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WHO world map showing areas with vitamin-A deficiency.
WHO world map showing areas without vitamin-A deficiency.

I’ve been actively promoting a low-carb/adequate-protein/high-fat diet, now re-branded as “ketogenic,” for nearly 20 years. Many things get better when you cut down on sugar and starch, eliminate seed and grain oils, and add good, natural fats. A low-carb diet can reverse the symptoms of diabetes and prevent obesity and CV disease. I credit this diet for giving me zero plaque in my heart and arteries and saving my husband’s life after a cardiac arrest. (A person who is adapted to using fat for energy rather than sugar has a better chance of surviving oxygen deprivation without damage.)

We have finally made some progress in spreading the message—a lot of celebrity doctors are jumping on the band wagon and extolling the benefits of butter, avocados, and eggs while sugar is now vilified as more than just empty calories. Weight Watchers has admitted that keto is killing their business and Slim Fast has added a line of keto products. Keto is now in testing as a treatment for cancer; some vets are already using it to treat cancer in dogs. The military is looking into a ketogenic diet for Navy Seals so they can stay underwater longer (they need to breathe less on keto because less carbon dioxide builds up in their blood).

Low carb also prevents the buildup of Advanced Glycation End-products, called by the deliberately chosen acronym, AGEs, because they contribute to aging when they accumulate in the blood. (AGEs are blood cells that have sugar attached to them; the A1c test used by doctors to monitor diabetes control is a count of AGEs in the blood.) 

But, to quote diabetes expert and low-carb advocate, Dr. Richard Bernstein, we have a “solution, not a cure.”

Back in the 1950s, obesity and diabetes were rare, Alzheimer’s and autism had not been invented yet, and road rage and mass shootings were unheard of. Everyone ate pies and cakes made with Crisco (partially-hardened cottonseed oil) and put margarine on their white bread. DDT, a toxic insecticide, was sprayed generously on crops, animals, and even children. Gyms were for professional boxers. All the men smoked and the cars burned leaded gasoline, but everyone was healthier than we are.

Seventy percent of Americans over the age of 20 are now overweight or obese and diabetes, heart disease, and cancer have reached epidemic proportions, threatening to bankrupt our economy.

A recent survey from West Health and Gallup reveals the hardships Americans face to cover our ballooning health care expenses. The survey found that we now borrow $88 billion annually to pay for health care and 65 million adults skip treatment due to cost. Federal data show that the United States spent more than $10,700 per person on health care in 2017. That’s more than any other country, yet America consistently ranks near the bottom of major health indices among developed nations and for the third year in a row, our longevity has dropped. If it were not for immigration, our population would be 2% below its replacement number.

In 1850, the 10 leading causes of death were infectious (items in bold are infectious diseases): Tuberculosis, Dysentery/diarrhea, Cholera, Malaria, Typhoid Fever, Pneumonia, Diphtheria, Scarlet Fever, Meningitis, and Whooping Cough.

By 2017, the top 10 were Heart disease, Cancer, Accidents, Lung disease, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Influenza/pneumonia, Kidney disease, and Suicide. Only one was infectious. The other nine were just “bad luck.”

Worse yet, we suffer terribly in the years leading up to death and end-of-life care puts an unprecedented burden on our families and medical institutions. (The average cost of a year in a Nursing Home in the state of Washington is now $70,000 to $80,000.)

Most of our modern diseases have been labeled as auto-immune and attributed to inflammation, but no one has been able to identify the source of all this inflammation, let alone stop it. At least not until now.

Some of you who read my blog may be aware of my ongoing battles with multiple auto-immune diseases and I know a lot of you have been through and are going through similar things. Some are called by vague names like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, allergies, arthritis, and other default diagnoses. Doctors typically say, “We have no idea what is wrong, so use this steroid cream or take Prednisone to dampen the inflammation; use as little as possible, for the shortest time possible, because steroids damage tissues. We have nothing else to offer.”

Listen to the caveats that follow most drug commercials and you will notice that a lot of them say pretty much the same thing. This one is for Humera, a treatment for psoriasis:

“…Humira is a TNF blocker medicine that can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections …Serious infections have happened in people taking Humira. These serious infections include tuberculosis and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections…For children and adults taking TNF blockers, including Humira, the chance of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase…”

This one is for Enbrel, an expensive drug (over $5,000 per dose) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriasis:

“…Enbrel can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Serious infections have happened in patients taking Enbrel. These infections include tuberculosis and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some patients have died from these infections… There have been some cases of unusual cancers, some resulting in death…”

The ads sound the same because these diseases are the same; they just affect different locations in the body. The label warnings make it clear that these drugs work by disabling your immune system, leaving you at the mercy of whatever nasty fungus, bacteria, mold, or virus you might encounter, in other words, all the stuff that used to kill us.

