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My Exact Diet & Supplements for Vitamin A Detox shares with you what I did first and what I do now for a low vitamin A diet. I share my own progress and what other members of my family experienced. And, most importantly, I tell you exactly what I eat each day, which many of you have said would be helpful.
This diet likely takes about 3 years to allow the body to detox vitamin A, and the process has been streamlined a lot since I began. For some people, the diet will take even longer (like me).
As always, please see Dr. Smith’s forum for deeper research and insights, or to have a doctor’s help with mineral analysis and blood testing. Or, tap into Grant Genereux’s blog to read his latest insights and observations. Both forums offer community support where you can ask questions and read dialogue on topics.
Diet & Supplements for Vitamin A Detox: The first thing I did
When I started the vitamin A detox diet, I had to first remove all the supplements I was taking that contained Vitamin A. I also looked for and removed my supplements that contained precursors to Vitamin A or compounds in the same family, such as carotenoids and retinyl esters — from whole food vitamins and organ meats.
With taking out unsuitable supplements, I needed to make sure my body still had what it needed, certain B vitamins, for example, and minerals.
This article outlines which supplements I now take to support my body and the detoxification of Vitamin A.
Supplements I stopped taking
Essential oils: For the first six weeks of the diet, I was working to overcome a histamine intolerance. I had done a lot of research to decide my strategy. In addition to doing the low A diet, I took tea tree oil internally with a carrier oil. (This is not generally allowed on the diet. It was something I decided to do on my own.)
When that process was over, and indeed I had overcome MCAS and my histamine intolerance, I stopped using all essential oils, due to their carotenoid content, except the 3 herbs allowed on the diet that have corresponding EOs: rosemary, cloves and mint. I still use clove EO occasionally, as needed, with a carrier oil.
I also stopped taking liver pills, multi-organ pills, vitamin D, glutathione, a B complex, a mineral complex (more recently), iodine, a variety of supplements I used for my histamine intolerance, alpha lipoic acid, a variety of amino acids, probiotics — and B12 shots about 2 years into the diet, when I no longer needed them.
Update: More recently, in the last 6 months, after meeting with Dr. Smith, I also stopped taking: digestive bitters, Vitamins B2, B3 and Serrapeptase (although I might use this again temporarily for injury repair if needed at a future date).
My current supplements for vitamin A detox
As each body is unique, the supplements I list here are definitely not all ones you should consider for yourself. Many of them are standard for most people doing the diet, but there are exceptions and dosages vary.
These are the supplements that I personally have found helpful for my body:
- Vitamin B1 — I buy the NOW brand (here) of this, because it’s clean and inexpensive. (Some on the diet also take B2.) I especially take Vitamin B1, or a higher dose of it, if I eat white rice, white sourdough bread or egg whites, which all deplete it. (Here’s the B1 I give my 4 year old, so for young kids. This vitamin may be helpful for potty training.)
- Zinc — I have recently increased my dosage on this, with seemingly great benefit. It’s helping me to sleep better and have better digestion. (I do not take more all at once, but the same dosage more often.)
- Molybdenum – I started taking this key mineral only after finally meeting with Dr. Smith and having my testing done. It’s an essential mineral for detoxing copper, which is one big aspect of the diet.
- Activated Charcoal
- Lactoferrin from Dr. Smith for liver health: helps repair bile ducts and liver injury, excrete toxins and encourage epithelial cell growth. Start at a very low dose, as it can flare up old symptoms. (When you buy it, look for the more detailed information on how to take it.)
- SunFiber — For best regularity and possibly improving gut microbiome.
- TRS — This nano-particle zeolite spray helped me detox so much excess estrogen that I was finally able to get off of Calcium d-Glucarate (needed for excess estrogen issues). TRS has also been amazing for detoxing my brain. I won’t go into all of the details here because there isn’t room, but I’ll write more on it at some point. TRS detoxes heavy metals, plastics and all kinds of toxins, super gently but noticeably. (You have to buy it through a distributor, so I became one. You can get it here. You’ll need to click the Shop Now button. I buy the three-pack to save money, and the company recommends doing the spray for 6 months minimum to see various effects from the beginning and then as you continue. Start with 1 spray daily, and work up to 2 in the morning and 3 at night.)
