Vitamin A Detox Diet + Free Printable Food Lists (what to avoid & what to eat to reduce toxicity)

I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.

This article is an introduction to the Vitamin A Detox diet: What is it? And why does it show promise in improving leaky gut, autoimmune issues, mental health, eye, lung, bladder, blood sugar, skin conditions and more? You’ll be able to consider and try the diet more easily with the food lists provided below. These free lists and printable grocery list designate which foods to avoid and which foods to eat freely.

While doing a Vitamin A elimination diet to reduce toxicity, it may be helpful to remember that Vitamin A containing foods are not all “bad”. The toxicity of Vitamin A is discussed below, but remember to eat with a calm, peaceful state of mind and a sense of freedom and enjoyment. We don’t benefit from added stress. For most people, a restricted diet is intended to be short term, so detoxification and healing can happen. In the meantime, it is wise and joyful to enjoy our meals.

several foods that are allowed on the vitamin a detox diet

A Background on Vitamin A Toxicity

What follows is a lengthy explanation of the Vitamin A toxicity theory, LOL, which I intended to be brief by way of an introduction to the Vitamin A food lists! Nonetheless, I found I had a lot to say and a lot of research to share. I hope you’ll benefit.

This concept was introduced five years ago by an engineer named Grant Genereux. He wrote a free e-book called Extinguishing the Fires of Hell. In 2017, he wrote a second free e-book, Poisoning for Profits. Grant’s research is thorough and has the potential to change the health of thousands, if not millions of people — if he’s correct.

Those of us with tricky or frustrating health concerns are willing to try the Vitamin A detox diet and be the first ones to see if Grant’s theory is right. Chock-full of scientific studies to back up his reasoning, Grant’s e-books are compelling to anyone willing to look at the studies and reconsider their formerly held set of nutritional beliefs.

Grant discusses the historical introduction of Vitamin A as a supplement. He looks at the corruption involved in making premature and incorrect conclusions about Vitamin A’s benefits.

Grant then discusses Vitamin A’s role in the body: “… vitamin-A is a fat (lipid) soluble molecule. Therefore, it will naturally be absorbed (emulsified) by fats. This includes both dietary fats, and the body’s storage fats. For us, most of the storage of vitamin-A is in the fats within the liver, and to a lesser extent in the fats of the adipose tissues (the skin etc.) … As the liver becomes more and more saturated, more vitamin-A will remain in serum longer and slowly seep into and accumulate within the lipids of the adipose tissues. Even with that, the vitamin-A stored within these fats is not yet toxic … So, vitamin-A in reasonable amounts, given adequate amounts of dietary fats and proteins, is by itself not too terrible. However, there is a tipping point to where vitamin-A can, and does, easily convert into an extremely nasty, and highly toxic molecule (and the thought to be active form of the vitamin). This converted vitamin-A molecule is called retinoic acid.”

Grant goes on to explain that retinoic acid is used as a chemotherapy drug. (sources) What makes retinoic acid effective is that it kills replicating cells. He says, “… every cell in the body will convert excess vitamin-A into retinoic acid. The overall rate of conversion is proportional to the number of cells that are exposed to the vitamin-A molecule. I believe it’s also proportional to the number of cells with damaged cell membranes. Therefore, to be safe, there should never be any excess vitamin-A in the body. What does excess vitamin-A mean? It means several things. One is that you never want to consume vitamin-A at a rate that exceeds your body’s safe storage rate.”

Genes, diet, age, environment and other epigenetic factors affect our body’s ability to process Vitamin A excess. Many with autoimmune issues have inherent detox limitations. But ultimately, anyone with too much Vitamin A in their liver will reach that point of toxicity.

He continues, “As we start to exceed the vitamin-A load carrying capacity of those lipids, we will move into the toxicity state … Once we approach these limits, more and more circulating vitamin-A will be exposed to cells, and the subsequent normal processes of converting vitamin-A to retinoic acid will take place.”

As one study says, “…there is a growing body of evidences showing that vitamin A doses exceeding the nutritional requirements may lead to negative consequences, including bioenergetics state dysfunction, redox impairment, altered cellular signaling, and cell death or proliferation, depending on the cell type. Neurotoxicity has long been demonstrated as a possible side effect of inadvertent consumption, or even under medical recommendation of vitamin A and retinoids at moderate to high doses.” (source)

When there is retinoic acid in the intercellular fluids, cellular damage is most likely to occur, according to Grant, in the eyes and in the skin. Visual disturbances (spotty vision etc.), eye diseases, declining eyesight and dry eyes are extremely common conditions. Eczema affects 20 percent of American children, 30 percent of whom also have food allergies. Skin issues in general affect a huge percent of the adult population.

Grant also has some fascinating insights about the retinoic acid-based drug Accutane and how its use for acne causes the same well-documented side effects as Vitamin A poisoning.

