Vitamin A was one of the earliest vitamins to be discovered – hence its top rank in the alphabetical vitamin nomenclature.Vitamin A is a family of fat soluble compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, and immune system regulation. Most people associate vitamin A with carrots, and for good reason: the common orange veggie has high amounts of beta-carotene, which is actually a vitamin A precursor and also the reason carrots got their name. But vitamin A is actually a group of chemicals that are similar in structure, and include retinol (the most biologically active form of vitamin A), retinal, and retinoic acid.
β-carotene is slightly different in that it is cleaved in the intestinal mucosa by an enzyme to form retinol. Other carotenoids include lycopene and lutein but, although similar to vitamin A, they are not actually vitamin A in the truest sense. One distinction is that excessive amounts of vitamin A from over-supplementation, can cause toxicity (although deficiency is much more common). On the other hand, β-carotene does not cause vitamin A toxicity because there exists a regulatory mechanism that limits vitamin A production from beta carotene when high levels are ingested.
A large number of physiological systems may be affected by vitamin A deficiency which is most often associated with strict dietary restrictions and excess alcohol intake. Patients with Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and pancreatic disorders are particularly susceptible due to malabsorption. Vitamin A is also essential for the developing skeletal system and deficiency can result in growth retardation or abnormal bone formation.
The functions of vitamin A are very diverse:
- Eyesight: Vitamin A forms retinal, which combines with a protein (rhodopsin) to create the light-absorbing cells in the eye. This explains why a common clinical manifestation of deficiency is night blindness and poor vision.
- Skin: In addition to promoting healthy skin function and integrity, vitamin A regulates the growth of epithelial surfaces in the eyes and respiratory, intestinal, and urinary tracts. Deficiency impairs epithelial regeneration, which can manifest as skin hyperkeratization, infertility, or increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.
- Anemia: Vitamin A helps transfer iron to red blood cells for incorporation into hemoglobin; thus, a vitamin A deficiency will exacerbate an iron deficiency.
- Weight management: Vitamin A reduces the size of fat cells, regulates the genetic expression of leptin (a hormone that suppresses appetite), and enhances the expression of genes that reduce a person’s tendency to store food as fat.
- Cancer prevention: Vitamin A deficiency impairs the body’s ability to launch cell-mediated immune responses to cancer cells. Vitamin A inhibits squamous metaplasia (a type of skin cancer) and inhibits breast cancer cell growth.
- Fertility: Vitamin A plays a key role in the synthesis of sperm.
- Autism: Vitamin A is part of the retinoid receptor protein (G-alpha protein), which is critical for language processing, attention, and sensory perception. Some autistics have a defect in this protein that vitamin A supplementation can modulate.
- Sleep: Vitamin A deficiency alters brains waves in non-REM sleep, causing sleep to be less restorative.
Vitamin A also interacts with other micronutrients. For example, zinc is required to transport vitamin A into tissues, so a zinc deficiency will limit retinal binding protein (RBP) synthesis and thus limits the body’s ability to use vitamin A stores in the liver. Oleic acid, a fatty acid found in olive oil, facilitates the absorption of vitamin A in the gut.
Find out if you have a vitamin A deficiency, and take steps to correct it, by ordering a micronutrient test today.
Vitamin A Deficiency,
When people think of autism and nutrition, the first thing that comes to mind is often food sensitivities, especially given the widespread attention to the impact of certain additives and common triggers (such as wheat or dairy) on that condition. But it is worth considering that micronutrient levels can have a profound impact on autistic symptoms. The list below includes specific micronutrients suggested to have a role in the development and treatment of autism:
Vitamin D: High-dose vitamin D therapy reversed autistic behaviors in severely deficient children; maternal vitamin D deficiency may predispose children to autism.
Vitamin A: One cause of autism may be a defect in a retinoid receptor protein (G-alpha protein) that is critical for language processing, attention, and sensory perception. Evidence suggests that natural vitamin A fixes this protein defect in autistics.
Folate: Oral folate therapy can resolve symptoms of autism in some cases, particularly in autistics with genes that impair folate-dependent enzymes.
Glutamine: Blood levels of this amino acid - which acts as a neurotransmitter - are particularly low in autistics. Glutamine also helps prevent leaky gut syndrome, which can exacerbate autistic symptoms.
Vitamin C: Improves symptom severity and sensory motor scores in autistic patients possibly due to interaction with dopamine synthesis; it also has a strong sparing effect on glutathione.
Glutathione & Cysteine: Both are commonly deficient in autistic patients. Low antioxidant status impairs detoxification and methylation processes, and has been linked to neurological symptoms in autism, which is often considered an oxidative stress disorder.
Vitamin B1: Deficiency linked to delayed language development; supplementation may benefit autistic patients.
