Why You Won’t Get Vitamin A From Carrots

true vitamin a foods 2

REAL vitamin A foods, please stand up!

When you hear think about vitamin A foods, what sources come to mind? Most nutrition books and internet sources list the following as excellent sources of vitamin A:

  1. Carrots
  2. Sweet potatoes
  3. Dark leafy greens
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Bell peppers

Although taken for granted as ideal vitamin A foods, these plants provide only the precursor to vitamin A, carotenoids. Interestingly, we need to be consuming true vitamin A foods, foods containing retinol, to meet our vitamin A requirements. 

Retinoids vs. Carotenoids

327087_8552The most important fact about vitamin A is the difference between retinoids and cartenoids. The vitamin A from animal sources is retinoids, also called retinol, while plant source vitamin A is carotenoids, such as beta carotene.

Animal sources of retinol is bio-available, which means the body can utilize it. The vitamin A from plant sources, in contrast, must first be converted to retinol to be useful in the body. This poses two big problems.

First, when we are in pristine health, it requires at least six units of carotenes to convert into 1 unit of retinol (source). To put this in perspective, that means one must eat 4 1/2 pounds of carrots to potentially get the amount of useable A as in 3 oz. of beef liver (source). What happens if we have digestive issues, hormone imbalances, or other health problems? It requires even more units of carotene in the ratio.

Second,  the carotene-to-retinol conversion is HIGHLY compromised. As a matter of fact, this conversion is negligible for many individuals. This conversion is virtually insignificant:

  • In infants
  • In those with poor thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
  • In those with diabetes
  • In those who are on a low fat diet or have a history of low fat dieting
  • In those who have compromised bile production (think: gallbladder and digestive issues) (source and source)

So, do you still think carrots are a vitamin A food? As with other orange veggies, sweet potatoes provide carotenes. Although beta carotene is an antioxidant, it is not true vitamin A. We must eat true vitamin A foods on a daily basis to meet our requirements for this essential nutritient. 

True Vitamin A Foods

What are true vitamin A foods – the foods that give the body retinol, not carotenes?

  • Liver from any animal, enjoy pasture-raised liver 2-3 times per week or take desiccated liver capsules daily
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil, which is higher in vitamins (I recommend the Cinnamon Tingle flavor)
  • Regular Cod Liver Oil, the Weston A Price Foundation suggests this specific brand of cod liver oil capsules if the fermented option cannot be purchased. (However, there is some controversy that this cod liver oil is now stripped of the naturally-occurring vitamins during processing.)
  • Egg yolks from hens foraging in pasture, ideally enjoy 2-4 egg yolks per day (Don’t worry about the cholesterol)
  • Butter from grassfed cows
  • Heavy cream from grassfed cows

Without a doubt, regular consumption of pasture-rasied liver is the most effective way to consume optimal levels of this vitamin. Men, women, children, and infants should consume liver on a bi-weekly basis. (This book explains how and why to feed liver to your baby).  If you don’t enjoy eating liver or liver pate, I believe desiccated liver capsules are a nonnegotiable supplement for overall health and hormone balance.

Only certain vitamin A foods provide the body with useable vitamin A. And it's not carrots!Vitamin A Foods for Vegetarians and Vegans

As you can see, true vitamin A foods come from animal sources. A vegan diet simply does not provide the body with adequate vitamin A for optimal health. A vegan diet also reduces thyroid function and bile release, which drastically compromises the already poor carotene-to-cartenoid conversion.

From the Inuit in Alaska to the Maori in New Zealand, traditional cultures inherently understood the importance of consuming animal products. That’s why all “primitive peoples” (as Dr. Price called them) from across the globe without exception ate some form of animal products. For more information on the unbreakable dietary laws of traditional peoples, read Dr. Price’s recorded research in his life-changing book.

A vegetarian may be able to meet daily vitamin A requirements by emphasizing pastured egg yolks and grassfed dairy products. If I could suggest one meat-based product for a vegetarian to consume, it would be desiccated liver capsules. Liver is the best source of vitamin A and, gram-for-gram, the most nutrient-dense food.

Widespread Vitamin A Deficiency

The Weston A. Price Foundation offers a uniquely informed recommendation on vitamin A intake:

From the work of Weston Price, we can assume that the amount in primitive diets was about 50,000 IU per day, which could be achieved in a modern diet by consuming generous amounts of whole milk, cream, butter and eggs from pastured animals; beef or duck liver several times per week; and 1 tablespoon regular cod liver oil or 1/2 tablespoon high-vitamin cod liver oil per day. (Source).

 50,000 IU of vitamin A per day? You may wonder. Is that for real? 

