Guide to Vitamin-A Dosage and Foods
Weston A. Price observed that every healthy primitive population ate diets high in Vitamin-A. Swiss spring butter, Gaelic cod’s liver, South Pacific shark liver, Arctic seal liver oil and even bugs! These foods were revered and sacred. Woman gourged on these foods pre, during and post pregnancy. Along with those who were recovering from sickness or injury and growing children. It was universal practice and tradition through-out all healthy cultures and common knowledge.
Today in modern society this is not the case. There are a lot of misleading and forgotten information on Vitamin-A. This article investigates:
- Why Vitamin-A is Important
- What Vitamin-A is and isn’t
- How Vitamin-A is Used and Stored in the Body
- Vitamin-A Toxicity Facts and Myths
- Vitamin-A Daily Dosage Recommendations
- Which Foods Have Vitamin-A
- ProVitamin-A or Carotene to Vitamin-A or Retinoid Ratios
- How to get 50,000iu of Vitamin-A Daily
- Vitamin-A Supplements Buyer’s Guide
- Are You Deficient in Vitamin-A?
Why is Vitamin-A important?
As mentioned above, Weston A. Price observed that all healthy primitive people’s diets contained high levels of Vitamin-A. During times of growth, pregnancy or sickness, it was universal practice to eat more foods high in Vitamin-A.
For example in the villages in the Swiss Alps during the spring, the cows would go out to pasture and eat the rapidly growing fresh green grass. The butter made from these cows had a deep yellowish orange color and extremely high in Vitamin-A. It was tradition for expecting mothers and growing children to eat a lot of this butter daily.
While in Africa’s Sudan Dr. Price visited a tribe whose religion revolved around the importance of Vitamin-A.The people of this tribe were extremely healthy, women were over 6 feet tall and the men over 7. The tooth decay rate was under 1%, their teeth almost showed no signs of ever having a cavity.
They believed the soul resided in the liver and one’s character and physical growth depended upon how well they fed that soul by eating the liver of over animals. Liver is the most potent source of Vitamin-A. Vitamin-A really does build character, when I was sick and Vitamin-A deficient, I was not fun to be around. Being h-A-ngry is an actual thing.
There are multiple scientific experiments that clearly highlight the importance of Vitamin-A, here are a few:
Hopkins, Funk, McCollum: Rat and Mice experiments
Vitamin-A was initially discovered by a group of scientists experimenting on rats to discover factors of healthy mammalian diets. They observed major health problems when butter fat was removed from diets and reserved when reintroduced.
George Wald: Pig Experiments
Pigs fed diets void of Vitamin-A developed all sorts of health issues: no eyes, missing organs and skeletal deformities. As Vitamin-A was slowly reintroduced bodily functions resumed in order of importance.
Berkley College: Vitamin-A Deficiency as Related to Reproduction in Range Cattle
A well-controlled study that clearly shows when Vitamin-A is removed or limited that health begins to decline. When reintroduced health returns.
Pretty much every doctor remedy pre-1900 was go eat some liver
- Read through article sources for more examples
What Vitamin-A Is and Isn’t?
True Vitamin-A or Retinol is a fat-soluble organic compound, it can only exist in fats. ProVitamn-A or Carotenes are water soluble organic compounds found in plants. Animals can break down carotenoids into Retinol but different animals do this conversion to varying efficiencies. Carnivores convert little to none, omnivores are a little better but herbivores do this conversion very well.
So the nutrition label on a can of tomatoes is actually showing ProVitamin-A amounts, not Vitamin-A. Your body has to absorb the carotene which is it does at varying efficiencies. Then your body has to convert those carotenoids to Retinol which happens are varying efficiencies. Absorption and conversion ratios are greatly dependent on subjects GI health and fat consumed at meal time. True vitamin-A is only found in liver, milk fat and egg yolks.
How Vitamin-A is Stored and Used in Body
The body stores Vitamin-A mostly in the liver. Vitamin-A is transferred to offspring thru milk-fat. The liver is designed to store Vitamin-A to help organisms thru winter when Vitamin-A isn’t as abundant. When Vitamin-A stores run low this is when the body must triage Vitamin-A rations to the more important bodily functions. Autopsies of livers show healthier animals have a higher Vitamin-A content in liver and diseased dead animals to be completely void of Vitamin-A.
Modern science could not detect a single unit of Vitamin-A in the livers of diseased animals.
Think of Vitamin-A as your body’s main currency and the liver is the bank. When an injury occurs the body uses a lot of Vitamin-A for repairs. Disease is a sign that the bank is low and unable to fund all necessary repairs. Times of growing youth, pregnancy, nursing, stress, injury or illness are times of high Vitamin-A taxes. Also, high protein intake uses up a lot of Vitamin-A.
