          4. Steven,
            What is not anecdotal is the real toxicity for people who get too much VA! This is documented! It just means that this is not necessary for everybody to deplete VA, but for people who have too much yes!
            The issue is actually how to know and test this…
            No the book is not anecdotal only, and it is mainly a different way of using logic, that I would call triangulation, or crossing informations, and this can lead outsiders to see what insiders have not seen before!

        2. Xisca,

          I am open to the idea that an elimination diet such as the one Grant suggests in his book can improve health, but there are many other reasons why this could be. The changing of certain foods that impact the gut microbiome, potentially less endotoxic load, less allergenic foods in general, less exposure to plant toxins such as oxalates, less fermentable foods. I’ve seen many people have similar experiences trying FODMAP diets, their skin clearing up, etc… You are right to say that there is real toxicity for vitamin A in humans, no denying that. And that is not my argument. I take argument with Grant’s overall statements like vitamin A is inherently a poison or that most people from industrialized nations are suffering from vitamin A toxicity. These things are not even remotely true in the slightest and as Chris said is borderline flat-earth thinking. And yes, the book is not only anecdotal, but a lot of it is. If you peer through his references, you will see that they are mostly associative and the conclusions he draws from them are assumptions that fall in the same trap that much of nutritional epidemiological data falls under. That is, it doesn’t account for confounding variables. We can’t make the assumption that because cod fisheries in Canada changed locations and people allegedly had improved health status, that their improved health status was from change in vitamin A intake. To do so is analogous to using the China study to blame animal protein on causing cancer, or use Ancel Key’s 21 country study to blame saturated fat on causing heart disease. These are assumptions made based on associative data and until confounding variables are accounted for, you don’t know whether it is vitamin A depletion, or something else. Maybe since Grant’s diet is so boring it causes dietary monotony and thus people spontaneously eat less. Eating less calories results in autophagy, similar to fasting. Autophagy can result in improvements in skin complexion, bowel function, elimination, etc… The point I am making is that we have a scientific method for a reason. Grant’s theory of vitamin A toxicity is a hypothesis and people are coming on here telling Chris (somebody who is a PhD, who studies this for a living and who has contributed more to the field of nutrition in a year than most of us will in a lifetime) that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’m going to go out on a limb that most people who subscribe to Grant’s theory of vitamin A toxicity have never even opened up a nutrition textbook in their lives. Grant is not qualified to call vitamin A a poison, and neither are his cult-like followers.

          1. Steven,
            I mentioned the CDR to say that indeed it is not only VitA but many other factors can trigger a cell danger response, no doubt.
            I’d take Grant into account for one reason: he says this is a theory and has no proof, but if we wait for those proofs not clinical but tested, we can wait to long! Just see history in the past, like Semmelweiss, he was right but could not prove it.
            He also says that VA is both poison and useful, and we use VA in case of infection. Being a poison does not meant it is not useful, as most drugs are poisons, and they cure by making the body react, this is a form of hormesis. Turmeric seems such an example, being good for liver by acting like a poison.

            When you add up sources of vitA and carotenoids, he is also right that it has become easy to over-load, when people are eating smoothies, juicing, eating colors and eating fortified foods! Add the pill for women and part of the population becomes even more at risk.

            You can also see that not everybody is in favor of anti-oxydants, as “too much” is too much for this too. If vitA is used by the body to fight infections, then it sure is a poison! It does not mean it is bad nor that he is wrong! Poisons are good at the right dose for the right person.

            If beef liver is richer than calf liver, this is because of accumulation with age. Chicken liver has even less, due I guess to the age of killing. So of course we can also accumulate, and we might have less opportunities than our ancestors to fight infections and use up our vitA?

            I just think that Grant was too “generous” in pages and should open to other sources of stress to cells and not keep his nose on VitA only, as this cannot be the case: it just reduces the chances that people take him seriously. His speculation about polio vaccine can also be right and I don’t bother, it’s done. I just think it is foolish to go on enriching food in vitamins: let people take the ones they need! And getting enough vitamin A is really not a problem.