Yes, yes it is. Consuming plenty of true vitamin A foods contributed to the flourishing vitality of traditional cultures, discussed in Dr. Price’s landmark book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Due to the lack of true vitamin A foods in our modern diet, we face an epidemic of vitamin A deficiency. This contributes to the widespread health issues in our culture including:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Infertility
  • Mood disorders
  • Skin problems including eczema and acne
  • Poor immune system
  • Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism

Vitamin A Toxicity: Should you be concerned?

Reports of vitamin toxicity or birth defects with moderate vitamin A supplementation led to a society traumatized by vitamin A toxicity. The studies that link moderate doses of vitamin A to health problems and birth defects use synthetic vitamin A. As with all synthetic vitamins, synthetic A lacks the complex cofactors and “living” integrity of natural A that allows the body to actually utilize the vitamin.

Since the body doesn’t really know how to use the fake vitamin, it collects in the body and can become toxic at moderate levels. In this way, synthetic vitamin A is more of a toxin than a nutrient. Steer clear of multivitamins and fortified grain products to reduce exposure to synthetic A. (Source)

Popping multivitamins won’t address vitamin A deficiency because your body simply cannot utilize the isolated, synthetic vitamin A.  Technically, however, there is a pill that will give your body useable vitamin A… and that is desiccated liver pills!

Non-isolated, natural vitamin A in a whole-food source does not cause problems except in extremely high amounts. Dr. Weston Price studied the diets of traditional cultures around the globe and it is surmised from his work that these diets contained about 50,000 IU of natural vitamin A per day. This dose of vitamin A did not cause health problems but contributed to the glowing vitality of what he described as “primitive cultures.”

It all comes down to one nonnegotiable fact: we must consume true vitamin A foods to meet our vitamin A requirements!

Pair Vitamin A Foods with Vitamin D

An essential puzzle piece of the vitamin A story is vitamin D. Vitamins A and D work hand-in-hand: D helps the body utilize vitamin A and prevents toxicity of the natural vitamin A. Dr. Price’s traditional cultures thrived on high doses of natural A because they were also receiving adequate levels of vitamin D through sun exposure and the proper diet.

Cod liver oil, a historically sacred food, offers the unique balance of vitamin A and vitamin D, both in highly bio-available forms. Everyone from babies to pregnant mothers to the elderly can benefit by taking a top quality cod liver product daily.

For those who do not receive 10-20 minutes of daily mid-day sun exposure, I recommend this uniquely absorbable vitamin D supplement taken daily. I never skip my drop a day of this stuff! Experts advise a regular vitamin D serum test if you are taking any type of vitamin D supplement. Learn more from Dr. Mercola  about vitamin D serum tests.

Want to absorb vitamin A? Don’t forget the fat!

small egg yolkVitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, we can neither consume adequate vitamin A or absorb this vitamin A if we are on a low fat diet. (Period.) Adequate fat is also increases the poor conversion of carotenoids to useable A. Fortunately, Mother Nature, in all of her wisdom, designed the foods rich in true vitamin A to contain the fat we need to utilize the vitamin.

In particular, butter and animal fats such as lard and tallow stimulate bile release and therefore aid in A absorption and the conversion of carotenoids to useable A. Although these fats nourished our ancestors, animal fats were shunned by recent generations due to poor science. Fortunately, the low fat era is coming to an end as we shed light on the fact that old fashioned fats are good for us!

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  1. April says

    Cannot stomach preparing or eating liver. So the capsules…any suggestions on how to give a young child who cannot swallow capsules the contents? Does the contents inside smell or taste bad? Thanks.

    • Carrie says

      I would imagine because it’s a capsule you can break it apart and put the contents in another food or drink.

    • says

      Well, I haven’t tried opening up the capsule and mixing the contents with food. I think that it may leave a taste if mixed into certain foods. Ground beef usually covers up the taste of liver, so you could empty some capsules into ground beef and then make meatballs or meatloaf.

      I also recommend adding a chicken liver (blend it first in a food processor) into ground beef to make meatballs. I add plenty of salt, garlic, and dried herbs and it almost completely covers the taste of the liver.

      The Cinnamon Tingle cod liver oil doesn’t taste *that* bad and it comes with a syringe so you just shoot it into the mouth and swallow. I know many parents who give it to their kids and their kids actually enjoy it. I would recommend it if you don’t do the liver capsules.

      • LynnLivingLife! says

        I love reading your advice and I see you take the fermented liquid cod liver oil. I have recently started the fermented cod liver oil/butter oil cinnamon tingle and wanted to know if I am going to be able to absorb and utilize the nutrients properly – my gall bladder was removed in 2007. Thank you.