Any disease that is not caused by an infection or malnutrition is classified as an auto-immune reaction, a diagnosis that means “we don’t know.” The body, for no known reason, starts attacking and destroying itself. Your immune system gets a message that you are under attack and mobilizes an army to fight the invaders. But there are no invaders. The antibodies detect the distress signals from damaged cells and mistake them for an enemy and so they do exactly what they are supposed to—seek out and destroy. Many of our modern medicines work by preventing the immune system from reaching the cells that are calling out for help. 

 The autoimmune system targets the epithelial cells, the type of cells that make up the skin, organs, and blood vessels. The names of many chronic diseases designate the body part they affect. If it is the epithelium on your scalp, it is called seborrhea; if it attacks the lungs, it is asthma; if it gives you itchy, peeling, oozy skin, it is eczema; if it affects the lining of the digestive tract, it is Crone’s disease; if it attacks the pancreas, it is diabetes, etc.—but they all share the same root cause.

What is this monster that stalks us? This powerful force is unseen, like a black hole at the center of a galaxy. It escapes our detection because it is disguised as a friend. Retinoic acid (RA), the end metabolite of vitamim-A, burns and destroys epithelial cells. Who would ever suspect a vitamin of being capable of such destruction?   

Additionally, when calcium is pulled out of the bones to buffer the caustic acid, the bones soften and swell and become twisted, leading to osteoporosis, spinal curvature, TMJ, malocclusion, spontaneous fractures, and much more. The gnarled, claw-like hands that characterize rheumatoid arthritis are an example of this condition.

“The acute and chronic effects of vitamin A toxicity are well documented in the literature. Emerging evidence suggests that sub-toxicity without clinical signs of toxicity may be a growing concern, because intake from preformed sources of vitamin A often exceeds the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for adults, especially in developed countries. Osteoporosis and hip fracture are associated with preformed vitamin A intakes that are only twice the current RDA…”

The RDA for vitamin-A for adult males is 900 mcgs and the RDA for women is 700 mcgs. A single three-ounce serving of cooked beef liver has 6,582 mcgs or 22,175 IUs (International Units), which is 731% of the RDA for an adult male.

My story

About two years ago, my adrenal glands stopped functioning and I was told I would have to take Prednisone for the rest of my life. That story is here. It was first diagnosed as being of “unknown cause,” but a later test showed a few antibodies, indicating an auto-immune condition called Addison’s disease. I found a doctor who specialized in balancing hormones who said she would help me get off the Prednisone and onto a more natural steroid. 

She did a lot of testing and gave me a prescription for hydro-cortisone to replace the Prednisone plus some other hormones and vitamins, including one for 25,000 mgs per day of vitamin-A. (I skipped a day occasionally, because I was concerned about the high dose.)

I got sicker and sicker over the next year. There were many days when I could hardly get out of bed. I couldn’t walk without holding onto something; I couldn’t focus or concentrate; I was weak, shaky, dizzy, clumsy, and off balance. My muscles and bones ached and I had terrible headaches (the kind called pseudo-tumor cerebri that get worse when you lie down; they are caused by excess cerebro-spinal fluid). I had episodes of tachycardia and palpitations throughout the day and night. I got progressively worse until Jan. 6 when I went into an extreme state of vitamin-A toxicity with nausea, diarrhea, all-over itching, abdominal pains, and blurry vision. Once the symptoms became so severe and so distinct, I started looking online to find the cause. I quickly found that it was hypervitaminosis-A. The symptoms were given, almost word for word, on multiple reputable sites. I started searching for how to fix it. That was when I happened on Grant Genereux’s site, Thank God!

I quit taking the mega-supplement immediately. Within three days my cracked and peeling lower lip healed over and my dry mouth got better. After a few more days, I had one really good day, with no symptoms at all; I could walk straight and think! But it was short-lived, as is often the case with detoxing. It took me a while to learn what I needed to do and what to eat, but on February 18, I felt something change. I had reached a turning point and gotten my vitamin-A level low enough to know I was on the right track.

I now believe that most of my problems over the last 25 years have been related to vitamin-A toxicity. It started with bone spurs in my knees after I used a retin-A skin cream for several years. A lot of my friends were using one too, which may explain why more women than men have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, and other auto-immune conditions. (Jennifer Garner is promoting one on TV as I write this.)

Here is a case study from the NIH about a woman who used vitamin-A as a treatment for a genetic skin condition. It includes multiple X-ray images showing retinoic acid arthropathy with flowing ossification and boney growths in the elbows, the pelvis, and the cervical spine caused by the vitamin-A use. (Pain of the cervical spine is often the first symptom experienced by fibromyalgia patients and the last one to go away.)

