Home » breastfeeding

Tag: breastfeeding

Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

Should You Take Vitamin D Supplements?

Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

Vitamin D. You certainly hear a lot about it these days.

As in everyone is all of a sudden deficient.

Whether you are into natural health or you stick to western medicine, Vitamin D supplementation is constantly growing in popularity. It’s a miracle cure for everything it seems.

But before you nod your head in approval and accept that we all need more, let’s take a deeper look at this essential “vitamin.”

What is Vitamin D?

The first thing you need to understand is that Vitamin D is not a vitamin at all. It is a hormone, or pre-hormone some say. More specifically it is a group of secosteroids. I will still refer to it as Vitamin D throughout the post, but it is really hormone D.

Vitamins are nutrients the body can not create; that you must ingest. Vitamin D, however, is synthesized by the body when sunlight hits your skin. Your body creates it. Just like your body creates estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, etc. We don’t load up on “high testosterone foods.” We might eat foods that help our bodies create testosterone. Or there may be other ways to help our bodies make the process run smoothly. But we don’t have to ingest a hormone.

That alone should tip you off that nation-wide Vitamin D supplementation is not a good idea.Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you? #vitamind #supplements #naturalhealth

Should We Consume Vitamin D?

I find it almost comical how much bad information is available on Vitamin D. An article by Everyday Health states:

Nature provides many great sources of calcium, but only a few that are high in vitamin D — including fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel; fortified foods, like orange juice and milk; and some cheeses, liver, and eggs. 

Thankfully, food companies have fortified many foods with vitamin D2, making it possible for anyone, regardless of whether they eat fish or dairy, to get some amount of vitamin D through their diet.

Did they really just say that nature provides fortified orange juice?

Also, if you really read what they just said, you’ll notice a huge point – nature only has a few foods with Vitamin D. If you are into natural health this should be significant. If we are meant to consume large amounts of Vitamin D, it would be in a lot of food. But it’s not.Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

It is not natural to have access to large amounts of cheese and liver. If a family has a few cows for milk and beef they might make a small amount of cheese and would only have enough liver to eat a few times a year. Just because we now have access to these things on a daily basis does not mean we should consume them that way.

Any nutrient that we are told we can only ingest enough of through supplements is the sign of clever marketing. How did people survive this long if Vitamin D supplements are necessary for health?

In other words, we are meant to get Vitamin D from the sun. Not our food. So get out in the sun. Don’t start popping pills.

Are Vitamin D Supplements Safe?

Vitamin D is fat-soluble. This means excess is stored in fat instead of in water. So extra is not flushed out through urine or sweat. Your body must find a place to store it so as to not create in imbalance in your blood.

So while it seems like a little extra Vitamin D is no big deal…it actually is a really big deal.

Hypervitaminosis D is a very serious condition of toxicity. 

Excessive amounts of vitamin D in the body can cause calcium levels in the blood to rise. This can lead to a condition called hypercalcemia (too much calcium in your blood). Symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • excessive thirst
  • excessive urination
  • dehydration
  • constipation
  • irritability, nervousness
  • ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea, vomiting
  • dizziness
  • confusion, disorientation
  • high blood pressure
  • heart arrhythmias

Long-term complications of untreated hypervitaminosis D include:

  • kidney stones
  • kidney damage
  • kidney failure
  • excess bone loss
  • calcification (hardening) or arteries and soft tissues

In addition, increased blood calcium can cause abnormal heart rhythms. [source]

Take note that the above says calcium levels rise IN THE BLOOD, not in your bones. Calcium is actually pulled FROM your bones to balance the high levels of Vitamin D in your blood.

I am thankful that many doctors actually test Vitamin D levels these days (though MANY people still supplement blindly). The problem here is that they use faulty ranges. So someone with a healthy Vitamin D level is still told to supplement.

The ideal range of Vitamin D blood level is about 25 ng/mL – 50 ng/mL. This range is linked to the best health outcomes and longest life span. And yet somewhere along the way someone told everyone this isn’t good enough (maybe supplement companies??).

Some doctors now say 50 ng/mL – 100 ng/mL is ideal. There are still others (even in the natural health world) that advise levels above 100 ng/mL!

There is no way that is normal or natural. And definitely no way it is healthy!

Blindly taking Vitamin D supplements is a dangerous practice. And yet so many people do it. They even give it to their kids (cod liver oil, multi-vitamins, fortified foods,…).Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

Is Vitamin D Good for Your Bones?

The common belief is that adequate Vitamin D levels are necessary for strong bones and to protect against osteoporosis. 

According to Medical News Today:

Excessive consumption of vitamin D (hypervitaminosis D) can lead to over calcification of bones and hardening of blood vessels, kidney, lungs, and heart. 

The human body is smart. It does everything possible to keep a very delicate balance of calcium and Vitamin D in the blood. If you have an imbalance the body will take the extra calcium and store it places you don’t want it and/or pull stores from your bones. So you can get hardened blood vessels and weak bones from too much Vitamin D.

Sadly most doctors prescribe either a high calcium diet or calcium supplements along with Vitamin D to treat osteoporosis. As you may have guessed this does not work. In fact it has the opposite effect, causing more harm than good.

This is a great article showing just how much damage Vitamin D can do.

Vitamin D supplements are also linked to gallstones. Again, the body has to move excess around to maintain balance. It will do this at all costs to stay alive (short-term survival)…even if it creates disease (slow death).

The Link Between Vitamin D and Vitamin A

There is more to the story than just Vitamin D and calcium. There is a third and critical factor – Vitamin A.

It is also possible to get excess Vitamin A in your diet in our current culture. Both Vitamin A and D are added to every food we eat and pushed on us left and right.