            I am at the moment on a carnivore diet so I wondered if this was VA the problem, and I think not for me. If I introduce carbs, I have a global inflammation. But I can have garlic which is a fodmap, dry figs, and chicory root drink too. My last try was with some amaranth flour, and the reaction was easy to feel under my skin in the lymphatic system, and then pains in my joints.

            As I have had a not very common pre-birth exposure to chromatography’s alcohols in a lab, including iso-propanol and others and even ethanol, my guess is that my body kind of repeat an old reaction, as carbs lead to fermentation. It is just surprising that I can have some kefir which has certainly more alcohol than digesting a grain! And I tolerate fruits better than starch.

            So many mysteries!

          2. This cult follower has been on low vit A diet for a month and a half along with other family members. All are having health improvements weekly that are autoimmune, anxiety, eye and skin related issues. Just adding ANOTHER anecdote. Chris, do some more research and figure out WHY so many are doing better on the low vit A diet and stop insulting people who are healing. All I am seeing so far is pure speculation on your part and others who are critical of our health improvements. There is study after study that shows retinol’s effects of different parts of the body that exactly imitate the autoimmune issues we are seeing as well as supposed normal “aging” which I now believe to be from accumulation over time as Grant does. Anyway, I do respect your work and I look forward to seeing more of your investigation into this topic rather than just calling us all “flat-earthers” and just “BS”. And yes, for any who want to know, I am intelligent, 168 IQ, and have followed nutritional information in-depth for over 20 years so don’t come at me with any ignorance related comments.

    2. The first thing is that both vitamins A and D3 are used in the same chains of reactions in the body so both are needed for full functioning immunity. There have been some efforts but no definitive studies on this to see what A-D3 ratio is ideal, thus we have no science to compare the depletion of vitamin A to. There have been a few studies claiming benefits similarly for vitamin D depletion and when you look at them, they can too easily mistake an immune reaction where the body wakes up and starts fighting an existing infection or finds an improvement by removing one vitamin that is then brought more into balance with the other in a patient. Either of these can make the patient appear better in the short term creating an illusory health observation. Long term the best immune function requires both vitamins A and D3 in more quantity than current medical opinion allows.
      In addition, Detox is too soft a descriptive word for good science as it can be any number of things. As such its almost more of a promotional term than a research end point.

      1. Hi Chris,
        I’m currently using a topical retin-a just for general skin maintenance.
        Generally I use a pea sized amount of 0.05% in the evening.
        Is this potentially dangerous for my health?
        Thanks
        Ciara

  4. Hi Chris,

    What do you think about Matt Stone saying that people should go on a vitamin A depletion diet? I usually like what he has to say, but this doesn’t make sense.
    The theory came from a guy named Grant Genereux. He wrote a book about how he cured some health conditions by eating a diet very low in vitamin A. Seems dubious. But maybe worth investigating?
    Here is the article: http://180degreehealth.com/vitamin-vitamin-villain/
    Here is the book: https://ggenereuxblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/poisoningforprofits.pdf

        1. i am curious about this also as ive been a victim of accutane in the past which destroyed many processes. the guys at hackstasis are also heavily investigating this toxicity issue, as many have longstanding issues after accutane/isotretinoin

  5. I am an owner of your nutritional cheat sheet book. My Vitamin A level is higher than recommended in that publication, but I’m not sure what to do.

    I do not supplement. Should I be concerned?

    B-Carotene (serum) is 2.49 mg/L (ref range 0.10-2.71 mg/L)
    Vitamin A (serum) is 1.42 mg/L (H) (ref range 0.29-1.04 mg/L)

    1. I wouldn’t worry unless you’ve been supplementing or consuming a lot of cod liver oil and liver. In that case, I’d look at the signs, symptoms, and blood tests listed for vitamin A toxicity. I wouldn’t panic.

  6. Hi Chris
    Thanks a lot for the comprehensive post on this subject
    I came up with a question: what do you think would be the best time to take a retinol supplement to support the circadiam rhytms?