49-year-old woman with retinoic acid arthropathy. Anteroposterior radiograph of the right elbow shows hyperostosis…
49-year-old woman with retinoic acid arthropathy. Anteroposterior radiograph of the right elbow shows hyperostosis…

Generoux theorizes that ALL so-called auto-immune diseases are caused by this toxic molecule; I know that sounds crazy, but he makes a good case for his theory. He also says all auto-immune diseases can be healed with a vitamin-A elimination diet. I really, really hope he is right–if he is, my knees will heal and my adrenal glands will start to work again!

Retinoic Acid is linked to Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Risk, Alzheimer’s, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction

In a recent blog post, he proposes a new theory about Retinal Binding Protein4. It has traditionally been considered a mere transport vehicle for safely moving RA from one location in the body to another. He believes it is really an antibody, an indication of how very poisonous RA is in its free form. Every single molecule of RA is totally wrapped in RBP4 to keep it from coming into contact with body tissues and damaging them.

Space-fill model of the RBP completely covering RA molecule.
Space-fill model of the RBP completely covering RA molecule.
(Photo credit: Image created with the PDB ID and associated publication, NGL Viewer (AS Rose et al. (2018) NGL viewer: web-based molecular graphics for large complexes. Bioinformatics doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/bty419), and RCSB PDB.)

“GLUT4 – is the glucose transport protein used by cells to take-up insulin from serum. Obviously then, if the GLUT4 proteins are not of sufficient quantity or quality, it then will cause the condition of Insulin Resistance. It’s not hard to imagine that if the cell’s energy and resources are tied up generating RBPs, that could be impairing their production and or functioning of the GLUT4 proteins. This scenario is indeed being demonstrated in clinical research. For example: Nature. 2005 Jul 21;436(7049):356-62.”

G. Generoux

Grant links the RBPs to Type 2 Diabetes and the amyloid-β plaques, and implicates it in causing CV disease, Alzheimer’s, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction, but it is the excess RA that is the root cause of all of them. An overload of RA forces the adipose (fat) tissues to make more Retinal Binding Proteins (RBPs) to keep it safely contained. This necessitates an increase in visceral fat, which leads to obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes. (

Most people who try low-carb/keto for weight loss do lose weight, but some lose about 50 pounds and then hit a plateau, a set point that they tend to return to no matter what they do. Intermittent fasting can often help them start losing again. This makes sense to me now. The human race would not have survived if our own bodies were trying to kill us. Maybe we need that extra fat to protect us from something far worse than obesity—auto-immune disease! (

“ …the way that the adipose (fat) stem cells do behave similarly to the epithelium stem cells in response to vitamin-A toxicity is that they too are forced into a perverse state of abnormal rapid replication.”

G. Generoux

When I started a vitamin-A elimination diet, I lost a pound a week until I got down to 120, then I stopped losing. Grant and others have reported the same experience. He lost 30 pounds then stayed at that weight. Those who have more excess weight to lose report that they are losing amazing amounts very quickly on the low-A diet. (

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Low-carb/keto is a solution, a work-around that helps us manage a problem that we don’t understand—inflammation. Eliminating vitamin-A prevents the inflammation from occurring in the first place. Will it take us back to where we were in the 1950s? It should at least do that. As soon as I am symptom free, I plan to start experimenting with my diet to see if a strict keto AND low-A diet might be more effective than either one alone.

I doubt the medical establishment and even my low-carb friends will accept this new theory without a fight. It will especially be a hard sell to those who make a living from treating sick people, however pure their motives. This will need to be a grass-roots campaign. If people see you aging backwards and reversing your auto-immune conditions, they are going to ask what you are doing.

I recently had a conversation/argument with a well-known health, fitness, and anti-aging expert. He argued that vitamin-A could not be bad for us because it is in almost everything, we co-evolved with it, and our cells have receptors for it. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t want us to live forever. Retinoic acid may be the limiting factor to our lifespan, a time-bomb set to go off when we reach our expiration date. Our vitamin-A starts accumulating from the day we are born (and even in-utero). When we exceed our ability to use it or store it, it is time for us to move over to make room for the next generation.

In everything that I have read about longevity, I’ve seen a lot about telomeres, glycation, mutations, oxidation, toxins, stem cells, and inflammation, but I have never seen anyone include vitamin-A as part of the equation. (I don’t know about the others, but inflammation and glycation may be optional if we avoid vitamin-A and carbohydrates). 

Consider the Pacific salmon. They have a trait called semelparity. They only spawn once and then their bodies release hormones that kill them. You might conclude that those hormones are bad for the salmon, but they inherited a system, perfected over millions of years, that insures the survival of a sustainable population or the extinction of one that no longer fits in. Dying is as important as being born.

Getting Started

Go here to start at the beginning with the Introduction to Grant’s first book, Extinguishing the Fires of Hell, and you can follow along with him as he tries to unravel the mystery of what is causing his own head-to toe eczema, fatal kidney disease, brain fog, diabetes, and chronic fatigue. He used scientific methods, but since he is not part of the medical establishment, he was free to explore the issue without prejudice or fear of losing his job.