In an article by Mercola, it states:

It’s highly unfortunate, but many people in developed countries are potentially sabotaging the multitude of health benefits they could receive from adequate vitamin D by taking excessive amounts of vitamin A, either in the form of multi-vitamins or cod liver oil.

I spent many hours reviewing this issue in the latter part of 2008, and as a result, I issued a revision of my long held recommendation for cod liver oil. If you missed that important update, please take the time to review it now.

I had recommended cod liver oil as a source of vitamin D for quite some time, prior to this revision. My stance was based on the fact that cod liver oil contains vitamins D and A in addition to healthy omega-3 fats.

These vitamins are essential for most everyone who cannot get regular sun exposure year-round.

However, as I began reviewing the latest research, I realized there was compelling evidence that the ratios of these two vitamins may be of paramount importance in order to extract optimal health benefits. And this latest study appears to confirm that theory.

Web MD actually calls Vitamin A a bone poison.

High levels of Vitamin A lead to weak bones as it impacts the balance of calcium and Vitamin D.[source]

Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

Why We Need Sun Exposure

One big factor in the Vitamin D issue is sun exposure. We NEED sun. That is how we are meant to make Vitamin D – through sun exposure.

But these days people (even kids) spend so much time inside.

On top of that we have all been convinced that we need sunscreen on day and night year round for fear of the big, bad sun.

The sun is such an important part of life and health. My kids and I studied chemistry and physics this past year. One of the first lessons taught to elementary students is that the sun is our source of energy. It feeds the plants. The plants then give that energy to us and to animals (which then give it to us as well). The sun is a vital part of our health.

Somehow we’ve been convinced that sun exposure is dangerous and sunscreen is the answer. Quite backwards.

When you wear sunscreen you prevent your body from producing Vitamin D (nullifying sun exposure), which in turn prevents your body from detoxing Vitmain A.

Not to mention the ingredients in most sunscreens are toxic, actually contributing to skin cancer. Your skin absorbs whatever you put on it. In fact, what you put on your skin may have more impact than what you eat! It is absorbed instantly instead of being filtered through the digestive system. So if you wouldn’t eat the ingredients in your health and beauty products, don’t put them on your skin.

How many people do you know that slather toxic suncreen on every time they go outside to “prevent skin cancer?” Really they are just preventing their bodies from detoxing and from making Vitamin D. The complete opposite of what you want to do to prevent cancer. Maybe that is why everyone feels Vitamin D deficient?

If you are sensitive to the sun, wear sun-protective clothing if you are going to be out for a long time. You should still get in the sun daily for at least a little exposure for adequate Vitamin D.

The only time our family wears sunscreen is if we are going to be outside near water for several hours. And if that is the case we use quality sunscreen without toxins (here is the best list of how over 100 natural sunscreens measure up!).

Our whole family is naturally very fair-skinned. Yet my kids are quite tan! They play outside for hours every day without sunscreen and haven’t gotten a sunburn once.

Does Vitamin D Deficiency Exist?

Although hypervitaminosis D is more common, it is possible to have a truly low Vitamin D level (below 25 ng/mL). But even in this case I don’t believe Vitamin D supplements should be used.

A low Vitamin D level means there are other things out of balance in the body. You need to test and figure out what they are.

How Vitamin D Supplements Ruined My Health

I don’t write all of this to be judgmental or criticize. I write it because I wish someone had written it for me years ago. I wish I wouldn’t have made the mistakes I made.

In 2013 I was really struggling health-wise. I’d been doing the whole real food/WAPF thing for a while, but was still struggling. I finally decided to bite the bullet and see an osteopathic doctor, even though it meant paying out of pocket. She ran all sorts of blood work and did a hair analysis.

The results were quite overwhelming – food intolerances galore, candida, low thyroid, low Vitamin D,…

I wasn’t as knowledgeable back then as I am now. So I just listened and took her word for everything she advised. Food restrictions, tons of supplements…and of course high dose Vitamin D. I think it was 50,000 IU once a week.

I was still breastfeeding, had just come off GAPS (big mistake to do that diet!), my adrenals were shot, and my metabolism was almost non-functional. What I needed was more sleep and more food. Instead I got a super restricted diet, unnecessary supplements, and a lot of anxiety.

My Vitamin D level was 28 ng/mL, which I now know is PERFECT. Just where it should be. But she had me supplement…and I got my levels up to 75 ng/mL!! So much damage and imbalance from that one recommendation.Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

In June of that year I had a miscarriage. Following the miscarriage I gained 25 pounds in about three months. I also had to significantly increase my thyroid medication.

I wasn’t sure how it all related. But now I know it was Hypervitaminosis D and A. Together they impaired my thyroid and messed up my hormones. It was one of the hardest years of my life, feeling like I was trying to do everything right while quickly seeing my health decline. I could only find ONE picture of myself from that time because I was so embarrassed by my declining health and how I looked. If you’re looking for a quick way to gain weight, add a Vitamin D supplement to your routine!

In 2016 I found a new Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and did HTMA (who also inspired me to become an NTP myself!). Thankfully she was smart enough to advise me to avoid all sources of Vitamin D because supplementing had messed up my calcium so badly. That was 3 years ago that I stopped taking Vitamin D supplements.

Here we are in 2019…and I am STILL dealing with toxicity from Vitamin. My hormones and thyroid are still not functioning well. I still have all of the symptoms of hypervitaminosis D.

So if you have been convinced you are deficient in Vitamin D, please reconsider before taking a supplement. Get your levels checked. Are they truly low? If so, treat the root issue. Are they actually high? You need a detox.

Have you ever supplemented with Vitamin D? Have you found it helpful or have you noticed the negative impact over time?Wondering if you are Vitamin D deficient? Most people think they are these days. But before you start taking supplements consider the potential risks. Is Vitamin D supplementation really good for you?

