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Why we stopped the VAD Diet

Why We Stopped the Vitamin A Detox Diet…and Why Healing Diets Fail

Ever heard of the Vitamin A Detox Diet? Wondering if it is the cure you’ve been searching for or just the next dietary fad? This is our family’s journey on the VAD Diet and why we stopped it after a year.

Why we stopped the VAD Diet

I hope this is the last one.

The last post I ever write saying why yet another diet failed.

The last time I go to an extreme in the search for healing.

The last prescribed diet I ever attempt.

Though I can’t make any guarantees. I’m a tactile learner. I have to try things before I can assess them.

But I’ve done it before. I’ve done all sorts of experimenting with high this, low that, add this, remove that. Then I went on the GAPS Diet in 2010 and got my health way off track. After recovering from it, I told myself I’d never do it again.

Well, never say never. I did it again.

What is the Vitamin A Detox Diet

In November of 2018 I embarked on the Vitamin A Detox Diet, spear-headed by Grant Generux and Dr. Garrett Smith.

The theory is that Vitamin A is not actually a vitamin, instead it is a toxin. I wrote about it in detail in my post answering the question “Is Vitamin A Really a Vitamin?” It was my first post on Vitamin A – published exactly one year ago today!

I thought it was the answer I was looking for. I did a lot of reading and research. My infant was struggling with breastfeeding issues that nothing seemed to help. So I dove in.

The basic idea is to eat a very low Vitamin A diet in order to drain the body of stored Vitamin A. This in turn should resolve most health problems.

Good theory. Not so good practical application. And not sufficient evidence to support it aside from extreme examples.Why we stopped the VAD Diet

Why We Stopped the VAD Diet

Our journey started out great. I cut out high Vitamin A foods. I did HTMA to assess my body’s needs. I faithfully took my supplements. Even when the recommendations seemed to change on a daily basis. Add this. Wait, no, that will make you worse. Try this. Oh, wait, that’s not good at all (if only I could have all of the money back that I wasted on strange supplements that either didn’t work or made things worse!).

This food is on the ok list. Now it’s horrible. Oh, now it’s ok again. I knew it was a new theory and we were all learning. But the wishy-washy recommendations were a red flag.

The original time-frame of the diet was anywhere from one to six months. That seemed doable. But as time went on it kept extending – one year, two years, five years. Hmmm…

We did see some progress at first.

Then we got to the 6-7 month mark. And things changed.

I went from feeling good to my digestive system basically shutting down overnight. And six months later it still is not very functional. It’s been a hard setback to accept as I had worked so hard for years to get where I was.

My oldest went back to struggling with focus.

My eight-year-old’s eczema and food reactions started coming back.

My five-year-old’s leg pains and poor appetite returned.

My nursling started to sleep poorly and react to foods again.

Basically it all came crashing down.

I know how it goes. Detox is a crazy process. Sometimes you go two steps forward and one step back. So we stuck with it. I thought maybe it was just a bump in the road to full healing. But that bump turned into one month, then two, then three,…

It wasn’t detox at all. It was deficiency.

Does a Low Vitamin A Diet Cause Deficiencies?

I intentionally worked with a naturopathic doctor when embarking on the VAD Diet to avoid problems. As I mentioned, I was breastfeeding and of course run down from lack of sleep. I didn’t want to make things worse.

But even with multiple HTMAs, my increasing deficiencies were not addressed. I had to figure that out on my own.

The biggest deficiencies from the VAD Diet that I experienced were:

  • magnesium
  • all of the B vitamins, especially B1
  • an imbalance of macrominerals
  • zinc
  • possibly Vitamin E
  • and likely Vitamin A!

As time went on some of my symptoms got worse and worse. These included:

  • tinitus (ringing ears – multiple times daily)
  • tingling hands and feet/extremities going numb
  • low energy
  • low milk supply
  • inability to focus/think clearly
  • slow digestion
  • food intolerances
  • gallbladder pain
  • eye twitching
  • excessive thirst/inability to hydrate
  • candida/yeast/rashes/itching
  • edema
  • hypothyroid

I hit my breaking point. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Well, I was going insane. I had to change directions. And I did.

At first I was going to go gradually. But then my body started to crave so many nourishing foods. I just let go of rules and ate what sounded good. It was wonderful!

I have still had to use supplements to get back in balance. My body is so depleted from pregnancy, breastfeeding, and restriction. It is going to take a while to get where I need to be. I look forward to the day when I don’t have a pile of supplements to take every morning!Vitamin A and thyroid health

Does Vitamin A Impact Thyroid Health?

I briefly want to address thyroid health. I was diagnosed with hypothyriodism in 2006. I’ve been on medication to control it ever since.

Ultimately my goal is to heal enough to get off of medication and control things with diet and lifestyle. But so far I’m not there. And I suspect I won’t get there until I am done breastfeeding and have some time to focus on just my health. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for the past twelve years!

So for now I need medication. While on the VAD Diet I started lowering my dose. I thought I was getting better. I heard others talking about improving thyroid health. So I took a risk and reduced my medication. But I think it was a big mistake.

I started to feel all of the same symptoms I had after my miscarriage in 2013. Weight creeping up no matter how little I eat or how much I exercise. Feeling puffy all the time. Lowered body temperature. Extra tired. Sluggish digestion. All of my hypothyroid symptoms returned.

In June of 2018 my thyroid labs were great! Then I started lowering my meds on the VAD Diet. In February of 2019 my levels were getting worse. But I ignored the numbers. I felt ok for a little while. Then not so much.

I just had a new round of bloodwork (January 2020). Sure enough, it shows things have gotten worse. Actually a lot worse. I need to really bump up my medication dose. Back to where I started. I know it’s temporary, but still disheartening. My Free T3 has not been this low in years. In June of 2018 it was at the top of the range (ideal). Now it is at the bottom. My Free T4 is on the low end as well. It should be mid-range.

Now I know why I’ve been feeling some of my old symptoms return. I’m in a serious hypothyroid state right now.

So does Vitamin A impact thyroid health? I think so. There are many factors. But a low Vitamin A diet is not a diet I would recommend for improving thyroid health. It definitely made my thyroid issues worse. Do kids need Vitamin A?

Is Vitamin A Essential for Kids?

So far I’ve mostly talked about my own health. But I do want to address my kids as well. They were all on the diet. Though I never had my oldest three on full restriction. And in hindsight I’m so glad! They were able to transition off the diet pretty easily and have been making strides ever since.

Thankfully they still ate some eggs and pork to help minimize deficiencies.

What I really want to focus on is my toddler. He was on the full diet with me from day one. We ate the same foods.

On the whole he seemed to do well for a while. He was growing well and nursing well.

But there was one major red flag that I should have picked up on sooner. His speech.

All of my kids have been early talkers. My oldest knew all of her letters and could count to twenty before she was two! So when my youngest wasn’t saying anything by his first birthday I was concerned.

Just as we were starting the diet (7/8 months old) he was starting to talk. He was saying “mama” and “chick” (when he saw our chickens) and “out” (when he wanted to go outside).

And then that all stopped. No more words. Just “eh” every time he wanted to say something. He was frustrated. We were all frustrated.

I could tell he’s very smart. He loves to read and will sit through book after book and you can tell he remembered every picture and knew what everything was. But he couldn’t say anything. There was a disconnect.

I have heard others complain of this symptom as well – they can’t find the right words or finish sentences. There is some type of miscommunication between the brain and the mouth. And it impacted my son big time.

Until we stopped the diet. It was crazy. Within a couple weeks he started saying more. And now he basically repeats every word he hears. He says all of his siblings names. He names every animal and picture in the books we read. It’s so fun to see him be able to communicate effectively.

Just the other day my husband commented, “His speech has exploded in the last two months!” It truly has. My Father-in-law also commented on my son’s speech when he visited for Christmas. He couldn’t believe the difference. His poor little body was deficient as well. I’m so glad we are getting him back to full health! It gives me such joy.

Whether it is Vitamin A or the other deficiencies that had the biggest impact I can’t say. I’ll probably never know. But I do know that the VAD Diet negatively impacted his development.

I also wanted to mention his size. While his speech was delayed, his growth was off the charts! That might sound like a good thing, but I’m not sure. At his last checkup he was in the 97th percentile for height. If you’ve ever seen my family, you know that we aren’t even remotely close to anything called tall.

Most people think my eleven-year-old is seven or eight because she is so short. I’m only 5’3″. My husband isn’t very tall either. So having our youngest several inches taller than his siblings were at this age seems strange.

It could just be a different mix of genes. We have extended relatives that are tall. But it could also be the diet. I have heard some claim they are getting taller on the VAD Diet. I also heard the other day that one of the best predictors of longevity is height, specifically the shorter you are, the longer you’ll live. If those statements are both true, then it would seem that the VAD Diet is shortening life span. Just an observation. But I’ll be curious to see if his growth continues at this pace or if it slows down now that we are off the diet.

Interestingly, a few days before publishing this post a reader that had been on the VAD Diet contacted me and expressed concern over her young son’s growth – how tall he was! So there may be something to it.

Salt for health

Why Salt is Important for Health

When starting the VAD Diet and working with my ND, I was told to stop eating unrefined sea salt – that it contained toxins. So I switched the family to basic salt – sodium chloride.

At first I also added potassium chloride to it to get a balance of minerals. But the potassium gave me horrible anxiety. So I quit that.

Back to just plain salt.

But it never felt right. I could hardly taste it. I had to put so much on my food. Not a big deal I thought.

But it started to be a big deal when I could never get hydrated. I would guzzle glass after glass of water without quenching my thirst. I even added extra salt to my liquids, but it didn’t help.

Then my legs started swelling on a daily basis.

My electrolytes were so out of balance. My sodium intake was too high compared with my other macrominerals.

As we were coming off the VAD Diet I switched back to Real Salt. It was wonderful!

I could taste my food again. I could feel things absorbing. My insatiable thirst went away, and my swelling went down.

Why Healing Diets Fail

Last year I tried a new diet that made big promises. And it failed us. In quite a few ways as you can see. But it’s not the only one. Ultimately most healing diets fail.

That may sound extreme. I mean, they all have some merit and of course success stories. But they also have potential problems.

All healing diets have their own spin on what food/nutrient/component is toxic/inflammatory/etc. They all have their own spin on what is healing and restorative.

But at the end of the day they are all restricted diets. And any restricted diet done long term is going to cause problems – not only deficiencies and imbalances, but also anxiety, mental struggles and orthorexia for some.

You can find some healing with pretty much any major dietary change. It doesn’t have to be a diet with a label. Any time we shake things up, it will help our bodies do some detox and healing. Within about two weeks of starting the VAD Diet I had a noticeable detox. I wish I would have stopped there.

This is why most people see progress on any healing diet for up to six months. But as they go longer they see problems arise. Their bodies get out of balance. Deficiencies are created. They have lost their ability to eat intuitively and based on their needs day in and day out.

