If you have trouble seeing in the dark, have dry eyes, bumps on your skin, dry skin, get allergies or frequent colds, then keep reading.
What I’m about to tell you is kinda boring in the health and fitness world. You’re not going to see an influencer posing on a yacht with it and it’s not making anyone millions of dollars.
It’s vitamin A.
There’s a good reason it’s not talked about, most people don’t think they are deficient. It’s “easy” to get enough from even a small serving of fruits and vegetables, but the reality is, 50% of the U.S. population is deficient in this vitamin.
Before you exit out, here’s the facts.
Vitamin A is required not only for vision, but also helps regulate over 500 genes in your body. It’s important for immune health, skin health, using vitamin D, and used in your red blood cells. Basically, it’s really important.
Genes are how things get done in the body. They are the instruction manuals that tell your body how to work.
50% of the population has a mutation in their genes that limits how you convert plant vitamin A into the vitamin A we use.
A lot of us grew up learning that carrots are good for eyesight because they’re high in vitamin A. Technically, that’s not correct. Carrots, and all plants for that matter, contain vitamin A precursors.
The most common, and well known, is beta-carotene. It’s super high in foods like carrot, spinach, sweet potatoes, and plant orange in color.
Now, we can’t actually use this form of vitamin A. It must be converted from the plant version into the animal version of vitamin A called retinol. But even with those foods, 1 in 3 Americans still don’t get enough vitamin A. It’s 2 in 3 Americans if they avoid multivitamins and fortified foods.
Here’s where things get tricky, the gene responsible for this is called your BCO1 gene. That’s not all that important for you to remember, but what is important is that 50% of the population has a mutation that causes this gene to not work so well.
50% of the population can only convert half of the plant vitamin A to animal vitamin A.
And 25% can only convert 25% or less of what they eat! (This is me!)
That’s 1 in 4 people!
If you think of it as a car. 50% of the population can only access two gears. And 25% of the population can never get out of first gear. You can get to where you want to go, but it’s not going to be very fast and it’s going to cause a lot of wear and tear on the engine.
You can do some simple gene testing through Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, or Seeking Health to find out how your BCO1 gene is functioning (note: you’ll have to take your data from Ancestry or 23andMe and put it through Seeking Health’s software).
But here is an easier way to see if you’re deficient or not.
It’s the night driving test.
It’s simple. Go driving at night and pass someone with their lights on. If you’re blind for 2 seconds after passing them, you’re most likely deficient in vitamin A.
Other symptoms of deficiency include:
- Bumps on your skin
- Dry eyes
- Frequent colds/illness- every cold or illness depletes stores
- Sleep problems- Vit. A needed to detect blue light, which sets your circadian rhythm
- Need to use sunglasses in bright light- photophobia
- Chronically dry skin
- Persistent pupil dilation
- Flaky scalp
- Poor wound healing
Also, as we get closer to summer at the time this article gets posted, getting too much UV exposure (sunburn) depletes vitamin A stores
I know what you’re going to say “well I’ll just eat more carrots, sweet potatoes, and other things high in beta-carotene. I’ll eat so much that I won’t have to worry about it!”
Does not work that way. The system can kinda get “junked up” if you try to put too much in at once.
On top of that, you have to eat fat with foods high in vitamin A to absorb it. 14-28 grams of fat (1-2 tablespoons of olive oil) is the ideal amount per meal.
Now how does this relate to hunting?
First and last light are usually ideal times for hunting. Having better eye sight in those low light conditions means you’re going to be able to see better whether it’s:
- Being able to shoot farther because you can see farther
- Being able to better identify your target
- Being able to see if there are any small branches, twigs, or other things in between you and your target.
Okay, so how do you get vitamin A?
We’re talking about retinol, or the animal version of vitamin A, which means you need to eat animal foods.
- Egg Yolks
- Full-Fat Dairy (whole milk, whole milk yogurt, cream, butter etc)
- Liver (best source)
Liver is the best source, 3 ounces a week is all you need to get plenty of vitamin A. Since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, you can store it unlike vitamin C. So you can do one big dose. Liver is lean though, so make sure you eat it with some fat (fried in some duck fat is my wife’s favorite or served at pate).
Egg yolks, dairy, and fish are decent sources but you’ll need to eat at least one of those once per day.
The easiest source for most people is to supplement with a retinol supplement. Just one drop is enough from the supplement I recommend.
Now, vitamin A toxicity does exist so don’t overdo it. It takes a while to get there, but don’t supplement on days you would eat liver. And many of you might only need to supplement 2-3 days per week.
If any part of this article sounds like you, I’d recommend ordering this supplement (I take it daily). If you have questions about any of this, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to do some genetic testing to see what you can do to optimize your health, click below to order the Strate Gene Test.
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