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What are the lowest intakes of Poison/"Vitamin A" suggested to cause problems in people?

First, how much Poison/"Vitamin A" is commonly being consumed by people?

Teratology Society Position Paper:
Recommendations For Vitamin A Use During Pregnancy

An average balanced diet contains approximately 7,000-8,000 IU of vitamin A derived from different sources.

Good enough for me.

From that same article, what is suggested as the "safe" dose of Poison/"Vitamin A" for pregnant women?

The National Research Council's recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A during pregnancy is 1,000 retinol equivalents (RE)/day, which is equivalent to 3,300 IU as retinol or 5,000 IU of vitamin A obtained from the typical American diet as a combination of retinol and carotenoids, e.g., beta-carotene.

Oh.  So pregnant women should take care to get LESS than the typical American diet.  ~4000 IU during pregnancy versus the "typical" 7000-8000 IU.  Weird...unless it was toxic to the fetus.

Next, what is the smallest DIETARY INTAKE of Poison/"Vitamin A" that has been shown to increase osteoporosis and hip fracture?

Excessive dietary intake of vitamin A is associated with reduced bone mineral density and increased risk for hip fracture.

RESULTS:  In multivariate analysis, retinol intake was negatively associated with bone mineral density. For every 1-mg increase in daily intake of retinol, risk for hip fracture increased by 68% (95% CI, 18% to 140%; P for trend, 0.006). For intake greater than 1.5 mg/d compared with intake less than 0.5 mg/d, bone mineral density was reduced by 10% at the femoral neck (P = 0.05), 14% at the lumbar spine (P = 0.001), and 6% for the total body (P = 0.009) and risk for hip fracture was doubled (odds ratio, 2.1 [CI, 1.1 to 4.0]).

CONCLUSION: High dietary intake of retinol seems to be associated with osteoporosis.

I'm going to have to do some math here, for myself and everyone else who is used to IUs.  The last sentence in the RESULTS section above is what I'm most interested in.

Let me do the conversion.
1.5 mg of retinol = 1500 mcg retinol = 15oo mcg retinol * (1 IU retinol / 0.3 mcg retinol) = 5000 IU retinol
0.5 mg of retinol = 500 mcg retinol = 500 mcg retinol * (1 IU retinol / 0.3 mcg retinol) = ~1667 IU retinol

The above study is saying, when comparing women who consumed 5000 IU or more of Poison/"Vitamin A" versus women who consumed 1667 IU or less of Poison/"Vitamin A" per day, the higher intake women had:

  • 10% less bone density at the femoral neck
  • 14% less bone density in the lumbar spine
  • 6% less bone density across the entire body
  • TWICE the risk of hip fracture

Because I'd rather err on the side of caution with something I'm finding to be as toxic as Poison/"Vitamin A", I'm going to say that LESS than 1667 IU of retinol per day would be a potential goal for women trying to avoid osteoporosis and related bone fractures.

Here's a GIANT paper on the "safety" (picture me doing giant air quotes whenever I say safety in the same sentence as Poison/"Vitamin A") of Vitamin A in foods and cosmetics:

Risk assessment of vitamin A (retinol and retinyl esters) in cosmetics

I'm just going to put some of the highlights below.  It should be noted that the Nordic countries are the leaders in figuring out the Poison/"Vitamin A" toxicity epidemic problem, because of their history of consuming large amounts of high Poison/"Vitamin A" foods and other concentrated sources like cod liver oil.

The risk characterisation for all age groups in the present opinion is based on the tolerable upper intake levels (UL) derived from earlier opinions from the Scientific Committee of Food (SCF) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In 2002, the SCF derived an UL of 3000 μg retinol equivalents (RE)/day for all women of child-bearing age based on the teratogenic potential of vitamin A. Although teratogenicity is only relevant to women of child-bearing age, SCF considered that the upper level of 3000 μg RE/day is appropriate also for men and for infants and children after correction for differences in metabolic rate. In 2008, EFSA considered that a maximum intake of 1500 μg RE/day would serve as a guidance level (GL) for individuals at greater risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture (particularly post-menopausal women).

To help with the paragraph above, I'm going to give some definitions and do the calculations.

Definition of "tolerable upper intake levels (UL)":  The highest level of nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects for almost all individuals in the general population. As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases.  This would be a pretty important number, right?  It would be the best bet to not overshoot this amount, correct?  This is a MAX total from ALL sources number!

  • UL for women of child-bearing age, in order to prevent teratogenic (birth defect) effects: 3000 μg retinol equivalents (RE)/day, aka 10,000 IU/day
  • UL for men and infants and children:  3000 μg RE/day, aka 10,000 IU/day (after correction for differences in metabolic rate)
  • UL for post-menopausal women: 1500 μg RE/day, aka 5,000 IU/day

These are very small numbers, folks.

Remember that the "typical American diet" was providing 7,000-8,000 IUs per day.  What happens when people start doing what they call "eating healthier" and drastically up their intake of Poison/"Vitamin A" foods?  Here are some examples of common foods that "health-seekers" are commonly eating TONS of these days, often wondering why their health is going down the tubes in spite of their "healthy eating habits":

I include a VERY important section about personal care products and cosmetics in the Poison/"Vitamin A" Detox Program for an important reason.  See this quote from the above toxicity paper about why I tell people that if they screw this part up, they probably screw up the entire process:

The estimated contribution of vitamin A exposure from cosmetics leads to an increase in exceedance of the GL [guidance level] from 0% to 25% for those who do not use supplements and an increase in exceedance from 10% to 75% in the group where supplements are included (Figures 10A and 10B). The estimated use of cosmetics in the standard exposure scenario results in a substantial exposure to retinol and retinyl esters in postmenopausal women with an increased risk of osteoporosis. A further increase in concentrations of retinol and retinyl esters in cosmetic products would aggravate this situation.

In the above quote, they are referring to only retinol and retinyl esters...however, exposure to carotenoids in the forms of herbal extracts and essential oils will also contribute to the total Poison/"Vitamin A" intake, as carotenoids in the skin are converted to retinyl esters and re-released into the circulation.

Make sure to review the ULs I posted above.  With the numbers on the so-called "health foods" I mentioned above, it should start to make sense why we are seeing epidemic levels of diseases related to Chronic Insidious Vitamin A Toxicity aka chronic hypervitaminosis A in all the developed nations of the world...particularly in those countries that are fortifying their foods with even more Poison/"Vitamin A"!!!

Dr. Garrett Smith, the "Nutrition Detective"
Licensed Naturopathic Physician (NMD) in Arizona, home of the Love Your Liver program
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