So if you want some healing – a little detox to propel your health forward -just make a change. If you eat a lot of nuts, cut them out for a month. If you eat an apple every day, switch to grapes for a few weeks.

Any time you eat the same foods over and over you could be creating some inflammation.

Don’t jump right to a restricted diet as the solution. Just make a change. After a few weeks your body will naturally do a little detox and rebalancing and you’ll probably feel better.

It’s good for your microbiome to make changes and feed different bacteria. That doesn’t require a long-term restrictive diet.

Life After the VAD Diet

So, now what? How are we eating and how are we feeling? That is what most people ask me.

First, I don’t have any rules about how we eat. Just real, whole foods that sound good and that we tolerate. That’s it.

My girls drink raw milk. My boys don’t tolerate it. The oldest three eat eggs. My youngest doesn’t tolerate them. We all eat homemade sourdough. But other than that we are gluten-free.

I’m always playing around with foods and finding out what balance and ratios work best for us. It varies day-to-day. But it is highly individual.

As I study to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner I am reminded of the importance of bio-individuality. We each have a unique set of genes, stresses, circumstances, health issues, environments, and more. Even the weather and the seasons play a role. So how we live and eat on a daily basis is so individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

That is how I will approach my practice, my one-on-one work with clients. Every person has different needs and by looking at both the big picture and the details we can help figure out what works best for them.

A few areas of progress since going off the diet (mostly my own) have been:

  • ear ringing is rare
  • eye twitch is gone
  • gallbladder pain is gone
  • tingling in hands is gone
  • excessive thirst is gone
  • swelling is mostly gone
  • skin is clear and healthy and soft – no more cysts!
  • hair regrowth like crazy
  • more energy and the desire to move! I’ve even done a little jogging (instead of slow walking) and have increased the intensity on my stationary bike.
  • milk supply is good
  • able to think and focus much better
  • toddler’s speech

Some things that we’re still working on:

  • digestion
  • liver health
  • candida/yeast
  • hypothyroid
  • daughter’s leg pains (we use magnesium lotion for them)
  • food intolerances for everyone

How diet impacts emotionsThe Emotional Component of Healing Diets

I also wanted to mention the emotional, mental and social impact of a highly restrictive diet. We are used to having food restrictions. We’ve been dealing with food allergies for six years. And before I even had kids I was playing around with diet.

But limiting our food choices to such an extreme takes a toll on the family. My husband was frustrated that our menu was so limited and that we couldn’t eat anywhere besides home. We even had a garden full of food that only he was eating.

It puts a strain on relationships. And it’s hard to feel so different. Not only are you going against the grain with the way most people eat (Standard American Diet). But you are also going against your group of real food friends. It’s very isolating.

Is Vitamin A Toxicity Real?

That’s a tough question to answer. I do think that you can become toxic from just about anything in large enough amounts. And there are numerous case studies of patients with hypervitaminosis A. So I do think it’s a real condition (my opinion).

But is Vitamin A a toxin in and of itself? I don’t think so (again, my opinion). I’ll leave it at that. Do your own research to come to a conclusion.

Is the Vitamin A Detox Diet Healthy?

This is another tough question since there are so many unknowns. And again, it’s very individual.

At this point in time I can’t recommend the VAD Diet to anyone. Even after writing a whole book on how to do the diet with kids, I can’t support it.

I took my book down. Even though I spent a lot of time and energy creating it. Even though it was one of my few income sources at the moment. I don’t do things just for money.

There is no real way of knowing if the progress we made at the start of the diet was from the reduced Vitamin A or if it was simply from making a big diet change and adding supplements. What I do know is that done long-term it caused serious deficiencies.

To me a detox diet is meant to be both healing and short-term. You get a toxin out and then get back to being able to eat a wide variety of food. If the toxin is in most of the food, it’s not really a detox diet. It’s a permanent lifestyle of restriction. And if that lifestyle is only sustainable with supplements because it’s causing deficiencies, it’s not a good one. Just like I don’t think a vegan diet is healthy.

If I want to detox aluminum from my body, I follow a protocol. Then once it’s out, my body is functional and I can eat a variety of food, still trying to minimize exposure to aluminum. If the toxin is in the food, then a return to “normal” is not possible. Or if you do return to what was your normal diet, then it’s hard to say you believe Vitamin A it a toxin. Else you wouldn’t consume it.

And if it is a toxin, why is it in so many foods? There are still too many questions that just don’t have good answers.

A better long-term solution is to work on the health and function of your digestive system, liver, and gallbladder. If they are healthy, your detox pathway is healthy, and you can deal with toxins effectively.Moving on after the VAD Diet

The End of the VAD Diet

As I wrap up this post, I am putting an end to my involvement with the VAD Diet for the time being. Or maybe for good. I’ll watch from a distance. It is an interesting theory. And I’m curious to see how others fare on the diet.

But I will not be writing or talking about it any more.

I am disabling the comments on this post. I have given my reasons for why we stopped and talked about our journey. This is where it ends for us. If you have an earnest question you are always welcome to email.

I am heading into 2020 with renewed energy and focus. I am getting back to my passion – to give parents hope that they can overcome any feeding challenge.

I am focusing on my schooling to become an NTP and be certified to do HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis). I am focusing on opening my practice to work one-on-one with moms and kids.

And I’m excited to continue expanding my Eating Styles Membership.

Lest anyone think I regret the past year, I don’t. Sure there are things I would have done differently had I known then what I know now. But that is how I learn. And boy have I learned a LOT this past year.

Not only about my own health and my family’s health, but health in general. I have learned what I believe and how I want to move forward.

I have also learned to be careful who I work with and associate with. Character means a lot to me. I’ve had numerous amazing partnerships this year, but also a couple that do not align with my beliefs. In the future I will be a bit more cautious before I work with individuals and brands.

I’m learning about the work of Ancel Keys right now in the book The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. I thought this quote about him was very profound and holds true for so many trying to do groundbreaking work in health and nutrition.

Keys wanted his hypothesis to be presumed right until proven wrong. Yet – and this is an important point – science is not like the justice system. Whereas Americans are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, scientific knowledge is just the opposite: a hypothesis must not be presumed right until a pile of significant evidence grows up behind it, and even then, you can never be entirely sure. All that one can ever really say is that the preponderance of the evidence tends to support one idea over another. Keys’s unwavering belief in his own hypothesis, even in its formative stages and even in the face of conflicting evidence, however, suggests he was willing to stray from these scientific principles to defend it.

The fame and the desire to be right overpowers the desire to actually practice good science.

I loved this quote as well:

Resisting these ‘idols of the mind,’ as the great seventeenth-century theorist Francis Bacon dubbed them, is exactly what the scientific method tries to do. A scientist must always try to disprove his or her own hypothesis. Or, as one of the great science philosophers of the twentieth century, Karl Popper, described, ‘The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.’

If someone makes a health claim and only tries to show you support of it, question them. A good scientist will try to DISPROVE his or her hypothesis. If there is no way to disprove it, then it might be valid. But if there are numerous cases/studies that don’t support it – that is a red flag. To me, that is what is happening with the Vitamin A Detox Diet. Proponents are trying to prove it, but not allowing any talk of cases where it is disproved.

As Pete Ahrens stated in 1957:

When unproved hypotheses are enthusiastically proclaimed as facts,  it is timely to reflect on the possibility that other explanations can be given for the phenomena observed.

In other words, there is far too much we don’t know yet to so boldly claim that Vitamin A is a toxin and has no purpose for the human body. This being a very small-scale epidemiological study does not prove anything. Maybe cutting some of the high Vitamin A foods simply changes one’s fatty acid balance, giving more anti-inflammatory fatty acids to balance the pro-inflammatory ones? There are many ways to look at it.

Lastly, I did want to say that today’s post was about the main reasons we stopped the VAD Diet. There is definitely more to the story on both a personal and professional level. But I choose to keep that private. So if what I wrote seems a bit incomplete, it is. But it will have to do.

Just today in my devotions I read this:

Fulfilling God’s purpose is better than popularity. Loving God’s people is better than pleasure. Having God’s peace is better than possessions. – Pastor Rick Warren

That pretty much sums up my mindset heading into 2020.

What is a healthy diet

Does a Healthy Diet Exist?

Absolutely healthy diets exist! But you won’t read about them in a best-seller or an eCourse. What is healthy is up to you. Your body knows what it needs.

I have not tried AIP, keto, carnivore, or even a candida or parasite cleanse. I don’t really intend to either. In the end they generally lead to the same destination. Not listening to your body’s needs and nutrient deficiencies.

A healing protocol should be temporary. Supplementation should be temporary. Any deviation from a balanced diet should be temporary and just a stepping stone to get back to variety and good health.

What that looks like is different for every individual. The time-frame is individual. Circumstances are individual.

I know we live in a world where everyone is looking for a magic pill or cure or that one thing that will turn everything around. Even in the realm of real food where grains are the root of all health problems and liver is a life-source. We all just want to feel good.

But feeling good will not come from one supplement or one dietary change. Feeling good takes work every single day. It takes moving your body, getting enough sleep, minimizing toxin exposure, taking time to relax, chewing well, and more. Health is a lifestyle, not a detox diet or vilifying a single food or nutrient.

Thank you for going on this journey with me. I hope you have learned right along with me, and I hope you are ready to pursue a healthy lifestyle as we enter the New Year.

With that I’m saying goodbye to the Vitamin A Detox Diet. Time to move on.

Magnesium for kids - why they need it!

Why Kids Need Magnesium – And How to Get It!

In our world of degraded soil, processed foods, and toxic pesticides, almost every child is magnesium deficient. Today I’m going to tell you why that matters – why kids need magnesium and the best ways for them to get it.Magnesium for kids - why they need it!

Call my kids weird, but they were so excited to get their own jars of magnesium lotion as stocking-stuffers for Christmas. It might seem like an odd thing for a five-year-old to smile about. But she knows just how amazing magnesium is for her health.

I’m not even exaggerating that she put it on about ten times the first day she had it! And she wouldn’t let anyone else touch it. Around here, magnesium lotion is a prized possession.

Let’s find out why magnesium is so magnificent!

What Does Magnesium Do?

A better question might be, “What Doesn’t Magnesium Do?” Magnesium is an essential macromineral that is involved in several hundred enzymatic reactions in the body.

Considered the “anti-stress” mineral, magnesium is a natural tranquilizer. This can help with relaxing muscles, including both skeletal muscles and smooth muscles as in blood vessels and the digestive tract. Which is why sufficient magnesium intake helps with slow digestion.

Magnesium also plays a significant role in heart health, again relaxing muscles and preventing coronary artery spasms. It can also lower blood pressure and is sometimes used to treat pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.

If you struggle with recurring kidney stones, it is likely due to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps prevent the calcification of tissues and blood vessels (including kidney stones, atherosclerosis, and even cavities!).

