Zinc is necessary for the absorption, mobilization, transport, and metabolism of micronutrients, including vitamin A. There is also evidence that vitamin A affects zinc absorption and utilization. Thus, deficiencies in one or both micronutrients may reasonably expect to alter the metabolism of the other, with functional consequences on the health of the individual.
Do you think vitamin A is safe or toxic?
Although it is entirely possible to consume too much vitamin A, which could result in negative side effects, I can honestly say that in all the years of nutritional counseling (my career began in 1981), I cannot remember one case of “vitamin A toxicity” even though many of my clients routinely took daily amounts of 50,000 IU and higher. I personally took 100,000 IU daily for about one year and did not have any signs of toxicity.
The Merck Manual, which is the world’s largest selling medical text, makes the following statements
- Acute vitamin A toxicity in children may result from taking large doses (over 300,000 IU), usually accidentally.
- Chronic toxicity in older children and adults usually develops after doses of over 100,000 IU/day have been taken for months.
- Although symptoms may vary, headache and rash usually develop during acute or chronic toxicity. Acute toxicity causes increased intracranial pressure. Drowsiness, irritability, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are common. Sometimes the skin subsequently peels. Adjusting the dose almost always leads to complete recovery.
Summary: There are no reports of vitamin A toxicity (other than accidental overdose by children under 6) listed with the poison control center. Likelihood of vitamin A toxicity is remote.
If, however you took extremely high doses of vitamin A over a very long period of time and noticed signs of toxicity, you could stop taking vitamin A and those symptoms would disappear.
I hope this clears up the issue of toxicity so that we can move forward in our discussion of vitamin A without fear.
What is vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient. There are two forms found in nature:
1. Carotene comes from vegetables and must be converted to vitamin A in your body.
Food sources: dark leafy vegetables like spinach, beet greens, kale and yellow or deep orange vegetables and fruits like butternut squash, carrots and cantaloupe.
2. Preformed vitamin A is concentrated in animal tissues. Animals eat the carotene and convert it into preformed vitamin A for you.
Food sources: Milk, cheese (although we are not recommending these dairy products), butter, eggs, and all meats (specifically grass fed or pasture raised). Fish oil is the richest source.
What preformed Vitamin A can do for you:
- Improve night vision and reduce the risks of cataracts.
- Keep your skin from becoming rough, dry, scaly or prematurely aged
- Help prevent sties and warts
- Reduce the possibility of infection by protecting the mucous membranes of your nose, sinuses, lungs, eyelids, mouth, throat, stomach, intestines, bladder, vagina and uterus •Reduce eye sensitivity to glare, sunlight or bright lights
How do you absorb and store vitamin A?
Fat-splitting enzymes and bile salts in the upper intestinal tract convert betacarotene to preformed vitamin A. This conversion is stimulated by thyroxine, an active thyroid hormone.
Therefore, people with hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism may have difficulty converting carotenes into vitamin A. Diabetics are known to have difficulties converting beta-carotene into vitamin A.
How can you tell if you need supplemental vitamin A?
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
___ Poor night vision, unable to see well in dim light**
___ Rough, dry, scaly or prematurely aged skin
___ Loss of sense of smell
___ Drying and hardening of salivary glands in the mouth
___ Loss of appetite
___ Sties in the eyes**
___ A weakened immune system leading to frequent respiratory, digestive, bladder, vaginal and other infections**
___ Eyes sensitive to glare, sunlight or bright lights
___ Eyelids red, scaly or dry**
___ Inflammation of the eye, discharge, mattering, eyelids swollen or pus laden**
___ Sinus trouble
___ Brittle hair or nails
___ Hard goose bumps on back of arms that won’t go away
___ Eyes take a long time to adjust to the darkness**
___ Burning or itching when urinating
___ Spontaneous abortion or difficulty getting pregnant
___Acne, pimples or blackheads
If you have any of the symptoms marked with a double asterisk (**) or if you have several of the other symptoms, I would suspect a vitamin A deficiency.
Note: Each Total Health Pack contains 5,000 IU of preformed vitamin A.
If you suspect a vitamin A deficiency you could start with 50,000 IU (5 capsules) of vitamin A from fish oil. Before taking additional vitamin A, check for a possible zinc deficiency and if indicated, start the zinc at the same time. An adequate supply of zinc is needed so the liver can mobilize vitamin A out of its storage depots.