Grant takes it one step further to point out that Crohn’s and IBS are inflammatory diseases of our internal skin. Symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity and Crohn’s are remarkably similar. (source and source p. 154) Because the liver can be saturated at any point in a person’s life, it can take a very small amount of additional Vitamin A (often coupled with stress) to push someone into a toxic zone. This explains why many of us “all of a sudden” break out with a rash or start having blurry vision or dry eyes that we can’t resolve. It also explains recurrent and additional autoimmune conditions, or a leaky gut that just won’t heal.

Grant explains, “The body is safely absorbing and storing all the daily doses until it gets to a slightly saturated point. It is important to understand that all those stored doses have not suddenly become toxic; no, they’re safely stored. It’s the additional doses that cannot be absorbed, or absorbed fast enough, by the liver that are now becoming toxic. What these people are doing is filling up their storage capacity for this substance, and thereby reducing their absorption rates.” (source p. 164)

a group of vitamin a detox foods including a radish, mushrooms and ginger

What does PubMed Say?

PubMed studies are part of what convinced me to take a longer look at the concept of Vitamin A toxicity. Anthony R. Mawson shares a great article here on the correlation of high levels of Vitamin A with many modern mental health concerns, ranging from ADHD to depression. My own personal experience with mild mental health issues led me to trial the diet just briefly. Immediate benefits convinced me to continue my interest in the Vitamin A toxicity theory.

Mawson says, “Environmental exposures leading to alterations in physiological concentrations of retinoids are associated with birth defects and fetal loss. There is also evidence that high serum concentrations of retinoids resulting from dietary intake, vitamin A supplements, and therapeutic retinoids are causally associated with cognitive impairments, mood disorders (e.g., depression), persistent agitation, suicide, and other forms of violence.”

Another study discusses Vitamin A and its precursors as dietary hormones. When combined with environmental pollutants, the author asserts the various functions that can be disrupted, including healthy pregnancies, immune and skin health.

In fact, there are many studies linking excess Vitamin A with various illnesses: malaria, Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL) and increased risk of cancer mortality, to name a few. (source, source)

The Vitamin A detox concept is an unexpected and exciting new path for those of us desperate enough in our search for optimum health to try something contrary to what we’ve been taught. Science propels us to be among the first to try this diet and report back on its effects on our bodies.

Why act now? As Mawson says, “Given that about 80% of vitamin A is stored in the liver, sudden shifts in these stores to other tissues due to infection, chronic illness or trauma can result in severe vitamin A poisoning.”

Whether pregnant, nursing or struggling with unresolved health concerns, Vitamin A in excess is toxic, and it’s arguable that most of us have too much stored in our livers.

Eating Too Much Vitamin A

Is it possible that many in the Traditional community are consuming too many Vitamin A rich foods? If liver is super high in nutrients, do we need to eat it everyday? Upon reflection, we know that too much of a good thing is actually harmful.

However, super foods such as liver and cod liver oil are not the only sources to blame.

Americans who consume a standard diet are constantly exposed to Vitamin A through glyphosate, the poison so commonly used on American food crops. Even well water is contaminated with glyphosate. While glyposate itself isn’t high in Vitamin A, it greatly inhibits the detoxification of Vitamin A.

On a positive note: Vitamin C, in the form of ascorbic acid, has shown ameliorating effects on glyphosate’s toxicity. (source) While most Vitamin C sources contain Vitamin A precursors (carotenoids), good alternatives for this diet are acerola cherry powder (here) or for those who can’t have fruit, tapioca-whole-food based Vitamin C (find it here).

Which Supplements have Vitamin A

When considering which foods to eliminate for a Vitamin A detox, we must also consider supplements that contain Vitamin A as well as supplements that contain carotenoids, retinol, retinyl, retinoids and retinoic acid (natural precursors to Vitamin A). I recently exchanged my B complex that contained Vitamin A for one that does not. My doctor helped me to add in minerals as well.

Genereux also implicates and recommends the removal of specific carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. (source p. 205)

Anyone with suspected Vitamin A toxicity should avoid liver pills, fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil and any other seafood oils. I myself have eaten and used these supplements for years.

Usually food-based supplements that are dark in color, like spirulina or Vitamin E pills, reflect their high carotenoid content and should be removed. Vitamin C supplements should be replaced with acerola cherry Vitamin C (my kids use this one) or tapioca-based Vitamin C (I take this one). Genereux takes zinc, in addition to Vitamin C and B vitamins.

Additionally, Genereux warns that too much Vitamin E in the diet or through supplements causes an increase in serum vitamin A levels.

Dr. Smith recommends eliminating Vitamin D supplements. (source) If you currently take iodine, you might also share this article with your doctor and consider the potential dangers of potassium iodide.

Personally, I have eliminated about half of the supplements I was taking! This is huge for me. My supplements are like my friends, LOL. But I am feeling so good, and one by one I have been able to eliminate several of them, something I never expected but for which I had hoped.