        • Ron says

          Since you had your gallbladder removed, you don’t have any bile storage so the way I see it is that you need to eat smaller meals throughout the day. The Canadian food guide recommends 30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates. Most North Americans are getting around 6% fat in their diets. Also considering how much of that is processed? You need at least 2% fat in your food to activate bile secretion’s. Any less and you have no calcium and proper mineral absorption along with other nutrients. So the more fat(healthy fat) the more bile secretions and the more breakdown of the food we consumed. Our brains are 66.66% fat , and our brains use 2/3 to 3/4 of the food we consume, so how much fat do we need in our diet?

    • Beth says

      Radiant Life sells grassfed beef liver in powder form as well as capsules, so you can sprinkle it into other foods quite easily. It has minimal flavor.

  2. Kinzie says

    My almost three year old son has been on the cinnamon tingle FCLO/butter oil blend for a year and a half. Grandpa gives his spoonful, then chases it with a spoonful of cinnamon applesauce. My boy doesn’t even make a face.

    As for me, I take the blend in capsules. :)

  3. Kinzie says

    and my mother takes dessicated liver pills and has never complained. (and this is a woman who likes chicken, but refuses to touch ground chicken, because it’s not in regular form. I thought she might pass out once when I told her I ate an ostrich burger.)

  4. Kim says

    I was wondering if chicken/turkey hearts are also a good source of vitamin A. Liver is okay, but I much prefer the texture of the hearts and really enjoy eating them.

  5. Erin says

    Thank you Lauren for posting such an informative and accessible article – I feel more empowered and aware within this journey of healing. I have not even given much thought to VitaminA until reading this article, which has helped me see how significant Vitamin A really is, and has increased my awareness around how to best absorb it. I also realized while reading it that my recent indigestion is largely because of my body not absorbing adequate amounts of vitamn D, so I listened to my body’s request and just ordered the supplement you reccommended :) thank you for spreading the awareness and healing!

      • Erin says

        This is somewhat off topic … Yet I am wondering if you may be able to answer this question that is right now a burning question for me: how can I naturally detox Accutane? I took Accutane for a year when I was thirteen years old, and I saw dramatic results with my skin clearing up after having tried everything else in vain attempts to treat my extreme case of acne since the age of eleven. I am now 24 and I have been struggling with cystic acne, mostly on my neck, for the past few years – it is relatively mild compared to what I experienced thirteen years ago. It has suddenly occurred to me, after becoming interested in nutrition six years ago, and being on the Paleo diet for seven months now, that my hormonal imbalances, periods of depression, and difficulty with maintaining a healthy weight since my onset of puberty could all be results of taking Accutane. Well this has become quite a long post, thank you so much for reading! :) An answer to this question of how to detox Accutane would likely be beneficial for many people – I did a bit of research on the Internet and did not come across any clear answers, although many did suggest paying attention to diet and exercise, as well as detoxing in general. It was striking for me to see the multitude of accounts from people who have suffered severely negative symptoms upon taking Accutane. I do feel that a diet free of grains, legumes, processed sugars and salts, processed foods, and vegetable oils – which is full of healthy fats, organ meats, fermented foods, vegetables, honey and fruit – is a powerful mode of general and overall healing in and of itself :)

        • says

          That is a great question and I wish I could go into a lot of detail here. I’ll put this on my list of potential post ideas :) It sounds like you have the main base covered with diet. I have a few quick suggestions. First, milk thistle is a supplement that supports the liver, the major detox organ. I highly recommend it. Second, I would suggest immediately starting the hormone-balancing tips I outlined in this post: http://empoweredsustenance.com/the-pill-hormone-damage/ these steps also promote detox.

          • Erin says

            Many thanks for referring me to your blog on hormone balancing, and for recommending milk thistle :) Lately I have been noticing my body feeling better after eating more fats, especially pastured butter! I find it to be quite a synchronicity that I just realized how fats are crucial for balancing my hormones and you just posted your most recent blog on fats and their healing benefits :)

  6. Beth says

    Hi Lauren. Did you mean to include a link in this sentence?:
    “For more information on the unbreakable dietary laws of traditional peoples, read this life-changing book.”

  7. Beth says

    We’ve been enjoying US Wellness Meats grassfed braunschweiger and liverwurst for a tasty dose of vitamin A. Try it with eggs or with some cheese and mustard – yum!

  8. says

    Lauren, love this article! And your writing style is so easy to read and elegant at the same time. You are a true inspiration for me and my blog. :-) I’ve spent most of my life believing that carrots are the greatest source of Vitamin A. How wrong was I! Since finding out about this a few months ago, I’ve been trying to get rid of my deficiencies by eating lots of eggs, liver, cod liver oil and butter.

  9. says

    Not a single scientific reference in this article. The message is in fact false. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science has clearly stated that humans can obtain adequate vitamin A from ingestion of carotenoid-rich plant foods, including pure plant food diets. Moreover, the IOM has also recommended limiting intake of animal-source retinol based on a large body of evidence indicating that it has serious adverse effects. Moreover, the IOM recommends limiting retinol and increasing carotenoid rich plant foods.