Magnesium plays a role in energy levels as well. Because it helps nutrients pass back and forth across cell membranes, magnesium helps in the release of energy. This may also lead to aiding with nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and muscle cramps.

Magnesium has been shown to impact blood sugar regulation, type 2 diabetes, ADHD, migraines, and Alzheimer’s too.

These are just a few of the many roles of magnesium in the body. As you can see, it is a very important mineral!Magnesium for kids - why they need it

What are the Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency?

So how do you know if you or your kids are magnesium deficient? These days if you don’t supplement you are likely deficient. It’s sad, but true. Here are some of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency:

  • fatigue
  • anorexia
  • irritability (tendency towards blood sugar dysregulation and acting “hangry”)
  • insomnia (anybody have kids that struggle with sleep?)
  • muscle twitching and cramping (restless legs and growing pains)
  • decreased learning ability and lack of focus (ADD, ADHD)
  • confusion
  • poor memory
  • rapid heartbeat
  • numbness and tingling of hands and feet
  • recurring kidney stones
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • constipation

Low levels of magnesium can impact all parts of the body. So if you are struggling with any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it might be time to change your diet or add a magnesium supplement.

Why are Kids Magnesium Deficient?

There are many factors that contribute magnesium deficiency. These include:

  • a diet low in magnesium (see the food list below)
  • soft water
  • produce grown in magnesium-deficient soil (most magnesium comes from plants)
  • processed foods in the diet (with lack of magnesium but an abundance of synthetic counteractive nutrients)
  • poor liver function
  • malabsorption (digestive dysfunction)
  • excess sugar intake (depletes magnesium)
  • high stress levels (depletes magnesium)
  • too much Vitamin D, phosphorus, and calcium in the diet (no, Vitamin D supplements are NOT a good idea) that cause an imbalance

It seems like this should only pertain to adults. But sadly, kids are born into a magnesium-deficient world. Moms are magnesium deficient while pregnant. So baby starts off without sufficient levels. Then kids are fed processed foods with high amounts of synthetic vitamins and minerals but lacking in magnesium. Vegetables are grown in nutrient-depleted soil, so even if you eat your greens you’re not getting the amount of nutrients you need.

Plus so many kids struggle with digestive problems and even autoimmune conditions that inhibit them from absorbing the magnesium they do ingest.

Kids have to deal with a lot more stress these days – from more intense school work to less time outside to EMFs to technology to pharmaceuticals to toxins to lack of sleep to poor posture…it all adds up. And stress rapidly depletes magnesium stores.

Then there is the big push for Vitamin D supplements. I’ve talked about it before –  it’s just not a good idea. It will lead to imbalances in the body, including lowered magnesium levels.

As you can see, it is very easy for kids to be magnesium deficient these days. In fact, it’s probably rare to have kids that aren’t deficient. Thankfully there are solutions!Magnesium for kids - why they need it

Best Sources of Magnesium for Kids

It is essential to get sufficient magnesium in your diet – whether from food or supplements. Some of the best food sources of magnesium include:

  • dark, leafy greens
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • beans
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • buckwheat
  • cocoa
  • molasses
  • whole grains
  • fish

Although I am a huge fan of a food-first approach, it’s not always possible to eat enough magnesium-rich food. Especially these days when most “healing diets” exclude almost everything on that list! A lot of the magnesium-rich foods are hard to digest and include problematic components like oxalates, allergens, and gluten. If your diet is lacking magnesium, you can also supplement. Some good supplement options include:

  • magnesium lotion
  • magnesium oil spray
  • epsom salt bath or foot soak
  • magnesium malate
  • magnesium lysinate, glycinate, chelate (I use THIS brand)

Topical magnesium is more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. So if you don’t need the laxative effect of a magnesium supplement, opt for lotion, spray, or bath.

Also note that magnesium is an alkaline mineral. Which means it can reduce stomach acid. So if you are going to supplement, it’s best to do it away from meals, before bed, or in combination with Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

Can you Get Too Much Magnesium?

Although very rare, it is possible to have magnesium toxicity. Most excess magnesium is eliminated in the urine or feces.

If calcium intake is very low and magnesium intake is high (via supplementation), you can have an imbalance.

Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include:

  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • sleepiness
  • hyper-excitability

Unless you are supplementing with doses of 1,000 mg or more a day, this is likely not an issue. But always strive for balance, no extremes.Magnesium for Kids - why they need it

Does Magnesium Help Kids Sleep?

As mentioned earlier, magnesium has a tranquilizing and calming effect. It helps you relax. It helps your muscles relax.

This is so important for kids. In my mind, kids should be running around all day, getting exhausted, and crashing hard when they hit the pillow at bedtime.

But that is not the reality for most kids. Even my own kids struggle with sleep sometimes. Especially my oldest. Some nights she lays in bed awake for hours. It pains me because I know it makes her worry. Then the lack of sleep on top of that worry is more stress.

A dark room and a calm bedtime routine are both helpful. But our go-to solution is magnesium lotion. My daughter can actually feel the difference. She rubs it on her legs and belly before bed and usually falls right to sleep. It’s like magic.Magnesium for Kids - why they need it

Magnesium Lotion for Growing Pains

My youngest daughter is a good sleeper…unless she has leg pains. Some nights she wakes up just sobbing in pain. We’ve taken her to the doctor and done x-rays. No physical problems.

It’s what doctors call “growing pains.” It’s sort of a bogus term because it really just means they don’t know what causes it. I say it’s magnesium deficiency!

If we are faithful about using magnesium lotion every night, my daughter is pain free. But if we start to slack, it comes back. She calls it her magic lotion. I do too. I hate seeing her in pain. The other night it was so bad I had to resort to OTC pain medicine. None of my natural remedies would help. That was my wake-up call. We need to be diligent about using magnesium lotion every single day.

In adults these same pains are often termed restless legs. It’s a big red flag for magnesium deficiency. If you or a loved one suffers from restless legs, work on magnesium levels. Sufficient magnesium will reduce or eliminate muscle cramps and spasms. Topical magnesium lotion right on the legs is great for this!

How to Make Magnesium Lotion

After reading all of that you want an easy solution, right? Well, I’ve got one. Sort of.

The first step in treating magnesium deficiency is always to work on diet. Increase food sources of magnesium when possible.

After that my favorite solution is magnesium lotion. Oils are good, but they are sticky and itchy (not great for kids). Epsom baths can work, but you don’t always have time for it. Plus it’s not an ideal solution for young kids as you can’t really regulate the magnesium levels.

That’s why I love magnesium lotion. I did a whole tutorial on how to make DIY magnesium lotion with just TWO ingredients. You can read that HERE.

For stocking stuffers I also went a step further and made a really nice lotion for my girls. I used this magnesium lotion recipe and then added some essential oils to fit their personality and needs. It was a bit more work, but totally doable. And the end product is awesome. My girls are raving about how soft it is.
Blog Photo 5

The Best Magnesium Lotion for Kids

But let’s be honest – how often do we have time to make lotion? And who has shea butter and bees wax sitting around all the time?

The easiest way to get quality magnesium lotion is to buy it. There are quite a few brands of magnesium lotion. I’ll be honest – I don’t trust most of them. They have questionable ingredients. And frankly they smell strange and still make you itch.

Except for one. The only magnesium lotion that I trust and buy is from The Magnesium Lotion Shop.

This lotion is made with only four pure ingredients. It goes on easily and smells nice. Plus I always love to support small, family-owned businesses versus big corporations. Check it out HERE.

All of our products are made by hand in small batches. Our primary goal is quality, and we encourage customers to contact us directly if they ever have any issues. Our product has passed both micro bacterial testing and the USP 51 preservative challenge test (for consumer safety), results can be seen here. We use only natural ingredients: Magnesium Oil, Apricot Oil, Mango Butter and Beeswax – no funny, artificial, hard to pronounce substances are in our product. Out lotion is preservative free. – Mike Crumbs

Sufficient magnesium is such an important factor for good health. I’m thankful there are numerous ways to increase magnesium levels, including transdermally through magnesium lotion. It’s the perfect solution for both kids and adults!

Do you struggle with magnesium deficiency? What is your favorite way to supplement? Have you seen any health improvements when using magnesium supplements?

Having trouble navigating all the different types of magnesium? This guide will help you!

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

The Secret Ingredient Hiding In Your Natural Food: What Is Natural Flavor?

It’s not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods…but of higher quality. But just what is natural flavor in your “natural” foods?

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

It’s been over six years now since we cut out food coloring/food dyes from our kids’ diet. As in absolutely none. No exceptions. Artificial flavor is limited to a few times a year in a treat of vanilla ice cream.

Food dyes are connected to behavior – and not in a good way! Eliminating them has made a big difference in how my children feel and behave. It is literally like a drug for my oldest. Sometimes it makes her insane. Sometimes it makes her super mellow. Either way, it’s impacting her brain and is not good.

Of course cutting out artificial ingredients naturally lends itself to a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Who doesn’t love that?!

Instead of artificially-flavored fruit snacks you buy organic gummies or even make your own homemade fruit snacks! Instead of Trix yogurt with food dyes you get organic yogurt. Instead of traditional candy you buy organic suckers made with fruit. Sounds great!

Why Eliminating Food Dyes is Not Enough

That was us…for a while. Until I noticed my daughter was exhibiting the same behavior as when she ate the foods with artificial colors and flavors.

Being the investigator that I am, I read labels, I observed her, I kept a food journal. She had already been gluten-free for a long time. And no other food seemed to be causing the problems.

The one thing that I came up with was the ingredient common to all of these “natural” foods…natural flavor.

What is Natural Flavor?

Since then I’ve been doing more research. Both experimenting with diet and reading any information I can find. I really want to know…what is natural flavor??

Not surprisingly I came across article after article that said natural flavor is basically the same thing as artificial flavor. The only real difference is the ingredient(s) it starts with. Natural flavor starts with real food. But it still undergoes various chemical processes which result in a product not much different than its artificial counterpart.

How is Natural Flavor Defined?

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors, include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants.”

Per dictionary.com enzymolysis is: “Chemical change or cleavage of a substance by enzymatic action.

So, natural flavor can come from a chemical change of bark and it’s still within the guidelines. Interesting.

It's not always easy or cheap to lead a natural lifestyle. Sometimes we still reach for convenience foods...but of higher quality. But just what is the natural flavor in your "natural" foods?

Is Natural Flavor Harmful?

According to dailyburn.com:

“Natural flavors are coming from natural sources — the original ingredient is found in nature and then purified and extracted and added back into the food.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the “natural flavors” in your blueberry granola bar are simply…crushed-up blueberries. Rather, they probably consist of a chemical originally found in blueberries, enhanced and added into your food in a lab.”

“Added flavoring, both natural and artificial, could contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients. And all of the extra ingredients in flavors often aren’t as innocent as you’d hope they would be. The mixture will often have some solvent and preservatives — and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume [of the flavoring]. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.”