- Sunlamp, to produce Vitamin D for its beneficial detox process (I have the Fiji model from this site.)
- Vitamin K2
- Unique to me for hormone balancing pre-menopause — DIM and Black Cohosh. I got off of Calcium d-Glucarate as soon as I could due to Dr. Smith’s recommendation to not take any calcium-based supplements. My next goal is to get off of DIM.
Lastly, I use my infrared sauna. I use it every other day, or everyday when I can find the time. I find it essential and a huge help in aiding my detox processes.
Two stages of our diet
Below, as I outline what we eat on this diet, you’ll see we’ve done three stages of the diet:
- A low vitamin A and low aldehyde diet.
- We added in medium oxalate and low salicylate, to see what added benefits it would have. I ended up adding salicylates back in completely, but I now maintain a medium oxalate diet and avoid foods like rhubarb, which causes me to have joint pain. (Once I considered oxalates that still existed in our low A diet, I felt it would be good to reduce them to watch for the benefits. I believe more people should seriously consider the toll oxalates are taking on their health, whatever their diet.)
- Current diet: low A, low aldehyde, medium oxalate and low copper.
How my family reacted to a low vitamin A diet
I have outlined my symptoms, but also my family members’, because each of us has had such striking reactions to detoxing Vitamin A. About six weeks into the diet, so much had happened that I found this article was the best way to keep track.
My own reactions and improvements
- Within the first two weeks of going low vitamin A, I saw dramatic improvements: better mental health and the chronic skin rash on my face went away.
- Had nausea daily for at least a week and then off and on in the weeks that followed.
- I started the diet with chronic intermittent blurred vision in my left eye (like a cloud that came and went). This continued to come and go until week 6; then it was gone until I added more oxalates into my diet, without meaning to.
- Shortly after week 2, cystic acne and bladder urgency (I have a history of IC) developed.
- At about 6 weeks, I got a serious kidney infection. I was able to avoid antibiotics by using Allimed and tea tree oil (here’s how). This was a painful experience.
- Interestingly, my kidney infection was a staph infection, not e-coli, which it usually is. The count was >100K. So a major staph infection in my kidneys, bladder and urethra. I find this interesting because staph infections are usually on the skin. Another skin link to Vitamin A detoxification. (Oxalates may also play a role in this infection, as I believe I initially went pretty low oxalate all at once on the diet, without realizing it, which can cause kidney problems).
- Other symptoms included painful urination and blood in the urine.
- Allimed is garlic-based, so not allowed on the diet, and it was only preventing the infection from getting worse, not resolving it.
- My doctor had me take 2 rounds of different antibiotics, which I hadn’t done in about 30 years. I accepted her suggestion because the infection was dangerous. Neither antibiotic helped as much as the Allimed.
- So then I put myself on high dose colloidal silver (here’s how). That worked! By three weeks in, the issue was completely resolved. Colloidal silver is our go-to remedy for many applicable conditions.
- Skin breaking out within the first week, followed by depression week 2. Both of these normalized.
- She now lives abroad and maintains a pretty low vitamin A diet, trying to be mindful of copper and nightshades as well. She also intentionally supplements with some of the basics discussed above.
- History of yellow skin on head and flaky behind the ears: Both got worse week 2. Then all got better! (Later, probably my fault in reintroducing certain foods (?), his flaky behind one ear got worse again.)
- Nausea and vomiting at breakfast time during the first week of the diet. (History of appendicitis and gall bladder/liver issues.) Took gentian for liver, gall bladder and digestion support and ginger tincture.
- Currently does really well when taking Dr. Smith’s mineral supplement, Keystone Minerals, with improved skin health.
- History of hyperactivity and pessimism: Both of these symptoms worsened intermittently. Then, as I’ll talk more about below, we saw major improvements in both of these areas!
- Boils, one on his bum and one as a stye on his eye that lasted at least 3 weeks. Our ND said this was likely vitamin A detoxing. Amazing. I used homeopathics to help them rupture and resolve as quickly as possible. The one on the bum responded really well to homeopathics. The one on the eye just needed longer and took a full 3 weeks to run its course.