Vitamin-A supports a great deal of important day to day body functions:
- Gene transcription
- Immune function
- Bone metabolism
- Blood making
- Skin and cellular health
- Antioxidant activity
- Protein usage
It is said that Weston A Price observed primitive peoples eating roughly 50,000iu of Vitamin-A per day. Also, a study in Italy showed that women consuming 50,000iu of Vitamin-A produced healthy babies. The government recommended daily average is about 5,000iu per day and claim levels any higher might cause Vitamin-A toxicity. So what is the right dosage?
First off taking 50,000iu of NATURAL Vitamin-A per day you will be perfectly fine. I have done levels higher myself for at least a month at 160 pounds and experienced great regenerative effects. Vitamin-A toxicity will only occur at 50,000iu if you are taking synthetic Vitamin-A or bad quality liver oil pills. Vitamin-A toxicity was first reported in the early 1900’s when explorers ventured into the Arctic and ate polar bear and seal liver.
A 3oz serving of seal or polar bear liver contains over 2,000,000iu of Vitamin-A where as a 3oz serving of cow liver contains 300,000iu at the very best. A study shows that a 1,000,000iu dose of Vitamin-A will cause immediate sickness in rats. Which suggests a 7,500,000iu dosage would do the same in humans in a pound per pound comparison.
There is also a report of a man that worked in a halibut liver oil factory and consumed 4oz or roughly 6,000,000iu of Vitamin-A per day. After 5 days he became extremely ill. He stopped taking that oil and returned to normal in about 8-10 days.
A quick glance at Vitamin-A potencies:
|Food Source||Amount (iu/g)|
|Polar Bear Liver||16,000|
|Shark Liver Oil||9,000|
|Cod Liver Oil||3,000|
Vitamin-A potency of animal products can vary greatly depending on the health of the animal and the season. For instance, a cow liver from the early summer will have much more Vitamin-A that a cow liver from winter. During the summer the cow is eating lots of carotene from vibrant plants and converting it to Vitamin-A. When Vitamin-A is plentiful and the body in good health excess gets stored in the liver or passed to offspring in milk fat.
But in the winter when the plants are in poor health and lack carotene. The cow has to dip into the Vitamin-A bank and pull it from the liver. There really isn’t a need to worry about Vitamin-A toxicity if it's from clean natural sources. Below is a dosage guide to help gauge the right about for you.
Vitamin-A Daily Dosage Recommendations
The recommended amount of Vitamin-A can vary considering a few factors: weight, health, body stressors and season. Weight is simple science, the bigger you are the more resources you require. Health history, if you are suffering from any sort of disease or long term illness then the body needs extra Vitamin-A to heal. Stressors, such as intensive exercise, pregnancy, nursing or child growth all require more Vitamin-A. Seasonal, there is more Vitamin-A availble in during spring and summer. It is a good idea to store away Vitamin-A to make it comfortably thru fall and winter.
The earliest sign of Vitamin-A deficiency is low levels in the blood. A Vitamin-A experiment involving farm animals sheds light on recommended dosage. This study measured the Vitamin-A content of various farm animal’s blood.
|Animal Health||Vitamin-A IU/100cc of Blood|
|Diseased||Less than 50|
|Recovery||Between 200 - 50|
Let's look at this mathematically. Blood is roughly 7% of your body weight. If you are 160lbs this means you have 11.2lbs or 5,100g of blood weight. A cc of blood weighs about 1g, so we have about 5,100cc of blood. According to this study, normal Vitamin-A levels are roughly 50iu for every 100cc of blood. Here is the math: 50 * (5100/100) = 2,550iu. So at any given time, there should be at least 2,550iu of Vitamin-A in a 160lbs farm animal.
The study recommendations for daily dosages for moderate storage and reproduction 3,000iu - 4,000iu per 100lbs. Mathematically this number makes sense. Almost every bodily function uses Vitamin-A. Vitamin-A needs to constantly be replenished for it is constantly being used. Most of us have been Vitamin-A deficient since conception and have a lot of catching up to do. The study recommends 10,000iu to 12,000iu per 100 lbs per day in times of high stress. This study is for cows so what about humans?
Above it has been said that Weston A. Price observed people eating 50,000iu of Vitamin-A per day. If we compare cow’s milk to human’s milk, we see that human’s milk has Vitamin-A levels 50-100% higher than cows. Wish I could give you a more distinct range but the studies don’t take into consideration the diet or health of milk sources. Milk is a perfect food, it has everything needed to support life for that animal. Goat’s milk just about matches human milk in Vitamin-A content.
Human milk has roughly 100% more Vitamin-A than cows. So if cows need 4,000iu for maintenance then a human needs 8,000iu per 100lbs daily. If a cow needs 12,000iu for repair and storage then a human needs 24,000iu per 100lbs daily. These numbers make the most sense to me. In a study where Rats were given 150iu/lbs of Vitamin-A per day, which is about 22,500iu for 150lbs. A person, displayed vibrant health and lower doses displayed poor health.