One warning, when you start to read his material, you will probably find many things you don’t agree with. I’m still trying to decide which things are essential to the protocol and which are not. We all come from different backgrounds and start with some preconceived ideas that we may abandon along the way. You will notice as you read his books and blog posts that Grant is not afraid to change his mind as he learns more. For example, his dietary advice in the first book from 2014 is to keep the intake of salt low. In a recent post from 2019, he says that we need more salt, not less. He has also updated his advice about butter. I find that reassuring and refreshing in today’s world. He invites us to help him test his theories and tell him if we think he has made a mistake. He often repeats the disclaimer from the beginning of his first book: “…please apply your own good judgment to all of this.” I have a number of issues I plan to discuss with him once I am further along with the protocol.

So don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Think of this is another tool we can use to heal ourselves, save others from unnecessary suffering, and keep our economy solvent. 

All Genereux’s e-books and blog posts are free. He doesn’t sell anything. I hope you will read all of them.

The main take-ways from Genereux’s work are:

  • Vitamin-A can be extremely toxic once you have exceeded your capacity to store it.
  • All chronic disease that is not caused by an infection or malnutrition is caused by a poison; vitamin-A is a pervasive poison.
  • It is almost impossible to avoid excess vitamin-A in Westernized countries and there is no easy way to get rid of it. (According to The World Health Organization, vitamin-A deficiency is not a problem in any industrialized country. See the map at the top of this article.)
  • Although in some cases it may cause permanent liver and kidney damage, nearly all the auto-immune diseases can be fully reversed by eating a vitamin-A elimination diet.

If you have any of the conditions listed at the end of this post, or if you just want to prolong your health-span, I hope you will give the vitamin-A detox a try. (Maybe the question shouldn’t be if you have any of these conditions, but how many of these conditions do you have?)

You have nothing to lose. You don’t have to buy anything or do anything except avoid vitamin-A. You will probably see some improvements in the first few days or weeks but most people find it takes about six months to reverse most of their symptoms. (Mind you, a cure for any one of these conditions would be worth millions to the pharmaceutical companies, IF they had a cure for any of them, which they don’t.) For some of us, it may take up to two years, probably depending on how old you are, how sick you were to start with, and whether you ever used topical Retin-A or Accutane. (Guilty on all three!) Grant says he and his family continue to see improvement after five years. He plans to continue the protocol for another five, not because he needs to, but because he wants to prove that we can live for at least 10 years without vitamin-A with no ill effects.

I started out following his dietary recommendations while I learned more. It worked, but my diet has now changed quite a bit and it still works. The really important thing is to keep the vitamin-A intake as close to zero as possible. This is all very new and it is still in a trial and error stage. Up to now, vitamin-A, a fat-soluble molecule, has been almost a one-way street—it builds up and up—unless you make a conscious effort to draw down the load. There are only a few of us who have ever tried that and we don’t really know what to expect. I went to get my hair done last week and the beautician was shocked to see that I had stopped coloring my hair. Most people would assume that I had mousey brown hair that was turning gray, but she has known me for 20 years, and she knew I had gray hair turning brown! (As I was leaving, she said, “Give me that guy’s name.”)

If at any time you change your mind and want to quit, all you have to do is eat an egg yolk.

Eyes and Skin

The first thing you will hear if you tell someone what you are doing is, “Oh no, you will ruin your eyes!” The common belief is that vitamin-A is essential for healthy eyes and skin. It is amazing that this belief has persisted for almost a hundred years when it is so easy to refute. In his second e-book, Poisoning for Profit (pp. 123-127), Grant included pictures of Japanese and German prisoners from World War II. The Japanese captives were held for 3½ years and fed only a cup of rice per day (rice has no vitamin-A). The German captives got watery turnip soup (also, no vitamin-A). You can see in the pictures that, although they look like living skeletons, their eyes and skin are perfect. One picture shows a group of them reading newspapers to catch up on what they have missed!

The eyes of a starved Russian man from the Dachau Camp. (Photo credit:
Shown to the right is a photo of men, with Private Leo Ayres in the foreground, newly liberated from the Japanese camps who were reading the newspapers about the war having just ended.
Shown to the right is a photo of men, with Private Leo Ayres in the foreground, newly liberated from the Japanese camps who were reading the newspapers about the war having just ended. (Photo credit:

The original rodent studies done on vitamin-A in the 1930s were seriously bungled. The symptoms the researchers attributed to vitamin-A deficiency, were actually the result of too much vitamin-A. Since RA was not discovered until around 1960, these researchers could not have known that it was what they called, the hidden toxic principle, that caused the disease and death of their animals. By the time later studies were done that failed to validate the original findings, the issue was considered settled science and the contradictory results were written off as flukes or with a dismissive, “more study needed.” Grant shows you how you can duplicate the experiments with small animals and see for yourself what happens when you give them a truly zero vitamin-A diet. (Spoiler alert—happy, healthy, rodents!)