NaturalNews.com states:

“Regulations for the word “natural” only apply to flavors; anywhere else you find it on food packaging means absolutely nothing regarding quality. Secondly, the FDA definition of “natural flavors” and “natural flavoring” allows for the substance to be extracted from plant or animal “matter.” So when you buy something that’s organic, vegetarian, or vegan, and it has “natural flavoring,” you could be eating a pig, cow, turkey, chicken, or lamb which was shot up with growth hormones, fed GMO pesticide-laden corn and grain – probably mixed with other animals of it’s same breed, then shot up with antibiotics due to infections and diseases from living in confined quarters on slats covered in feces.

Monosodium Glutamate is a neurotoxin that can be legally hidden from you and/or be labeled “natural flavors” in the ingredients list. MSG is not a natural flavor – in fact, it can cause brain lesions, neuro-endocrine disorders, and neurodegenerative disease in humans, but you won’t hear any doctors of Western Medicine mentioning that at your next extreme migraine emergency visit. There are more than 25 names for MSG, so sometimes you find it spread out a little, just in case the manufacturer gets “checked out” by anyone other than the FDA.”

Foodbabe.com says:

“With the words “natural flavor” food chemists and companies can put whatever they want in your food that is “generally regarded as safe” including excitotoxins. Natural flavor can legally contain natural occurring “glutamate” bi-products like MSG – which are known excitotoxins. These excitotoxins are some of the chemicals that cause your taste buds to experience irresistibility when it comes to food. Excitotoxins overexcite your cells literally until they die or are damaged causing “injury” and “incapacitating” you with disease. When consumed over time, excitotoxins can cause nerve disorders resulting a myriad of diseases from stroke to Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. And lots of other side effects too – like obesity, migraines, fatigue and depression.”

Remember what I said about “natural flavor” acting like a brain-altering drug for my kids? It’s not so far fetched when you really do some searching. My observations were spot on.

Do Manufacturers Lie About Ingredients?

None of it sounds very appealing and certainly doesn’t put my mind at ease.

But I know you can’t trust everything you read. So I set out to do my own investigation.

I called some popular organic food companies and some conventional food companies to ask them about the ingredients in their food (I’ll be kind and won’t name names). Sadly most of them had no answer for me.

I told them I was a mom of kids with tons of allergies. I need to know a full ingredient list or I can’t give it to my kids. Simply avoiding the top eight allergens does not cut it.

These are the responses I got:

“Natural flavor is listed so we can keep the full ingredient list from our competitors. The natural flavor in X product contains apple, corn, black raspberry, cherry, cranberry, lemon, lime and strawberry. I don’t know how it’s processed, but it does contain those ingredients.”

“The natural flavor is outsourced. The ingredients for each flavor can change by the season so we can’t tell you what’s in it. It is made from fruits, vegetables and/or spices. And they can’t be modified. There are no major allergens.”

“The natural flavor comes from a natural source. I don’t have a specific list of ingredients.”

“It is a proprietary formula that I can’t tell you. It is an all natural food or something.”

“The Natural Flavors in our products will follow our same Brand Promise to be Gluten-Free and Free-From the top defined food allergens. We have only aligned ourselves with business partners and ingredient suppliers that can adhere to our strict allergen requirements.”

One website directly stated:

“All our Natural Flavors in our certified organic product are Organic Compliant Natural Flavors and conform to the regulations of both the FDA and the very strict National Organic Plan (NOP) by the USDA.These natural flavors do not contain anything we would not be proud to put in our family’s mouths.

Please note that we consider our Natural Flavors to be secret recipes so we do not reveal the contents of our Natural Flavors. We are aware that some people may not be able to eat some of our flavors because we are unable to reveal the secret recipe and we are truly sorry for this inconvenience.”

Does Anyone Know Where Natural Flavor Comes From?

Since I was getting nowhere with the food manufacturers I tried contacting some natural flavor manufacturers directly.

No surprise…I couldn’t get any response from them!

Why Natural Flavor is Dangerous for Food Allergies

As a mom of kids with allergies it concerns me greatly that I am not allowed to know what is in just about every packaged food. Even simple foods like canned tomatoes and salsa. It also concerns me that these “natural flavors” are so common that nobody questions them.

The word natural has no real standard. It can mean just about anything. Don’t let it fool you too. If you are conscious of avoiding artificial flavors and colors, you might want to add natural flavor your list.

If it is so “natural,” why don’t you just tell us what it is??

How to Avoid Natural Flavor

I’m not just a bearer of bad news. I want you to have hope! Don’t feel discouraged! You can still live a natural lifestyle. And it does NOT have to be complicated or involve convenience foods with suspicious ingredients.

You can learn to replace store-bought products with DIY options that actually work (like homemade fruit snacks and granola bars) and are easy to make. You feel better (and even look better, too). Healthy living becomes less stressful and more enjoyable.

Our family has felt so much better by making changes to the way we eat, the products we use, and how we take care of ourselves. It’s made all the difference in the world and I want the same for you.

The use of natural flavor has been my biggest “natural food” complaint for many years. It really has no place in our food. And food companies that make quality, whole foods should be more than happy to tell consumers exactly what ingredients they use.

Do you avoid natural flavor?

If you are looking for a simple way to keep your family healthy and thinking clearly, avoid natural flavor. This mystery ingredient has no place in real food.

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.

NOTE: I no longer support the Vitamin A as poison theory. All information in this article is purely to help you understand what it is based on. It is possible to get too much Vitamin A by overdosing supplements or liver. But that doesn’t happen often and can be quickly remedied if it does. Vitamin A from animal sources is an essential part of the diet. Beta Carotene can cause carotenemia (as my son had) but will not overload the body with Vitamin A. I encourage you to research and make your own decisions. You can read our update/why we turned and ran from the Vitamin A Detox Diet HERE.

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

 

Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

Two-Ingredient DIY Magnesium Lotion

Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

My four-year old has been struggling with leg pain for over two years now. She wakes in the night just crying and crying because her legs hurt so badly.

At first we assumed it was growing pains. But as time went on we started to wonder if there was more going on. The pain was so intense. And recently it became more and more frequent, hurting in the day instead of just at night, on a daily basis.

Of course “mom brain” starts to think of the worst scenarios. I expressed my concerns to her pediatrician. I was worried her bones were weak due to malnutrition as a baby (you can read more about her story here).

So we did an x-ray of her leg. All clear! (phew!) Her bones look normal. Maybe it is “growing pains” after all (though technically nobody really knows what growing pains are…so I still started searching for root cause).Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

Natural Remedy for Growing Pains

With my mama mind at ease I started looking into natural ways to combat leg pain. One of the best remedies for leg pain is topical magnesium.

Perfect! I already had a bottle of magnesium oil made. I’ve been using it myself for about six months to help boost my own magnesium levels.

There is just one problem. Magnesium oil is not fun to use. It’s kind of sticky. It makes your skin itch and sting.

I knew I’d never get my daughter to use that every day. She tried it once and ended up washing it off because she couldn’t handle the itching.Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

Simple DIY Magnesium Lotion

I started searching for magnesium lotion I could buy. There are some good ones out there (I love this one from The Magnesium Lotion Shop!).

If you are on the Vitamin A Detox Diet there are a lot of oils/lotions that aren’t allowed. And anything you put on your skin is instantly absorbed. So I had to be picky.

In the end I decided to make my own.

My conclusion?

This is SO easy to make. It is SO much nicer to use than magnesium oil. WHY did I not do this six months ago and spare myself the torture of using magnesium oil every day?

Side note: I just made a fresh batch of magnesium oil yesterday (you need it to make magnesium lotion). So I sprayed a little on this morning to try it. Now I’m sitting here trying to write while my stomach itches like crazy. Only lotion from now on.

Benefits of Magnesium

Who could benefit from magnesium lotion?

Everyone.

For real. Just about everyone is deficient in magnesium. And that one deficiency messes up the balance of all of the other minerals.  Imbalanced minerals can cause a host of health problems (I’ll be sharing more on that in the future as I get my NTP and HTMA training).

Magnesium may help with:

  • energy creation
  • protein formation
  • muscle movement
  • nervous system regulation
  • brain function and mood
  • blood sugar control
  • blood pressure
  • headaches
  • joint and muscle pain
  • PMS
  • digestion
  • neutralizing stomach acid
  • strong bones
  • over 600 reactions in the body! [source] [source]

These are just a few of the ways magnesium helps your body. Magnesium is pretty important!!

Take note that there are a few people that don’t tolerate magnesium supplementation, either orally or topically. So use caution when trying magnesium lotion. Here are some reasons magnesium might make you feel worse.Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

How to Make Magnesium Lotion

For such a prevalent problem, you’d think the solution would be complex. Thankfully that is not the case!

Homemade magnesium lotion is so easy to make. You’ll need two basic ingredients:

  • magnesium
  • refined coconut oil

You have to start by making magnesium oil. This simply requires you to mix magnesium chloride with hot water. The longest part of the process is heating a half cup of water.

Once the magnesium oil is cool you can whip it with the coconut oil. Instant lotion!

Yes, it really is that easy.

I also like to add some essential oils to make it smell nice. But that is optional. My favorite is Young Living’s Stress Away. I like the vanilla scent. Lavender would also be good for kids. Just be careful which oils you use if you are on the VAD Diet as essential oils are very potent and easily absorbed.

Some people use bees wax to help prevent separation. I’m a fan of simple. So I don’t bother with that. The magnesium oil and coconut oil may separate a little after the lotion sits for a month or more. Simply re-whip it to combine if that is an issue.

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Two-Ingredient DIY Magnesium Lotion

A simple DIY magnesium lotion made with only two ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup magnesium chloride
  • 1 cup organic refined coconut oil
  • 5-10 drop essential oil optional

Instructions

  1. Place the magnesium chloride in a small glass bowl.

  2. Pour hot water on the magnesium and stir to dissolve.

  3. Allow to cool, and store in a glass jar or spray bottle.

  4. In a large bowl beat together the coconut oil, 1/4 cup of the magnesium oil, and essential oils on medium high until well combined, about 2 minutes.

  5. Store in a glass jar at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Recipe Notes

The magnesium oil and coconut oil may separate after a while (after a month or so). You can simply re-whip it.

Want to see how it’s done? Check out my Facebook Live where I make a fresh batch of our “Magic Lotion.”Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

What Kind of Magnesium Works Best?

There are three options when it comes to topical magnesium.

  1. Buy a pre-made oil (like this one).
  2. Magnesium chloride flakes (like these).
  3. Pharmaceutical grade magnesium chloride (like this).

All three will work, but the preferred option is the third one. It does not contain high levels of bromine like the flakes. It costs a few dollars more, but is still very affordable. One pound of the magnesium chloride will last at least a year – probably several years! Even if the whole family is using the lotion.Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

Why Use Refined Oil?

You may be wondering why I used refined coconut oil instead of unrefined.

Remember that your body absorbs anything you put on your skin (makeup, lotion, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.). So if you are on a particular diet you need to pay attention to what goes on your skin. If you are not able to eat it, don’t wear it.