Vitamin-A Daily Dosage Recommendation
Humans should consume 8,000iu to 24,000iu of natural Vitamin-A per 100lbs daily.
Be on the higher side of the range if pregnant, nursing, growing, diseased, ill or under stress.
Which foods Have Vitamin-A
So the Vitamin-A value on a can of tomatoes is actually ProVitmain-A. True Vitamin-A or Retinol is mainly found in butter-fats, liver and egg yolks. Vitamin-A levels will vary greatly depending on source animal’s carotene intake, which varies from season to season, and overall health. Fresh, growing plants with vibrant color are high in carotenes. A cow that eats fresh vibrant green growing grass will have more Vitamin-A than a cow eating dried yellow hay.
|Spring Butter||100||1 Tbsp (14g)||1,400||10%||5%|
|Goat Butter||200||1 Tbsp (14g)||2,800||20%||10%|
|Cheese||25||1 Oz (28g)||600||2.5%||1.25%|
|Winter Butter||50||1 Tbsp (14g)||700||5%||2.5%|
|Egg Yolk||50||1 (18g)||900||7.5%||3.75%|
|Beef Liver||2,000||1 Oz (28g)||56,000||466%||233%|
|Chicken Liver||250||1 Oz (28g)||7,000||60%||30%|
|Fermented Fish Liver Oil w/ High Mineral Butter||3,000||1 Tbsp (14g)||42,000||350%||175%|
|Cow Liver Capsules||2,000||1 Capsule (1g)||2,000||16%||8%|
Carotene to Retinol Conversion Ratio
Humans do convert carotenoids to retinol and the ratio varies greatly from study to study and subject’s health. For the sake of our sanity let’s be generous and say it takes 5 carotenes to make 1 Retinol when fat is present. This is very generous, seen reports of 100 to 1, 50 to 1 and 20 to 1.
Depending on the subject's health, the body’s efficiency at absorbing carotene and then converting it varies greatly. Half the studies don't take into account that there needs to be a generous about of fat in the meal to do the conversion and absorption. Juicing is gonna be the best way to absorb nutrients from veggies and fruits. Remember carotene levels in plants will vary greatly depending on the season, health of plant and freshness. That’s why we eat produce that’s in season.
|Serving Size||iu/Serving||DRV Maint
|Sweet Potato||40||1 Sweet Potato (100g)||4,000||35%||17.5%|
|Carrots||35||1 Carrot (65g)||2,250||20%||10%|
|Kale||30||1 Cup (65g)||2,000||15%||7.5%|
|Dried Apricots||25||1 Oz (28g)||750||5%||2.5%|
Here is a nice juicing visual guide:
Your best source of carotenes barely contends with your worse source of Retinoids. The best way to absorb carotenoids is thru juicing with a side of fat. Be sure to eat your carotenes as well they do the body good, not all carotenes get converted to Vitamin-A and serve important functions in the body.
How to get 50,000iu of Vitamin-A Daily
In order to get enough Vitamin-A daily one must do one of the following:
- Eat pasture raised liver 2-3 times per week
- Take 1 heaping Tsp to Tbsp of fermented cod fish liver oil daily
- Take 5-10 pasture raised freeze dried full-fat desiccated liver capsules daily
Full-fat spring pasture raised dairy products contain Vitamin-A, butter being the most potent, a pound of spring cow’s butter will not meet your daily maintenance needs. A good quality liver is usually $5.00 per lbs and if your most economical source of Vitamin-A. I would recommend quality liver capsule over fermented cod fish liver oil with high mineral butter. It is more of a whole food, easier to take, easier store and much cheaper.
Personally, I take both high-quality FCFLO w/ HMB and liver capsules. FCFLO is great to ingest but it also works amazingly topically. Next time you get a cut or acne breakout put some liver oil on it for a few days and watch it rapidly heal! Again, always make sure your liver oils and capsule are of good quality, the section about that is below.
Vitamin-A Supplement Buyer’s Guide
Like most foods in our modern world, we have to be very careful of which Vitamin-A supplements to consume. Most labels will say natural, pure and even organic on the front. Assume its not safe until you read the back label and explored their website. Chances are you will not find it at your local health food store. It will need to be ordered online.
Fish Liver Oils
Most brands of fish liver oil go through a mad scientist experiment process which destroys all natural vitamins. Only God knows what they add to it after that. There are naturally produced, unheated, fermented fish liver oils made using a filtering process that retains all natural vitamins from wild fish.
Read more here about fish liver oils:
Desiccated Liver Capsules
Look for liver capsules that are from pasture raised animals, freeze dried with no additives. Watch out for defatted liver pills, they contain no Vitamin A and have undergone some diabolical process.