Food Lists

If you see any mistakes in the following lists, please let me know! My goal is to create a most helpful and free resource so that more of us can try this diet and make encouraging progress with stubborn health concerns. (I also highly recommend you read Genereux’s e-books, here and here.)

As you’ll see below, when we remove Vitamin A from the diet, we also remove most colorful veggies. Yet anyone who can digest fruit well can still enjoy colorful meals on the VAD diet! A lot of fruits are allowed. (I can’t personally eat fruit, but thankfully I LOVE mushrooms, garlic and carob!) …

Foods High in Vitamin A (the Avoid List)

Note on the foods listed below: Because Vitamin A is fat soluble, you won’t get as much from a food if it’s prepared with water. However, when foods high in Vitamin A are prepared or eaten with a fat source, more Vitamin A will be accessible and absorbed by the body. Green tea is a good example: Green tea steeped in water is low in beta carotene, but when the whole green leaf is prepared with fat, in a Matcha Latte for example, a lot of beta carotene (a precursor to Vitamin A) is absorbed by the body.

Some of the foods listed below are obscure, but they make the list more complete and accurate.

Meats and Vegetables High in Vitamin A (Avoid)

Cod liver oil
Moose liver
Walrus liver
Peppers of all kinds (bell, passilla, ancho, chili etc.)
Turkey liver
Veal liver
Egg yolks
Natto (fermented soy)
Carrots
Chives
Parsley
Paprika and pepper spices like cayenne
Duck liver
Seal liver
Eel
Turkey giblets
Brussels sprouts (allowed occasionally)
Beef liver and other organs
Goose liver
Caribou liver
Pork liver sausage (liverwurst)
Milk (but see note below)
Grape leaves, raw
Lamb liver
Sweet potato, orange (including chips)
Carrot juice
Pork liver
Salmon, herring, tuna, sturgeon, clams, mackerel, shrimp, red snapper, trout, crab
Tomatoes
Broccoli leaves
Canned pumpkin
Kale
Chicken giblets
Lard
Pork
Dandelion greens
Mustard greens
Spinach
Matcha Green Tea
Turnip greens
Collard greens
Winter squash
Mustard greens
Dried apricots
Nutritional yeast
Avocado and unrefined avocado oil
Olives and extra-virgin or unrefined olive oil
Peas
Lettuce, romaine
Pokeberry shoots
Winged bean leaves, raw
Beet greens
Cheeses (with some exceptions, see below)
Coconut (most coconut products)
Palm oil
Cantaloupe
Mango
Black-eyed peas
Broccoli (allowed occasionally)
Mung beans
Flax
Chia (okay, if soaked like this, but high in lectins)
Cassia cinnamon
Basil
Coriander
Oregano
Thyme

Grains to Avoid

Einkorn
Wheat (organic white wheat can be “challenged” later in the diet if desired)
Best to avoid all gluten, but get the full list of foods to avoid created by Dr. Garrett Smith N.D. here. (He charges $39.99 for the list and to become part of his Vitamin A Detox program. Dr. Smith is an authority on Vitamin A detoxing.)

Regarding Milk, Cream, Butter, Ghee, Cheeses, Yogurt and Sour Cream

100% grass-fed A2A2 cows grazing in a valley in the middle of pristine mountains (no glyphosate around other than some in rain, sadly) produce cream that, to some degree, aids in the detoxing of Vitamin A. As my blogging friend Mary writes, “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.” (source)

So while dairy raised on grains and glyphosate is not suitable for a Vitamin A detox, very small amounts of the highest quality A2A2, clean cream is. Grass-fed milk is higher in beta carotene (a precursor to Vitamin A), so milk consumption is not a good idea for a Vitamin A detox. Even the best milk also contains casein and whey, both of which bind to Vitamin A, acting as carriers and transporters. (source and source) Most people detoxing Vitamin A should avoid dairy products other than butter. A2A2 grass-fed ghee from pristine (remote) pastures is also a good option, because it’s free of casein and whey.

Note: White butter (not pasture raised) is often recommended on this diet because it is lower in beta carotene. I am unwilling to support factory grown beef or dairy and grain-fed animal husbandry (although I realize in extreme cases this might be necessary). I would rather eat less butter. I do not recommend white butter. I buy Kerrygold and often use a small amount of water when cooking to reduce my need for lots of butter. I still enjoy about 2 tablespoons of butter daily. Also, as I mention below, the Vitamin K in butter likely cancels out any negative effects from moderate butter intake.

I rarely eat cheese, but my body loves the best quality high fat cheeses from France, where the husbandry practices are excellent (again, A2A2, little use of poisons in the country, and pasture-raised). Personally, I only buy aged cheeses from France. Aged means that the lactose and whey are removed as part of the cheese-making process. I buy from Trader Joe’s because of their great prices and selection. Look for their French sheep’s milk cave-aged blue cheese and their triple cream French brie. I allow myself less cheese than the amount of butter I eat, but just a little is a lovely pleasure with some benefits. (If you try select cheeses on a VAD diet, you can cut a wedge into small pieces and freeze it, to enjoy over time.)