Unrefined coconut oil is not allowed on the Vitamin A Detox Diet. It contains multiple fatty acids that contribute to Vitamin A Toxicity. You can read more about it HERE and HERE. Refining the oil removes the problematic fatty acids. Not to mention it removes the smell. So you won’t walk around smelling like a coconut all day.

How to Use Magnesium Lotion

We now know how easy it is to make magnesium lotion. Guess what? It’s even easier to use!

Simply apply as much or as little magnesium lotion as you like, wherever you like, as often as you like. You really can’t get too much. If you notice it causing loose bowels you can cut back. But generally topical magnesium does not have that effect since it is not ingested.

We prefer to apply it to our legs and/or abdomen. My oldest prefers to put it on her belly (I do too). My middle two prefer their legs. But it works no matter where you apply it.

I like to use magnesium lotion two or three times a day to make sure I’m keeping my levels steady. Your body uses it constantly throughout the day, and it gets depleted easily.

My kids always use it right before bed. It helps them settle down and sleep more soundly.Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

How Magnesium Lotion Helped My Four-Year Old

Back to my daughter’s growing pain dilemma.

Armed with a full jar of DIY magnesium lotion I started applying it to my four-year old’s legs every night before bed. The first two nights I didn’t notice a change.

But after the third night we had an unexpected surprise!

First, her leg pain was gone. And she has not complained of it once since.

In addition she has been dry overnight ever since!! Up to that point she was wearing a pull-up to bed every night. Sometimes it was soaked in the morning.

But she has now been dry every night and is in underwear to bed.

The magnesium lotion was so effective at getting her minerals in balance that she stopped having to urinate so frequently!

If you have a child that struggles with bed wetting, growing pains, overactive bladder, or constipation give magnesium lotion a try.

My kids have actually named it Magic Lotion. It really has felt like magic with such a drastic change overnight. And you better believe we never skip a night now!Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

Magnesium Lotion for Everyone

Considering the prevalence of magnesium deficiency, I think almost everyone would benefit from using magnesium lotion. It is safe for everyone, including infants and the elderly.

In fact, I just might make some for gifts this year. I wonder if it could help my dad who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I also need to convince my husband to try it. He struggles with restless legs – which is an obvious sign of magnesium deficiency.

Know anyone with osteoporosis? Magnesium lotion could help. There is such a strong relationship between magnesium and calcium.

If nothing else it can simply be used to help you relax. I think we all could use help in that department in our fast-paced, stressful world.

Do you use magnesium oil or lotion? What health benefits have you noticed? If not, are you ready to give it a try?Growing pains, restless legs, trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness? Kiss your aches and pains goodbye with this super simple two-ingredient DIY magnesium lotion.

The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

The Health Benefits of White Fruits and Vegetables

The current health mantra is “Eat the Rainbow.” But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

When you try to increase your colorful fruit and veggie intake, it’s honestly not that hard. Red peppers, squash, golden zucchini, spinach, purple cabbage, red and golden beets, peas, broccoli, carrots…you get the idea. Especially now that we have access to just about any produce we want year round, eating the rainbow is easy.

Why White Fruits and Vegetables are Good for You

Unfortunately there is one “color” that often gets overlooked…white! Yes, there are many health benefits to white fruits and vegetables. Note that white refers to the flesh. So this includes foods like cucumbers, apples, zucchini, and pears.

White fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals as well as other compounds that aid in specific processes of the body. Here are just some of the delicious white fruits and vegetables and their benefits.The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Cauliflower

This is definitely one of our favorite veggies. We love it roasted or served raw with dip (like this simple hummus). Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, insoles, and isothiocyanates that have been shown to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells, protect your heart, and strengthen bones. It contains fiber and is good for digestion. Cauliflower also helps reduce inflammation via antioxidants. The choline in cauliflower benefits your brain too. It really packs a punch!

The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are often overlooked even though they are one of the healthiest foods around! They contain beta-glucans[source], which support your immune system, help prevent cancer, regulate cholesterol and help control blood sugar. Another white food high in beta-glucans is oats. Mushrooms also contain selenium, an essential mineral.

Potatoes

White potatoes have gotten a bad rap lately. Seen as just a starchy filler, many people try to replace them with sweet potatoes and other veggies. But don’t toss your white potatoes! They are a staple of the American diet (for good reason!) and are very beneficial. White potatoes contain potassium, Vitamin B6, iron, Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and copper. They may aid in digestion and relieving constipation. Potatoes have also been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent cancer, prevent kidney stones, prevent heart disease and improve brain function. Baked potato, anyone?!

Just be sure to peel your potatoes and avoid any green spots or sprouting potatoes.

Parsnips

Parsnips are pretty much my new favorite vegetable. If you’ve never had roasted parsnips, go get some and roast them NOW. My four year old would eat an entire pan of these herself. And I don’t mind if she does! Parsnips contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, Vitamins B6, C, E, and K, fiber and anti-oxidants. All of these vitamins and minerals help boost the immune system, strengthen the heart, reduce birth defects, and promote strong bones.[source]

Rutabaga

Rutabaga is another newer vegetable for our family. And another one that is quickly becoming a personal favorite! I love rutabaga fries! My girls both devour these too. Rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It has a mild cabbage flavor, but also a sweetness. Their firm flesh holds up well in baking, making them a great substitute for potatoes. We love using them diced in soups and spiralized for noodles!

Rutabagas contain manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins C, E, K, and B.They also contain glucosinolates, which have been shown to reduce tumor growth. Rutabagas can help relieve constipation, improve bone health, and improve vision.[source] The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Zucchini

You many wonder why zucchini is on the list of white vegetables. The white refers to the flesh. We peel all of our zucchini to remove the colored portion. We grow both green and golden zucchini in our garden and enjoy it for many months roasted, raw, in stir fries, in soups, in breads, in crackers, and even in cupcakes.

Zucchini contains potassium, folate, fiber, and Vitamin C. Some claim it helps relieve both asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Zucchini also aids in digestion, improves vision, and strengthens the heart.[source]

Onion

I don’t know about you, but when I’m planning meals and trying to figure out what vegetable to serve, onion most certainly doesn’t come to mind! And to be honest it’s a vegetable I don’t often use. I think it’s mostly because I hate chopping onions! But onions are super healthy, and I hope to start adding them to our diet more often.

Onions contain Vitamin C, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, iron, folate, potassium, quercitin, and sulfur. The quercitin in onions has been linked to cancer prevention. [source] Raw onions are also anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. They are often used for treating colds, fevers, and allergies.

Garlic

Are you a fan of garlic? I don’t mind the flavor. But (confession) it’s not something I ever buy. I use lots of garlic powder in our food. But I really hate dealing with fresh garlic. I guess I need to teach my kids how to use it! This is one more white vegetable (technically an herb) to add to my list of things to start incorporating in our diet more often because the health benefits are so great.

Garlic contains phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, iodine, sulfur, chlorine, folate, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin C, A, K, and B6. [source] That’s a lot of good stuff in a tiny package! Raw garlic is known for treating colds and coughs. In addition, garlic may aid in digestion, treating acne, eliminating ear aches, and reducing the progression of some types of cancer. Can I get some garlic, please?!The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Ginger

Ginger is another item on the white vegetable list that isn’t technically a vegetable. But it is still very good for you! And one more food that I don’t typically use in my kitchen. One more thing to add to the list! This spice contains gingerol, which has powerful medicinal properties. [source]

Ginger helps ease nausea, most notably morning sickness. It also can help relieve muscle pain, lower blood sugar, and help fight infections. Add some to your next stir fry or soup!

Fennel

Here I thought I was a pretty adventurous eater when it comes to vegetables. But here is yet another one that is not a staple in our diet. We have used fennel before, but not regularly. I think it’s time we try it again. Fennel bulb contains vitamin C, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, magnesium, zinc, niacin, vitamin K, B-vitamins, and flavonols. [source]

Fennel may help with anemia, constipation, gas, indigestion, colic, and PMS. It is an overall digestive aid.

White Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is similar to rutabaga. It is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. Though it has a stronger flavor than rutabaga, almost a bit spicy. We use kohlrabi on occasion, though it is not a family favorite.

Kohlrabi contains potassium, fiber, glucosinates, antioxidants, Vitamin C, iron, folate, phosphorus, and calcium. This unique vegetable may help with anemia, digestion, blood pressure, healthy skin, and even cancer prevention via apoptosis. [source] If you are curious how to cook kohlrabi, this is a great post!The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Green Cabbage

I know, “green” cabbage isn’t technically white. But really it is mostly white. After you get through the first few layers of leaves it’s basically a white vegetable. We eat a lot of cabbage. It tastes amazing roasted. But it also works well for sauerkraut! Or you can use it in casseroles and soups. I love it in homemade coleslaw. Cabbage is so versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked.

There are quite a few varieties of cabbage, including Napa and Bok Choy. We generally stick to the traditional green cabbage both for flavor and function.

Cabbage contains manganese, dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamins C, B6, K, and E, sulfur, and choline. These nutrients make cabbage good for detoxification, reducing inflammation, cancer prevention, proper digestion, boosting the immune system, repairing skin, strengthening bones, and improving vision. [source]

Cucumber

Here we go again with the “green” vegetables. We always peel our cucumbers and just eat the white flesh. So it is on my white vegetable list. Every summer we get an overload of cucumbers from our garden. We enjoy them fresh with dip or turned into pickles.

For such a simple vegetable, cucumbers have a lot going on. They contain vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin, polyphenols called lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), and antioxidant flavinoids like quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol. Not to mention cucumbers are about 95% water. So they are great for hydration.

Cucumbers may help with brain health, reducing inflammation, cancer prevention, proper digestion and heart health. [source]The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Apple

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away. And that’s good news for my family since we have an 80-tree apple orchard! Apples are one of the easiest white fruits to add to your diet since they are so readily available year round and stay fresh for so long. Just be sure to buy organic and wash them well to avoid glyphosate and other chemicals. Even organic apples are sprayed. Here are some tips on making your own produce wash.

Apples contain fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, manganese, copper, and polyphenols. They have been shown to aid weight loss, decrease risk of cancer, improve heart health, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and protect your brain. [sourceHere are some more reasons to love apples.

Pear

Much like apples, pears are a delicious and nutritious fruit to add to your diet. They contain potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, phenolic compounds, folate, dietary fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, and B-complex vitamins.

Pears are great for hydration, reducing blood pressure, preventing birth defects, aiding digestion, promoting wound healing, improving circulation, and protecting against osteoporosis. [source]

White peach

You probably don’t think white when you hear the word peach. But white peaches are both delicious and healthy! Unlike its orange-flesh counterpart, the white peach is very low in Vitamin A. But it still contains loads of other nutrients like Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, Vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc.