Vitamin B12: Low B12 impairs methylation (detoxification), which can cause the neurological damage responsible for many autistic symptoms. B12 deficiency can cause optic neuropathy and vision loss in autistics; B12 raises cysteine and glutathione levels.
Vitamin B6: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine; conversion of B6 to its active form is compromised in many autistics. Supplementation trials with B6 resulted in better eye contact, improved speech, and fewer self-stimulatory behavior in autistics. Some consider B6 in combination with magnesium to be a breakthrough treatment for autism.
Magnesium: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters that affect social reactions and emotion; autistics have low levels. Magnesium improves the effectiveness of B6 therapy.
Zinc: Eliminates mercury from brain tissue. The zinc/ copper ratio is particularly low in autistic kids, and low zinc impairs metallothionein, a protein that removes heavy metals from the body.
Carnitine: Transports fatty acids into cells. Low carnitine status, a common feature of autism, impairs the ability to use fatty acids for learning and social development.
For a copy of SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart on autism, click here.
To evaluate your micronutrient status, order your micronutrient test today!
nutrition and autism,
In this provocative mouse study, researchers demonstrated that marginal vitamin A deficiency in utero may have large implications on cognitive function later in life, particularly in the development of Alzheimer's disease. It revealed that vitamin A deficiency increases the potential for amyloid beta to form in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid beta is a type of protein that forms tangles in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, eventually leading to plaque formation and ultimately manifesting as major cognitive dysfunction and severe memory loss.
Specifically, amyloid precursor protein (generally benign when it stays intact) becomes amyloid beta when it is acted upon by a special enzyme that cleaves it. Vitamin A deficiency increases the activity of this enzyme, thus increasing the production of amyloid beta in the brain. When therapeutic doses of vitamin A was administered to mice, memory was restored, suggesting that “vitamin A supplementation might be a potential approach for Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment.”
Vitamin A and Alzheimer's,
Vitamin A Deficiency,
We’ve all heard the proverbial advice for achieving a healthy body and maintaining our weight: exercise and “eat right.” But for those who really want to delve further into the science behind an enviable metabolism, we offer a list of vitamins with an explanation of their role in the body’s ability to burn fat and build muscle.
- Vitamin A: This vitamin is particularly good at regulating how genes are expressed. Although genes do determine to an extent how the body stores or burns fat, our genes are, simply stated, not our destiny. Two persons with the same gene may express it very differently, depending on their individual cellular environment. This is where vitamin A enters the picture. It can actually enhance the expression of certain genes that lower a person’s tendency to store food as fat. If one is vitamin A deficient, s/he may be pre-disposed to storing fat tissue. On the other hand, correcting a vitamin A deficiency may have a different, more positive effect, as studies have indicated that vitamin A may reduce the size of fat cells.
- Vitamin D: Similar to vitamin A, vitamin D (commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”) affects genetic expression, including the way that fat cells develop. A vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to poor carbohydrate metabolism: instead of efficiently burning carbohydrate for fuel (which consequently helps impart energy and mental focus), the body instead stores carbohydrate as fat. Correcting a vitamin D deficiency can boost metabolism by reversing this deleterious effect.
- Vitamin E: This micronutrient affects metabolism by inhibiting immature fat cells from developing into mature fat cells, which are more “stubborn,” metabolically speaking. The cumulative effect of this is a reduction in fat storage.
- Vitamin B3: Also called niacin, vitamin B3 can increase the hormone adiponectin, which is secreted by fat cells. Adiponectin’s main function is to signal cells to burn fuel. It also has a role in helping muscles use glucose for energy rather than storing it as fat.
- Vitamin B5: Some evidence suggests that vitamin B5 (AKA pantothenate or pantothenic acid) might be helpful for weight loss because it has been associated with less hunger when dieting. At the cellular level, vitamin B5 activates the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which breaks down fat cells.
This list is by no means exhaustive: in fact, there are multiple micronutrient influences on weight loss. These micronutrients work both individually and synergistically, and repletion often promotes clinical benefits throughout the body. It should come as no surprise that micronutrient adequacy also supports heart health and energy levels. Therefore, discovering (then correcting) micronutrient deficiencies becomes a critical first step in improving overall health.
Tired of not getting the results you want? Interested in learning how you can improve the efficacy of your weight management routine? Get tested and find out how your micronutrient status stacks up!
Vitamins and weight loss,
Role of micronutrients in weight management,
Effective weight loss,
Effective weight management
Vitamin A is a group of nutritionally unsaturated hydrocarbons. Different forms of the vitamin include retinol, retinoic acid, and carotenoids. Retinol is the most biologically active form of vitamin A and is synthesized by pro-vitamin A(beta-carotene). Vitamin A regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, immune function and apoptosis (cell death). This vitamin plays a vital role in night or low-light vision and color vision among many other common functions.
Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency - Impaired immune function; eye or skin problems; compromised cell growth and development; fat malabsorption; night blindness; zinc deficiency; insomnia.
Common conditions associated with vitamin A deficiency - Hormone balance, Immunidex, Insomnia, night blindness.
CASE STUDY highlights a common problem with a vitamin A deficiency. A 45 year old female with multiple conditions such as hypertension, insomnia and GERD, click here.
View our webinars Nutritional Considerations of Hormone Balance and Nutritional Considerations of Skin disorders, which references vitamin A deficiency among others in these conditions.
To check your micronutrient levels or to get started click here
Dr. Ron Grabowski,
mitral valve prolapse,
eczema and nutrition,
In 2006, a 45 year old female with complaints of multiple conditions including hypertension, dyslipidemias, insomnia, athralgias, mitral valve prolapse, GERD and HSVI, tried SpectraCell testing only to reveal deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals.
This patient experienced malaise fatigue (x3-4years), joint pain, thin nails, sleep onset insomnia and hot flashes. She had been taking Micardis (40/12.5), Ibuprofen (800mg as needed), vitamin D3 (1,000IU), Lasix (20mg as needed) and Valtrex (500mg daily) for prophylaxis. Spectracell's micronutrient test revealed deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, CoQ10 and antioxidants. Based upon her deficiencies, she was administered the following treatment protocol:
- 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D3
- 5,000 IU/day of vitamin A
- 25 mg/day of zinc
- 300-400 mg/day of magnesium
- 100 mg/day of CoQ10
- 400 IU d-alpha tocopherol & antioxidants of vitamin E
- 100 MCG/day of selenium
Fatigue/tiredness improved significantly - she can now do exercises at the gym. Her nails became stronger and don't break easily. Joint pains have decreased significantly. Blood pressure is more controlled. Insomnia improved and the hot flashes minimized. Increased focus and concentration at work. Improved memory compared to before. Overall quality of life improved significantly. She can now pursue her hobby (gardening) with enthusiasm and interest.
Follow up Nutritional Testing:
The previous deficiencies were corrected. New deficiencies were far fewer than before - vitamin B12, selenium and antioxidants.
She stated she had tried treatments in the past before SpectraCell's micronutrient testing, but nothing had helped her. Following the testing and then replenishing with supplements in the appropriate dosages, has brought significant positive changes in her day to day functions.
SpectraCell Laboratories is combining the Micronutrient Testing and MTHFR Genotyping as a special package promotion. To find out more CLICK HERE!
mitral valve prolapse
Asparagine - The amino acid increases insulin sensitivity which helps the body store energy in muscle instead of storing it as body fat.
Biotin - Boosts metabolism by improving glycemic control (stabilizes blood sugar) and lowering insulin, a hormone that promotes fat formation.
Carnitine - Carries fatty acids into the cell so they can be burned for fuel; Helps reduce visceral adiposity (belly fat).
Calcium - Inhibits the formation of fat cells; Also helps oxidize (burn) fat cells.
Lipoic Acid - Improves glucose uptake into cells, which helps a person burn carbohydrates more efficiently.
Chromium - Makes the body more sensitive to insulin, helping to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle.
Vitamin B5 - Taking B5 lowers body weight by activating lipoprotein lipases, an enzyme that burns fat cells. One study linked B5 supplementation to less hunger when dieting.
Magnesium - Low magnesium in cells impairs a person's ability to use glucose for fuel, instead of storing it as fat; Correcting a magnesium deficiency stimulates metabolism by increasing insulin sensitivity. Magnesium may also inhibit fat absorption.
Glutamine - Reduces fat mass by improving glucose uptake into muscle.
Cysteine - Supplementation with this antioxidant reduced body fat in obese patients.
Inositol - Supplementation may increase adiponectin levels.
Vitamin B3(Niacin) - Treatment with B3 increases adiponectin, a weight-loss hormone secreted by fat cells; Niacin-bound chromium supplements helped reduced body weight in clinical trials.
Vitamin A - Enhances expression of genes that reduce a person's tendency to store food as fat; Reduces the size of fat cells.
Vitamin E - Inhibits pre-fat cells from changing into mature fat cells, thus reducing body fat.
Vitamin D - Deficiency strongly linked to poor metabolism of carbohydrates; Genes that are regulated by vitamin D may alter the way fat cells form in some people.
Vitamin K - Poor vitamin K status linked to excess fat tissue; Vitamin K helps metabolize sugars.
Zinc - Deficiency of zinc reduces leptin, a beneficial hormone that regulates appetite, which is reversed by zinc repletion.