  7. Hi Chris,
    You said that you require a lot more vitamin A than the average person. What type of conditions warrant looking into this possibility? Or rather, how does one determine the need for a greater amount?

  8. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for all you good work, much appreciated.

    Vitamin A / Vitamin D ratio has been a mystery for me for a couple of years now, recommendations vary from 1:1 to 1:10 ratios.
    I am trying to improve my dental health, but with a Vitamin A dose of 25,000 and D 10,000 a day I got spontaneous fractures in my teeth, so I am following a 1:1 ratio now and will see how it goes.

    It is a mystery and every person requirements are different but I would love to hear your advice about it or what do you personally follow.
    Won’t hold it against you 😉 it’s not an easy question to answer.

    Thanks
    Sherine

  9. I could be an example of the balance of vitamins A and D3 required.
    About five years ago I started taking more vitamin D3, 5000 IU for a while and then 10,000 IU. This had the unexpected benefit of stopping my falls while training on runs for marathons, this was happening 2 to 4 times a year. Eighteen months after starting on more D3, I realized I’d not tripped and fallen in a long time! This also reduced my tendency to turn an ankle, have a sorely cramping neck or bit the inside of my cheek on occasion.
    a couple years later my skin was healing slowly, having a persistent pink-red skinned area on a knee from past trips and falls during running. In searching for a reason for this my references mentioned vitamin A for skin health and I started on a supplement of ordinary cod liver oil. This first helped with the muscle soreness in my lower back that wouild happen a day after two miles of running or two hours of salsa dancing. After two weeks, the lower back aching was notably reduced. This muscle improved further on doubling and then tripling the dose until it was possible to run five miles again without the lower back aching. After carefully incrementing the dose over a few months, I arrived at 30,000 IU of retinol vitamin A as the most helpful dose. By following this my number of viruses each year dropped by 75%, the skin patch became pink then normal looking, the close distance focus of my eyes improved by a half, face wrinkles improved, my life long sinus congestion went away, and a mole on my arm reduced in volume by 90%. I also feel better and needless to say I’m happy with the results.

    1. David,
      Would you mind telling me what diet you usually follow?
      I wish I had the energy to run even around a block. I get out of breath with even the slightest exertion, but all testing comes back normal – no anemia or low folate/B12, iron, or copper levels. If I had the energy you do, I could do wonders. In fact, the house might actually get cleaned.

      1. Hi S,
        I usually follow a much reduced carbohydrate diet with about 90 grams of protein, 50-100 grams of carbohydrate and the rest typical food fats. I avoid vegetable oils and most white and processed foods. I do include whole fruit and whole non-starchy vegetables. I take more carbs on days that I run to improve recovery.
        You might try adding a good two per day multiple vitamin from GNC, Vitamin World or other respected supplier to fill the holes in your diet. Beyond this you just have to educate yourself and try things to see what the improvements are as many doctors are woefully low on nutritional information and look at test results rather than the symptoms the patient is having. Iron levels have to be higher than the medical minimums for good endurance training and the iodine RDA is very minimal for those who sweat or exercise a lot. Some people have particularly high needs for vitamins B12, niacin, and other vitamins beyond the RDA and medical people often go by the RDA and are not much help for those with special nutritional needs.
        If your tiredness is mental and not so much physical, have a look at the book “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross, she goes over mind and nutrition interactions with mood and you might find a solution there.

  10. Please remind people that high supplemental doses of vitamin A shouldn’t be taken without supplements of vitamin D3 and K2 as well. Vitamins D and A protect against the toxicity associated with an excess of each other—in fact, the toxicity of vitamin A may be the result of an induced deficiency of vitamin D. Since vitamin D causes increased absorption of calcium, it should also always be accompanied by a vitamin K2 supplement to make sure the calcium ends up in the bones and teeth where it belongs and doesn’t cause calcification of the arteries—a common consequence of vitamin D toxicity. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to add a supplement of the other important fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E, in the form of mixed tocopherols.

    1. I would be delighted to agree with that and wish there was better research available to reference when people needed advice. There seems to be little research done or interest on proportioning certain vitamins and minerals for best health.

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