    The natives of Papua New Guinea, for example, obtain all the vitamin A they require from their plant-based diet which consists primarily of sweet potatoes.

      • says

        Weston Price’s research and the the Weston Price Foundation provided me with the information to write this post :) As Weston Price discovered, traditional cultures consumed more than 10 times the amount of fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, than we do today. I believe Dr. Price’s is the most important book on nutrition available and I strongly believe everyone should read it in his/her lifetime.

          • says

            That’s article is inaccurate and heavily biased in so many ways that I’ve been considering doing a rebuttal. Yes, Dr. Price was a dentist. He wanted to discover what made people have healthy teeth and facial bone structure. He found that people with good teeth experienced all-around general health due to their diet. As the years go by, we have more and more research and evidence that the dietary similarities between healthy traditional cultures can be applied to our modern lives for better health.

            • MB says

              I’ve never read the book or the findings by Price, but from my own experience, I can see diet is huge. I recently was diagnosed with food allergies and leaky gut. Leading up to this point, I didn’t have a ton of cavities, but my gum health was always bad. I had periodontal disease but now it was just gingivitis mostly. My gums always looked red at the dentist and would bleed no matter how much flouride I used or how much I flossed/rinsed. When I got diagnosed with leaky gut, I did an elimination diet and started just eating healthy meats and whole foods which I could tolerate. I dropped most of my hygiene products as well and used more natural items. I dropped flouride as well. I thought for sure I was going to have dental problems at my last visit, but instead I was told my gums looked so much healthier and I had hardly any buildup at all on my teeth. I know for certain diet plays a huge role in dental health, but also I lost 30 pounds in 3 months and my body, hair, mental functions are getting back to normal. I think I do need the dessicated liver. Just started taking cod liver oil. Thankful I found foods that heal me instead of hurt me. Whole foods saved my life.

    • says

      Scientific studies are referenced in the article by the Weston Price Foundation, which I linked to throughout this post. http://www.westonaprice.org/fat-soluble-activators/vitamin-a-sag I recommend you read the detailed article. We simply cannot convert adequate vitamin A from carotenes. It is biologically impossible, especially when we face other nutritional deficiencies and hormone imbalances Any recommendation to limit animal-source retinol is utterly misled. As we can see from the research of Dr. Price, traditional cultures consumed 10 times the amount of vitamin A – in retinol – that we consume and this only contributed to their thriving health.
      Dr. Price also discussed the native diet of the natives in Papua New Guinea. As with all traditional cultures, these natives revered animal sources of food.

      • Emily says

        I will also add, fwiw, that I just had genetic DNA testing done through 23andme.com. I have a genetic mutation of a certain gene that says I am very likely to not absorb Vitamin A from plant sources. The recommendation is that I start getting my Vit A from non-plant sources such as cod liver oil, liver, or retinol Vitamin A. I can’t stand the thought of eating liver so this will be interesting. I know I need to make the switch though based on what the DNA testing found with that mutation. The whole report was very interesting and I highly recommend. Most everything it said was spot-on for me.

    • says

      It’s weird, because I had all of the health issues this article claims I would get from not consuming enough animal, but going completely plant-based cured all of them. I’ll stick to my carrot juice, and my children’s three-year streak of absolutely no illness or health issues.

  10. Minh says

    “Primitive people”. !!!??? Your words not quoting. Members of traditional cultures just love being called primitive. There’s spell checking and there’s sensitivity and courtesy checking.

    • says

      I use that term because that is how Dr. Price referred to the traditional cultures who adhered to their traditional diet. I mean no disrespect, but I’ve read his book so many times that I start speaking his “language” when I discuss his own findings. I will update the post and explain this wording choice.

  11. Sarah says

    Hi Lauren. I have hashimotos so I guess vitamin A should be important to me! But here’s the thing: I am intolerant to eggs and dairy (even butter), and I cannot stand the taste of lard, tallow, or liver. My local grassfed farmer actually sells the Blue Ice brand of fermented Cod Liver Oil, but I am afraid I won’t be able to take it because of the taste and I am afraid to spend that much money on it if I don’t like it (poor post college student trying to pay off my loan!). So here’s my question. My local grassfed farmers also sell the fermented cod liver oil in capsules. Is that as effective or is there a downside to taking it in capsules? Thanks for your help!

    • k says

      I’m not Lauren, but my family takes the capsules and have had good results. I originally started for the sake of one of my kids’ teeth. That child had the mildest case (practically non-existent) of flu of any of the whole family last year, so I started them all on it. So far so good for this winter!! :)

    • says

      Yes, the capsules are a great option! I think it may be a tad more pricey than the liquid, but it is still as effective. I totally understand the budgetary issues (I’m a blogger college student :)) but I truly believe that the fermented cod liver oil is a worthwhile investment. A little goes a long way!