Cysteine - Oral supplementation with cysteine, the precursor to glutathione, has therapeutic potential for sleep apnea. Snore time and duration were significantly reduced for patients treated with N-acetyl cysteine compared to untreated sleep apnea patients.
Antioxidant Status - It is well documented that sleep apnea patients have both reduced antioxidant capacity and higher levels of oxidative stress than controls.
Vitamin C - Improves endothelial function (blood vessel health) in sleep apnea patients to levels seen in people without sleep apnea.
Vitamin E - Mitigates the oxidative stress seen in sleep apnea patients; Works synergistically with Vitamin C.
Vitamin A - Sleep apnea patients have low retinol (vitamin A); Retinol suppresses the growth of vascular smooth muscle, a process that causes blood vessels to clog, linking low vitamin A levels to the cardiovascular complications seen in sleep apnea patients.
Vitamin D - People with sleep apnea have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency; The worse the apnea, the more severe the deficiency; Evidence suggests low vitamin D worsens sleep apnea's negative effect on heart disease risk.
Selenium - In one case report, selenium supplementation completely stopped snoring caused by non-obesity sleep apnea; Selenium's role as a potent antioxidant may reduce the oxidative stress seen in sleep apnea patients.
Copper - Considered a strong predictor of oxidative stress in sleep apnea patients; Copper's role as a key cofactor in the powerful antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) explains this; SOD is very low in apnea patients.
Minerals - The trace minerals zinc, copper; magnesium, manganese and selenium are critical cofactors for the major antioxidant enzymes, which are important in repairing cellular damage caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in sleep apnea.
Glutathione - Low levels linked to sleep apnea; This powerful antioxidant helps repair liver damage caused by sleep apnea.
Dr. Fred Crawford,
Choline - Estrogen stimulates the breakdown of phosphatidylcholine (cell membrane) so those with low estrogen (postmenopausal women) require more choline; Detoxifies excess estrogen via methylation pathway.1,32,33
Folate - Deficiency reduces estrogen levels; Excess folate is linked to some types of estrogen-related breast cancer; Detoxifies excess estrogen via methylation pathway; Regulates estrogen’s effect on genes.1,2,3
Vitamin B6 - Protects genes from estrogen-induced damage thus lowering risk of hormone related cancers; Detoxifies excess estrogen via methylation pathway; Estrogen-based oral contraceptives cause B6 deficiency.4,5,6,7
Vitamin D - Regulates synthesis of estradiol and estrone; Enhances estrogen’s protective effect on bones.8,9,10
Vitamin C - Increases the most potent estrogen (estradiol) in women on hormone therapy; Lowers aromatase (enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen) in ovaries.11.12.13
Vitamin K - Inhibits estrogen activity by binding to estrogen receptors; Lowers the ratio of estradiol (strong estrogen) to estrone (weaker estrogen).14,15
Vitamin E - Deficiency impairs estrogen detoxification pathway; Some forms of vitamin E inhibit estrogen action, especially in breast tissue; Low levels linked to higher estrogen.1,16,17
Vitamin A - Helps metabolize the biologically active estrogen (estradiol) to an inactive form (estrone).18,19
Calcium - Calcium-D-glucarate lowers estradiol levels; Helps breakdown estrogen in the liver and convert it to a less toxic form.1,20,21
Selenium - Estrogen levels affect how selenium is distributed to various tissues in the body.22,23
Magnesium - Cofactor for the enzyme that removes toxic forms of estrogen (catechol-O-methyltransferase); Estrogen alters magnesium levels throughout menstrual cycle.1,24,25,26
Zinc - Estrogen lowers risk of zinc deficiency; Zinc dependent proteins metabolize estrogen.26,27,28
Cysteine - Prevents oxidation of estrogen into a dangerous form that causes breast cancer.29,30,31
Click here to download your own Nutrient Correlation Wheel on Estrogen
Presented by Dr. Ron Grabowski
Dr. Grabowski lectures on an international level. He has over 25 years of clinical nutrition experience that encompasses topics such as diabetes, heart disease, sports nutrition, renal disease, immunology and gastrointestinal disorders. He received his clinical nutrition training at the New York hospital, an affiliate of the Cornell Medical Center located in New York City, and has worked in various prestigious hospitals in the Houston, Texas area. He was a professor at Texas Chiropractic College, Director of the PFIT Applied Nutrition Specialist School and ANS Certification and maintains a private practice in the Houston area. He is known to provide his audiences with valuable information that you can implement immediately.
Topics of Discussion:
- How does inflammation play a role with weight loss?
- Learn why a high protein diet may be detrimental in a long-term weight loss program.
- Why should we focus on the micronutrients during weight loss?
- Case Study Review
Dr. Ron Grabowski,