If after 30 days you are not starting to notice any improvement in your vitamin A deficiency symptoms, you can increase your dosage by 20,000 IU. After another month, you can increase again to the max dosage of 100,000 IU.
Once you find the dosage that reduces your symptoms, remain on that dosage for 90 days. Then reduce your dosage by 20,000 IU. If your symptoms do not reappear you can reduce your dosage again. If the symptoms return within the month, return to the previous dosage. Repeat this procedure until you have found the lowest dosage that eliminates your vitamin A deficiency symptoms.
Some people may always need to supplement with a small amount of vitamin A, and others will only need short-term supplementation. You can find our recommended product for purchase HERE
Zinc, Surprising News About What It Can Do for You
Zinc plays a very important role in many facets of health. Here are just a few important reasons to take zinc daily.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic eye disease that affects more than 10 million Americans. It is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60 and the number of people with AMD rises as they get older.
There are now numerous medical studies that prove the effectiveness of zinc supplementation in combination with other nutrients to at least slow down the loss of vision in this disease.
HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM
Zinc will aid in antibody production and increase infection fighting T-cells.
Adequate levels of zinc are necessary to form collagen tissue, unite bone fractures, heal wounds and prevent osteoporosis. To build (rebuild) strong bone, you need collagen, or the calcium has nowhere to go. To make collagen, you need zinc and vitamin C.
PREVENTING STRETCH MARKS
Vitamin E and zinc work together to help prevent stretch marks.
STABILIZING BLOOD SUGAR
The mineral zinc when partnered with B vitamins, Vitamin E, and omega 3 (as found in the Total Health Pack or equivalent) will help eliminate low blood sugar instability and cravings for carbohydrates, sweets and alcohol.
Zinc is needed in the production of insulin. A diabetic pancreas contains only about half as much zinc as does a healthy one. Therefore, zinc is helpful in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
To make neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine out of amino acids, you need an ample supply of B vitamins and zinc.
MALE HEALTH ISSUES
Zinc is required for the production of testosterone and is needed to maintain semen volume. The zinc content of the prostate gland and sperm is higher than in any other body tissues.
A deficiency of zinc is associated with numerous sexual problems, including sperm abnormalities, prostate disease and low sex drive.
Acne blemishes occur when the pores of your skin become blocked with oil called sebum and bacteria start to grow. The blemishes range from barely noticeable whiteheads or blackheads to painful inflammatory acne with redness and pimples.
Zinc supports the proper functioning of your oil glands, so it can be helpful in healing acne, especially in teenage boys who have a higher zinc requirement in puberty.
Note: to treat acne you will need more zinc than is present in our Total Health Pack. We recommend 1 capsule per day of this product HERE in addition to 1-2 Total Health Packs per day.
If you do start taking supplementary zinc, don’t expect to see results in just a couple of days. Depending on your acne and the amount of zinc you take, it may take several months to see any effect.
Remember that although zinc is very effective for acne, it’s not magic either. We suggest dietary changes (to read about the 5 Critical Lifestyle Strategies for optimal health HERE), proper non-toxic skin care (to view our recommended products HERE) and possibly some additional vitamin A.
Cells located in the taste buds on the tongue and on the roof of the mouth carry messages to the brain about the taste of different substances. These cells are constantly replaced as they become old or damaged.
Taste is also influenced by the sense of smell. For example, it is difficult to taste foods when the nose is obstructed, as during an episode of the common cold.
Because zinc is an essential mineral needed for wound repair, healthy immune function, and proper growth, inadequate zinc intake can lead to taste dysfunction, but it is not the only cause. Upper respiratory tract infection, hormonal changes, tobacco smoke, or nasal polyps as well as certain medications, like the blood pressure–lowering drug captopril (Capoten) and antibiotics such as metronidazole (Flagyl) can also cause impairment of taste function.
ARE YOU LOW IN ZINC?
Since red meat provides an easily absorbed form of zinc, vegetarians can be lacking in this vital mineral.
Caffeine from coffee, black tea and colas are powerful stimulants that overstress the body in many ways. They also deplete nutrients such as zinc (as well as vitamin B1, biotin, inositol, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium).
