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Debugging my Vitamin A excess? Does it matter?


brendanhill
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Hello. I am 35 male with BMI of 25.7.  Today I logged my meals on cronometer.com:

- Breakfast: porridge/berries/nuts/seeds/BSmolasses
- Lunch: green salad with tofu, sprouts, dressing
- Dinner: bulgar wheat, white beans, some veggies and seeds
- Snacks: fruit

Calories ~85% of, most targets hit and I am supplementing B12 and vitamin D. (Plus I eat fish 2-3 times a week... which I did not today.)

I discovered to my horror (GASP) that I was at ~1300% the RDI for Vitamin A with a whopping ~38000IU - well past the maximum recommended 10000IU per day.

I have ruled out data entry errors and instead discovered that:

~80g of sweet potato is enough to reach the max 10009IU...
~45g of carrots is enough to get about 75% of max....
...glus chicory greens, pumpkin and spinach combined more than the max.

Thing is that these all seem like extremely modest serving sizes and I had no idea that combined that would push me to almost 4x the maximum recommended limit.... let alone 13x the recommended amount...!

I find this disconcerting because I though of spinach, chicory greens (leafy greens in general), carrot and sweet potato as stable foods which you couldn't really overdose on.

I read only about excess Vitamin A generally being caused by high supplementation and leading to build up in liver and other unwanted effects so I am mildly disconcerted.

Does 38000IU of Vitamin A on a typical day really matter? Do I really need to consciously avoid combining these high-Vitamin A foods on a given day? (Does anyone ever really eat less than 80g of sweet potato in one sitting? Isn't sweet potato a stable food for some?) 

All of the above could be said of Vitamin K as well for which I was  600% of RDI and over 2x the maximum recommended 250µg - mostly from chicory greens and spinach. Again I have always thought of leafy greens were "have as much as you want" type foods....! Is that not true?

Attached is my daily breakdown FYI, all feedback is welcome although I'm mostly concerned about A and K. Thanks for any advice.

cronometer20200804.pdf

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It’s vitamin A as beta carotene. You won’t overdose because the body must convert it to retinol. This process is highly regulated. If you were eating liver and cod liver oil which are not plant sourced then you might be concerned. As for vitamin K  there is generally no toxicity from dietary exposure. I am 67 and I have been getting similar doses from my diet of both of these nutrients for over 20 years now! Not a problem

Edited by Mike41
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Mike has it. Beta carotene from food is not a concern, the body converts as much as it needs. In general, higher levels of beta carotene and vitamin K from food are healthy - this has been consistently shown in studies. The only concern has been when taking in beta carotene from supplements - i.e. away from the food matrix in which it occurs naturally - then it has shown it can be deleterious, especially for smokers. Vitamin K from food is generally safe, and there are no issues in getting "excess" (again - from food, i.e. when it is part of the food matrix) - the only issue is if you are on blood thinners, sometimes it is recommended that you cut back on high vitamin K foods. Otherwise, you're good to go. 

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Thanks for the reassurance. I'm surprised at the amount of advice out there that 10000IU+ can be bad without drawing these distinctions... e.g.:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/vitamin-a-and-your-bones#:~:text=Levels of up to 10%2C000,the risk of fetal damage.

"Levels of up to 10,000 IU (3,000 mcg) have been considered safe. Beyond that, though, vitamin A can build up to cause liver damage and brain swelling; pregnant women who ingest too much run the risk of fetal damage"

https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/vitamin-a

"Consuming large amounts of vitamin A poses a health risk. For instance, studies indicate that abnormally high levels of vitamin A in the blood suppress bone rebuilding, increase bone loss, and increase one's risk for osteoporosis. Symptoms of sudden vitamin A overdose include increased pressure in the space between the skull and the brain, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and skin peeling."
"The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of vitamin A for men and women over 18 years old is 3,000 micrograms (mcg) or 10,000 IU a day."
"Vitamin A can be toxic in high doses."

Similarly I'm surprised that cronometer.com has default 10000IU which comes up as red alarm if you go over.

Anyway I can remove the upper limit in settings so it doesn't scare me every day 😛

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Yep, as long as it's from pla

On 8/3/2020 at 4:36 PM, brendanhill said:

Thanks for the reassurance. I'm surprised at the amount of advice out there that 10000IU+ can be bad without drawing these distinctions... e.g.:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/vitamin-a-and-your-bones#:~:text=Levels of up to 10%2C000,the risk of fetal damage.

The Harvard newsletter article does note: "The Harvard researchers added the important observation that beta-carotene did not contribute to the risk of fracture."

Those above are correct, I've never seen any study suggesting that consuming high levels of carotenoids is harmful, other than possibly giving your skin slightly reddish pigmentation at very high doses 🙂

This may also be useful:

https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/carotenoids

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On 8/3/2020 at 10:46 AM, brendanhill said:

Hello. I am 35 male with BMI of 25.7.  Today I logged my meals on cronometer.com:

- Breakfast: porridge/berries/nuts/seeds/BSmolasses
- Lunch: green salad with tofu, sprouts, dressing
- Dinner: bulgar wheat, white beans, some veggies and seeds
- Snacks: fruit

Calories ~85% of, most targets hit and I am supplementing B12 and vitamin D. (Plus I eat fish 2-3 times a week... which I did not today.)

I discovered to my horror (GASP) that I was at ~1300% the RDI for Vitamin A with a whopping ~38000IU - well past the maximum recommended 10000IU per day.

I have ruled out data entry errors and instead discovered that:

~80g of sweet potato is enough to reach the max 10009IU...
~45g of carrots is enough to get about 75% of max....
...glus chicory greens, pumpkin and spinach combined more than the max.

Hi Brenden!

When most nutrition software calculates "Vitamin A", they lump together Vitamin A acetate -- the stuff you shouldn't get too much of -- together with caretenoids.  All of the foods you listed were full of (desirable) caretenoids.  You have nothing to worry about -- the opposite.

  --  Saul

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  • 1 year later...

Hello all,

just few cents on the topic.

My case made me curious and I started to search for a possible explanation how it happened; so far I think the precision of conversion rate limiting for carotenoids is not so tough like for K1 (because of consequences are not so devastating like with K1) but I am not an expert in this area.

One year ago my serum retinol was 0.54 in the diapason 0.3-0.7, several months before the test I was on CR (pescetarian diet with some cheese), constantly dropping weight from BMI 23+ to 19+. I could say it was maybe a bit malnutrition (I had daily formal 1g protein per kg per body weight but no idea how good this protein was absorbed, at least blood morphology looked not perfect). After the retinol analysis taken I went almost strictly vegetarian, with one week of few eggs in the morning during vacation and very rare few grams of cheese. For the last half a year I am completely plant-only, except omega3 supplements and 1-2g of collagen daily. Two weeks ago I went for another serum retinol test and discovered 0.77 mg/l in the diapason 0.3-0.7. This was a bit unexpected because my regimen was pretty stable for months, I am getting 2000-3300% RDA as beta-carotene and lutein+zeaxanthin according to cronometer and every third day a small amount (300 micrograms) of retinal from a children multivit capsule. I also have 20g of crispy bread daily, was not able to find any info on possible fortification of it, however even if this is the case - it is not required in EU and is risky for vendor to do it, and not make a lot of sense, thus I assume there is no preformed retinol/retinal in it.

If it is not a lab error then I am curious to understand if I have a kind of risks to get even higher, for pre-formed retinol/retinal overdoses there is one cure - cut it down in the sources, but for my case cutting small multivit perhaps makes no sense and cutting a lot of vegs is a sad option. Trying to read a book "Carotenoids and Vitamin A in Translational Medicine" to see if I can understand the topic better, it has a ref that up to 0.8 is ok but such references are rare so if somebody knows where to look for thing like this I would appreciate it.

Br,

Igor

forgot to say - I read the book about a/d3/k2 triade and because of this and my calcium and pth I started to supplement d3 and k2 daily (except few sunny months when d3 is paused), controlling periodically pth, calcium and d3 levels, now I have maybe not ideal but stable and "good enough" status of this stuff

 

 

Edited by IgorF
forgot about d3k2
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