Are you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back to full health? I've got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

How to Overcome Vitamin A Toxicity: The Vitamin A Detox Diet

VAD Diet updateAre you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back in balance? I’ve got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

Are you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back to full health? I've got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

I hope you’ve been enjoying this series on Vitamin A Toxicity/Hypervitaminosis A. I also hope you haven’t been too overwhelmed with information. It’s a lot to take in. And I’m only scratching the surface!

Today we’re discussing what you’ve all been waiting for – how to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity.

It’s really quite simple.

I also wanted to note that I will be focusing on the Vitamin A Detox Diet in relation to children since that is my area of specialty. That being said, everything will be applicable to adults as well.

Finally, know that this is VERY NEW information. So new things are coming to light left and right. I will do my best to keep up with anything that changes and give you the most up-to-date information.

How Does Your Child Get Vitamin A Toxicity?

A person becomes toxic when the liver is saturated with a particular toxin and can’t handle any more. Too much toxin = toxic. Once your bathtub is full of water it will start spilling over the edges. You can’t truly drain the tub until the faucet is completely turned off.

In other words, you have to stop taking in Vitamin A (intox) in order for your body to get the built up Vitamin A out (detox). You need the Vitamin A Detox Diet.

To clarify I do NOT mean detox in the sense of a juice cleanse or starving yourself. I’m using the word detox purely to mean the act removing the toxin. Not the widely held beliefs about the methods of detox.

The idea of no more in, drain the stored amount out is pretty simple and straight forward. I’ll go into more details on how specifically in a moment.

First I want to address how we got here in the first place.

Are you ready to overcome Vitamin A Toxicity and get your child back to full health? I've got all of the details of the Vitamin A Detox Diet to get your started.

Why Are Children so Loaded with Vitamin A?

If you’re like me you’ve been trying hard to nourish your kids and make sure they are eating lots of fruits, veggies and whole foods. Maybe you add extra egg yolks to smoothies or some desiccated liver to your meatballs. Your kids take cod liver oil weekly, drink raw milk or organic whole milk, eat sweet potatoes, carrots, avocados, peppers, beets, spinach and kale. An assortment of healthy food.

How about a multi-vitamin added in for good measure? Just to “fill in the gaps.” Some whole food Vitamin C too?

Well, maybe not. Each of those things contains Vitamin A in the form of retinol, beta carotene or other carotenoids. And they add up. Quickly.

Humans did not eat this way thousands or even hundreds of years ago. Nobody ate the rainbow 1,000 years ago (I think we’ve forgotten how healthy white fruits and veggies are!). It just was not an option. There were no supermarkets with produce from around the world shipped in daily. People ate what was available.

Or maybe you’ve raised your kids on a typical diet these days of processed foods and pasteurized milk. They are all fortified with Vitamin A. Did your child ever drink formula? Fortified. In this case the government is dictating that your child needs large doses of Vitamin A on a daily basis.

How our Food and Diet Have Changed

I’m going to get technical just for a second here to explain some things on a deeper level.

Our bodies have a variety of receptors (molecule that responds to/”receives” specific substances like neurotransmitters, antigens and hormones). These substances are called ligands. Scientists have labeled one of the receptors RXR (Retinoid X Receptor). It is a poor name since this receptor can, and should, accept more than just retinoic acid.

RXR can also accept DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and phytanic acid, two types of fatty acids (there are others it accepts as well). These are actually the intended ligands for the RXR. Think of them as keys that unlock the RXR. And when they are present, they block the RXR from accepting Vitamin A.

DHA and phytanic acid should come from our food, specifically from ruminant animals. Ruminants eat grass, break down chlorophyll into DHA and phytanic acid. Then we consume them in beef fat and dairy fat. Both DHA and phytanic acid speed up the enzyme that breaks down Vitamin A in addition to blocking it from the RXR.

But this process has been interrupted. What are animals fed these days? Grains. No chlorophyll. On top of that the grains are usually covered in glyphosate. So there is much less DHA and phytanic acid to breakdown Vitamin A. And there is glyphosate that prevents the breakdown of Vitamin A (read all about the glyphosate Vitamin A connection here). A double whammy.

The popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets has also been a factor. We need red meat and animal fats from grassfed animals to get sufficient protein (to make retinol binding protein), DHA and phytanic acid. But those are missing on these restricted diets. Then add Vitamin A supplements on top of that “to prevent deficiencies.” It’s a recipe for disaster. If you know anyone that has gone on a vegan or vegetarian diet and felt great for a bit and then all of a sudden started to feel awful…this is why. They may actually be inducing an autoimmune disease!

As you can see our food supply and recommended diet has contributed greatly to this imbalance of Vitamin A. Plus the abundance of glyphosate is preventing us from detoxing Vitamin A.

How My Children Became Toxic

I’m right there with you when it comes to having children with Vitamin A Toxicity. 

When my son was two he started itching his legs like crazy until they would bleed. Eczema. I did not know it then, but eczema is actually classified as an autoimmune condition. We had him tested for allergies. Oh boy. A laundry list of foods, including dairy and nuts. Time for big diet changes.

So over the years I got creative and made everything dairy free (or tomato free when avoiding nightshades) using pumpkin or squash as a replacement. He also couldn’t have potatoes. So he always got carrots instead.

When he was five (after multiple rounds of testing and we’d had to carry an epi-pen for a year due to a severe nut allergy) he had more allergy testing. The new allergist took one look at him and noted that he had orange feet!! Carotenemia…an overload of beta carotene…Vitamin A Toxicity. I’m sure he was overloaded before that (why he had the eczema in the first place). But this took it to a whole new level.