    • Dana says

      The company that sells the fermented cod liver oil also has a coconut oil supplement that includes the CLO and the butter oil but dilute, with natural flavor and stevia added. You might try that.

  12. Robyn says

    Hi Lauren,

    First time writing so I just wanted to thank you for always sharing such wonderful and well informed information here! My question is I take the fermented cod liver oil regularly, haven’t really gotten into eating grass fed liver. Do you think it’s important to incorporate both (just in this instance regarding vitamin A), or does the cod liver oil provide what’s needed? Thanks!

    • says

      I do think it is important to eat both, but the fermented cod liver is still profoundly powerful on its own, especially if you consume grassfed dairy products on a daily basis. The butter oil in grassfed dairy works synergistically to boost the potency of the cod liver oil, according to Dr. Price’s research.

  13. Vanessa says

    I’d just like to say for everyone who doesn’t like the taste of liver that the more you eat it, the easier it will get. I have been chronically sick for the past 5 and a half years. This past summer I started buying chicken liver. I did not like it at all, but eating it definitely helped my energy and strength. So I was willing to forgo bad taste to feeling well. Now, when I eat liver, I am no longer grossed out by the taste. The taste is no longer strong to me anymore. My palette has gotten used to it. …I know Dr. Oz has said in the past to eat something 7 times in order to get used to the taste. I don’t know how many times it took for me to get to the way I am now, but like I said, chicken liver doesn’t bother me anymore, and I am happy to eat it.

  14. cassie says

    I recently bought the liver capsules you recommended, do you know how many I should take in a day? On the bottle it says 6 capsules equals 1oz of fresh raw liver.


  15. Eleanor says

    My children and I are unable to digest cod liver oil. We can live with the usual burping and bad taste, but after a few days we start to feel nauseated and I experience reflux. I recently switched us to a vegan DHA/EPA supplement (algae oil) and we tolerate that better. But now, after a few months on it, I find it is also causing me indigestion and reflux. So I’m wondering if the fermented CLO is tolerable to people who otherwise can’t digest CLO? I know it’s “designed” to be healthier and more absorbable, but can sensitive folks like me actually digest it? It’s so expensive, and I’ve spent SO much money trying various forms of fish and CLO, I am hesitant to buy it without some endorsement from others in a similar situation. Thank you!

    • Cheryce says

      Hi Eleanor, I recommend sticking to the broccoli, asparagus, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, yellow squash, bell peppers, chili peppers, apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruits, watermelons, mangoes, papaya, oranges and peaches. They are all a lot cheaper, filling, and tastier, and contain lots of other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more. Best to stick with the fresh Organic kind if you can as they contain more nutrients and less pesticides. Listen to your body; if your body doesn’t like something don’t force it. I am mostly vegan (besides honey and the occasional wild fish) and I feel like I get too much vitamin A lol. I never get zits, my hair is always soft, shiny, and healthy, my nails never break unless I use a good clipper, and my eyesight is good even though I tend to stay up too late and stare at my computer screen too much lol. I think the key to making sure you get enough vitamin A in a vegan diet or mostly vegan diet at least is to simply either make sure to get enough sun and/or eat mushrooms regularly to make sure you get enough vitamin D, and make sure that you don’t skip on the fat. Use oils and vegan butters high in omega-3 and eat some nuts and seeds which contain a good amount of fat. Its also important to make sure you are getting enough zinc and vitamin E which can help you absorb vitamin A. I also do not react well to dairy or eggs. they both make me feel sick by the next day unless I only had a little and it was really well cooked. I’ve had liver before (from a wild deer) and I thought it wasn’t bad, but I definitely like the taste of beans more (especially kidney pinto, and chickapea). Also if I prepare meat (not as much if I’m not the one preparing it and just eat it after it’s well cooked) like chicken, pork-chops or steaks I tend to feel very sick that night or next morning regardless of how much I wash my hands or use gloves etc.

  16. says

    I just found your blog and am intrigued. I have some health challenges and have given up on traditional medicine.
    My question is about dairy. I am feeding a family of 6. I can’t afford grassfed organic dairy products. Can i get any of the benefits you speak of by using regular dairy products from the grocery store?

    • says

      The vitamin A content is significantly lower (and may even be negligible) in conventional dairy products. Are you able to get pastured eggs? I’m able to buy them directly from a farmer for a good price. Pastured egg yolks are a budget-friendly option for vitamin A. Also, if possible, you may consider just investing in one type of grassfed dairy product, such as grassfed butter.

