Vitamin A and its byproducts are very important in the body. It could be more of utilization problem or another issue, but retinoic acid and its interactions is a major link in inflammation/disease that holds promise for people.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A and its byproducts are very important in the body.
Whether supplementation would help these people I can’t know. It could be more of utilization problem or another issue, but retinoic acid and its interactions is a major link in inflammation/disease that holds promise for people.
Overview of Vitamin A Benefits
Vitamin A is crucial for your brain, immune system, skin, eyes, teeth, bones and for the formation of hormones.
This is one reason why people with chronic inflammation without fail have skin problems.
1) Vitamin A is Important For Vitamin D and Your Thyroid Hormones to Work Properly
Vitamin A is also crucial in activating Retinoic Acid Receptors (RAR).
Both RAR and RXR are crucial DNA binding proteins (transcription factors), which are needed for genetic expression. RXR is needed to activate the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the Thyroid Hormone Receptor (THR).
In simple English, this means if you’re deficient in vitamin A you can take all the vitamin D you want and it won’t make that much of a difference because you need adequate vitamin A to make these work properly.
Vitamin D absolutely needs RXR in order to get the benefits from it and Thyroid hormones need RXR to work effectively.
See below how you need Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) to combine with Retinoid X Receptor (RXR) to result in gene expression. Therefore, you need adequate retinoic acid (a breakdown product of retinol) and vitamin D3 for these to function.
If you are popping your vitamin D pills (or thyroid hormones) and it’s not working for you then try to add some real vitamin A/Retinol (upper level=10,000 IU daily) and see how you feel. Vitamin D might not work for you anyway (it’s better for Th1 dominant), but vitamin A will make it more likely to work for you.
2) Vitamin A and The Immune System
Vitamin A has other important immune functions and may help you even if you’re Th2 dominant, but it will be less likely to help you than a Th1 dominant person such as myself.
Vitamin A/RXR is crucial for inducing oral tolerance to proteins and it increases Tregs.
3) Vitamin A and ‘Adrenal Fatigue’
Vitamin A-deficient animals have lower adrenal hormone production [R].
I’ve mentioned in my adrenal fatigue post that abnormal production of cortisol doesn’t indicate your adrenal glands are broken. It could be cortisol is abnormal because of low or dysregulated vitamin A.
4) Vitamin A and Weight
5) Vitamin A and the Brain
Vitamin A/Retinol plays a central role in increasing neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
Indeed, vitamin A is important for long-term potentiation (LTP), which is important to form memories [R].
Vitamin A deficiency causes a circadian dysrhythmia, which in turn results in cognitive dysfunction [R].
6) Vitamin A and the Circadian Rhythm
Here’s a simple way to think about the circadian rhythm. The body has thousands of processes going on at any given moment. Many of these processes function better in concert with other processes – just like in a symphony, where different sounds work better with other sounds.
These processes have a certain rhythm or flow. The body conducts this orchestra with ‘clock genes’. When they get expressed, it happens all over the body, in a synchronous way.
When Vitamin A causes a circadian dysrhythmia it likely results in cognitive dysfunction [R].
The rhythms of these antioxidant enzymes are important because in some parts of the day we do better with more internal antioxidants, while at other times we do better with less.
Vitamin A-deficient animals also had reduced periods of wakefulness and energy expenditure (locomotor activity) [R].
In addition to being important for daily rhythms, retinoic acid is also important for seasonal rhythms [R].
7) Vitamin A and Blood Glucose
Scientists believe the relationship is causal. My own experiments with vitamin A support this, as I find that when I take vitamin A supplements, I have a higher need for K2 supplements (evidenced by gums feeling weak and sensitive and bones feeling less sturdy).
How to Obtain Adequate Vitamin A
I used to think of nutrients in terms of the RDA. I don’t anymore. I think of it in terms of an individual’s biology and if taking more of a certain nutrient can balance their physiology better. The question should be if you can benefit from more (or less) of it, not if you’re getting the RDA.
For the past 5 years, I was afraid to take vitamin A because a study was done with beta-carotene supplements that showed it increased lung cancer risk. I also read reports that showed vitamin A deficiency in the population was rare.
I didn’t have the experience or the necessary knowledge to understand that deficiency and inadequacy are different.
I still don’t think deficiency is a problem as much as some environmental factors – perhaps lack of sunlight or circadian dysregulation – is not allowing us to utilize it fully.
If we got the sun, wore red Glasses at night and took care of our circadian rhythm, it should fix this part.
I still recommend you consume foods like Cod liver, regular liver or supplement with Vitamin A/Retinol.
I recommend first experimenting with a higher dosage and seeing how you feel – say 3,000iu. Then cut back to taking 2000iu daily. If you buy 8000iu, you can take it once every four days. Make sure to take extra K2 and D3.
1) Vitamin A and Vegan Diets
Vegan or vegetarian diets can result in not getting enough vitamin A.
Chris Masterjohn followed a vegan diet and found his health went south. He was very thin and had chronic inflammation – indicative of low PPARs and Th1 dominance. He realized that he was deficient in real vitamin A and felt better by eating liver, the richest source of retinol. He was so enamored with vitamin A that he studied this subject for his Ph.D.
Vitamin A might be one of those nutrients that you can get enough of in a vegan diet if you’ve got the genetic predisposition for high conversion of beta-carotene to retinol or an anti-inflammatory/Th2 immune profile.
However, it’s also possible that vegans are affected, but they don’t notice it.
2) Alcohol Depletes Vitamin A
See how alcohol depletes vitamin A:
Signs of Vitamin-A Inadequacy
Well, these are signs that something about RXR or RAR isn’t working, and vitamin A deficiency is one possible cause.
- Th1 Dominant
- Low Pregnenolone
- High LDL Cholesterol
- Bad night vision
- Vision problems in general
- Negative effects of the sun?
- Skin problems
- Brittle teeth
- Low PPARs
Genes and Reduced Conversion of Beta-Carotene to Retinol
It’s important to know if you’ve got genes that cause reduced conversion of beta-carotene, because if you do then you definitely need to supplement if you’re on a vegan diet.
In test tubes, when cells have one T in both genes, they have a reduced conversion activity of beta-carotene by 57%.
Females carrying the T variant of rs7501331 had a 32% lower ability to convert Beta-carotene.
Those carrying at least one T in two genes (rs12934922 and rs7501331) show a 69% lower ability to convert Beta-carotene into retinyl esters.
For rs7501331, 56% of the population has CC, 39% has CT and 5% has TT. If you’ve got CT or TT, you should make sure to get real vitamin A (especially TT).
rs12934922 also converts beta-carotene to retinol. T is the ‘bad’ allele. 38% of the population has AA, 40% has AT, and 22% has TT (R).
If you’ve got one T in rs7501331 then you should try to get some real vitamin A.
If you’ve TT in rs7501331 then you really need to get real vitamin A.
If you’ve got a T in both genes, then you also need to really get real vitamin A.
If you’ve got one T in rs12934922, I wouldn’t worry. If you’ve got TT in rs12934922 then you should get real vitamin A, but it’s not as significant as rs7501331.