How in the World are you supposed to know if you need Vitamin A? Or, in other words, how would you know if you are lacking vitamin A? Some of you are lacking it right now and have no idea.
Would you check your blood? Good luck finding a lab that does that, and if you do, how much does that cost and how likely are you to regularly test in order to understand what you need? If you do find a lab that is willing to test your vitamin A what other vitamins are they testing? Does it make any sense at all to test for 1 nutrient? Of course not…BUT, we can use a simple, quick and highly reliable way to understand if you are lacking vitamin A. You can simply read this blog and find out.
The only way you are going to have success is by understanding how your body responds to a lack of Vitamin A. This of course can be done for any nutrient, and you can check out any nutrient you are interested in by visiting my page where I have an explainer blog and video for each vitamin and mineral.
When the body doesn’t receive sufficient quantities of a nutrient, the processes which depend on that nutrient begin to suffer. When the nutrient is in short supply cells begin to die, and these processes which (in this case) vitamin A is responsible for are not carried out. Simply put, if you lack vitamin A, processes that need vitamin A will suffer.
So, since vitamin A is responsible for the maintenance and repair of epithelial tissues, if we don’t have enough vitamin A then we will see the manifestation of dry rough skin as a symptom.
It is very straightforward and easy to understand, however, we simply cannot base our nutrient needs off of 1 symptom alone as we also understand that there are other possible reasons for symptoms, such as prescription drugs, recreational drugs, allergies or even other nutritional deficiencies.. So we need to ensure that we are using enough symptoms for this method to be both reliable AND consistent.
We need to use multiple symptoms which we know are clinically documented to occur when vitamin A is not supplied in ample quantities to your body. And, since we know that as unique people we manifest symptoms at different times and to different degrees than other people, we want to look at TEN signs and symptoms, before we can assert that there is a genuine need for this nutrient.
The evidence tells us that if you are deficient in vitamin A you will experience the following manifestations:
- Dry Hair
- Trouble seeing in dim light
- Premature aging of skin
- Susceptibility to colds/flus
- Heal slowly from injuries (cuts)
- Rough, dry skin
- Stippling on triceps (red bumps) – phrynoderma
- Itching/burning eyes
You may have seen some symptoms in that list that you have, but at the same time can certainly be attributed to other causes, like headaches and acne which we know can be more complex than just a lack of Vitamin A.
It’s also important to understand that we all experience symptoms where we are genetically weakest.
Let me explain:
When these studies are conducted (human or animal), participants have vitamin A completely eliminated from their diet, there are no traces in their diet whatsoever. Because participants obviously have different levels when they begin the study, complete exhaustion of a given nutrient can take upwards of 6 months. During those 6 months participants ALL ended up developing the exact same symptoms, however, each participant developed them at different times and to varying degrees. All participants noticed symptoms within the first few weeks however one person may have developed dry hair first, another headaches, and yet another person may have noticed itchy/burning eyes. These differences are where we happen to be genetically weaker, and in this way we are all very unique.
So – to ensure reliability and consistency you would only assume a lack of Vitamin A if you experience 3 or more of the symptoms on that list.
Of course the degree to which your body expresses these symptoms is also important, you could have a small patch of dry skin, or systemic and even painful dry skin. The severity or in some cases frequency of the symptom allows us to further understand if these symptoms are indicating a genuine need for Vitamin A.
This simply means that:
- The more severe or frequent a symptom manifests, the more likely it is related to Vitamin A.
- The more symptoms you have related to Vitamin A, the more likely there is a genuine need for it.
So you want to look at the 10 symptoms and relate to at least three of them to conclude that you would indeed need that nutrient. Of course the more symptoms you have and the more severe they are, the more likely it is that you truly need that nutrient, and probably need a fair amount of it.
OK, now that we have done this simple test we may be thinking, that’s strange. I take vitamin A, or vitamin A is in a multivitamin that you are taking. There is also a possibility that you are doing something that destroys or hinders the vitamin A absorption of utilization in your body. Every nutrient has antagonistic substances which deplete body stores of that particular nutrient.
Those substances which deplete or inhibit vitamin A are:
- Excess iron
- Sodium Benzoate
- UV light
- Vitamin D deficiency
So if you are consuming or exposed to any of the substances I just listed they could be contributing to your vitamin A deficiency. Eliminating or limiting these substances can also help alleviate the symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency and of course raise levels back to where YOUR body needs them to be.
OK, now what do you do? You have 3, 4,5 or maybe more symptoms on the list. Well we definitely first want to eliminate as many of the antagonistic substances as possible. If there is something hindering vitamin A in your body we want to look there first so we essentially REMOVE THE ROADBLOCKS.
Once roadblocks are removed you can choose to either take a vitamin A supplement, or simply consume foods which are naturally high in vitamin A.
There is however, an important note about vitamin A supplements. There are 2 forms:
- Retinol, which is found in animal products.
- Beta-carotene which is found in plant foods.
Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in a healthy liver at 3iu of beta-carotene to 1iu of retinol. So, if you are looking to take 5000iu of vitamin A for example, you are going to need 15000iu of beta-carotene. And again, this is assuming you have a healthy liver.
Also, if you are diabetic or have low thyroid function you will also have a hard time converting beta-carotene to retinol so you must stick with the retinol form from the get go.
So what foods can you consume to increase your vitamin A? Any of the following:
- Cod liver oil
- Liver (beef or lamb)
- Chilli Peppers
- Carrot juice
- Tomato juice
- Butternut squash
Remember, if you have liver issues, thyroid issues or are diabetic you are going to look for the animal sources.
That’s all I have for Vitamin A, and how to determine if you need it. Be sure to check out my other blogs which outline each of the other nutrients in the body and how to determine if you need them quickly and easily.