    • Cheryce says

      I wouldn’t consume regular milk or eggs. The nutrients in them is little and not worth the antibiotics, chemicals, possible salmonella which is very common in eggs and poultry, the cholesterol, the way it can make your body very acidic which promotes cancer growth and other major health problems, and more. In fact I wouldn’t really recommend having grass-fed milk or eggs as often this grass is still gmo and sprayed with pesticides or the cow’s or chicken’s manure which can’t be healthy for the animal, and the animals are still often given antibiotics or other chemical supplements/steroids. I recommend only organic milk and eggs of which you know the farm/farmer personally/directly and can see that the animals are well kept and live a good life. It also might be cheaper buying directly from the farmer. Otherwise I would stay away from dairy and eggs. and stick to the asparagus, broccoli, chili peppers, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruits, watermelons, mangoes, papaya, oranges and peaches for your vitamin A. Fish is also good for vitamin A on occasion but make sure its wild fish and not farm raised and also make sure there is no chance of it containing mercury especially if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

      • what says

        What? The cholesterol? It makes you acidic? We produce 2000 mg of cholesterol per day its essential to life. Cholesterol found in animal products is minimal in comparison, and has no effect on serum cholesterol. Hence the story of the old man eating 25 eggs per day with normal cholesterol ( search dr wallach ). Secondly, it makes us acidic? Anything we eats turns alkaline upon entering the small intestine due to bicarbonates neutralizing incoming acids. Please don’t recycle these vegan pseudoscience theories.

        People like yourself love to dispute animal products for some reason I do not know. Beta carotene requires bile which requires fat to convert it. This means you must put some form of fat on your food. If you think about it what is an option? Butter. There’s not many other options as far as that goes. There’s no escaping animal products, and no you can’t say coconut oil because it doesn’t require bile from the MCFA’s. Not counting we need CLA ( only found in animal products ) , many people have trouble converting the DHA, and EPA so must get true sources. COQ10 is only found in animal products, true ratios of omega 3 to 6, true vitamin A, true 12 ( not the same as plant, different bio availability ), and also the only source of vitamin D during the winter.

        Sorry, but I’m sick of people like you reading something online and misinforming others. Just stop lady.

        Btw, awesome article! I had vitamin A deficiency myself, and I tried sweet potatoes, and carrots like mad. Needless to say it didn’t work. I had to eat grass fed beef liver although it tasted like the southbound end of a northbound donkey.

  17. Dana says

    Yeah, they can talk about birth defects from too much vitamin A. My daughter got birth defects from not enough vitamin A. I know which side I’d prefer to err upon.

    I’m not even sure it’s down to synthetic versus natural. I’m curious whether these studies took into account the total nutrient intake–were these mothers taking A in isolation or did they balance it with other fat-solubles? And that’s if the data are trustworthy to begin with. If all they did was hand the mothers a questionnaire and say “tell me everything you ate during your pregnancy” then we can safely dismiss the study.

  18. Angie says

    Hi Lauren!

    I quite enjoy reading your blog, and I just wanted to start with saying congratulations on how far you’ve come in improving your health. I have a question for you though. I am a vegan, for ethical reasons. I just feel it is wrong to eat another living creature. I am wondering, do you have any recommendations on how to make sure I am getting the proper nutrients I need? Please don’t recommend I eat animal products either, it’s not something I am willing to do. Thank you!

    • says

      I’m glad you enjoy my blog and thank you for the kind words! Unfortunately, I am at a loss for suggestions because my research has led me to believe that adequate nutrition cannot be met on a vegan diet (although I do think it is possible on a vegetarian diet).

  19. MAYLING says


    My vit.d levels have been low these past couple of years. If I take the fermented cod iver oil and the emulsion would that be overkill?

    Thank you very much.

  20. Mayling Joy Demonteverde says


    I ordered the fermented cod liver oil cinnamon tingle. How do you take it? what’s the dose?

    Thank you very much.

  21. Javier says

    Hey I really enjoy your blog! You have some great stuff here thanks!

    I don’t understand if people are against polyunsaturated oils why is fermented cod liver oil ok?

    Polyunsaturated oils are VERY unstable, oxidizing quickly when exposed to oxygen, light and heat—even just sitting in a bottle, but also when they go into our bodies—and turning rancid. (including omegas)

    Furthermore, Cod, like Shark, are long-lived fish. As they go about living for years and years, and during that time, they accumulate environmental toxins.
    And the toxins are most concentrated in the livers. So when you drink Cod liver oil, you should expect environmental toxins! That just makes sense!

    Sadly, atlantic Cod is an over-fished and threatened species.

    Why not just eat more fish and liver and gain similar yet better benefits since it’s a food source?