Regarding yogurt, it is out because it is made from milk. Sour cream, especially homemade real probiotic sour cream made from good quality cream, is allowed in small amounts on this diet.

Foods to Avoid, High in Stearic Acid (that increase Vitamin A issues)

This category of foods is very important, but less known, for those doing Vitamin A elimination diets. (source) Stearic acid, unmentioned by most articles on Vitamin A toxicity, is what helped me to see the Vitamin A theory’s relevance in my own health journey. While my recent diet was somewhat low in most Vitamin A foods, I had begun to struggle with new mental health issues that were getting worse. I realized I had started consuming cocoa butter daily. The day I removed cocoa butter and cocoa from my diet, my healthy brain and thought patterns returned! Stearic acid may or likely exacerbates Vitamin A issues, especially during initial detox stages. Also watch for it in your supplements.

Beef tallow
Cocoa butter and dark chocolate
Coconut oil
Lamb

(Butter) — I put butter in parenthesis because its high levels of Vitamin K seem to cancel out any deleterious effects it would otherwise have. Vitamin K2 is considered key to Vitamin A cleansing, but many Vitamin K supplements are delivered in a high Vitamin A base. Consider butter a good Vitamin K supplement if you can tolerate dairy.

The above foods may affect you more during an initial Vitamin A detox and become tolerable and benign over time (although coconut oil should be refined on the diet).

Foods with No Vitamin A

On a Vitamin A detox diet, it’s important to avoid glyphosate as much as possible, because it hinders the detoxification of Vitamin A. Therefore, go out of your way to buy organic.

Some of the following foods are obscure. I’ve put an * next to my favorite or the more common no-Vitamin A foods. Please let me know if I’ve overlooked a food or made an incorrect inclusion. I believe this list is accurate based on lengthy research, but I may have made a mistake. Listen to your unique body to create a gentle diet for your healing process.

Arrowhead tuber (may contain RS)
*Bamboo shoots
*Beans, pinto, black, kidney (eat only if you tolerate beans [which I don’t]; soak 24 hours in two changes of plain water, rinse, then cook in Instant Pot)
Burdock Root
Butterbur, canned
*Cauliflower
*Celeriac (celery root)
Chayote
*Corn, white or blue
Eppaw
*Ginger Root
Gourd, white flowered calabash
*Hearts of Palm, canned
Kanpyo (dried gourd strips)
Mountain yam, Hawaii
*Mushrooms
*Parsnips
Pepeao, dried fungus
*Potatoes (peel them first and no yellow potatoes)
*Radishes
*Rutabaga
*Sesame: the hulled seed and hulled pure tahini (sesame butter)
Sesbania flower
*Turnips
*Waterchestnuts
Waxgourd (Chinese preserving melon)

Foods with Low or No Vitamin A

Arrowroot
Black Tea, Green tea, Oolong, White Tea
Cabbage, light green variety
Carob
Celery
Cucumber, peeled (also remove the seeds to reduce lectins)
Fennel
Garlic
Honey, light-colored
Kohlrabi, white
Melon, white-fleshed
Onions
Rosemary
Sage, in small amounts
Tapioca (as always, MUST be organic, especially important with tapioca), organic pearls here and organic flour here
Zucchini, peeled (also remove the seeds to reduce lectins)

Peeled fruits: white-fleshed apples and applesauce, white-fleshed pears, ripe bananas, white peaches, lemons, limes, pineapple, pomegranate
Other fruits: blackberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, grapes, raspberries, strawberries

Meats: beef, bison, chicken, turkey, wild game, likely rabbit
Seafood: A few kinds of whitefish are low in Vitamin A (retinoids and carotenoids). I occasionally buy fresh west coast Petrale sole.

White rice, fresh, not leftover (In general, reducing or eliminating all grains is ideal for most wellness diets. Therefore, eat even white rice with caution, watching for mental health issues as well as physical symptoms. I avoid grains, most of which are also high in lectins. Of course, some bodies can tolerate certain pre-digested grains fine. Genereux allows himself both white and brown rice. Be sure to soak brown rice to reduce phytic acid.)

Other Yes foods: butter, ghee and heavy cream in moderation (I mention these above in the paragraph about dairy.) Possibly small amounts of sheep’s milk blue cheese and A2A2, pasture-raised triple cream brie.

Nuts and seeds: Most nuts are okay, but they must be soaked overnight. See how to soak nuts here and seeds here. (As it says above, avoid cashews [which are actually a fruit] and peanuts [legume], as well as flax and chia. It is best to remove the outer husk, after soaking, on nuts like almonds and hazelnuts.

Possible: lotus root

Foods High in Detoxification Enzymes and Low in Vitamin A

Certain produce items not only help to improve our gut microbiome diversity, they also help to usher Vitamin A from our livers. While this diet may seem like a lot of beef and not enough lettuce, add in the following produce items to expedite your detox process and for variety: radishes, peeled white-fleshed apples, peeled lemons and limes, small amounts of plain kombucha (or flavored with VAD-safe foods), green cabbage, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, green tea, black tea, coffee, Ceylon cinnamon, walnuts, pecans, berries, grapes and pomegranate.