I have been avoiding vitamin-A for about seven months and my eyes and skin have gotten dramatically better. I no longer have red blood vessels in the white part of my eyes and I may even be regaining some central vision in my right eye, which I never had before due to amblyopia. I have an eye checkup scheduled next month. I hope the cataract in my right eye will also show some improvement. The doctor previously told me, “That doesn’t happen.” I’ll let you know if I have proved her wrong.

Skin and eye improvements are the two changes most often mentioned in the comments on the vitamin-A forums. Here’s a typical example:

“Eating a zero VA-diet is improving my vision considerably; it gets better and better as time goes on. My field of view has also grown. The first and the most noticeable symptom I get if I eat something with a lot of vitamin A is that my vision quickly gets blurrier again. A couple of months ago I tried eating some liver to see if it would make my symptoms worse, it took me over 2 weeks to get my vision back to where it was, not to mention all the joint pain, brain fog, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue etc.” Guest

Can a serum blood test for vitamin-A be trusted?

Serum tests only detect Retinol, the inactive form of vitamin-A. You need more than one kind of test to see what your storage levels are, but most doctors only offer serum tests. The surest way to test for hypervitaminosis-A is to try the elimination diet for a while and see what happens, which is what I did.

Here is the explanation about what the tests can and cannot show from Dr. Garrett Smith:

Lists of some of the diseases and conditions caused by hypervitaminosis-A

This list is from Poisoning for Profit (pp. 206-207).

Alzheimer’s and dementia, MS and epilepsy, Crohn’s, colitis and IBD, diabetes , kidney disease, most cancers, eczema, asthma, lupus, Sjögrens, arthritis, all the other autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, rosacea, psoriasis, depression, ADHD, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, Celiac, obesity, acne, reproductive issues, low sperm count and erectile dysfunction, loss of enamel on teeth and subsequent tooth decay, twisted bones, spines, and jaws, spontaneous bone fractures, chronic dry eyes, chronic dry skin, xerophthalmia (progressive blindness), preterm births, birth defects, many follow-on chronic infections due to deformed epitheliums, breast cancer, Parkinson’s, cataracts, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, hip joint failures, SIDS.   

This list is also from Poisoning for Profit, quoted from a book called, Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Poisoning, 2nd ed. Williams and Wilkins, 1997, (pp. 1021).

In Children: Alopecia, anorexia, bone pain and tenderness, bulging of fontanelles, craniotabes, fissuring at lip  corners, hepatomegaly, hyperostosis, premature epiphyseal closure, photophobia, pruritis, pseudotumor cerebri, skin desquamation, skin erythema.

In Adults: Alopecia, anemia, anorexia, ataxia, bone pain, bone abnormalities, brittle nails, cheilitis, conjunctivitis,  diarrhea, diplopia, dryness of mucous membranes, dysuria, edema, elevated CSF pressure, epistaxis, exanthema, facial dermatitis, fatigue, fever, headache, hepatomegaly, hepatotoxicity, hyperostosis,  insomnia, irritability, menstrual abnormalities, muscular stiffness and pain, nausea, negative nitrogen  balance, nervous abnormalities, papilledema, petechiae, polydypsia, pruritis, pseudotumor cerebri, skin desquamation, skin erythema, skin rash, skin scaliness, splenomegaly, vomiting, weight loss.

(Some of the above may be duplicates. I didn’t look up all the medical terms. JBB)

The following are ones that I have added from various other sources, including Grant’s other writings and my own experience. There are many, many more.

Leaky gut and resulting allergies, receding gums, cracked and peeling lips, dry mouth, blurred vision, double vision,* bone spurs, callouses, sinus problems, Hashimoto’s, tinnitus, itching, explosive rage, suicide, male-pattern baldness, gray hair, spider veins, cherry angiomas, losing the outer half of the eyebrows, age spots, wrinkles, incontinence and frequent urination, coma, and death.

*Hillary Clinton wears special glasses to compensate for double vision. She keeps pepper sauce in her purse and puts it on everything. Coincidence?


As I was compiling the lists of chronic diseases caused by excess vitamin-A, I realized that they included all the things usually considered to be part of normal aging. Hmmm—if we can prevent and cure the effects of aging, will we live longer? Do different societies have different expiration dates depending on vitamin-A intake? 

Male-pattern baldness, gray hair, receding gums, incontinence, belly fat, age spots, and such may be early signs of chronic vitamin-A overdose. Can we slow it down with an occasional vitamin-A detox? Cancer specialist, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, says you can make yourself cancer-proof by doing a three- or four-day fast four times a year. If you are fasting, you are depleting vitamin-A, which could be the mechanism for the effectiveness of his protocol, but if you eat vitamin-A-rich foods and/or take supplemental A between fasts, the fasting probably won’t be enough to protect you.