    • Javier says

      Also Fermented foods require a glucose source to create (metabolize) a by-product e.g. lactic acid that prevents the food from decomposing. The result is a pleasant sour taste that one would find with sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, etc. Cod liver oil has no glucose and cod livers have very little glucose (mostly protein, fat, water and some minerals). The livers and the oil simply go from fresh to rancid in a short period of time. If left to continue decomposing the oil will become putrid leaving a foul smell and taste. Thanks for any input

  22. David says

    Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for informative article. For many weeks and months been researching the web for clear info about true levels of Vit A toxicity.

    I used to eat liver and eggs many times per week. My health was great. Then as part of comprehensive blood tests, I did vitamin A (retinol) level test, also vitamin D. I am so confused by the results, as they showed me to be bordering toxicity in A, and very deficient in D.

    I stopped all A intake from liver eggs etc. Started taking high dose vitamin D (50,000 iu per week). Within 2 months, started to suffer from extreme dry hair (dry brittle, sheep like). Eye sight less acuity. My face inflated and eyes protruding. May be Hypothyroid!

    Not to take long of your precious time. My main query si with regard to what constitute tru vitamin A / retinol toxicity in humans.

    The numbers I see on the web are most confusing. My lab test result for serum retinol was 86 mcg/dL.

    Some well known, even governmental website put the range as 50-200 mcg/dL

    Other US gov site out it as 30-50 mcg !!

    Merck manual and Medscape place the number between 20-100 mcg/dl only.

    Still others 45-120 mcg !

    Please see links:




    Greatly appreciate some help with thse conflicting numbers.

    Thank you.

  23. Vegan, yeah... says

    I’m vegan and I found this a bit offensive. I’ll stick with my lifestyle though lot of people don’t agree animals should have most of human rights. I banished meat, dairy from my diet because I refuse to kill an animal because of my appetites.

    As I’ve been checking my diet, I registered almost everything I ate and my Vitamin A RDA percentage would pass 500%. Like you said, it takes much to transform that into proper vitamin A, but having all those 500%, I don’t think I will need to worry myself if I’m having enough ‘true’ Vitamin A. And yes, meat and dairy can be a easy source of all you mentioned and even protein, aminoacids, but you forget that if you see the benefits of eating meat, there isn’t much, it fills your body with toxins including the amount of time your body gets rid of it – too much time.

    Killing animals is not worth my time, even If i’m not doing it directly but simply by buying meat or whatever. Please go to YouTube and see Earthlings, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives – especially Forks Over Knives if you want more proof about why we shouldn’t eat any dairy or meat for health reasons.. Cowspiracy – how eating meat is affecting our planet, world warming, poverty, etc. Earthlings – the cruelty behind the Tv publicity showing wrongly how animals, cows, chickens are treated. After seeing all that, if you still remain with your opinion, fine, at least try to understand and write having in count that us, vegans, do care about species. Thank you.

  24. says

    Hi Lauren! Long time follower of your work! It’s just come to my attention that I may be consuming too much vitamin A. My hair has been breaking off and it’s extremely frustrating cause I don’t dye it or use any conventional products and I eat very clean with plenty of healthy fats! Now I’m not sure what to remove to decrease vitamin A while keeping and if not upping iron. I’ve been doing 1/2 tsp. fermented cod liver oil and taking liver pills I made from venison. Should I not be doing that anymore? I also eat kale, spinach, grass-fed butter, eggs, sweet potato, squash etc. I’m so confused and would LOVE your input! Thanks! :)

  25. Kader kochi says

    Nice, It is good 4 egg /day in younger groups.and and those have vision problems, cirrhosis and those have pre malignant conditions..

  26. Maria says

    Hello there! great info! So can i take cod liver oil daily and still eat raw carrots and some butter with safety? Thanks for your answer its very important for me!

  27. Lois says

    Is it okay to take 50000 iu of vitamin a even if you have elevated liver enzymes? Or should i just wait till my liver enzymes goes down then i could take that amount of vitamin a. I’ve spoken to someone from a health food store and they told me that in order to heal the gut, you have to take about 50000 iu of vitamin a plus 10000 iu of vit d and iodine a day for one week then basically, you can taper it down every week.

  28. Kelsey says

    This may sound odd, but I came here seeking information for my bird. I adopted an older parrot this year with a history of health problems. She’s been doing very well, but has the slightest bit of flakiness on the scales on her toes, which can be associated with Vitamin A deficiency. She won’t eat any leafy greens or orange/yellow vegetables (with the exception of carrots.) As per your suggestion, I’ve been giving her a little bit of egg a few times a week (which is actually suggested by avian authorities as a way to provide some of the nutrition missing in the suggested diet of veggies, fruit, pellets, and sprouted seeds). I’m excited to see the results. Thanks again for the info!

  29. says

    Thank you for posting this. I love vitamin A and its precursor.
    My issue is about you discouraging plant based foods as a source of Vitamin A or to be specific its precursor. My thinking and experience is that if one has a functional digestive tract and if one does not have worms in the stomach or intestines, then Vitamin A or beta-carotene will be absorbed efficiently (with fat as you stated). Few cases do we find someone with a malfunctioning intestinal tract or with worms. Therefore I suggest that we still can get beta-carotene absorbed as just a few people have issues with the intestinal tract.