And it’s hard to say enough good things about ginger! Add it to smoothies, stir fries, swallow it minced/grated on a spoon, stir it into water. I enjoy this tincture. (The alcohol base may also assist Vitamin A detoxification.)

PRINTABLE VITAMIN A DETOX DIET GROCERY LIST

You can Pin the image below, or print it here.

vitamin a detox grocery list

Prebiotic Foods and Resistant Starch

Dr. Smith has observed that resistant starch (RS) is not beneficial to the detoxification of Vitamin A. He links to studies (here) showing butyrate increases retinoic acid production. As you may remember, butyrate is the short chain fatty acid consumed by T-cells, which in turn increases T-cells and diversifies our colon ecosystem.

I have certainly felt the benefits of whole food-sourced RS myself, especially when I added in cassava flour and tiger nut flour after years on the GAPS diet. I also have clients who report relief and much better bowel movements when RS whole foods are added in. While RS has brought many of us further along on our health journeys, if your latest health goal is a VA detox, it may be ideal to remove RS until you’re past a detox stage. Then consider trying it again with VAD-safe foods, if it worked well in your system formerly, to see if it’s still an asset. Without excess Vitamin A, it may resume its gut and colon benefits.

Also of note, my son’s long time eczema went away very quickly when we added in inulin, a prebiotic. Dr. Smith feels we do not need to feed our gut flora and also states that inulin feeds bad flora. As the Nemechek protocol has shown, inulin can be a powerful way to improve the gut microbiome and skin health. Yet long term, diverse forms of prebiotics are better than a single source, and sometimes we have to take one goal at a time. Dr. Smith recommends no prebiotics on the VA detox diet.

Prebiotic foods: cooked and chilled cassava/yucca root and the flour in any form, tiger nuts in any form and the flour, jicama, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, apple cider vinegar, raw onions and fermented asparagus. Here’s a fuller list of prebiotic foods that may affect Vitamin A detoxification. Included in that list, note that cooked and cooled beans have RS. Any beans eaten need to be fresh and hot (or warm). White rice and potatoes also need to be fresh and hot, no leftovers. (There continues to be controversy surrounding how much RS exists in certain reheated foods, like potatoes, so use your best judgment, and observe how your body responds to different foods. Yet it is likely best to avoid reheated RS foods.)

Happily, one food comes out of the resistant starch conversation free to be eaten, and that’s tapioca. Extracted from cassava root, tapioca flour and tapioca pearls do not contain RS. To be more specific about cassava, cassava root belongs to the RS3 category of resistant starch foods. This means cassava gains resistant starch when it’s cooked and cooled. It is possible to eat the whole root cooked and hot or warm and not get any resistant starch. I have not added it to the above Yes foods to avoid confusion, but I do eat it like this. We buy frozen, raw cassava root at our local Asian grocery store. It is less inflammatory than potatoes and works well for some people as a healthy source of complex carbs. (The flour, in contrast, already contains RS. And tiger nuts, in contrast, have resistant starch even when they’re raw [RS1].)

My Story

Regarding my own symptoms and my progress thus far on the diet, ironically I feel hopeful when I read more about the symptoms associated with chronic Hypervitaminosis A: “The toxicity of Vitamin A (hypervitaminosis A) is manifested in two forms: acute and chronic … Chronic hypervitaminosis A is much more common and insidious. It is generally associated with self-prescribed over-supplementation by humans … Toxicity at the cellular level is manifested by redifferentiation of simple types of epithelium into more complex forms, including mucous epithelium. Accompanying this is decreased cohesion between epithelial cells in the skin. Accordingly, most affected humans report skin changes such as … eczema … double vision …

This study goes on to describe more of my symptoms including Vitamin A’s pro-oxidative effects on the lungs and its role in anemia. Other symptoms addressed affect two of my loved ones and include issues with bone density and liver health. (source)

I’m just starting out on this diet myself. It’s been two weeks! I’ll update this post in 6 weeks with my experiences. So far I’ve seen a significant improvement in my mood and mental health, an improvement in my skin, a day or two of “die off” symptoms and significant anti-histamine effects.

Sometimes negative symptoms can return during the detoxification of Vitamin A, and I’ve seen that too. Urgency (Vitamin A is very closely related to bladder issues, again because it affects epithelial cells and their tight or loose junctions) is the main symptom I’ve seen return, but also my sight issues (on and off cloudy vision).

Even my onerous symptoms encourage me and bait my curiosity — that this diet is affecting all of my issues and perhaps allowing my body to heal at a deeper level!

VAD Diet NOT Working?