Actually, most of us got boils!
- 4 out of the 5 of us got some kind of a boil! Very strange and surprising to us. I also got one on my inner eye lid like my husband. One of our kids got one on his bum, and one on a leg. Our N.D. told us this was vitamin A pushing itself out. I haven’t met anyone else on the diet who’s had this happen, so it’s hard to say. Amazing that we all got this symptom.
- Have any of you had this symptom on the diet?? Please comment below, if so.
Diet after over 2-1/2 to 3 years on the diet
Our setback — aldehydes
My one BIG mistake on this diet was reintroducing aldehydes, without meaning to. I totally forgot about them in the midst of having a super busy life.
Basically, we were feeling so well that I added in kombucha, then a little more kombucha, then chocolate chips (also a source of copper) on our overnight oats. We were also eating oat yogurt and other fermented foods. We seemed fine, but then gradually rashes started developing. This oversight was a big mistake that slowed our progress and increased mild symptoms, mostly skin related.
I started having a red scaly rash around my eyes. My youngest son got a red blistery rash around his nose. And our oldest son had a rash behind his ears.
I went back to the basics of the diet to see what I was doing wrong and realized my mistake.
So the big change we made after 2 years on the diet was to “go back to the beginning”, and make our diet simpler again.
I removed all fermented foods, chocolate and most lectins from our diet. And, BINGO, they were the problem.
Diet at 4 years on a low vitamin A diet
We now watch copper intake a lot more and make sure we have a low copper diet.
This adjustment happened especially after meeting with Dr. Smith in person and getting our lab results. We were also able to accurately adjust our mineral levels.
As a result of our appointments, I personally removed from my diet: buckwheat, cream and butter.
I have completely eliminated dairy and see a definite benefit.
After meeting with Dr. Smith, we also eliminated all fish we were eating, as he saw elevated mercury levels in our labs that he believes are a direct result of eating fish, and he believes those numbers will go down by eliminating it.
We also realized from our labs and symptoms that our iron levels were way too high. We got rid of our cast iron pans, gave blood, and it also helped me to realize that our sourdough bread was fortified with iron!
The last great change we’ve made is finding a better sourdough bread. I found that most breads, including locally made artisanal sourdough, even organic ones, use flour that’s fortified with iron. We found a few brands that do not. I am able to enjoy sourdough bread again. (With our new child, I am very busy and haven’t preferred to make my own, but am increasingly inclined to.)
Health progress over the last 4 years
Here I can celebrate, and you can read, the accomplishments I’ve made thus far on the low A diet. Some of these health gains I only hoped, or never thought, were possible:
- The immediate progress I made on this diet was to overcome both depression and MCAS, or histamine overload. My depression was gone within two days of eating a low vitamin A diet, and the MCAS in two weeks, at which time I broadened my diet and began eating higher histamine foods again, like beef.
- Within just a couple of months of starting the diet, I was able to reintroduce grains, after being Paleo for about 10 years. This felt amazing! I now eat oats as a staple, twice daily. I benefit both from their nutrition and their fiber.
- Within a year of starting the diet, I was taken off thyroid meds by my in-town doctor. My Hashimoto’s was in remission. Since that time, I have continued to be in remission. I have never needed my thyroid meds since. My energy levels are good, and I’m at my optimum weight.
- Good improved sleep and perfect bowel movements (no more constipation ever) — both of these challenged me off and on for years, especially after having children.
- Amazingly, I need very little digestive support these days. I thought I would always take digestive bitters, but I haven’t used them for months. A wonderful gain for me and a testimony to how much the diet recovers gut health as it restores liver health. I now occasionally use apple cider vinegar to support my digestion, when needed. But usually, nothing!
- Despite my intolerance to fruit, I can now eat small amounts occasionally, when the weather’s hot (which is when I detox best). While I don’t make a habit of eating fruit often, and I only eat a little, it is a joy to be able to eat homegrown fruits (like fresh figs in the summer) again, which I only hoped might happen “someday”.