You now have permission to stop eating liver and kale. You’re welcome.

©Judy Barnes Baker, 2019

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!


  1. Judy, I am intrigued by this. I probably read some posts a while back about Vitamin A toxicity so stopped taking my multi-vitamins, which included Vit. A. Now I’m curious about the Low Vit. A diet. Can you point me in the direction to find that? Thanks!

    • You will find Grant’s diet advice in his books and on his blog. My next post is going to go into more depth about diet. He suggests starting with a very simple diet that gives you all the nutrients you need and no vitamin A. He thinks starches are good as staple foods, but I’m staying higher fat and lower carb and it is working well.

      His diet is basically black beans, rice, beef, olive oil, and salt and pepper, but he is experimenting now too.

      I’m glad you cut out the supplement! Avoid the animal foods at the top of your list for a start, especially liver and watch the egg yolks and cheese. If you already have an auto-immune disease, you’ll want to be strict until you get your level under control. It’s not a hard diet to follow except when you eat out. (You can always just have a steak!)

  2. Hi Judy! Sorry to hear of your health challenges, but glad you’re finding some improvement. I’ve been low carb and gluten free for 5 years and have mostly maintained a 130 lb weight lost, post-menopausal. I experienced many health improvements the first few years, but was hit hard with what was later diagnosed as CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). It’s been a real struggle to maintain quality of life and, to some degree, weight loss. Because of my illness, my diet has relied heavily on eggs, Greek yogurt, proein powder, etc., for quick and easy food prep. Perhaps I’ve been inadvertently making things worse. Would you share your go-to foods and those you avoid? Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    • I know exactly how you feel. I’m planning to do another post (Eureka, Part 2) and put in some info about food. For now, I’d suggest that you avoid eating liver, egg yolks, cheese, dairy, and the high A vegetables, like pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale. In the beginning, it is easiest to keep your diet simple until you know what works for you.

      Beef can be a staple food. I buy it from the deli and sometimes have it 3 times a day. Plain turkey is also OK. Black beans that have been soaked overnight with a little salt and vinegar have no vit. A and they are not terribly high in carbs. Most white foods are fine and peeled apples are low in A. Applesauce is a handy side or snack and sugar-free cranberry sauce is nice too. Most nuts and nut butters are OK. (Not cashews or pistachios.) Most berries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and cranberries are very low. I’m eating sun-dried white mulberries too, but haven’t really found out what the count is on them. Some places say zero and some say 2%, so big difference. Stay away from parsley, chives, and red spices, but turmeric, rosemary, and cumin are OK. Salt (not pink) and black pepper are good.

      You may not need to worry about your weight anymore. The A elimination diet seems to take care of that for most people. For me, the FMS has been the hardest thing to get rid of. I think it was because of the retin-A skin cream, which is just pure retinoic acid. I can’t believe they are still selling it!

      Good luck.

      • Thanks so much for your quick reply, Judy! I started yesterday by eliminating foods and other sources that I know to be high in VA. I’m finding it difficult to find a database/source that lists the VA of foods that is consistent. I’m getting conflicting info. Do you have a source you use to identify the VA content in foods?

        I’m looking forward to your next post! Thanks again!

        • Hi again Laura. I like, but it doesn’t always agree with the other data bases either. I like it because it has a search tool that is easy to use and it has a drop down menu that shows the RAE (rentinol activity equivalent) to show you how much of the plant Vitamin A is converted to retinal. It olso lets you search for foods that are low in several nutrients and high in others at the same time. Some people have suggested other sites but I can’t seem to figure out how to use them.

          DR. Garrett Smith has a very extensive database of foods, medications, and supplements on his site at He is anti-low carb, but he posts a lot of helpful info about vitamin A and scientific studies. He’s working on an new data base of foods. There is a paywall on a lot of his info, but he is a working Dr. I paid ($40) for the “Private” areas and think it was worth it. He is also offers a lot of advice on things beyond vitamin A content, such as Glysophate and resistant starch, and sweeteners, and why he objects to certain foods which you may or may not agree with.

          By the way, I think I forgot to add nuts your list of low-A foods. Almonds, pecans, macadamias, and Brazil nuts are OK, pistachios and cashews are not.

          I’m so glad to hear that you are joining me in this trial. Keep me informed about how you are doing. Good Luck!

  3. I’ve been eating home made beef liver pate for over 2 years without any issues so far. I have never taken supplemental Vit A. I have heard that supplemental Vit A is the problem. Not Vit A from natural foods like liver. Also hardly get any bio available Vit A from Kale!