If someone believes in this diet and its potential but sees no personal benefits after trying it, here are few questions to ask:

  1. Have you had your food intolerance evaluation done? You could be eating a food your body can’t digest genetically. I discuss this at length here. I ask all my clients to get this evaluation done so we can build their diet with this foundational information. (I do not benefit in any way from you reaching out to Dr. Zeff [here] to get his kit in the mail. There aren’t very many doctors who do this evaluation, but there are a handful.)
  2. Have you assessed your mental health? Although more subtle, this is where some people see their main benefit. The brain may be healing itself before other body issues are addressed.
  3. Are there other foods you’re eating that are NOT gentle: THINK grains, like rice. Think too many nuts or seeds. There are several foods allowed on the VAD diet that are inflammatory. Consider combining the VAD with another wellness diet like GAPS, AIP etc. I am reachable here for support if you need help building a combo diet. Or ask me quick questions below in the Comments section.

Are you considering a Vitamin A detox? I’d love to hear your experience. What are your favorite detox diet recipes?

Here are a few low Vitamin A recipes to get you started:

  • Pan-Fried Parsnips
  • Lettuce Wrapped Burgers (Just omit the sauces and tomatoes etc; instead, keep it simple: Use Dijon mustard and sautéed onions!)
  • Tapioca Floats! (For the toppings, be sure to stick to VAD diet ingredients like tea, coffee and/or a little maple syrup or heavy cream!)

Additional Sources

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/hypervitaminosis-a
http://dietgrail.com/no-vitamin-a-foods/
http://dietgrail.com/vitaminA/
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/83/2/191/4649798
https://www.traditionaloven.com/foods/specific-nutrient/beverage/tea-black-brewed-tap-water/carotene-beta.html
https:// www.myjapanesegreentea.com/vitamins-in-green-tea
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20443063
https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Carotenoid-content-mg-100-g-of-culinary-herbs_tbl1_44573723
https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Content-of-carotenoids-mg-100-g-in-micelles-obtained-from-digested-culinary-herbs_tbl2_44573723
https://file.scirp.org/pdf/FNS_2015030915222241.pdf
https://nutritionrestored.com/blog-forum/topic/stearic-acid-aka-stearate/
https://www.nutritionadvance.com/foods-high-in-vitamin-a/
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/83/2/191/4649798
https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/scientists-identify-unique-subtype-eczema-linked-food-allergy
https:// justtakeabite.com/2019/04/14/health-benefits-white-fruits-vegetables/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010230/
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=76&contentid=11108-1
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=76&contentid=11104-2
https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/511/2
https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Tapioca%2C_dry%2C_pearl_nutritional_value.html
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=120
https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4054/2
https:// www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/food-features/cassava-versatile-satisfiying-grain-free-option/
https://healthfully.com/330279-foods-high-in-glucaric-acid.html
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691501000345?via%3Dihub
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7821873
https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/24/10/1651/2390271
https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/24/10/1651/2390271
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20600030
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488002/

Comments 30

  1. Thanks Megan for this very indepth look at the VA ‘diet’. I have pinned and will print for reference. I sincerely hope that you will find this of great personal benefit and look forward to your update in 6 weeks!
    As usual, I totally respect that you share your references which, in a post like this one, is SO appreciated.. I will be reading and re-reading this to see if any of my own clients can benefit.

    1. Post
      Author
  2. The comment about iodine drops scared me. We use Lugols daily to counter fluoride in our water (cheaper than a fluoride filter). I guess I will be in the market for true iodINE instead of the potassium iodide.
    Re: the VAD itself, I look at the list of NOs and think, “There goes the rest of my food”. I am already so intolerent of so many “Healthy foods” that this made me want to cry reading. I think I’ll strive for a reduction of Vit. A sources, instead of an elimination of them. Thank you for this info, Megan.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Heather, you’re welcome. 🙂 I think that’s a great way to start, actually. When I first started the diet, I tried to start completely, but there are just too many subtle areas where Vitamin A foods or supplements are woven into our lives. I think I ate beef and potatoes for three days straight, LOL, before I figured out how to feed myself all over again. I’m going to start my kids gently. I first removed Vitamin A supplements from their diets, because that’s a major source and easy to remove. If you are encouraged after you begin, you may find additional foods you CAN have that allow you to remove a few more offenders. I find that my old food limitations are going away quickly, so I have new foods now. I hope the same for you! Feel free to comment again or email if you have any specific food questions. I’ve gotten good at it now and am eating well. Re iodine, sorry to make life more complicated, and I hope you find an easy solution.