- My mental health is at its best. I feel joyful and with an inclination toward goodness and kindness. (In the past, I struggled with exhaustion, which manifested at times with feeling critical, grumpy, depressed or with mood swings.) What a joy it is to be filled with goodwill. When we regain our physical health, we sometimes realize how much mental health is affected by gut and liver problems!
- I am stronger physically. With more energy, even in the winter months, I have been able to build muscle year round, instead of just each summer. Again, what a joy.
- I am hungrier but thinner. I used to eat a very small lunch well after noon, at 1, or even as late as 4 o’clock, because I just wasn’t hungry after breakfast until then. I now often wake up early, eat an early breakfast, and then I’m hungry for lunch at noon. I often need and enjoy an afternoon snack and end my day, an hour or so after dinner, with a bowl of savory oatmeal. I have no weight to lose, but I’m not too skinny either. I feel great, and food digests so well.
I’ll need to keep brainstorming, “What else”, as I’m sure there are things I take for granted, but those are the things that come to mind in this sitting.
Our properly fixed diet
After re-removing aldehydes, this was a snapshot of our daily diet (and this would be a fine example to follow):
- Breakfast: The main things we eat for breakfast are a large portion of meat (as patties) and oatmeal. Sometimes I fully cook the porridge. Other times, I pour hot water over raw oats, let them sit covered for about 30 minutes, and then eat them, like warm soaked muesli.
- Re the big serving of meat, usually grass-finished beef burgers (oftentimes 1/2 pound burgers for my sons and husband), but sometimes other meats like organic turkey thigh, wild red meat (my husband hunts) or occasionally clean chicken and apple sausages or Applegate Farms’ turkey breakfast sausages. We also eat my VAD waffle recipes: Gluten-free, Egg-free Waffles, Rice and Beans Waffles and Oatmeal and Beans Waffles and several other low A baked goods, more so on Sunday mornings.
- For hot drinks, we daily enjoy: Roasted Dandelion Root Tea (this one, no extra ingredients like chicory), Barley Tea and Asparagus Tea. Dr. Smith personally okayed all of these during our recent appointment.
- Lunch: Usually leftovers from dinners or breakfasts. Sometimes I buy Niman Ranch deli meats, like Roast Beef or Pastrami. We also eat a lot of peeled cucumbers, peeled apples and berries with lunch and for snacks. And perhaps oddly, I love refried beans on sourdough bread, so my daughter and I often enjoy this little feast together for lunch with some meat on the side. Hummus sometimes, similarly.
- Dinner: All different cuts of beef: stew meat, short ribs, steaks, ground beef, prepared in various ways. Chicken thighs and whole chickens. (Both meats we eat in stews, soups, stir fries, wraps, in salads, with pasta etc.) Veggies: We eat parsnips, asparagus, cucumbers, green beans, romaine lettuce, iceberg and peeled zucchini (all organic). White rice, white rice noodles, Jovial brand soaked brown rice pastas, sprouted brown rice, baked potatoes, boiled cassava root, Cassava Fries and cooked Green Bananas. Beans: in salads, in stews, and recently I found dehydrated organic broken beans, that I rehydrate with broth or water to make easy refried beans. I sometimes make hulled barley for the family, but it slows down my digestion, so I personally avoid it. Sourdough bread.
An outline and list of our diet for vitamin A detox
These are the options (in list form) from which we eat in an average day:
We always eat a big breakfast. We eat a big portion of meat first and follow it with a delicious carb dish:
- big thick juicy grass-finished ground beef patties or organic turkey thigh patties
- oatmeal — toppings: berries or banana slices, maple sugar or syrup, oat or sustainably sourced almond milk, a small amount of heavy cream or butter for the boys; I now eat my oatmeal savory many mornings, with no sweetener, or with just a bit of honey, but not much. I use oat milk, bean milk or nut milk and good white sea salt. It’s actually wonderful, and I enjoy it more than when I used to use sweetener on it. I find it more satisfying! A great lesson.