Peaches can help relieve constipation, aid in hydration, promote healthy skin, improve heart health, and boost immunity.The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Banana

Some say eggs are the most perfect food. I think you could make that claim about bananas! This mild-flavored pale yellow fruit can be enjoyed by everyone, from infants to the elderly. Bananas boast quite a nutritional profile. They contain fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and manganese.

Bananas are widely known for their potassium content. Although not the food highest in potassium, this nutrient makes bananas great for balancing electrolytes and supporting heart health. They also support kidney health.

Should We “Eat the Rainbow?”

It’s obvious that there are many health benefits to white fruits and vegetables. And that wasn’t even all of them! But what about the colorful ones? Should we still eat them? Should we adhere to the “Eat the Rainbow” advice?

That depends on your health and the source of the color.

If you do a little research you’ll find that the “Eat the Rainbow” slogan has not been around for very long. It is definitely not the way our ancestors ate. It is a very modern way of living to have access to every kind of fruit and vegetable you could want year round. Not to mention having access to produce that is not native to your environment. I don’t think the British were dining on avocados in the 1600’s! So if you are a fan of traditional diets, you may want to rethink eating the rainbow.

In fact, we probably don’t need as many fruits and vegetables in our diet as we are led to believe these days at all. I absolutely include them in our diet. But I don’t go overboard either. Too many fruits and vegetables can be hard to digest. I know plant-based diets are all the rage these days. But we must remember that animal products are a necessary part of nutrition as well, containing critical nutrients we can’t get from plants. We are omnivores after all. It’s all about finding balance.The current health mantra is "Eat the Rainbow." But what about the not-so-colorful produce? Turns out there are many health benefits of white fruits and vegetables.

Why Are Vegetables Brightly Colored?

This may all sound a little far-fetched to you. Don’t eat lots of colors? Load up on white? Let’s look at history and some hidden details of colorful produce.

Let’s start with the humble carrot – a staple in many diets today. But if you do a little research you’ll find that carrots were not originally orange. They were white! The orange color and the carrot’s current shape and flavor were due to domestication from humans. We made them orange! Actually it seems the Dutch made them yellow and orange after years of selective breeding. Should we have done that? [source] [source]

Winter squash is another common orange vegetable that has gained popularity over time. Interestingly, what we now eat is also a domesticated plant. “Wild forms of squashes are harshly bitter to humans and other extant mammals…Wild squashes carry cucurbitacins, which can be toxic when eaten by smaller bodied mammals, including humans.”[source] “Early on, squash was only grown for seed because early squash had little flesh and a bitter taste.” [source] Again, we have taken a plant not meant for human consumption and turned it into something edible. But was it a good idea?

Take note that pretty much every healing diet eliminates the nightshade family. This includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. Notice that the first three on the list are very brightly colored vegetables. They are a relatively new addition to the Western diet. Tomatoes were originally ornamental vegetables because people believed they were poisonous! Nightshades are known to cause inflammation.

Finally, we need to consider color as a warning, called aposematism. This is very common with insects and animals. “If the poisonous thing is aposematic, [the animal] won’t make the same mistake again. Monarchs happen to display their toxicity with bright colors, as do most toxic animals and any animal that tries to look toxic. If you see something really colorful and striking in nature, it’s probably chemically defended. Otherwise, its coloration would make it instant prey.” [source] So it is very likely that the same goes for plants. You can read more about aposematism and fluorescence of plants HERE.

Make White Fruits and Vegetables Count

All this to say we may need to rethink our fruit and veggie mantra these days. More (in terms of quantity) isn’t always better (my tummy could tell you that!). More (in terms of color) isn’t always in your best interest either.

Make sure you know where your fruits and vegetables get their color and whether or not it is truly what your body needs.

Our meals these days contain a lot of white fruits and vegetables. They are just as healthy as their colored counterparts. Not to mention they are good for your digestive system, heart, brain, kidneys, skin, eyes, hair, and more!

Have you considered the health benefits of white fruits and vegetables? Or have you been led to believe the more color the better?

Interested in reading more about the potential harm of loading up on brightly colored veggies? Here are some resources:

Is Gluten Really the Problem? How Glyphosate Impacts Vitamin A Toxicity

White Fruits and Vegetables Intake Associated with Lower Disease Risks

“Eat the Rainbow” is a Farce and a Fraud

Problems with Nightshades

Nightshades are Toxic

Ever struggle with gas, bloating or any other digestive upset? Ever been told to just eat more fiber only to feel worse? It may not be the fiber that's the problem. It could be that resistant starch is hurting you.

Why Resistant Starch is Bad for You

VAD Diet update
Ever struggle with gas, bloating or any other digestive upset? Ever been told to just eat more fiber only to feel worse? It may not be the fiber that's the problem. It could be that resistant starch is hurting you.

“I feel like my stomach is going to burst.”

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said that to my husband in our 15 years of marriage (poor guy). Bloating and gas have been my biggest health complaints for a LONG time.

Actually since I was very little. Though back then I didn’t know what it was. I just knew my tummy didn’t feel good. The constant pressure on my bladder that it created, making me have to use the bathroom over and over was what started my anxiety around the age of FIVE!

As you can imagine I’ve tried just about everything over the years to get rid of it. Every diet. Every supplement. Every exercise. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. Everything from prescription anti-spasmodics to anti-depressants (yes, my doctor prescribed that for my GI problems) to prescription Miralax. And of course all of the natural stuff too (after I learned about natural health).

And guess what? None of it worked.

By trial and error I did learn some of my worst offender foods. So I strictly avoided those. Which helped some. But having to avoid a bunch of foods for your whole life just to not be bloated does not seem like a solution.

Ever struggle with gas, bloating or any other digestive upset? Ever been told to just eat more fiber only to feel worse? It may not be the fiber that's the problem. It could be that resistant starch is hurting you.

What is Resistant Starch?

Everyone was talking about resistant starch for a while, claiming it’s health benefits for the gut. In fact, if you do a search for resistant starch that’s all you see – health claims. I haven’t heard about it as much lately. And probably for a good reason. It’s not doing you any favors.

But before I dig into the why, let’s back up and talk about what resistant starch is.

As the name suggests it is starch. The unique part is that it goes through your digestive tract undigested! It is resistant to digestion. So it’s acts sort of like soluble fiber. But it isn’t the same as soluble fiber. Some call it a third type of fiber.

When resistant starch reaches your colon it feeds your bacteria. This in turn produces gas (eek!) and short-chain fatty acids. The most notable short-chain fatty acid is butyrate. You can read a little more detail about the process and the four types of resistant starch here.

What does Resistant Starch Do?

So resistant starch helps your body produce butyrate. If you’ve been around the natural health world long enough that’s probably a term you’ve heard too. In a good way. Some claim it helps fight cancer, inflammation, weight gain, and insulin resistance. Those are all great benefits.

The hardest part for me to handle is the fermentation. Hello, gas and bloating!

Whenever I hear a health claim I also like to look back and compare our modern thoughts with how people used to eat. If resistant starch is mostly found in pre-cooked/leftover food it makes sense that it was not consumed in large quantities. People didn’t used to have refrigerators. You cook and eat. Whatever is left you toss. They also didn’t have processed foods like chips and pasta.Ever struggle with gas, bloating or any other digestive upset? Ever been told to just eat more fiber only to feel worse? It may not be the fiber that's the problem. It could be that resistant starch is hurting you.

What Foods Contain Resistant Starch?

Are you wondering if you are eating a lot of resistant starch? It’s easy to do! Do you eat leftover rice or potatoes? Are you a fan of the cook once, eat twice method? Do you like some green on your bananas? Then you are in the high resistant starch camp.

The foods highest in resistant starch are:

  • oats (especially raw or cooked then cooled)
  • cooked and cooled rice
  • raw potatoes or cooked and cooled potatoes
  • cooked and cooled or canned beans and lentils
  • potato starch
  • corn
  • green bananas and banana flour
  • cooked and cooled grains
  • nuts (especially cashews) and seeds

As I look back on my eating habits over the past (almost) 40 years I know I’ve been eating a high resistant starch diet! It’s no secret that I am the leftover queen. I think macaroni and cheese tastes better leftover…and cold! Even as a child I would snack on cold leftovers. My salads used to consist of lettuce topped with all of my kids random leftovers from the week. In college I lived on canned beans and granola. As in HAD to have them every day.

Want to know the foods I eventually cut out of my diet by trial and error?

  • oats
  • potatoes
  • bananas
  • beans
  • corn
  • nuts
  • seeds

Notice any similarities there? Yep. I had cut out a lot of resistant starch without even knowing it! 

How to Avoid Resistant Starch

What exactly is the right way to eat the foods that could be high in resistant starch? It’s simple…but not easy. Unfortunately it requires more effort. Sorry, no cooking a big batch of oatmeal at the start of the week to reheat every morning. But it is worth it to not have all the gas and bloating!

Here are my tips for avoiding resistant starch without completely eliminating some favorite foods:

  • Only eat freshly cooked grains and potatoes (this likely eliminates potato chips).
  • Avoid granola and overnight oats. Freshly cooked rolled or steel cut oats are ok. Steel cut are better because they are not as processed.
  • Avoid leftover or canned beans and lentils. Freshly cooked are fine.
  • Only eat fully ripened bananas.
  • Avoid prebiotics like inulin.

Baked goods are ok as the resistant starch is greatly reduced in the baking. When the structure of the food is changed (puffed rice, bread, etc.), the resistant starch is broken. I think this also holds true for my homemade rice milk since the blending destroys the starch. I’m not sure about pasta. You’ll have to see how your body responds to it.

This does make you wonder if this is a factor in why some people feel better on a grain-free diet. Or even on some healing diets that eliminate grains, legumes and potatoes! The resistant starch is removed.

Ultimately you have to watch your own resistant starch intake and take note of symptoms to see how much you can handle. But if you are struggling with gas and bloating, resistant starch could be contributing. Working on gut health and improving the health of your microbiome may help you tolerate more resistant starch.

My Resistant Starch Intake

I’m learning more and more about my own digestive system. Along with resistant starch I had cut a lot of fiber out of my diet for many years. I need to find a middle ground. I need the fiber to help with gut motility. BUT I can’t have too much resistant starch. Funny how all of the foods I figured out caused my problems years ago are the ones high in resistant starch!

I’ve been able to add most of them back in to my diet. But I have to do it the right way. I can eat beans without getting gassy…as long as they are freshly cooked. But canned beans cause problems. I’m curious to see how this impacts my nursling’s tummy as well since he often has a lot of gas.

A few months ago I started eating a low histamine diet. That excludes leftover proteins. And now low resistant starch means no leftover grains. Basically I need a diet of freshly cooked whole foods. Mind blowing, huh? But it is hard in our fast-paced world. We tend to reach for convenience. Let’s get back to natural. Let’s get back to fresh. Have your kids help cook (learn how here). Make it a family affair. Freshly cooked, whole foods as much as possible. Let’s step away from convenience and towards better health.