  3. I see lamb in the stearic acid list as one to be avoided but then in the pink and blue printable list it is in parenthesis. Do the parenthesis mean it is to be avoided? I am looking into getting lambs to raise on pasture and so I am very interested in whether it is acceptable for VA Diet or not 🙂 Thanks.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Theresa, great question. The few foods in the stearic acid list are foods that are more likely to exacerbate the Vitamin A detox in the beginning of the detox process. So lamb can be added back in, but best to avoid in the beginning of the diet, and re-introduce with caution. This goes for the other items in the stearic acid list as well, like cocoa.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Cathy, here’s my story of healing my IC: https://eatbeautiful.net/2015/10/04/how-i-healed-my-interstitial-cystitis/ Also, if you follow the link in the article about food intolerances, that goes into great detail on the concept. While the medical community considers interstitial cystitis to be incurable, I put mine into remission by simply removing fruit, my food intolerance. I had also been doing the GAPS diet for some time, which was helpful to the epithelial cells that line the bladder, urethra etc. As long as I stay away from fruit, I am symptom-free. With the VAD diet, I have occasional urgency now, which to me is temporary and just part of the deeper healing of epithelial cells that needs to happen. My daughter also put her asthma into remission by eliminating her food intolerance. I have dozens of similar stories. One’s food intolerance is a key to digestion and gut lining healing (and is different than one’s food sensitivities).

  4. Very interesting! I never knew any of this. Of course I knoew Vit A could be over done and make one ‘toxic’ but I never knew about Vit A detoxing and the similarities between Vit A and Crohn’s disease. Thanks for the good read!

    1. Post
      Author

      You’re welcome, Linda! These concepts are relatively new, as of 2015, and they have not been broadly accepted or even read yet, so it’s no wonder they are new to you too. It will take the mainstream a while to consider these truths and trial them. So it’s pretty exciting to be on the front lines and experiencing the diet first hand! Perhaps only the “desperate” will try this diet in the beginning, and then as more and more testimonials of healing and success spread, more people will be willing to try the diet and appreciate the concepts, similar to GAPS, but I think with even greater potential.

  5. Good info. Hopefully people will still look to Dr. Smith for details about the Vitamin A Detox/BAD-AG protocol.

    Just wanted to note for anyone reading this that the body can store enough Vitamin A in the tissues to last 2 years. So this is not a short-term diet. I have been on it for 8 months and still have quite a ways to go! Kids will detox faster, more like 6 months or so.

    You will likely see some change in 6 weeks. But that is just scratching the surface. It took a long time to get toxic…it will take a long time to detox. Just want people to be aware that this is not a quick fix. There is a bit more info about the end goal here: https://justtakeabite.com/2019/06/19/come-off-vitamin-a-detox-diet/

    Also, organic wheat is allowed. We are now enjoying homemade sourdough at this phase.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Mary and thanks for your comment! I’m sure Dr. Smith will continue to reach hundreds and thousands of new readers and clients! 🙂 My hope is that this information in general reaches as many as possible!

      I appreciate the article about phasing off the VAD diet and appreciate the link you shared, how helpful.

      Regarding the duration one stays on the diet, it’s encouraging how quickly kids make progress! The hardest part doesn’t have to last long. Thanks for sharing that the diet can last as long as 2 years. That can be intimidating when someone is considering a whole new dietary concept and diet. I suggest starting the diet and looking for improvements. If things go well, we can think in terms of 6 weeks or 6 months, and then 2 years as needed and decided as time elapses … or if one’s symptoms are desperate enough to be ready for that commitment. Personally, some of my symptoms are gone (amazingly!) after just two weeks. I expect other symptoms to take longer. I also know that some symptoms will come and go as I heal. I read one account of someone who is seeing no progress on the diet at all after several months, which is why I included the troubleshooting section in the article above.

      How great that you all are tolerating and enjoying sourdough now!! Most of my readers are gluten-free, and many are grain-free, so just to clarify: An organic unfortified white wheat flour would be gentle on this diet *if someone already tolerates grains/gluten or is ready to trial them after being on the diet.

  6. Thank you for this information! Can you share the multi vitamin you take that does not contain vitamin A? Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Deborah, yes. I take this one: https://amzn.to/2X9C2ZO I like that it includes alpha-lipoic acid and inositol. NOW supplements are always affordable, which is nice too! The one downside, which is why I didn’t share it above, is that it does contain a tiny amount of stearic acid in the “Other ingredients”. I am making such noticeable strides that I don’t think it’s an issue, but just be aware.

      1. I’m sorry, I’m new to a lot of this, but why is stearic acid bad? This pretty much looks like a b complex vitamin. I just switched to a new b-complex: Seeking Health. (I use to take Vital Proteins Beef Liver capsules as my multi, but now will come off of them due to the high vitamin A. Am I missing something?

        1. Post
          Author

          It’s okay Deborah. 🙂 There is a paragraph in the article above, but it’s a long article :), that mentions that stearic acid can exacerbate the detox of Vitamin A, especially in the beginning of the process. I have experienced this personally. A tiny amount like in that supplement is probably not an issue, but it’s best to avoid foods or supplements that have notable amounts of stearic acid (foods like tallow, cocoa and lamb).

          1. Oh, ok. I am sorry! I just went back and read that! Thank you! I am beginning to get the whole picture here. (Takes me awhile sometimes!) So you mentioned removing D, so does that mean we should avoid sun exposure or at least limit it? Also, is there a test for Vitamin A toxicity, i.e., bloodwork?