Never ever buy or consume synthetic vitamin A, only consume natural real foods high in Vitamin-A.
Are you deficient in Vitamin-A?
Signs of Vitamin-A deficiency comes in all shapes and sizes. Let’s name a few: misaligned teeth, wounds that won’t heal, constantly sick, acne, skin conditions, dandruff, hair loss, mental disorders, disease and cancer. All of these are signs of low Vitamin-A levels in the body. The highest concentration of Vitamin-A is in the retina, hints why they call it retinol, so poor vision is another sign.
After reading the above, simple math can determine if you Vitamin-A deficient or not. Have you been eating liver multiple times a week or taking cod fish liver oil daily for your whole life? If the answer is no then mathematically you have to be Vitamin-A deficient and it’s a matter of time before serious health issues occur.
You can also get a blood test for retinol levels. Read the report yourself and compare to this chart. Your average doctor will most likely interpret low Vitamin-A as normal.
|Human Health||Vitamin-A IU/100cc of Blood|
|Diseased||Less than 100|
|Recovery||Between 400 - 100|
Vitamin-A is one of the most important vitamins. Low levels of Vitamin-A in the body is usually accompanied by illness, disease, poor eyesight and many other bodily dysfunctions. It is a primary ingredient in almost every bodily function. There are many studies that support this. Vitamin-A is stored in the liver and when your body runs out is when major issues arise.
Vitamin-A found of labels of vegetables is misleading for it is actually ProVitamin-A or carotene. Which the body has to convert into Retinol or true Vitamin-A and the conversion ratio is quite poor in humans but better in herbivores. Vitamin-A is very hard to overdose on from NATURAL sources.
Chances are you are Vitamin-A deficient. This is easily and cheaply remedied by eating pasture raised liver weekly or daily taking natural properly prepared liver supplements such as fermented cod fish liver oil or freeze dried liver capsules. Ture Vitamin-A is found in liver, milk fat, egg yolk and blood. Levels of Vitamin-A will be higher the healthier the animal was at slaughter or milking.
I learned so much from writing this article and hope you learned from reading it. Please read through the sources. There are a lot of interesting studies with eye opening data charts and fascinating stories.
Google “Fiji Cannibalism” and you will be shocked! The Fiji islands land mass could not support its high population. So it was common practice to eat your defeat enemies with liver being the most valued cut of meat. It makes sense in a morbid way. Why throw away all this nutriment? Eat your enemies to honor their life force and obtain their energy. It is fascinating.
Future Vitamin-A Articles
This article has gone on long enough but I’m still left me with some questions:
- What is the name of the Sudan Vitamin-A based religion?
- How long does it take to restore Vitamin-A levels?
- Details on Vitamin-A injections and topical uses.
- Carotene to retinol conversion ratios between different species
- How a cell uses Retinol and transported in blood
- Human liver Factoids and how the liver works
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- Weston A. Price Foundation: Vitamin-A Vagary
- Weston A. Price Foundation: The Liver Files
- Weston A. Price Foundation: Vitamin-A Fetal Development
- Chris Kresser: Natures Most Potent Superfood
- Radiant Life: FCLO How Much?
- Wikipedia: Vitamin-A
- Wikipedia: Carotene
- Wikipedia: Carotenoid
- Oregon State: Vitamin-A
- Animal Research: Vitamin-A discovered
- USANR: Vitamin-A Deficiency in Range Cattle
- African Wildlife Diseases: Vitamin-A Deficiency
- Bartleby: Homeopathic Magic of a Flesh Diet
- PubMed: High Vitamin-A intake in Early Pregnancy and Major Malformations
- Colorado State: Vitamin-A
- NIH: Vitamin-A and Bone Health
- USDA: Vitamin-A in Butter - 1940's
- WHFoods: Eggs
- Journal of Diary Science: Shark Liver Oil and the Vitamin A Potency of Milk
- Textbook of Natural Medicine: Alkylglycerols
- Some of the Effect Produced in the Richness of Cow's Milk by Feeding Cod-Liver …
- Food Safety 1996: Bovine Liver Vitamin-A
- Handbook of Analysis of Edible Animal By-Products
- The amount of vitamin A potency required by hens for egg production
- Recommended Nutrient Allowances for Domestic Animals
- DSM: Vitamin A
- Whole Health Source: Pastured Eggs
- Halibut Liver Oil Movie
- The Vitamin A Content and Toxicity of Bear and Seal Liver
- Which Form of Vitamin A is the Best: Beta-Carotene or Retinol?
- Get Your Child to Take Cod Fish Liver Oil
- Healthaliciousness: Vitamin-A Foods
- Vitamin A and the Beta-Carotene Myth: “A” is for Athletics, Aging and Advanced …
- Increased intake of beta-carotene as strategy to prevent vitamin A deficiency
- Vitamin A supply and biochemical development of the rat heart