Monday, February 6, 2012

Huge Vitamin A Deficiency

A few days ago I got the reading on yet another vitamin A test result. It had dropped significantly! After a lot of careful consideration on what could have dropped my vitamin A so significantly in 4 months, the only thing I could think of was because I was taking Barlean's Olive Leaf Complex every day, sometimes twice a day in smaller amounts, and occasionally three times a day. The serving size is 1 tablespoon (15ml) with 26 servings per bottle. It would take me about 1 1/2 months to go through a bottle, so really, I wasn't overdosing. But again, I do realize that all herbs, supplements, even food have side effects if taken every day for a long period of time, or if over-consuming, or if it has a tendency to interact with one's nutrition anyway. Taking something everyday does result in a build-up, whether good or bad, so getting this vitamin testing every few months and watching my vitamin A numbers is really important. I probably took this product for up to 3 months and went through 2 bottles and had just started a third.

Anyway, there are many supplements and/or drugs that interact with one's vitamins; grapefruit is one that is often listed, and it is widely considered as VERY healthy, low calorie and phenomenal as a morning food.

And then many people and health practitioners believe that popping a pill can correct the vitamin deficiency. Well, I tried vitamin A supplements for a couple months, got tested, saw a drop of .03 in my numbers. Then I read a book entitled Supplements Exposed and a comment on taking vitamin A for correcting deficiencies was that the supplement actually creates bigger deficiencies. Well, I thought I'd test that theory and took 5,000 units almost every day, as well as eating all the vitamin A rich foods on my limited list and my vitamin A went up .03 in just under 3 months. What a crock! I can't consider those supplements as helping at all, and in such high units too! So I scrapped the vitamin A supplements and thought I'd try Barlean's Olive Leaf, an oil, that taken with vitamin A rich foods would hopefully help the vitamin A in the foods be assimilated. Well, that didn't work as can be seen by my huge drop in numbers, down .10 in 4 months, creating an even bigger deficiency!

So, for the next few months before I undergo vitamin A testing again, I'll quit taking the Olive Leaf Extract, and eat high vitamin A foods. The problem with that is many of the high vitamin A foods are on the can't-eat-because-I-have-candida list. Here's one of the high vitamin A lists (the ones in bold are the ones that I may enjoy without candida repercussions):

FRUITS (most fruits have vitamin A, but the following have a significant amount): cantaloupe, grapefruit, guava, mango, papaya, passion fruit, tomato (occasionally and in small amounts), watermelon

VEGETABLES: amaranth leaves (where can I get it?), bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, chinese broccoli (where can I get it?), chinese cabbage, kale, leeks, peas, pumpkin, rapini (where can I get it?), spinach, squash (winter, summer), sweet potato, swiss chard

NUTS/GRAINS: chestnuts (occasionally b/c they're so nutritious but they are rather starchy too), pecans, pistachios

MEAT/DAIRY PROTEIN (which I don't touch for many health reasons!): cheddar cheese, cream cheese, cow's milk, whipping cream, eggs (I do eat eat eggs sometimes - shame on me), tuna, goat milk, goat cheese, sour cream

LEGUMES (most legumes do not contain a significant amount of vitamin A)

However, there are two foods rich in vitamin A that aren't typically on food charts, and thank goodness I've stumbled across them .... at least I think "thank goodness" right now. The foods are spirulina and chia seeds.

Chia Seeds and Spirulina

To be on the safe side, I looked up the side effects of chia seeds. The only one that could affect me is "high triglycerides: Blood contains several types of fat, including cholesterol and triglycerides. Triglyceride levels are too high in some people. Eating some types of chia can make them even higher." Well, my triglycerides are so low as to be almost abnormal. 40~whatever is considered normal, and I've had the range in the paste 8 years of being from 36~56. [A couple years ago I bumped into some comments on having triglycerides that were too low, and the consequence could be Grave's disease/hyperthyroidism. Well, hello! That's exactly what happened to me about 6 years ago. I couldn't really understand why Grave's disease was considered a nutritional disease ... until I read that statement. People want low triglycerides, and even though mine were abnormally low, I was told by a couple docs that my triglycerides were amazingly wonderful! Hmmmm.]

Another side effect is the vitamin B17 overload, that is, a phytonutrient overload. Also, chia seeds have caused gastrointestinal problems in some. What I am finding in research zones is that because chia seeds are still relatively untested, it is best to take them a maximum of 3 months and then give them a break. Will do ... that'll give me enough time to see if they work in getting my vitamin A up. BTW, even though sites say that chia seeds have a significant source of vitamin A, vitamin Bs and magnesium, I can't corner any numbers for any of them. Sigh.

For Spirulina, I can find numbers! On the label of my PureHawaiian Spirulina Pacifica the vitamin A (as beta carotene) is 11,250 IU or 230% of the daily value by taking 1 teaspoon (3g). That's some loaded vitamin A! No wonder flamingos turn pink when they eat shrimp that have lived off blue-green algae rich in carotenoids, the beta carotene type! Maybe I'll turn pink like a flamingo if I consume this product. Anyway, the side effects (since I better know based on my history) is given on one particular site:

"A 2006 study of mice shows that intake of spirulina can decrease bone mineral density under estrogen-deficient conditions..."

"When starting with spirulina supplementation you might experience what is perceived as spirulina side effects due to natural processes spirulina may trigger, like detoxification of the body or the enzymatic and probiotic effects on the digestive system. Results can be experienced as passing “side effects”. These so called spirulina "side effects" are a healthy sign that spirulina is doing your organism good. However, if you are an insulin dependent diabetic or type 2 diabetic you should consider consulting your physician before taking spirulina. The same goes for anyone who might be predisposed to gout (also known as podagra or uric acid arthropathy). High-quality spirulina is considered relatively safe and even recommended during pregnancy. Although animal studies are promising, no human research has looked into possible side effects during pregnancy, consulting your physician is always advisable."

"Avoid side effects from spirulina: Look for well established and trusted brands that provide you with relevant information about production, quality and safety to avoid spirulina side effects. Keep in mind that you might experience some passing “side effects” from spirulina as it takes effect on your organism. A healthy detoxification process could be perceived as a “side effect”, but usually passes within two weeks."

One side effect could be gas, which I had a little when I first started taking it. My mom took spirulina 3 times I think and each time she asked if it made me burp too. It didn't. She hasn't taken it since to my knowledge but it seems that minor side effects are possible.

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