The more sugar you eat the more likely you will be zinc deficient. So, it should come as no surprise that type 2 diabetics are low in zinc.
Low levels of zinc have been found in
- People suffering from alcoholic cirrhosis, other types of liver disease, ulcers, heart attacks, mongolism and cystic fibrosis
- Women taking oral contraceptives
- Cases of nausea in pregnant women
Anyone can occasionally need to take supplemental zinc over and above what is found in our Total Health Pack. And everyone needs at least the amount found in the Total Health Pack daily because the body has no specialized zinc storage system.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO TAKE EXTRA ZINC?
Step 1. If you haven’t been taking the Total Health Pack I would begin taking one pack daily. Do not add any additional zinc to your vitamin regime until you have been taking one daily for at least 6 months.
Step 2. If you have been taking at least one Total Health Pack daily for at least 6 months, or after you have completed step 1, take the following quiz. Put an x beside any symptom you currently have.
Common deficiency symptoms of zinc:
__ Cuts, sores or wounds heal slowly
__ Hair or nails grow slowly
__ Loss of sense of smell or taste**
__ Catch infections easily
__ White spots on fingernails**
__ Thinning hair
__ Acne, dermatitis or psoriasis**
__ Stretch marks**
__ Decreased alertness
__ Bad breath or body odor
__ White coating on tongue
__ Loss of appetite, anorexia
__ Sleep disturbances
__ Hair loss
__ Brittle nails
__ Abnormal fatigue and mental lethargy
__ Poor night vision (if you have this, take zinc with extra vitamin A)
__ (for men only) decreased sexual interest, low sperm count and impotence
Step 3. Of course, many of these symptoms could indicate other problems, but if you have any of the symptoms marked with a double asterisk (**), I would suspect a zinc deficiency. Or if you don’t have any of the double asterisk (**) symptoms but have 3 or more of the others, a 6-month trial period on a quality zinc supplement (see our choice HERE) would be safe and worth trying.
Balancing your zinc and copper can be a tricky business. If you take too much zinc for a long a period of time you can become deficient in copper (and vice versa). Nutrition is not an exact science, but we can generalize and say that if you take no more than a total of 50 mg of zinc daily and ensure that you include foods rich in copper, that you will maintain a healthy zinc/copper ratio.
There’s 5 mg of zinc citrate in each Total Health Pack and our Ultra Zinc supplement HERE contains 30 mg of zinc citrate.
RICHEST FOOD SOURCES OF COPPER
Sesame Seeds, Cashews, Barley, Sunflower Seeds, Tempeh, Garbanzo Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Pumpkin Seeds
OTHER GOOD FOOD SOURCES OF COPPER INCLUDE
- Seafood, such as oysters, squid, lobster, mussels, crab, and clams
- Organ meats, such as beef and calf’s liver, kidneys, and heart
- Nuts and nut butters, such as cashews, filberts, macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios
- Crimini mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, avocado, asparagus, turnip greens
- Blackstrap molasses
Step 4. Stay on the extra zinc supplementation until your zinc deficiency symptoms disappear (usually 3 months). If this has not occurred within 6 months, please seek professional advice. After your symptoms have disappeared, keep taking the zinc for an additional 60 days, then you can stop supplementing with zinc and begin taking it again if the symptoms reappear.
Step 5. There are always exceptions to the above generalizations. If you need assistance with your vitamin regime, please seek professional advice.
Note: some people will feel nauseous when taking a zinc supplement if they do not have enough food in their stomach. Please take with a meal.
The information made available in this article is provided for educational or reference purposes only. Nutritional Therapy and/or Coaching is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, mental or physical, and is not intended as a substitute for regular medical care.
Copyright Brenda Eastwood 2018 – “Zinc and Vitamin A Working Together”
Would you like to use this article in your E-zine or website? You may, if you include this complete write-up with it: Brenda Eastwood is a holistic health expert who specializes in Women’s Health Issues. Her expertise stems from over 35 years’ experience as a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner. This includes ongoing research, 17 years running a successful private practice, presenting hundreds of seminars and workshops, as well as coaching clients through her unique online Inner Circle program. Today she can reach out to even more women through her Facebook Posts and her book “Get off the PMS and Perimenopausal Roller Coaster, Learn 9 Natural Fast Track Solutions to Balanced Hormones”.