We’ve struggled for years with him having stomach aches, up and down eating, skin issues, minor fevers, mood/behavior issues. Now we know why!

Vitamin A Toxicity in Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my third I was being so “good” eating every nutrient dense food possible…with liver added. And a multi on top. I’m sure I was getting extremely high amounts of Vitamin A. And it’s passed to baby both in utero and in breastmilk. God designed babies to detox the Vitamin A from mom since baby’s liver is healthier. Great design. But not so nice for baby in this world we now live in.

So my daughter had a tongue tie, feeding issues and extreme vaccine reactions as an infant. She basically stopped eating. And of course I tried to get her back to health feeding her squash and liver smoothies!! She is now 4 1/2 and still struggles. She has complained of bone pain since she was old enough to verbalize how she felt. She has frequent stomach aches and a low appetite. Again, now we know why!

Thank goodness after a short time on the VAD diet and using our simple magnesium lotion her leg pain is gone, and she eats so well!

Of course I did not know anything about Vitamin A Toxicity back then. So when I became pregnant with baby #4 I ate the same way. So much nourishing food…or so I thought. Salads piled high with a rainbow of vegetables, avocado, fried eggs and desiccated liver. Washed down with a big glass of raw milk.

Now I’m dealing with the consequences again. Or should I say my son is. Feeding troubles from birth. Food reactions. Flat spot on his head. Weak bones. Horrible teething pain. Body tension and tongue restriction. All because I tried to follow current health advice.

Are We All Overloaded with Vitamin A?

But it didn’t even start there. Like most people I’ve been overloaded with Vitamin A my whole life. My parents probably were too. Maybe my grandparents were too! I was born in 1980. Processed food was what everyone ate. And all processed food, infant formula, and pasteurized milk are fortified with Vitamin A.

Then glyphosate was added to everything, making it much harder for our bodies to detox Vitamin A.

So it didn’t matter which extreme I was in – I was filling up on a toxin. And then passed that on to my children. Even my oldest. She was born before I had ever heard the term Real Food. But she still got the Vitamin A overload from me, then compounded with vaccines. And it impacted her neurologically.

All this to say, many people are overdosing on Vitamin A whether they realize it or not. Plus nobody is able to detox in our toxic world. That is a big problem. And it needs to stop.

How Do You Stop Vitamin A From Coming In?

  1. The easiest way to start the process is by eliminating all supplements containing Vitamin A or D and foods fortified with Vitamin A or D from your child’s diet. Immediately. They can be sneaky. Alternative milks and yogurts, flours, cereals, crackers. Not sure why our government thinks we are all Vitamin A deficient and we need it added to every food.
  2. The next step is removing Vitamin A foods from your child’s diet. Well, mostly. Unless you go to extremes like eating only beef and rice for the next six months you will be getting some Vitamin A. But the goal is to make that as minimal as possible. The less comes in, the faster it gets out. I will talk more about particular foods later.
  3. Then you have to look at what you put on your child’s body. Soap, shampoo, lotion. Even essential oils. If it comes from brightly colored plants (even green herbs) it has carotenoids and your skin will absorb it.
  4. Another critical aspect of your child’s food is to make sure it is organic. Glyphosate amplifies the effects of Vitamin A in the body. Try to avoid it as much as you can. This is particularly important when it comes to grains. Washing your produce well is also helpful.
  5. Finally I highly recommend doing HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis) with a skilled practicioner to find out what supplements your child truly does need short term to get in balance and to help the detox process.

Vitamin A Detox Diet

So what exactly does the Vitamin A Detox Diet look like? And how do you get started?

That’s where my new book comes in! I have created a guide for parents to walk them through the process of detoxing their children.

The diet does not eliminate any major food groups. You can still eat meat, veggies (all these white ones are awesome!), fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, beans and fats. So in that sense it is quite easy. You definitely won’t go hungry!

But it does eliminate a lot of foods you are probably used to eating. Like most red, orange, yellow and green veggies, pork, fish (due to contamination), dairy, egg yolks, olive oil, lard and unrefined coconut oil. In that sense it’s a big change from the traditional food diet we are used to. It’s hard to make that mental shift. And it can be hard in social settings.

My book has a long list of recipes and sample menus to help get you going. And it has the approved food list.

One critical aspect of the VAD Diet is protein. Your child must get adequate protein. Remember that Retinol Binding Protein we discussed in an earlier post? It is the only way to safely transport Vitamin A out of the liver. And it is a protein…so you need protein to make it. There are many sources of protein, but meat from ruminant animals is an essential one of the VAD Diet (read why here).

Getting Started on the Vitamin A Detox Diet

If you want to jump in now, a general rule is that if it’s colored it’s out and if it’s white it’s OK. This does not apply to all fruits as many get their color from substances other than beta carotene. But some do, like peaches and nectarines. Most grains are OK and most meat is OK (except pork). There are also some foods that don’t contain Vitamin A but do impact the body’s use of Vitamin A, like certain nuts and fats. So it is important to get the full diet.

The Vitamin A Detox Diet is generally a very short process for kids. I’d say a few weeks to a month or two is all that is needed.

Kid-Friendly Vitamin A Detox Diet Foods

I’ll keep sharing some new Vitamin A Detox Diet recipes.

My four-year old has been the easiest to feed on the VAD Diet. She asks for my food all the time.

Some of our favorites right now are:

  • roasted parsnips
  • rutabaga fries
  • crinkle cut homemade french fries (yes, you can eat white potatoes!)
  • peeled cucumbers or rice crackers dipped in homemade hummus
  • rice and beans
  • baked or roasted chicken dipped in honey
  • roasted cauliflower
  • roasted green cabbage
  • gluten-free banana bread topped with sunbutter or butter
  • fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, bananas, pears, apples, cherries, white peaches)
  • grassfed beef meatballs

Those are just a few ideas. I’ve got a lot more in my book.

Are you ready to help your child get back to full health? Are you ready for the Vitamin A Detox Diet? Got any questions for me?

Curious if the diet works? Check out my 6 month update here:

6 month Vitamin A Detox Diet update

Or my 9 month update here:

9 month Vitamin A Detox Diet update

And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook where I’m continually sharing the latest info and our progress.

Is Vitamin A Really a Vitamin?

VAD Diet update

What if everything you thought you knew about about nutrition was wrong? Are vegetables really good for you? Do you need loads of Vitamin D and calcium? Is Vitamin A really a vitamin? Let’s dig into these questions!

What if everything you thought you knew about about nutrition was wrong? Are vegetables really good for you? Do you need loads of Vitamin D and calcium? Is Vitamin A really a vitamin? Let's dig into these questions!

I want to start this post with an apology to all of my readers.

I’m Sorry.

I’m truly sorry if I gave you incorrect health information. Like you, I am on a learning and healing journey. And my views on what is healthy are constantly changing as I research and experiment. And I love sharing all of it with you! Thank you for joining me on this adventure!

For the last ten years I’ve been mostly following a traditional food diet. There have been modifications along the way, like grain-free, gluten-free, allergen-free, etc. But overall I have focused on nutrient-dense, whole traditional foods.

And while I still believe whole-heartedly that real food is the best, I’m no longer fully on board with a WAPF/Nourishing Traditions diet. It gets some things right. But other parts are so, so wrong.

Somehow our culture has also latched on to some of these misconceptions. And we now have a nation that is toxic. I’ll explain more in a moment. But first, please accept my apology. And prepare yourself for something crazy (at least I feel like I’m crazy just talking about it!).

Also remember that I am not a doctor. I am not giving you health advice. I am simply telling you what I’ve been researching and what my family is doing. What you do with the information is up to you.

I am going to try to be much better about listing references so you can research for yourself too.

Are There Vitamin Impostors?

I will preface this by saying that you need to have an open mind. Forget what you know about nutrition for just a moment and listen.

We’ve all been taught since grade school that we need vitamins. They are important for our health. There are water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K, etc.). There are lots of important minerals as well (calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, etc.). We get these vitamins and minerals from our food. Our bodies use them to function well. Pretty straight forward.

But what if I told you there were a couple impostors in that list?

It is well-documented that Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. It is a hormone. [source] Yet, people are supplementing with “Vitamin” D left and right. Somehow we’ve been told that everyone is Vitamin D deficient. Here’s a little secret…you’re not! And if your Vitamin D truly is low (you can find out with a blood test), supplementing is not the solution. A low level of Vitamin D (low is below 25 ng/dL. Ideal is 25-40 ng/dL…don’t think you need sky high Vitamin D levels) is an indicator that something is not working properly in your body (often times a Vitamin C deficiency). So you need to figure out what that is and fix it. Supplementing is like putting on a band aid. It might change your symptoms, but it’s not actually fixing anything. Here is what is actually happening.

Supplementing with Vitamin D is like taking hormone replacement therapy. And people are doing it to their children!! Even infants. Vitamin D drops, cod liver oil, multi-vitamins. You don’t need it. The excess fills your liver and then gets stored in your tissues (joints, digestive tract, kidneys, skin, etc.). You wouldn’t give your baby estrogen or testosterone drops. So why give hormone D drops?

Think about DHEA. Most people consider it good for health…but that doesn’t mean we call it a vitamin!The Vitamin A Detox Diet for Kids!

Isn’t Vitamin D Good For Your Bones?

Wrong again. Actually quite the opposite. One of the roles of Vitamin D is to maintain calcium levels in the blood…not the bones [source]. So it does whatever it takes to maintain that balance, including drawing calcium from your bones. All that extra Vitamin D you’re taking displaces the calcium in your bones. So if you want to guarantee that you have weak bones and teeth and that you will develop osteoporosis, keep taking Vitamin D supplements. Or keep drinking tons of Vitamin D fortified milk…and see if you develop arthritis or kidney stones.

Ok, that was kind pf a tangent. I just wanted to give you an example of a common health claim that is totally bogus. This post is really not about Vitamin D. It does relate to the rest of the post, though. If you want to learn more here are some great articles.

What if everything you thought you knew about about nutrition was wrong? Are vegetables really good for you? Do you need loads of Vitamin D and calcium? Is Vitamin A really a vitamin? Let's dig into these questions!

Is Vitamin A Really a Vitamin?

Now for the real heart of the matter. Vitamin A. Is it really a vitamin?

Let me start at the beginning.

After my fourth was born I started having some odd symptoms. I was already experimenting with my diet to help my nursling feel better and nurse better. So I was very observant of how I felt and how he felt in relation to what I ate.

I started noticing the symptoms appeared when I ate desiccated liver. That was odd. I’ve always thought liver was a super food loaded with nutrients (like Vitamin A and D). Knowing that it is one of the highest sources of Vitamin A I started to wonder if you could get too much Vitamin A.

I stopped eating liver and felt a little better. Ok. Maybe I didn’t need it or I wasn’t tolerating it. No big deal.

Then I happened to see this post from Matt Stone…all about Vitamin A. Good timing I thought. It was interesting. And helped me decide to stop the desiccated liver completely. Back to my crazy life trying to figure out why my kids won’t eat.

Then I saw Dr. Garrett Smith, ND post on Facebook about how Vitamin A is toxic. I started following him a few years ago at the suggestion of my Nutritional Therapy Practicioner (NTP), but hadn’t seen any posts from him in well over a year (and you know how picky Facebook is…why would I happen to see this one?).

I watched one of his videos and thought it was interesting, but a little out there. Carrots and spinach are bad for you? Avoid egg yolks? I don’t know about that. Those are super nutritious!

I was elbow deep researching histamine intolerance and methylation. So I focused on that and figured I’d ignore the Vitamin A stuff. It just sounded a little too strange for me.

Breastfeeding Challenges

At the same time my son continued to struggle with breastfeeding. My four-year old was not doing well either. She had an eye infection, followed by a month of full body hives and then stomach aches and poor appetite. She was back to hardly eating. It was getting so bad we had her pediatrician order a bunch of blood work.

I was praying daily for wisdom. I was on a low histamine diet since many of my symptoms match histamine intolerance. But I knew that was just a temporary fix. Not a true solution (now I know how Vitamin A impacts teething, tongue ties, bones, and more!)

God Gives Wisdom if You Ask!

Over the next few weeks I saw daily posts about Vitamin A toxicity. I tried to ignore it. But God wouldn’t let me. It was on the top of my feed every time I got on Facebook. Ok, ok. I’ll listen to the information.

And that started our new journey of healing. The more I read and listened, the more it made sense.

And it explained all of my symptoms, all of my son’s symptoms and every other feeding challenge we have faced over the last ten years. Every. Single. One.

What is Vitamin A Toxicity?

So this is where I’m starting (hopefully you made it this far to get to the heart of the post!). Today I’m telling you a little bit about Vitamin A Toxicity (Hypervitaminosis A) and giving you some resources in case you want to dig in for yourself. If you want to hang back and just watch how it goes for us, that’s fine too. I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I’m just giving you the information.

And I will forewarn you…once you read about it you can’t unread it. And it could change your views on health and nutrition forever.

A quick Dr. Google search will tell you that hypervitaminosis A is a real condition[source]. You can have hypervitaminosis of any vitamin (true vitamin or substance called a vitamin) really. Yes, hypervitaminosis D is very real too! The list of symptoms hypervitamimosis A is lengthy. It includes:

  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased pressure on the brain/headaches
  • Blurry vision or other vision changes
  • Swelling of the bones
  • Bone pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Dry, rough skin
  • Itchy or peeling skin
  • Cracked fingernails
  • Skin cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Yellowed skin (jaundice)
  • Orange skin (carotenemia)
  • Hair loss
  • Respiratory infection
  • Confusion
  • Softening of the skull bone
  • Bulging of the soft spot on the top of an infant’s skull
  • Double vision
  • Bulging eyeballs
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Coma
  • Fluid-filled cysts
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Autism
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Picky eater/refusal to eat
  • Oily skin and hair
  • Osteoporosis
  • Eczema
  • Food intolerance/food allergy
  • Cradle cap
  • Asthma

Did you catch all that? Crazy, huh? And those aren’t even all of them.

Another search will tell you that pregnant women should not get too much Vitamin A because it can cause birth defects. I wish I had known that! Sadly I listened to the WAPF pregnancy guidelines that claims you shouldn’t worry about too much Vitamin A. Just one example of something they got SO wrong.

Where Does Vitamin A Come From?

Vitamin A is found in many common “healthy” foods today:

  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • dairy
  • brightly colored vegetables
  • pork and lard
  • avocado

Really most foods have at least a little Vitamin A. Meat and grains are probably the lowest in Vitamin A. And the body can handle a little.

The problem arises when the liver gets saturated. Which, you can see, won’t take long if you eat a healthy diet by today’s standards or from a traditional diet. The WAPF dietary guidelines for pregnancy would give a woman an overabundance of Vitamin A! Truly excessive amounts.

Initial symptoms usually impact the skin (dry skin, eczema), hair (thinning, graying), eyes (dry, red, itchy, poor vision) and bones (osteoporosis, weak bones and teeth, joint pain). But as the toxicity continues it will gradually break down other systems. The inflammation reaches the intestines (think Crohn’s, Colitis, IBS, leaky gut, food allergies), the brain (cranial pressure/migraines, ADHD, Autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) and other important organs (thyroid, kidneys and heart).

Does that sound like you or anyone you know? Or everyone?The Vitamin A Detox Diet for Kids! A Parent's Guide

Where “Healing” Diets Fail

And what is the solution these days? A “healing” diet like GAPS, AIP, Keto, Nemecheck. Where you load up on brightly colored fruits and veggies, bacon, lard, egg yolks, liver, sweet potatoes, unrefined coconut oil. Are you seeing the irony here?

What if our “Eat the Rainbow” mentality was actually doing more harm than good? In the plant and animal world bright colors are a sign of poison (called aposematism). Plants are brightly colored to keep animals from eating them (should we be doing the same?). Animals that are poisonous are often brightly colored (think snakes and frogs). It is a warning sign. Yet we have come to see them as the holy grail of nutrition!

You may be thinking, “But we have soil nutrient depletion and other factors now.” True. But they aren’t enough to cause such a drastic increase in health problems and autoimmune diseases and conditions like autism in recent years.

Is a Standard American Diet Less Toxic?

And what about people that don’t eat healthy? What about people on the Standard American Diet?

Well, they don’t have it much better. Somehow the government has thought they know better than we do what our bodies need. For the past fifty plus years now our foods have been fortified. All pasteurized milk must be fortified with Vitamin A and D. Most grains/flours, cereals, milk alternatives, yogurts and snack foods are fortified. We’re all told to take multi-vitamins and random supplements without any kind of testing.

Everyone worries about not getting enough vitamins and minerals. But we are bombarded with them…certain ones at least. And it’s causing so much overload and imbalance. Excessive supplementation will not fix anything. It will just make problems worse. God designed our bodies to get nutrition from food and to maintain balance. Our bodies now have to compensate for all of the over-supplementing and it is causing big problems (you can read more about the dangers of supplements HERE).

Unless you and your children somehow fall in the middle (no processed/fortified foods AND no abundance of veggies and traditional foods) you probably have Vitamin A Toxicity. That’s right. Just about everyone has it.

What About Vitamin A Deficiency?

But wait. Isn’t Vitamin A deficiency really serious? That depends on your view. IF Vitamin A is actually a vitamin and IF the established symptoms are truly from a deficiency, then yes. The problem is those could both be false assumptions.

Are you still with me? Do you think I’ve lost my mind yet?

In the 1930’s when Vitamin A, the first vitamin, was discovered, the experiments were done incorrectly. The scientists were actually loading the rats with Vitamin A instead of depriving them! They were poisoning the rats instead of inducing a deficiency.

If you look at the symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency and the symptoms of Hypervitamonosis A (listed above) you’ll notice something odd…they are the same! Whether or not that’s possible I’m not sure. Whether Vitamin A deficiency is actually a condition I don’t know. I’m not sure there have ever been any true studies to prove it. Would you actually go blind without Vitamin A? I don’t know. It would take a long time to actually get it all out of your system (could be 5+ years!). How did everyone not go blind hundreds of years ago without supplements and without orange veggies?

It turns out that Vitamin A may actually not be a vitamin at all.

Our bodies can handle some. But too much is toxic. Where that threshold lies is different for everyone and depends on the health of your liver (this is key!).

That rainbow we’ve been told to eat…could be acting more like poison if you are overloaded. (side note – the “five a day” and “eat the rainbow” campaigns were completely arbitrary recommendations).

Now What?

I don’t like to leave you hanging. I just told you that you could be poisoning your family after all! But I also don’t want to overwhelm you with information. And this could take a while to digest.

Plus I’ve got homework for you.

I’ve got more posts coming on other factors that contribute to Vitamin A Toxicity, what happens to Vitamin A in your body and what you can do about it. That’s really what we all want, right? A solution!

There is one. And I have a new book that will help guide you through it. This could be the definitive guide to solving all of your feeding challenges. I know that is a bold statement. But I truly believe it.

You can get your copy of the Vitamin A Detox Diet for Kids! HERE.

I also want you to do some reading and research of your own. And you may know just about as much as I do if you actually do all the reading. So if you just can’t wait, get started!

Engineers Are the Best Problem Solvers

All of this information started with some personal experimenting from an engineer named Grant Genereux (I truly believe engineers make some of the best doctors since our passion is finding root problems and coming up with a solution. Yes, I am an engineer too). He was diagnosed with eczema, an autoimmune condition, and told he would have it for the rest of his life and there was nothing he could do for it. 

Not an acceptable answer for an engineer.

He healed his own autoimmune condition and wrote two very detailed books about his research on Vitamin A.

They are totally free and totally worth reading every word. I could not pull myself away. If you really want to understand Vitamin A Toxicity I suggest you read his books. At the very least his second book, Poisoning For Profits. It will blow your mind.

To be fair, I also wanted to point out that often times engineers are Analytical Eaters (see my Eating Styles for more details), myself included. Analytical Eaters tend to get in food ruts and cause excesses and deficiencies. So whether or not Grant had created a severe Vitamin A Toxicity in himself I don’t know. Just an observation on my part. So he may just be one more extreme case, not the norm.

Here are his FREE books:

Poisoning For Profits

Extinguishing the Fires of Hell

I know, not everyone has the time or interest to read 400-page books on vitamins.

Here is another great blog post from Butter Nutrition about the symptoms of Vitamin A Toxicity.

So, Is Vitamin A a Toxin?

I applaud you if you made it to the end of the post. And even if you do now think I’ve gone completely mad I hope this at least got you thinking. Let it sit a while and come back to it if you need to. That’s what I had to do. And lots of praying for wisdom. But I feel this is truly where God is leading me.

Big changes are always hard. Changing your perspective on health and nutrition is very hard. But change can also be good.

As I said at the start of the post, I’m always researching, learning, and experimenting. After a year on the Vitamin A Detox Diet I’m still not fully clear on my views on Vitamin A.

I truly believe that it is toxic in certain doses (and probably lower than people think) and that a state of toxicity is quite easy to reach these days with fortification, supplements, superfoods, glyphosate, and other toxins.

I also think the health of your liver and your body’s ability to detox is of utmost importance and a key factor in the whole equation. But whether or not Vitamin A is a toxin I’m not sure.

Unfortunately most scientific studies are done in the extremes. They are either trying to prove the impacts of toxicity or deficiency. But we are supposed to live in balance. There are no studies in the balance zone. What that balance is, I’m not sure. Do we need certain amounts of Vitamin A to balance other things? Does eliminating all high Vitamin A foods create other imbalances? There is a LOT we still don’t know. Just because there are studies that show the seriousness of Vitamin A Toxicity does not mean there can’t also be a deficiency? I’m not sure a true Vitamin A Deficiency study has ever been conducted!

Bio-individuality and listening to your own body is also critical. Regardless of any scientific study or prescribed diet, you have to do what works for you and makes you feel your best.

After a year on the Vitamin A Detox Diet we are learning that we have developed some serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies and most symptoms have returned. We are adding in foods that we tolerate and finding a new balance.

Have you ever heard of Vitamin A Toxicity? Have you ever wondered about over-supplementing?

The Parental Stress of a Child With Feeding Challenges

As parents, especially moms, we are wired with the desire to nourish and care for our children. But when your child has feeding challenges it can create a lot of parental stress that is hard to handle.As parents, especially moms, we are wired with the desire to nourish and care for our children. But when your child has feeding challenges it can create a lot of parental stress that is hard to handle.

I spend a lot of time on the couch nursing baby number four these days. And I can only look at my phone or stare at the wall for so long. Which means I’ve gotten back into reading! It’s been great to actually have time to read again. Even if it’s usually short intervals because I get sleepy or lose focus. Postpartum sleep deprivation will do that.

Recently my husband suggested a book he bought called “Boys Should Be Boys” by Meg Meeker, MD. Sure, I thought. I’ll give it a look. After all, we do have two sons! And a pediatrician should have some good advice.

I felt encouraged that a lot of it was right in line with how we raise our children – don’t overschedule, let them have plenty of free time, let them explore outside, give them attention. Great.

All About Mom

Then I got to the chapter specifically for moms. I found a few areas to work on and more encouragement that I’m doing an ok job at this parenting thing.

And then I read one line that made me pause for a moment.

“In my medical practice, the most stressed-out mothers I have encountered are often the mothers whose sons have growth issues. If a child fails to eat well and fails to grow, a mother subconsciously feels that she has failed.”

It wasn’t until about thirty minutes later that the weight of that statement really hit me and the tears started flowing.As parents, especially moms, we are wired with the desire to nourish and care for our children. But when your child has feeding challenges it can create a lot of parental stress that is hard to handle.

After four years of watching my youngest daughter struggle with eating and being undernourished and now having another baby that struggles to eat, it was the first time I didn’t feel alone.

I’m not just the crazy mom that worries too much about her kids. If a pediatrician sees the parents of children with feeding challenges as the most stressed out, then it’s not just me!

And it’s Not Just You, Either!

To the mom who couldn’t breastfeed despite her best efforts – you are not alone.

To the parents of a child with an undiagnosed tongue tie resulting in undernourishment – you are not alone.

To the mother of a kid going through feeding therapy – you are not alone.

To the parent of a child whose diet is limited to ten foods – you are not alone.

To the parents of kids who throw tantrums at every meal – you are not alone.

To the mom who gets anxious before every checkup, fearing that your child is still not growing – you are not alone.

To the mom of a kid with food allergies – you are not alone.

To the mom that puts her life on hold to make feeding her children well a priority – you are not alone.

And to the mom whose baby screams at every feed, whose day is consumed with feeding attempts and you can hardly leave the house – YOU are not alone. I am not alone.

In her book “Cold Tangerines” Shauna Niequist describes feeding others like this:

“[F]eeding the people I love is a hands-on way of loving them. When you nourish and sustain someone, essentially, you’re saying that you want them to thrive, to be happy and healthy and able to live well.”

That is exactly how I feel about feeding my children. And it’s a challenge when there is a road block in the way.

I see other moms of little ones going out on dates or out with friends, while I’m over here wondering if I can manage a trip to the grocery store between feeding attempts. I see other families going to the beach or the zoo for the day, and I can’t go anywhere for more than an hour without a private place to breastfeed. There is no such thing as being discrete with all the bouncing, back arching and screaming going on.As parents, especially moms, we are wired with the desire to nourish and care for our children. But when your child has feeding challenges it can create a lot of parental stress that is hard to handle.

The parental stress of a child with feeding challenges is very real, but hard to understand if you’ve never been through it. If you know a mom struggling with feeding issues give her some encouragement and maybe a helping hand. She is doing such important and demanding work!

Parental Stress

I focus a lot on health and nutrition for kids. But also for parents. It’s important for mom and dad to be healthy not only to set a good example, but also to be able to properly care for your kids.

I’ve been working on my own health for many years. And it’s always a challenge during pregnancy and breastfeeding when I am sharing nutrients and often on a limited diet for baby’s food intolerances.

But one of the biggest factors in health problems is not the food you eat but instead the amount of stress in your life.

Ask any doctor and they will tell you to reduce stress.

You can declutter your house, free up time in your schedule, simplify meals and try to get to bed earlier…but you can’t get rid of your child! The parental stress of a child with feeding challenges is a permanent fixture as long as the feeding troubles remain.

I often joke with my big kids that baby brother only wants to eat as soon as I sit down to eat. So I have to rush through every meal with a fussy baby. Eating too quickly, not chewing thoroughly and eating while stressed is a recipe for disastrous digestion. Yep, that’s me. You too? I pretty much have a constant stomach ache from the tension.

The stress impacts how I interact with my other children and my husband. If my little guy is having a bad day I am having a bad day and patience goes out the window. If my four year old refuses to eat my anxiety builds and it shows.

As parents, especially moms, we are wired with the desire to nourish and care for our children. But when your child has feeding challenges it can create a lot of parental stress that is hard to handle.

Help for Feeding Challenges

I can’t make your stress go away, but I can offer assurance that you are not alone. And encouragement that you will get through this. As kids get older the feeding gets easier. And there are things you can do right now to at least ease the problems. I outline the details in my book “Why Won’t My Child Eat?!” I have tips for breastfeeding struggles here and feeding a child with sensory processing disorder here.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Dr. Meeker.

“Mothers love through sacrifice. They act. They will surrender whatever is necessary to keep their son alive. Whether it’s intuitive or not, that is what love does.”

Caring for a child with feeding challenges is stressful. It’s hard work. And it shows your deep, deep love for your child. Some days are more challenging than others. And some days you just need a good cry. But don’t give up. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!

I wrote this post to encourage others. But also to encourage myself as I’m right there with you dealing with multiple children with feeding challenges at the same time. It is stressful. And it’s OK to admit it. Just know you are NOT a failure!

I hope that ten years from now when I’m not struggling with very young children this post can still offer encouragement to those in the midst of the challenge. And I will still be here to help you along the journey!

What has been the most stressful part of having a child with feeding challenges for you?