    • If you have no auto-immune problems, you are probably fine for now. Watch out for the symptoms if any show up. The reason supplements seem to be worse is just that it is so easy to get too much. Liver is extremely high too so probably just as dangerous. I guess the question would be, why are you eating the pate? If it is because you like it, that is one thing, but if it is because you think you need it or that it is good for you, I’d suggest that you quit eating it.The reason the liver is so high in vitamin A is that it is the place where the body stores it to keep it from hurting you.

  4. Peter Defty
    4:06 PM (0 minutes ago)
    to Jbarnesbaker

    Just read it and like what you are saying… I the person you were conversing/arguing with?…..the Vitamin A toxicity is something I am actually in general agreement with because of my overarching hypothesis that we consume too much of everything foodwise and do very little physically to metabolize and process what we do consume and don’t have the proper balance of nutrition. In other words we eat too much and do too little physically.

    This thinking has been formed over my decades working with my self and other endurance athletes to get them fat adapted….what we find is the amount of food needed is very little for the physical output and these athletes get stronger faster fitter as they go. I also think having a fat adapted physiology and being very active is key to metabolism of the nutritional elements like Vitamin A or else we get too much and it just gets stored and becomes toxic as you and Genereaux suggest. So if one is relatively sedentary (meaning not an endurance athlete or someone doing 4-6 hours of physical activity regularly) this fits and it yet another tool to consider but a much better option if one can is to get fat adapted and build a huge aerobic base and take long hike runs.

    Keep up the great work.

  5. I think you should read “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox”. The book deals with fat-soluble vitamins, including deficits and overdoses. A lot that you describe with your own health issues are also reminiscent of a lack of fat-soluble vitamins combined with those vitamins being out of balance. The book is well-cited to studies. It might help you and might be of interest. I hope your health improves!

    • Hi Ellen. I read that book and actually posted on my blog about it. Trust me, one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I had no shortage of fat-soluble vitamins! My problem was too much of one of them. Thank you for the good wishes. I am doing extremely well now with detoxing! Almost back to normal, in fact.


    Retinoic acid
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Retinoic acid (used simplified here for all-trans-retinoic acid) is a metabolite of vitamin A1 (all-trans-retinol) that mediates the functions of vitamin A1 required for growth and development. All-trans-retinoic acid is required in chordate animals, which includes all higher animals from fish to humans. During early embryonic development, all-trans-retinoic acid generated in a specific region of the embryo helps determine position along the embryonic anterior/posterior axis by serving as an intercellular signaling molecule that guides development of the posterior portion of the embryo.[2] It acts through Hox genes, which ultimately control anterior/posterior patterning in early developmental stages.[3]

    1 Mechanism of biological action
    2 Biosynthesis
    3 All-trans-retinoic acid function in the absence of precursors all-trans-retinol or retinaldehyde
    4 All-trans-retinoic acid function in embryo development
    5 Related pharmaceuticals
    6 References
    7 External links

    Mechanism of biological action

    All-trans-retinoic acid acts by binding to the retinoic acid receptor (RAR), which is bound to DNA as a heterodimer with the retinoid X receptor (RXR) in regions called retinoic acid response elements (RAREs). Binding of the all-trans-retinoic acid ligand to RAR alters the conformation of the RAR, which affects the binding of other proteins that either induce or repress transcription of a nearby gene (including Hox genes and several other target genes). Retinoic acid receptors (RARs) mediate transcription of different sets of genes controlling differentiation of a variety of cell types, thus the target genes regulated depend upon the target cells.[5] In some cells, one of the target genes is the gene for the retinoic acid receptor itself (RAR-beta in mammals), which amplifies the response.[6] Control of retinoic acid levels is maintained by a suite of proteins that control synthesis and degradation of retinoic acid.[2][3]

    The molecular basis for the interaction between all-trans-retinoic acid and the Hox genes has been studied by using deletion analysis in transgenic mice carrying constructs of GFP reporter genes. Such studies have identified functional RAREs within flanking sequences of some of the most 3′ Hox genes (including Hoxa1, Hoxb1, Hoxb4, Hoxd4), suggesting a direct interaction between the genes and retinoic acid. These types of studies strongly support the normal roles of retinoids in patterning vertebrate embryogenesis through the Hox genes.[7]

    All-trans-retinoic acid can be produced in the body by two sequential oxidation steps that convert all-trans-retinol to retinaldehyde to all-trans-retinoic acid, but once produced it cannot be reduced again to all-trans-retinol. The enzymes that generate retinoic acid for control of gene expression include retinol dehydrogenase (i.e. Rdh10) that metabolizes retinol to retinaldehyde, and three types of retinaldehyde dehydrogenase, i.e. RALDH1 (ALDH1A1), RALDH2 (ALDH1A2), and RALDH3 (ALDH1A3)[8] that metabolize retinaldehyde to retinoic acid.[2] Enzymes that metabolize excess all-trans-retinol to prevent toxicity include alcohol dehydrogenase and cytochrome P450(cyp26).[9]
    All-trans-retinoic acid function in the absence of precursors all-trans-retinol or retinaldehyde

    All-trans-retinoic acid is responsible for most of the activity of vitamin A1, save visual pigment effects that require retinal (retinaldehyde), and cell metabolism effects that may require retinol itself. Also, some biochemical functions necessary for fertility in vitamin A deficient male and female mammals originally appeared to require all-trans-retinol for rescue, but this is due to a requirement for local conversion of all-trans-retinol to all-trans-retinoic acid, as administered all-trans-retinoic acid does not reach some critical tissues unless given in high amounts. Thus, if animals are fed only all-trans-retinoic acid but no vitamin A1 (all-trans-retinol or retinal), they suffer none of the growth-stunting or epithelial-damaging effects of lack of vitamin A1 (including no xerophthalmia—dryness of the cornea). They do suffer retina degeneration and blindness, due to retinal (retinaldehyde) deficiency.

    In addition, vitamin A1-deprived but all-trans-retinoic acid-supplemented male rats exhibit hypogonadism and infertility due to lack of local retinoic acid synthesis in the testis; similar treatment of female rats causes infertility due to fetal resorption caused by a lack of local retinoic acid synthesis in the embryo.[10][11] The retinoic acid synthesis in testes is catalyzed primarily by the RALDH2 (ALDH1A2) aldehyde dehydrogenase. Suppressing this enzyme has been proposed as a possible way to make a male contraceptive pill, because retinoic acid is necessary for spermatogenesis in humans, much as in rats.[12]
    All-trans-retinoic acid function in embryo development

    Al-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) is a morphogen signaling molecule, which means it is concentration dependent; malformations can arise when the concentration of ATRA is in excess or deficient. Other molecules that interact with ATRA are FGF8, Cdx and Hox genes, all participating in the development of various structures within the embryo. For example, ATRA plays an important role in activating Hox genes required for hindbrain development. The hindbrain, which later differentiates into the brain stem, serves as a major signaling center defining the border of the head and trunk.[13] A double-sided retinoic acid gradient, that is high in the trunk and low at the junction with the head and tail, represses FGF8 in the developing trunk to allow normal somitogenesis, forelimb bud initiation, and formation of the atria in the heart.[14] During exposure to excess ATRA, the hindbrain becomes enlarged, hindering the growth of other parts of the brain; other developmental abnormalities that can occur during excess ATRA are missing or fused somites and problems with the aorta and large vessels within the heart. With an accumulation of these malformations, an individual can be diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome.[15] However, since ATRA partakes in various developmental processes, abnormalities associated with loss of ATRA are not just limited to sites associated with DiGeorge syndrome. Retinoic acid is essential throughout an individual’s lifetime, but it is most critical during pregnancy. Without the proper concentrations of ATRA, severe abnormalities can be present and even fatal to the growing fetus. Genetic loss-of-function studies in mouse and zebrafish embryos that eliminate ATRA synthesis or ATRA receptors (RARs) have revealed abnormal development of the somites, forelimb buds, heart, hindbrain, spinal cord, eye, forebrain basal ganglia, kidney, foregut endoderm, etc.[14]

    • Hi Mary. I think if you read Genereux’s material you will understand that this is 100% wrong. That’s one of the reasons the US spends twice as much on health care as any other industrialized county and yet we are the sickest. Vitamin A is not really a vitamin at all. The name “vitamin” means something that is essential to life and so-called “vitamin” A is not essential. Grant G. has done extensive research and has presented explanations for all the benefits attributed to vitamin A and what is really happening. (They went wrong back in the early days of vitamin research. What they thought were the effects of vitamin A deficiency were really caused by too much. Retinoic Acid was not discovered until 1960. They talked about an unseen “toxic factor,” but they had no way of knowing that it was the end metabolite of vitamin A that quickly killed their research animals.) It is really easy to test and see for yourself what happens when you eliminate it. Conventional medicine says that your corneas will melt and you will go blind without it, when actually your eyes (and everything else) get better without it.

      I hope you can “suspend your disbelief” long enough to read his books and blog posts. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

      Thanks for the comment!

  7. Glad to hear of more people understanding the dangers of Vitamin A! Dr. Garrett Smith is leading the way with his Vitamin A Detox protocol. I’ve been on a low A diet for about 10 months now and am healthier than ever. I’ve written quite a bit about it too. Best of luck!

  8. what type of diet is best for thyroid issues like enlarged thyroid and nodules? There are so many out there to follow.

    • Hi Sandra. I’m not qualified to give medical advice, but I can tell you that I am now off my thyroid medication and most of the others medications that I was taking, after 7 months on a diet that eliminates vitamin A. Anything that is not caused by malnutrition or an infection is probably an autoimmune reaction and retinoic acid, the end metabolite of vitamin A is the root cause.

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