            1. Post
              Author

              Hi Deborah, great question about Vitamin D. We should get regular exposure to sun, in my opinion, but avoid burning. Here’s a great article on how to get Vitamin D from the sun! 🙂 https://www.thetanningguru.com/tanning-all/do-you-know-how-to-tan/

              Regarding Vitamin A toxicity testing, there is not one blood test, but this article offers a bit more insight: https://nutritionrestored.com/blog-forum/topic/blood-tests-for-poison-vitamin-a/ My doctor and I found it much easier for me to just start the diet, especially because I had several symptoms associated with toxicity, to see if it would help. And it did. While it’s a controversial approach, it’s also safe and costs nothing financially. Sometimes the best test is just to begin. 🙂

  7. Thank you for this extensive article. I have been considering the Vit. A Detox diet, but have been procrastinating. Maybe I’ll get my act together soon.

    1. Post
      Author

      I’m so glad Rebecca! Best wishes as you begin. May it be encouraging and super helpful with your health challenges!

  8. Upon reading this I can see that I would likely benefit from this diet, but it is very hard to swallow. I’m not sure if I’m for such a big “project” when right now our clean eating habits we have in place are easy and work well for us. Sigh. But there are indeed pesky AI issues at play.

    One thing I cant figure out is how I will get enough energy from the allowed foods? As someone who relies HEAVILY on cocoa butter for my morning fat, sardines in olive oil for my midday fat, and veggies covered in fat for dinner, these are my main sources of energy. Megan how do you handle this? How do you stay full and energetic? Thanks in advance!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Allie, thank you for sharing and your questions. Well, firstly, we are different bodies, so I can’t say for sure what your body’s needs are, but I can tell you what happened with me. Before starting the VAD diet, I probably ate more fat than anyone I know, even those on a Keto diet. I LOVE butter, cocoa butter etc, and they helped me to feel good. So we are similar that way. 🙂 On the VAD diet, I limit my fat intake to some extent, … and I feel the best I’ve felt in years, and it’s lasting. My mental clarity and happiness is SO encouraging to me. And my body keeps working through symptoms, which is actually fun to watch. So my experience is that the diet helped me feel energy and happiness, both of which propel me each day and help me to love this new approach. I do not lack for energy with decreased fat. When I switched foods, my body’s cravings and what satisfies me changed. So now I eat a lot of beef, whereas before my body could only take so much protein before it said, Stop! No more meat, please! I know I need 50 grams of protein minimum daily to detox Vitamin A, so I eat a lot of meat and egg whites, but I always want it. I have also fallen in love with teas. They bring me joy and nutrition, and they may provide a lovely boost to you in the morning as you get started. I nurse my cup, but I don’t get a caffeine buzz. Also, be patient if you choose to start. The first two weeks are all about figuring it out. Even if you know the foods you can and can’t have, there will likely be a few hiccups and various good or not good symptoms. Also, a possible decrease in energy with initial detoxing is not a bad thing, if you see the overall direction you’re going and feel it’s part of the process. My good progress far outweighs any symptoms that surface. Hopefully the positive changes you see will propel you forward. Best wishes, and I look forward to hearing how it goes!!

  9. What is A2A2? I’ve heard of A2 but not A2A2. Is that different? And, I’m confused as to why no “leftover” white rice.

    1. Post
      Author
    2. Post
      Author
  10. Hello! Thank you so much for this helpful article – I have been lurking around the Interwebs for the past few weeks, learning about the Vitamin A Detox idea, trying to determine whether it would be worth putting my husband through yet one more attempt (starting with GAPS ten years ago!) to help him feel better…

    We started this morning. 🙂

    Anyway, I got the brand of acerola powder that you recommend, but it turns out to be a significant source of vitamin A according to whatI read online today. Are you still using it? Is there some reason all that vitamin A is okay?

    Thanks for all your useful recipes and optimistic wisdom! I am attempting a Low Vitamin A sourdough waffle batter (and also bread) – I will let you know if it comes out well enough to share. 🙂

    –Sarabeth

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sarabeth, you’re welcome, and thanks for your comments and questions! I know how you feel about deciding to put a family member on a healing diet and only wanting to do it if you’re pretty sure it’s worth the ups and downs to reach the end goal and get results. How exciting that you’re diving in, and may you see encouragement and renewed health.

      Regarding acerola cherry powder, it is low in Vitamin A. I’m not sure of your source. However, in general, fruits that are allowed that contain Vitamin A, are allowed because they have other components that assist with detoxification (such as glucaric acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and bromelain). So the good ushers out the bad and outweighs it. 🙂 Yes, I use acerola cherry powder Vitamin C for my kids. (I personally use the tapioca-based one because I don’t digest fruit well.)

      I look forward to hearing more about your recipes! 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      Both of your recipes look great! Thank you for sharing and your attribution. I’m so happy to think of you enjoying such a great daily wholesome treat! (Hurray for waffles!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *