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How To Protect Your Health with Vitamin A

In my journey to recover from burnout and remineralize my body, as well as help my clients do the same, there have been so many nutrients that have helped me get back my spark. Vitamin A has been a key player. 

I did not grow up eating very many vitamin A rich foods (most of us here in the US didn’t). As I result, I struggled with things like; immune health issues; asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, constant thick mucus, skin issues (dry skin, red bumps on my arms and legs) and gut issues galore. As an adult I ended up with serious gut dysbiosis, eczema and a constant battle with keeping my immune system stable. 

It wasn't until I learned more about the fat soluble vitamins, including vitamin A thanks to my friend introducing me to Sally Fallon’s book; Nourishing Traditions. Which then led me to change our diet to more of an ancestral diet including high quality pastured eggs, raw milk/cream and ghee. As well as adding liver to our ground meat dinners once a week when I could, or eating chicken liver pate. 

Whenever I felt like I was coming down with something, I’d take a little extra vitamin A and it always helped. Now I’m able to consume plenty of vitamin A through my diet alone (yay for cream, butter and eggs).

Adrenal burnout makes it harder for us to mobilize vitamin A from the liver for use. Strong adrenal function is necessary, so it’s possible that adrenal and thyroid insufficiency contributes to signs of vitamin A deficiency. Thus, I’ve seen that women in adrenal burnout and thyroid insufficiency have an  increased need for vitamin A while they are recovering function of their two main energy glands.

Since vitamin A is closely related to the thyroid gland, it can be speculated that subclinical deficiencies are related to hypo- thyroid conditions. Some of the more common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism that may respond to vitamin A include hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, adult onset diabetes, fatigue, depression, cold sensitivity, changes in skin and hair texture, and anemia.


Another thing that vitamin A helped with was re-regulating my cycle after it got wonky from adrenal burnout. Vitamin A deficiency leads to tissue estrogen sensitivity (an issue in estrogen dominance and/or imbalance in estrogen to progesterone).

Ladies, we need vitamin A to make progesterone, which is often low in women who have issues with their luteal phase leading up to menses. I suffered from severe issues with this for a bit and do not wish that one any woman. 

Vitamin A is very powerful for fighting viruses and boosting your immune system. In adrenal burnout, it is very common for people to get sick frequently and recover slowly. If that has been your experience, this post is important for you.  

In light of the state of emergency we are currently in with the Corona virus right now, I want to share some information with you to consider as well as some recommendations for Vitamin A rich foods. Obviously your health matters at all times but we can’t live in constant fear of viruses either. It’s better to learn how your body works so you can support it to do its job more effectively. 

So, let's dive in ...

Vitamin A is essential to human survival. Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that has numerous vital functions in the body. We can get vitamin A from our food in two different ways: as retinol from animal-based foods and from carotenoids in plant-based foods. Retinol is a highly bioavailable true form of vitamin A which our bodies can use instantly.

Beta Carotene is what many people think of when they think of vitamin A, however it's not. Beta carotene has to be broken down and converted into vitamin A for use. Converting carotenoids to vitamin A is a difficult process for our bodies, you actually need twelve molecules of beta-carotene to get one molecule of retinol.

Gut dysbiosis inhibits this conversion as well. Anyone who has had their gallbladder removed, conversion will also be difficult. We need good healthy bile and bile flow to convert carotenes to vitamin A. 

To get enough vitamin A in your diet include at least one of the following;

1 weekly serving of liver (4 ounces beef or 8 ounces of chicken)
2-3 daily servings of dairy from grass fed cows (Preferably raw, but as minimally processed as possible)
2-4 pastured egg yolks
Several servings of orange/red vegetables or fruits 

Just 100 grams (just a little over 8 tablespoons) of ghee is about 2499 IU of vitamin A. One tablespoon of heavy cream has about 220 IU of vitamin A. This is why I use heavy cream in my coffee daily. 

I aim for about 5000 IU per day through diet, which for me is very easy to do since I eat a lot of cream and eggs. This is a good starting point to get through your diet and then assess if you need more through an HTMA program to see if your needs are higher. 

My favorite food based supplement for vitamin A is Vital Proteins Beef Liver Capsules. Just 4 capsules per day provide 5000 IU of vitamin A. 

Things that increase your vitamin A requirements include; diets high in lean protein, vitamin D supplements more than 2000 IU per day, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, lots of high-fiber foods (or fiber supplements), high amounts of beta-carotene (especially from supplements), long term glucocorticoid use (such as cortisone).

Here is my famous chicken liver pate recipe that I have converted many a skeptic into actually loving liver and finding immense benefits from it. It's one of my favorite ways to get a powerful hit of nutrition including vitamin A. Remember, vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, which means we can store it. So you don't have to eat something rich in vitamin A every single day. 

Lydia's Divine Chicken Liver Pate

Makes 10-12 servings

8 ounces fresh organic chicken livers, from pastured chickens
2 tablespoons hard cider or brandy
2 - 2 ½  tablespoons ghee, butter or bacon fat 
2 sticks of butter or 1 cup 
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more if desired 
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Clarified butter, to seal the top

¼ cup of caramelized onions (optional)
4 ounces sauteed mushrooms, chopped

Instructions 

  1. Wash the livers and remove any membrane or green-tinged bits. 
  2. Melt a little butter or ghee in a frying pan (I actually love using bacon fat for this). When it foams, add the livers and cook over low heat.
  3. All trace of pink should be gone, but be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty.
  4. Put the livers into a food processor or sieve. 
  5. Deglaze the pan with the cider or brandy (the original recipe calls for brandy, I never use brandy but had hard cider on hand so I’ve used that instead. Wine could work as well). 
  6. Add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves, scraping everything into the bowl with a spatula. 
  7. Add this mixture to the livers. 
  8. Puree for a few seconds, let cool.
  9. Add 2 sticks of butter (quality matters), and more fresh thyme leaves if you like. 
  10. Puree again until smooth. 
  11. Season carefully, taste and add more butter and seasoning if necessary. 
  12. If you are using the caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms, stir them in now. 
  13. The pate should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture. 
  14. Put into ramekins or small ball jars OR 1 large terrine and knock out any air bubbles. 
  15. Then pour clarified butter over the top of the pate to seal. 
  16. Sprinkle thyme leaves over top to decorate if desired.
  17. This pate will keep 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator and it can be frozen for a month or so. Eat immediately after it is defrosted. 
  18. *Note - if you desire to freeze in smaller portions, first line your terrine with parchment paper, butter it well, then add the pate. Freeze for about an hour - remove from the freezer and slice into portions. Place individual portions on parchment, wrap gently and place in a large freezer bag or container and freeze for later use. 
  19. *It is essential to cover the pate with a layer of clarified butter to prevent oxidation and a bitter off taste, and off color.

Enjoy! I hope you learned a lot from this post. Leave me a comment below! 






I can help you balance your biochemistry and dig deeper into your health puzzle!

If you are ready to get clearer answers on how to support your own health and your body so you can make the right supplement and lifestyle changes: I invite you to sign up to work with me as a client through HTMA. You can get all the information as well as sign up on my Work With Me page HERE. 

If you are a holistic health practitioner and would like to learn more about minerals and how to integrate HTMA into your holistic health practice - you can learn more about my program: The HTMA Practitioner Jumpstart right HERE

 

 

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