    Animal foods have fat and vitamin A But we all know that besides the vitamin A, animal foods have high concentrations of saturated fat that is far beyond that recommended in the diet. Animal foods also do not have any soluble or insoluble fiber. Your article is discouraging people to use plant foods as a source of vitamin A but those same foods provide other nutrients beside beta-carotene. Individuals may think that those foods are totally bad which is not the case.

  30. Sara says

    This isn’t quite accurate. Beta carotene, the orange pigment found in many plants including carrots, is converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Plus, it is stored as beta carotene and then converted to vitamin A when no longer in excess.

  31. Debbie says

    It is very possibly to get overloaded on vitamin A with liver. The ways we get vitamin A toxicity is because it is fat soluble and will build up in our fat rather than being flushed out in our urine. Polar Bear livers (not synthetic obviously) are so high in vitamin A that a very small amount can cause toxicity. It is impossible to get toxicity from plant sources, and they have started changing how they measure it, so it is more accurate

  32. Pyotar says

    Giving people advice to take retinol from animal sources is, simply said, complete bollocks. That is propaganda from meat industry. That has nothing to do with proper nutrition. Putting miligrams or micrograms next to vitamins is clear sign of quackery and charlatanism. Every human being is different, and so is the need for vitamins. You cannot make up a number and apply it for millions. In fact, you can, but only if the only goal is to create herd mentality.

  33. Daisy says

    I feel like the entire purpose of this blog is to refute vegetarianism and veganism and to exaggerate the importance of eating animal products, like the author is obsessed with killing animals. “You must take life to have life.” Yeah okay, nutcase.

  34. Daisy says

    PS, on an informative note, I used to eat way too much vitamin A and it made my hair fall out. Once I stopped, so did the hair loss. I now get my vitamin A primarily from carotenoids and my body converts them just fine. My last GP checkup and blood tests confirm it.

  35. Crystal says

    If I take 50,000 iu a day, is that safe? I’ve taken 30,000 iu a day with no adverse affects. I have keratosis pillars and increasing vitamin A and D and K2 are the main things that help, but as soon as I stop taking Vitamin A, my problems come back shortly after. Is it possible, I’m not storing it, or that I am really that deficient, that taking it for a month isn’t enough?

  36. Jen says

    I am an ex smoker. Would eating liver be a concern, since there was a study that said smokers and ex smokers should stay away from beta carotene and vit a

  37. says

    Hi Lauren,

    Great Article. I was wondering if you could elaborate just a bit more on the Vitamin A – Beta Carotene v’s Retinol. I understand the fact that Beta Carotene derives from Plants versus Retinol that derives from an Animal Source.

    However, where I am a bit confused is and correct me if I am wrong but it sounds like what you are saying is that it is basically impossible for the Human Body to derive any benefit from a Vitamin A – Beta Carotene source versus Retinol in a Multi-Vitamin?

    I also understand the fact that via a Liver Supplement and or Cod Liver Oil you can get the needed Vitamin A in your body. However, do you mind just shedding alittle more light on this Subject as I am in process of choosing the correct Multi-Vitamin and will need the Vitamin A to be digested properly in my Body.


    I was wondering if there where other “Fat Soluble” Vitamins that also worked in the same manner as Vitamin A does. Please advise when you can….

    Can you please expand on the phrase below from your Article.

    ” The vitamin A from animal sources is retinoids, also called retinol, while plant source vitamin A is carotenoids, such as beta carotene. Animal sources of retinol is bio-available, which means the body can utilize it. The vitamin A from plant sources, in contrast, must first be converted to retinol to be useful in the body. ”

    Thank You,

  38. Annie says

    I took the fermented cod liver oil for about 2 1/2 months. On the good side, my fingernails, which have been brittle and split my whole life, became strong and they grew fast! But I had a scare. I was woken in the middle of the night with squirming feelings, not spasms exactly, in my liver. This went on for 10 days, when I quit the FCLO. After a few weeks the problem stopped.

    I do not want to take FCLO again. But I want to see my nails improve. Any suggestions?

    Also any thoughts on the liver squirm?

  39. Sara says

    I am so glad I found your article!! I read that orange veggies were the way to go for vitamin a, but that seemed too “easy”. I felt like there was something more to the animal forms, and this was the information I needed. Im pretty sure that my daughters and I are vitamin a deficient. One of them is severely deficient or at least has the signs for it. I’m giving her CLO and I’m taking the liver pills. Just started. :-) I’m looking forward to results for her keritosis Polaris and depression symptoms. Thank you for this article.

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