- Bean and Oat Waffles or Rice and Beans Waffles — toppings: berries, maple syrup, butter for the boys. I go without syrup, so I cut my waffle into sections and eat it like toast. I put nut or pumpkin seed butter on top, or refried beans.
- Sourdough toast
- Roasted Dandelion Root Tea (this one, no extra ingredients like chicory), Barley Tea or Asparagus Tea
We keep lunches really simple, so I only cook 2 meals a day, and the kids learn to fend for themselves some of the time:
- more fresh meat patties
- lettuce, cucumbers, peeled apples
- sourdough bread
- refried beans (made from instant organic beans)
- baked goods, leftover rice
- berries or occasional smoothies
I usually make a nice dinner, but sometimes it’s also pretty simple, depending on how much time and energy I have. For example, my family loves green salads, and I often make one, but sometimes I just peel and slice cucumbers to provide a fresh veggie. I never let making meals increase my stress levels.
That priority comes first: Low stress cooking and eating is an important key to wellness.
— MEAT OPTIONS
We eat lots of stews, soups and burgers and then fill in with other options:
- beef or wild red meat/game — I make short ribs, fried up stew meat, stew, soup, pasta with ground meat, stir fries, tamales and more
- chicken thighs or whole roasted chicken
- ground turkey thigh made into meatballs or hash (like this one but without the onions and sage; you could sub in another VAD diet veggie, plus rosemary)
— CARB OPTIONS
We eat lots of sourdough bread, oats, rice, beans and pasta:
- beans — types of beans according to the Eat Right for Your Blood Type insights to reduce gas (This and many other tips come from Dr. Smith. If you support his work by becoming a member, he also has more information on which probiotics to use for your unique body that might help to reduce gas, bloating and help you digest beans better.)
- white rice, rice noodles and white rice flour (ideally in lesser ratio to beans to protect B1 stores)
- brown rice pasta (We eat a variety of shapes. I find this digests really well, and I do well with it, but I don’t do as well with white rice products, although my family does.)
- Millet and Brown Rice Ramen by Lotus Foods — These are good if you can tolerate millet. I make a rich meat stock and serve the noodles in the stock with various meats on top, mung bean sprouts and sometimes cooked veggies in the stock.
- hulled barley — I cook it in the Instant Pot on the Manual setting for 23 minutes. Ratio is 1:3, grain to water. I use this as a side dish or add it to soups. My family loves it in soups.
- masa and hominy — This is our latest discovery, and we just love it. Here’s a recipe for Chickpea Polenta with Masa that tells more about what masa is and why it’s so much gentler than corn.
- Oat Bread
- Rice Bread
- Clean sourdough bread with no iron or other fortifications added to the flour
— VEGGIE OPTIONS
You may or may not tolerate all of these:
- parsnips (lots of fiber)
- peeled potatoes
- peeled zucchini
- green lettuces (We eat romaine, butter and iceberg, all organic.)
- peeled cucumbers
- green beans
- water chestnuts
- mung bean sprouts
- white carrots
I eliminated artichokes and mushrooms from this list. There is some question about the level of inulin in artichokes, and Dr. Smith has said mushrooms are a forest sponge for toxins.
— SNACKS AND CONDIMENTS
- peeled apples
- Bean Milk
- oat milk (Malk brand)
- occasional nut milk, but not often due to PUFAs; I love the Three Trees almond milk that’s unflavored (not the vanilla)
- odds and ends baking/cooking ingredients: psyllium husk powder, salt, baking soda, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, refined coconut oil, refined avocado oil, refined olive oil, apple cider vinegar, tapioca flour, occasional egg whites, balsamic or rice vinegar, very occasional Dijon mustard, coconut aminos, ginger root and ginger powder, dried rosemary, dried dill, dried mint, certain nut and seeds, including chestnuts
— DESSERTS AND TREATS
Too much sweetener or fat isn’t recommended, but I do love to bake and feed my boys treats, snacks and plenty of carbs.
- This muffin recipe is a great one for occasional treats.
- This is a great cake recipe.
- HERE are all the vitamin A detox diet recipes I’ve created and published so far.
The emotional side of being on this restricted diet
My husband and the boys hit 3 years on the diet in September, 2022. I hit 4 years this April, 2023.
My goal with this section is to be really honest. While there are some admirable souls who can eat REALLY SIMPLY on this diet and be content, I know a lot of you want to know what it’s like to be on this diet with kids who are a little picky … or with your own personal limitations.
For the first 2+ years on the diet, the compromises I made were so my boys would be happy but still make progress. They definitely have pushed back and “fought” me at multiple junctures, wanting more foods or wanting to be done with restricted diets in general.
As a mom, I don’t actually like restricting their diet. But I also see that while I have them in our home (my 19 year old is off to college now), this is my one/last chance to get them as healthy as possible. So, I give them pep talks as often as is needed and remind them of the progress we have made, and the progress we have yet to make — symptoms I’d like for them to no longer have.
No diet can be completely free of vitamin A or the compounds that limit its detoxification. So our goal is to minimize these foods as much as possible while still enjoying life and food.
If you are that rare person that can do a super restricted diet without any compromises, that’s better.
Our compromises the first 2 years on the diet were simply: Applegate Farms hot dogs, Niman Ranch deli meat (certain ones), lots of berries, dates and raisins, generous amounts of maple sugar on their oatmeal, tapioca or rice puddings, and a decent amount of butter or cream on occasions — like homemade ice cream occasionally.
None of these compromises seemed to make any difference at all to their bodies. I personally am more sensitive. I did and do include very little sweetener in my diet, if any. I ate no fruit and still limit carbs like tapioca. As mentioned, I now eat no butter or cream.
After about 3 years on the diet, we pulled out foods that were high in oxalates or salicylates.
Low oxalate and low salicylate
Somewhat recently, we also decided to go medium-low oxalate and low salicylate to see how the combined diet would help some of our remaining symptoms. We saw results within the first weeks: skin, mood, lungs and joints.
- Re my lungs, I’ve had a pre-existing condition there since I was 18. Within the first few days on this diet, I saw healing in my lungs…!
- Joints: Some improvement in my big toe, that’s swollen and a little painful (low key gout). Big improvement in my wrist and right hand/arm where the radiation from my old lap top caused some problems.
- Son 1: Low ox. and low sal. did not affect my son’s acne or rash behind his ear, but the things I’ve learned since that do affect these symptoms are: lectins and proper mineral supplementation.
- Son 2: Long term (many months) face rash better in a few days and gone within a week! Less moody, kinder, better balanced energy (less ADHD type behavior).
In short, we saw major benefits from the low ox. low sal. diet. As mentioned elsewhere, I am still medium oxalate myself, but we have done our salicylate detox.
How I do this diet emotionally (pep talk)
Yes, it’s no fun to eliminate foods high in oxalates, vitamin A, copper etc, but we each must weigh our health goals and remaining symptoms to see if it’s worth it. For me, it’s worth the sacrifices. I love being healthier and pain-free.
My daughter told me recently that she thinks I have the gift of contentment. I am very grateful for her sweet observation, and think she must be right.
I am blessed to be able to be very grateful for whatever I’m eating. A big juicy burger from local pasture-raised beef cooked medium rare with good salt is always delicious for me — even if I eat two a day, seven days a week.
I have observed MANY of my clients switch to this mindset as well. We simply focus on enjoying what we can have, and don’t live in a place of focusing on what we can no longer have.
Brief grieving for foods we miss, yes, but we don’t stay there.
There is too much to be grateful for … and all good quality foods can be savored and loved.
Frankly, what’s really happening is that most of us are addicted to foods and hedonism.
I certainly was, about 20 years ago, and up until 15 years ago. It took me 3 years to overcome my addiction to sugar; even when I wasn’t eating it, I craved it. But eventually that day came! And I no longer love sweets.
If you care enough about getting well, you will be willing to make this transition, too.
Determination to pursue what’s true
Take one day at a time, look for community support, find alternatives to old favorites; have a plan for when you’re in social settings that sets you up to succeed, and be determined to get well.
Pursue truth: Is this diet what your body needs? Then do it. Is vitamin A a toxin? Then eliminate it. Too much copper in your body? Take the steps that allow it to detox.
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