Do you eat a high resistant starch diet? Have you noticed any digestive problems from it?

Is Gluten Really the Problem? How Glyphosate Impacts Vitamin A Toxicity

VAD Diet update

I have good news for my gluten free readers…you probably are not actually gluten intolerant! Even if you have celiac disease there is hope. Is gluten really the problem? Nope! Glyphosate impacts Vitamin A Toxicity significantly, causing the gluten-related problems.

I have good news for my gluten free readers...you probably are not actually gluten intolerant! Even if you have Celiac Disease there is hope. Is gluten really the problem? Nope! Glyphosate impacts Vitamin A Toxicity significantly, causing the gluten-related problems.

NOTE: I no longer support the Vitamin A as poison theory. All information in this article is purely to help you understand what it is based on. It is possible to get too much Vitamin A by overdosing supplements or liver. But that doesn’t happen often and can be quickly remedied if it does. Vitamin A from animal sources is an essential part of the diet. Beta Carotene can cause carotenemia (as my son had) but will not overload the body with Vitamin A. I encourage you to research and make your own decisions. You can read our update/why we turned and ran from the Vitamin A Detox Diet HERE.

What if I told you gluten was not a problem…for anyone? Would you think I’m crazy? Probably.

Gluten is somewhat of an evil word these days. It gets blamed for just about every health problem and disease.

There are lots of scientific studies that link gluten to specific conditions and to the health of the gut. Some say that all grains are evil and that it’s more than just the gluten.

I don’t believe them.

I know. A bold statement. Remember, it’s coming from someone that has been on a gluten free diet for six years. All of my kids are gluten free as well. I even wrote a whole post about why we are eating gluten-free. So I’ve been on the gluten free bandwagon for a long time. And I’m not jumping off just yet.

But that could change. I’m hoping to get back to making traditional sourdough bread (with gluten-containing grains) soon. For my whole family.

Turns out the scientists could be looking at the wrong details.

Whether mistakenly or on purpose I’m not sure.

When they study the impact of gluten on the gut and autoimmune disease they see a correlation. And for good reason. But it’s not the gluten itself.

So what is the problem?

Glyphosate. And Vitamin A.

What is Glyphosate?

According to the EPA: “Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide that controls broadleaf weeds and grasses.”

It has been used as a pesticide since the 1970’s in products such as Roundup®. It is sprayed on many crops such as fruits, vegetables and almost all non-organic grains.

Although the EPA claims that it “has a low toxicity for humans,” recent events have proven otherwise. In August, 2018 a school groundskeeper was awarded $289 million in a court case against Monsanto (the maker of Roundup®) because the herbicide caused him terminal cancer. [source]

He’s not the only one. There are actually thousands of people suing Monsanto, claiming the herbicide gave them cancer.

In March of 2015 the WHO declared glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” [source] The EWG agreed with this claim.

Glyphosate is classified as likely carcinogenic (and many would argue that it most certainly is). And yet it is sprayed on a large portion of the world’s food supply. Anybody else see a problem with that?I have good news for my gluten free readers...you probably are not actually gluten intolerant! Even if you have Celiac Disease there is hope. Is gluten really the problem? Nope! Glyphosate impacts Vitamin A Toxicity significantly, causing the gluten-related problems.

How Glyphosate and Gluten are Related

A lot of commercially grown wheat is currently sprayed with glyphosate just before harvest. The glyphosate does not help in growing the wheat. It simply speeds the drying process before harvest, desiccation. A toxin is sprayed on your food to get it to the supermarket a few days sooner. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Glyphosate is also widely used on oats. Although oats are gluten free, many people with some type of gluten intolerance have trouble with oats. Many have speculated cross-contamination from wheat since they are often grown in nearby fields. But it could actually be the glyphosate.

I want to briefly add in here that the use of glyphosate generally implies a food is genetically modified (learn more about GMOs here). The modification is made so the plant can tolerate the glyphosate. So the two go hand-in-hand. They are NOT the same thing. But they often go together. I am not a supporter of genetically modified crops either. I don’t think God intended for us to mix DNA between plants and even between species.

Glyphosate and Celiac

Here is an entire interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff about the relationship between glyphosate and celiac disease. And here is some great information from the interview:

The use of glyphosate on wheat crops has risen in tandem with the rise in Celiac disease. In fact, it correlates to a greater degree than glyphosate usage on corn and soy. According to Dr. Seneff, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came in vogue about 15 years ago. Interestingly enough, when you expose wheat to a toxic chemical like glyphosate, it actually releases more seeds. “It ‘goes to seed’ as it dies,” Dr. Seneff explains. “At its last gasp, it releases the seed.”This results in slightly greater yield, and the glyphosate also kills rye grass, a major weed problem for wheat growers that is resistant to many other herbicides. What they’re not taking into consideration is the fact that rye grass helps rebalance the soil, and from that perspective is a beneficial plant.So, most of the non-organic wheat supply is now contaminated with glyphosate. A large percentage of processed foods are made from wheat, and this helps explain the explosion of Celiac Disease and other gut dysfunction.What happens is that the villi in your gut get destroyed by the glyphosate, which reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Also, wheat contains gliadin, which is difficult to break down. Normally, a reaction takes place that builds connections between different proteins in the wheat.But glyphosate gets right in the middle of that process too, resulting in wheat that is highly indigestible. Dr. Seneff and her co-researcher Dr. Anthony Samsel believe the glyphosate may attach to the gliadin as a consequence of a chemical reaction. The end result is that your body develops an immune reaction.

According to this study, “Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment in many cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, activating vitamin D3, catabolizing vitamin A, and maintaining bile acid production and sulfate supplies to the gut. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes. Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids.”

How Glyphosate Impacts Vitamin A Toxicity

So what does this have to do with hypervitaminosis A? I want you to really listen here. Because this is one of the biggest factors in your health problems and your ability to detox Vitamin A.

Glyphosate slows/stops the natural breakdown of Poison/”Vitamin A.

Let’s put the puzzle pieces together here. Glyphosate is on wheat. Glyphosate stops your body from detoxing Vitamin A. Eating wheat causes worse Vitamin A toxicity and then prevents your body from getting rid of Vitamin A.

So eating wheat is actually giving you symptoms of Vitamin A Toxicity. What appears to be a reaction to gluten is actually poisoning from Vitamin A.

The fun doesn’t stop there. “Glyphosate chelates…minerals. It forms a cage around them, such that the bacteria can’t get at them even, so the gut bacteria become deficient, and then they die because they can’t get these critical nutrients. Because glyphosate is caged.” [source]

Glyphosate also impacts methylation. This topic has been popular in the natural health world in the last few years. Knowing if you are an over or under methylator can tell you a lot about your health. It also closely related to genetic expression. But your health problems are not the fault of your genes. Glyphosate actually can increase and decrease methylation in different areas of the body in different people.

Some say glyphosate is the main culprit in our autism epidemic. Since glyphosate is so prevalent in our food and water supply and it is even in vaccines, this is very plausible. Which would mean that detoxing from glyphosate could reverse autism. This could also be why a gluten free diet seems to help many kids both on the spectrum and with other neurological disorders like ADD/AHDH. You can read more about the glyphosate-autism connection here.

Sadly glyphosate and it’s relation to Vitamin A toxicity is even linked to birth defects. I’ll dig deeper into this issue in a future post.

I have good news for my gluten free readers...you probably are not actually gluten intolerant! Even if you have Celiac Disease there is hope. Is gluten really the problem? Nope! Glyphosate impacts Vitamin A Toxicity significantly, causing the gluten-related problems.

Is There A Solution?

It’s pretty obvious that the prevalence of glyphosate in our food supply and our environment is a problem. So is there a solution? Yes and no.

One way to try to avoid glyphosate is by buying organic wheat (and all other grains). Unfortunately glyphosate has been so widely used that it is now unavoidable. The wind carries it from the wheat fields to other fields (even organic ones). Glyphosate is in our water supply. Even rain water now tests positive for glyphosate. So it rains glyphosate on organic crops. You really can’t get completely away from it.

As a probable carcinogen, even small amounts in your food can have a big impact on your health. And we all get at least small amounts.

Some people that are gluten intolerant switch to einkorn, an ancient variety of wheat. While this may help remove the glyphosate factor, it is not a great solution. Einkorn actually is higher in Vitamin A than other varieties of wheat. Most grains do not have any Vitamin A. So if you are already toxic, einkorn will just compound the problem. If you are not dealing with hypervitaminosis A, then einkorn may be a suitable solution.

Almost everyone dealing with Vitamin A toxicity and gluten problems should take Vitamin C. This is protective against retinoic acid and helps the liver detox. It also decreases glyphosate toxicity. 

Activated charcoal help detox the body by absorbing toxins.

Only drink filtered water. Especially if you have well water. If it is not filtered it will be full of glyphosate. You can have your water tested to check the levels. A whole house water filter is ideal. But at the very least filter all drinking water. Some good options are Berkey water systems (find them here) and reverse osmosis.

Finally, eating all organic food will go a long way in limiting your exposure to glyphosate. This is especially true for grains. And this may be the real reason that many people feel better on a grain free diet. It’s not the grains, it’s the glyphosate!

Do Other Substances Impact Vitamin A Detox?

Glyphosate is not the only culprit hindering your body’s ability to handle Vitamin A. Many commonly used drugs have a similar impact.

Birth control pills actually raise Vitamin A levels in the body.

I know this holds true for me (and many other women I’ve talked to) that some of my biggest health problems started when I took birth control. There have been a lot of factors in my health journey over the years (lots of antibiotics as a child, processed food, vaccines, etc.). But if I could go back and just change one thing I would tell myself not to take birth control. It led to infertility, weight gain, OCD, anxiety to the point of panic attacks, thyroid problems…the list goes on. And guess what? Those are all complications from Vitamin A Toxicity. 

Even everyday pain medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen can have a significant impact on your health if you are dealing with hypervitaminosis A.  Pain medications can damage the liver. And if Vitamin A Toxicity is rooted in the liver, then any extra damage will just compound the problem.

I have witnessed the pain medication reaction first-hand in my two youngest children. Both when my 4 year old was an infant and just last week with my 8 month old – the use of Ibuprofen had a huge impact. I am not a fan of OTC medications. I use them only when absolutely necessary. My son’s fever got VERY high one night. So I gave him Ibuprofen. For the next few days his nervous system was on high alert. He couldn’t eat well or sleep well. He wouldn’t let me set him down. He got spots on his belly. Every time he tried to nurse his whole body would jerk, like he was having spasms. Even just my hand on his spine would cause him to jerk.

It reminded me of his big sister as a child. Then I remembered it happened to her after her tongue tie revision…and giving her pain medication. Not surprisingly they are my two most Vitamin A toxic kids. So every little thing that compounds the problem is obvious.

