An audio version of this post is available here.
I’ve had a number of people asking me to get a vitamin A test to see where my serum levels are now at. Of course, I was very curious about that too. It sounds simple enough, but it’s not. Here in Alberta, vitamin A testing is lumped in with vitamin D testing and our socialized medical system has stopped providing discretionary testing for these vitamins. Too many people were requesting the vitamin D test and it was costing the Province millions of dollars. Thus, it appears that they took the position that since “we know” that almost everyone is vitamin D deficient anyways, there’s no need to continue testing for it.
Since we can’t get enough vitamin D from food to meet our body’s needs, Alberta Health Services recommends that all healthy Albertans take a vitamin D supplement.
Here, they’ve provided the blanket recommendation that nearly everyone should just supplement with vitamin D. Yes; our medical experts think that we all should supplement with a vitamin that can also become toxic. Doesn’t that sound familiar? In the context of vitamin A, it’s:
Practical, reliable, field‑based techniques for assessing vitamin A status are increasingly in demand. Not so much to determine whether particular individuals need vitamin A – at 4¢ for 200,000 IU it will always easier, cheaper and safer to assume that they do – but as a way of identifying deficient populations that require community-based intervention.
Source: Vitamin-A Deficiency Health, Survival, and Vision
Alfred Sommer and Keith P. West
Yes, it’s the same sordid story, just a different potentially toxic vitamin. Anyways, it took a bit of wrangling, but I was finally able to get the tests. The Results:
(Below low normal) 0.1 µmoI/L
With the following advisory warning: “Vitamin A levels less than 0.4 µmol/L correlate with severe deficiency. Supplementation is advised.”
Although it’s not the 0.0 µmoI/L value I was hoping for, it’s still extremely low. The average for men my age is more like 2.2 µmoI/L.
Therefore, my level is about twenty times lower than normal. Also, compare my serum level to the 1969 case study of the young man in Britain I’d referenced along with the Vitamin-A and epilepsy: A dietary contretemps study by Sharman IM, Stern G. After 5 ½ years of eating a vitamin A free diet he succeeded in getting his serum levels down to about ~0.2 µmoI/L. In that report, he was said to have had the lowest serum levels of vitamin‑A ever recorded in Great Britain. Now, with my levels down to 0.1 µmoI/L, I just may have beaten his long-standing record. I’ll continue with my diet to see if I can achieve the 0.0 µmoI/L within the next year. Getting to absolute zero is obviously hard to achieve. It just might be an asymptotic drawdown function. Or maybe the test is not designed to be accurate in this abnormally low range?
My vitamin D levels are at 72.0 nmol/L. Here in Alberta the – desired normal range is 80.0 – 200.0 nmol/L. I’m a bit on the low side, but not overly so. In US units that 72.0 nmol/L equates to 29 ng/ml. So, it’s still very close to being in the normal, or even in the optimal, range depending on whom you ask.
A few other people have suggested that my original health issues were due to a vitamin D deficiency. However, that assertion is completely nonsensical for a variety of reasons.
- I had lots of vitamin D in my diet leading up to my disease conditions. Vitamin D did not prevent me from getting the diseases.
- I then fully recovered from all my disease conditions by eliminating vitamin A, and not by adding vitamin D.
- There’s been a massive amount of vitamin D supplementation going on here in Canada, and in other western countries too and there is no corresponding massive improvement in our rates of the chronic diseases. And forget about seeing massive improvements in disease rates, there’s been no improvement. Sure, vitamin D is probably helping people cope with the diseases, but it is not completely curing them either. So, clearly, a vitamin D deficiency is not at the root cause of the disease. Maybe vitamin D is acting much like many of the pharmaceutical drugs, and is just abating or blocking the symptoms?
Most importantly, the very concept of a vitamin deficiency is what has gotten us into this giant mess in the first place. I really have no research interest in vitamin D either. All I know is that vitamin D has been used as a rat poison for decades, and that is an absolute fact. Next, consider that rats are the de facto model used to test the toxicology of drugs and other chemicals. Yet, somehow, we are supposed to be so credulous and believe that vitamin D magically gets a free pass on it, and supplementing with it is somehow good for us? Sorry, I not buying it. I’m going with that real-world evidence and calling it for what it is. No one can argue that it’s not a toxic substance at high doses. Obviously, it is far less toxic than vitamin A. Since vitamin D binds to the same “cellular receptors” as does vitamin A then it’s possible that it just blunts the potential toxicity of vitamin A. It may be that vitamin D only appears to be so beneficial in bone growth and maintenance due to it obstructing the osteoporosis causing effects of vitamin A? I don’t know. I am not an expert on it. But, we should be careful with it. For now, I’ll stick with my single-minded focus on investigating vitamin A.