The Glyphosate-Gluten-Vitamin A Conclusion

I know that was a lot to take in. Vitamin A Toxicity is not a stand-alone issue. It is impacted by many other factors in our modern society – how we eat, live and medicate. Glyphosate interferes with the detoxification of Vitamin A, leading to gluten intolerance symptoms (Vitamin A Toxicity). Some say glyphosate is actually THE foundational problem. Vitamin A toxicity then piggybacks on that. This is a very complex issue. But one that NEEDS to be addressed.

Again I feel like I am just barely scratching the surface of a monumental issue. But that is my intent. I want to create awareness. Then your job is to keep digging. I have some great links in the post. I strongly encourage you to read each one.

I also want to encourage you to start taking steps TODAY to protect you and your family (see the section on solutions). We speak with our dollars. Do not support GMO products that use Glyphosate. Buy organic and local whenever possible. Or grow your own! Talk to your government officials. Tell your friends.

My next step is to talk to the farmers that plant wheat, corn, soybeans and oats right next to our yard! We are already dealing with Vitamin A Toxicity. I don’t want an abundance of glyphosate in our water supply to compound the issue.

Once we are through the Vitamin A detox I plan to add traditional sourdough back into our diets (using organic wheat of course!). My kids and I are very excited!

Do your kids struggle with gluten intolerance or celiac disease? How will you try to eliminate exposure to glyphosate and Vitamin A?

Want to read more? Here are some other posts linking glyphosate to gluten intolerance:

Your Gluten Problem May Actually be a Glyphosate Problem

Glyphosate and Gluten Sensitivity Series

Is Roundup the Cause of ‘Gluten Intolerance’?.

Does the chemical glyphosate (Roundup) mimic gluten sensitivity?

You are not gluten intolerant, you are glyphosate intolerant

Have you ever wondered what all of the vitamins and minerals do you in your body? Or if they are really that important? Or that maybe we're getting too much? What does Vitamin A do in the body? I'm sharing the details today.

What Does Vitamin A Do in the Body?

VAD Diet updateHave you ever wondered what all of the vitamins and minerals do you in your body? Or if they are really that important? Or that maybe we’re getting too much? What does Vitamin A do in the body? I’m sharing the details today.

Have you ever wondered what all of the vitamins and minerals do you in your body? Or if they are really that important? Or that maybe we're getting too much? What does Vitamin A do in the body? I'm sharing the details today.

NOTE: I no longer support the Vitamin A as poison theory. All information in this article is purely to help you understand what it is based on. It is possible to get too much Vitamin A by overdosing supplements or liver. But that doesn’t happen often and can be quickly remedied if it does. Vitamin A from animal sources is an essential part of the diet. Beta Carotene can cause carotenemia (as my son had) but will not overload the body with Vitamin A. I encourage you to research and make your own decisions. You can read our update/why we turned and ran from the Vitamin A Detox Diet HERE.

Last week I presented the theory that Vitamin A is not really a vitamin at all. It is a toxin/poison.

Whether you are warming up to that idea or not, today I’m digging into the role of “Vitamin” A in the body. What does Vitamin A do in the body? What happens after you ingest it? And where does it go wrong?

I’ll admit, some of this stuff is a bit technical for me. It kind of makes my head hurt to read the details. But I’m going to do my best to break it down for you so you have a basic understanding. If you like the nitty gritty details make sure you read Grant Generuex’s books that I linked to in my previous post on Vitamin A. Most of the information in today’s post is what I learned from Grant’s book. But I tried to summarize it and break it down for you.

How Vitamin A is Supposed to be Handled

In a healthy (not toxic) person there is a simple cycle that the body uses to maintain balance when it comes to Vitamin A.

  1. Vitamin A is ingested.
  2. That Vitamin A is quickly transported to and stored in the liver.
  3. The stored Vitamin A is periodically called for by cells in the body when it is needed.
  4. The Vitamin A is delivered to its destination via Retinol Binding Protein (RBP).

RBP is like an envelope to deliver the retinol safely to its destination (this is a critical point). The body does not want to be exposed to retinol without RBP. Plain retinol is toxic. Also, the cells calling for retinol have receptors specifically for RBP. So the retinol goes directly where it’s needed in a nice protected package. A wonderful design.

Pretty straight forward. And harmless.

Have you ever wondered what all of the vitamins and minerals do you in your body? Or if they are really that important? Or that maybe we're getting too much? What does Vitamin A do in the body? I'm sharing the details today.

How Vitamin A is Handled in Toxic Individuals

But this simple cycle is messed up if the liver is saturated from excess Vitamin A. Now the tissue of the body is exposed to plain retinol without RBP because it is sitting around, not able to enter the liver. Instead excessive Vitamin A levels are now found in the blood serum, giving it time to combine with fat (remember it is fat-soluble). Other systems and organs try to deal with the excess vitamin A by storing it in the only safe wrapper it knows – fat. So that’s where it sits. And there is speculation that this is the cause of obesity! The body stores fat to handle excess Vitamin A.(you can read more about the connection of Vitamin A with obesity here).

So now the simple cycle above looks more like this:

  1. Vitamin A is ingested.
  2. That vitamin A is stored in adipose tissue (fat) because the liver can’t hold any more.
  3. Some of the retinol is converted to retinoic acid.
  4. Specific gene expressions (all my epigenetics fans – this is where it comes in) and immune response of the individual dictates how the body responds.
  5. This causes inflammation.
  6. Serum pH drops.
  7. Calcium is drawn from bones and teeth to compensate.

Not so simple now. The liver is swollen from excess Vitamin A (fatty liver). Organs and tissues are being exposed to retionic acid. And the body gradually breaks down little by little completely inflamed. In other words, you now have health problems like autoimmune disease. And you develop weak bones.

That is the big picture. Did you follow me?

Vitamin A at the Cell Level

There are two inflammatory responses in the body.

One helps heal. It is the body’s natural response to infection and injury. The immune system uses inflammation to protect against pathogens. In this case the inflammation is healing. You get sick…the body heats up and fights back. Wonderful.

The other is the body’s response to cell injury, damage or incorrect mutations. In this case inflammation is destroying. A damaged cell must be killed before it creates problems.

We all know that inflammation produces heat. This helps kill the pathogens/intruders. It is why you get a fever when you are sick. Your body is doing what it is supposed to do to fight and heal. And this is great when it really is a temporary invader (like infection or injury) or random cell damage. The body calls in the troops, heats up in battle and then settles down.

Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease

But that is not how it works with autoimmune disease. In this case the inflammation is chronic. But here is where current understanding goes wrong.

The inflammation itself is NOT the cause of the disease.

The inflammation is the body trying to do its job like always…but not succeeding because it is searching for phantom pathogens. So it is never-ending since it can’t actually find a pathogen. But there is no off switch. It is a search and destroy mission. And the heat applied to the retinol-containing lipids (fats) is like setting off a bunch of bombs!

The body is attacking a damage-associated molecule instead of a pathogen – your own tissue cells with the molecule. And all that heat it generates is what you know as an autoimmune flare-up.

The human body has quite a defense mechanism. It uses a lot of proteins and acids as weapons – one of which is retinoic acid. As the body produces more and more retinoic acid it creates more inflammation. As the retinoic acid destroys tissue (like skin, intestines and joints), it makes them very thin and weak (think eczema, Crohn’s and even leaky gut!). Ever heard of chemical peels for the skin? It’s retinoic acid!

After the acid attacks, the body quickly tries to make more tissue to compensate. But this time around the tissue is much thicker (sclerosis). This is how conditions like arthritis and psoriasis come about.

Where Does Retionic Acid Come From?

Obviously we don’t consume retinoic acid. So where is it coming from?

The Vitamin A we eat is retinol, retinal or its precursors carotenoids (like beta carotene). The conversion from Vitamin A to retinoic acid happens at both the cellular and molecular level. It is converted in the intestines and in other cells. Not damaged cells either. Retinol is metabolized to retinoic acid in normal cells.

I mentioned that the body knows how to transport retinol properly via RBP. Once it reaches its destination it is unwrapped and converted to retinoic acid (RA). The RA goes to the nucleus of the cell to be used for gene expression and protein generation.  The gene expression can produce cytokines. Which in turn can produce an immune response. This is all well and good when the cell actually requested some retinol. It needs the retinoic acid for a specific purpose. And the liver is able to supply sufficient retinol for all the body’s needs.

Now here is where the real problem arises. When there is unbound retinol (excess retinol just floating around not packaged by RBP) it can still enter the cell. But the cell did not request it. The extra retinol has now bypassed the cell’s regulatory system. But it still produces cytokines and potentially more inflammation.

This is what we know as autoimmune disease. But it is not “auto.” There is a reason for it. Excess Vitamin A. The body does not just randomly produce inflammation. It is responding to something. And now we know what that is!

This conversion of retinol to retinoic acid will happen much more frequently in people with an over-saturated liver.

Too Much Vitamin A

Once your liver reaches saturation, the Vitamin A will be stored in other tissues – skin, fat and intestines. And disease begins. The body’s primary defense mechanism (liver) is out of commission. So any amount of Vitamin A you consume after that will cause problems (like a bathtub overflowing with water).

A little extra keeps the inflammation going. A lot extra makes a full blow autoimmune flare, burning holes in your skin, tissues and organs.

All Autoimmune Disease is the Same

Here’s where it all comes together. All autoimmune diseases are actually the same condition – Vitamin A Toxicity. Where the inflammation happens is unique to each individual based on genetics and lifestyle/diet. When the inflammation starts and how severe it gets just depends on how long it takes your liver to become saturated. It could happen at age two or age fifty.

I hope you followed all that! You may have to re-read it a few times for it to make sense. I know I did! That is the basic idea of what happens in the body when you consume Vitamin A. In small amounts it is totally fine. And probably necessary. God didn’t create it for no reason. But we have gone WAY beyond small amounts. And now we have so many sick individuals, including young children. It should not be common for kids to have diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease and autism. But that is the reality of our world now. It has to stop!

The numerous conditions Vitamin A Toxicity can influence is beyond the scope of this post. Again, I refer you to Grant’s books (Poisoning for Profits and Extinguishing the Fires of Hell). 

I am just scratching the surface of the Vitamin A Toxicity details in this post. But hopefully it’s enough to help you understand how Vitamin A can go wrong and make you curious enough to read more.

I hope you’ll stick around for next week’s post. The one I know everyone is waiting for…how to detox the Vitamin A and get help for your health problems! This is the key to getting your child to eat!!

Do you think Vitamin A can be the root of all disease? Does it just sound impossible?

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!

NOTE: I no longer support the Vitamin A as poison theory. All information in this article is purely to help you understand what it is based on. It is possible to get too much Vitamin A by overdosing supplements or liver. But that doesn’t happen often and can be quickly remedied if it does. Vitamin A from animal sources is an essential part of the diet. Beta Carotene can cause carotenemia (as my son had) but will not overload the body with Vitamin A. I encourage you to research and make your own decisions. You can read our update/why we turned and ran from the Vitamin A Detox Diet HERE.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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?