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Megadosing Vitamin A

vitamin a megadose vitamins supplements retinoid retinoid acid accutane alternative

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#1 rachelhannah

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 10:41 AM

Let me be honest: out of the desperation and frustration that we all know too well, I decided to self-medicate with Vitamin A supplements (the "pre-formed", animal source, since the precursor form, beta-Carotene, is converted only on a need-basis and thus cannot reach therapeutic/toxic concentrations per kg of body weight).

 

I am 23, female, moderate acne (with a history of severe cystic). 5'7" and 115 lbs. I've been taking at least 10,000 iu / day, with some days at 50,000. I take it with food and with other supplements that are said to mitigate toxic effects. 

 

In the 6 weeks since I began, my face has seen all of ~4 new zits, and when they come, they seem to be stopped in their tracks: they don't burgeon into what I'd call an outbreak, and they go away quickly. My skin is doing beautifully. The sense of relief and satisfaction cannot be put into words. I'm almost afraid to jinx it!

 

It seems too good to be true, and naturally, my worry is that the megadose of Vitamin A will in fact take a serious toll beneath the skin: on my liver, eyesight and more. 

 

Because this mode of self-medication is not accepted in the mainstream medical community, I feel like I can't get sincere answers from doctors, including my dermatologist. The knee-jerk response is, "No! Stop! That's dangerous. You are getting your information from the internet. You are not a doctor. WebMD and medical journals and "studies have shown" are not doctors, either."

 

I get that. I don't want to be stupid or stubborn here. In fact, I came here to learn YOUR perspectives on this controversial question, because here we all are seasoned veterans of acne treatments; when we put our heads together and pool that common expertise, we can help each other.

 

I also came here because you guys are particularly sensitive to the risks that loom on either side of this situation:

  • Risk 1: self-administering doses to so-called "toxic" (alternately called "therapeutic") levels.
  • Risk 2: needlessly stopping the first thing in my life that has worked to clear up my skin. I say "needlessly" because my side effects are mild to none. Megadosing is dangerous in theory, but I'm the one living inside my body day in/day out, and I feel just like myself! Truly!  If a "course" of 3+ months can put the acne in remission and give me my life back, then I'm THRILLED to be giving up drinking alcohol, smoking and sex (b/c of teratogenicity) for 12 weeks. In the scheme of dealing with this condition, it goes without saying that such sacrifices are worth their weight in gold. Oh yeah, and chapped lips and dry eyes and a mild headache from time to time (if a headache does come, I will skip the next doses. Gotta listen to your body). 

 

While we are on this subject of, you know, god-awful side effects...let's quit beating around the bush and address the elephant in the forum, that is, isotretinoin, of course! Here is my central question: is there a practical difference between "toxicity" and "therapeutic dosage"?  

 

The definition of "toxicity" is when excess vitamin A is forced to enter the circulation because the quantity ingested exceeds the liver's maximum retinoid storage limit. In short, "toxicity" means the presence of vitamin A in the blood, where it do all sorts of things, from dramatically lowering sebum production (yay!cheer.gif), to causing dryness, hair loss and, even, intracranial pressure (ohno.gif exclamation.gif yikes...). So, the toxicity that combats our acne-prone skin, is the same mechanism behind all the dangers.  But we knew that already; accutane treatment is no walk in the park. You are swelling your bloodstream with toxic levels of retinoic acid. 

 

Now, if you managed to stick it out and read all of that, you probably found that I jumped to conclusions without enough evidence, etc. Of course I did. I was a lowly humanities major in college! This is my best effort at getting a handle on the different factors involved, but my grasp is superficial at best. You are invited to correct me.  For instance, I realize that isotretinoin is NOT exactly the same substance that is sealed into vitamin A gel capsules. (Obviously.) I've read in certain places that isotretinoin is more efficient in its side effects compared to the benefits that it gives the patient, whereas vitamin a needs to be taken in enormous quantities to achieve comparable therapeutic effects, while stacking greater dangers against the patient. 

 

One big disclaimer: of course it would be ideal to take isotretinoin, because then you're under strict doctor's watch with regular bloodwork, etc, that protect the patient. However, [1] this is not an option for me at the moment, because half the time I am living in the Middle East for my job, often for more than 30 days at at time; [2] wouldn't it be ideal to steadily decrease my daily dosage to 10,000 iu (25,000 = the beginning of potentially toxic territory), and hopefully I will stay clear, and not have to deal with all the bureaucracy + complication of the iPledge program, not to mention the cost of the prescription?

 

Also, here's how I calculated my dosageAttached File  vitamin a dosage.pdf   81.42K   414 downloads

 

Thank you in advance for any feedback!



#2 wicky

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:06 PM

How is it working for you?  Did it decrease oil production?  I just started supplmenting with 20,000 IU's a day so its too soon to tell



#3 aanabill

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 12:22 AM

please be careful about vitamin A .

its not safe.

i highly discourage that.

 

thanks.

good luck.



#4 Green Gables

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 02:23 AM

Doctors in the 70s used to do "poor man's Accutane", which is essentially what you are doing, taking a lot of vitamin A. 

 

I'm fuzzy on how many IUs they would actually give patients, so I can't give an exact number.

 

However, the numbers I have read over and over for vitamin A toxicity is above 100,000 IU a day. So if you are experiencing "fantastic" results at 10,000 - 50,000 IU with minor side effects, well hey, you may be fine.

 

If you want my opinion, I think you could better results without side effects by combining "normal" doses of vitamin A, vitamin B5, and anti-DHT herbs such as saw palmetto and stinging nettle. 


Edited by Green Gables, 21 June 2013 - 02:26 AM.


#5 Telefunk

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 12:19 PM

25,000iu natural vit a (from fish oil)  is perfectly safe for long term use in adults.

100,000iu has been used long term in studies without a problem.

The only caution is to also take natural vitamin e and vit d becuse the vit A megadose can upset ratios.

400iu E and 5000iu D would be good.

 

It's the synthetic vit a retinyl palmitate that can be a problem at higher doses.

Eskimos eating their normal diet consume 200,000 to 300,000 units preformed vit A.



#6 WishClean

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 02:11 PM

I agree, there is higher risk for toxicity with synthetic forms of vitamins. Also, keep in mind that most people who tried vitamin A had great results at first. The issues don't begin to appear until a few months or a year into it. It can lead to hair loss, digestive/stomach issues, spontaneous scarring, lower immune system, etc. So megadosing long term without monitoring your levels is not advisable. Having said that, I have been prescribed a mega mega dose of vitamin D2 (synthetic, plant-based) by my doctor and have started taking it, but I am under supervision and will get my levels re-tested in 2 months because D can also be stored and cause toxicity. 

I think you should slowly cut down on vitamin A and see how your skin reacts, maybe you don't need as much anymore anyway since you have built up your levels. 


Edited by WishClean, 06 August 2013 - 02:11 PM.


#7 aanabill

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 10:36 PM

has anyone tried having chicken liver(or any liver - i say chicken because its got comparatively less amount of vit A in it than beef) everyday?

that would give u vit A way more than RDA?



#8 WishClean

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 09:59 PM

I haven't, but I tried carrot juice and I think it made my skin a bit worse... a glass of pure carrot juice can have up to 500-700% of the RDA of vitamin A, according to the bolthouse brand I used to drink. But it didn't do me any good, I guess it was too many carrots. 



#9 FeBush

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 01:11 PM

I can say that megadosing on vitamin A was the only "natural" thing that helped me. It was here in this forum that I first read about it.

 In the past I tried Niacin, B5, silica, MSM, megadosing on C... and I follow a very good plant-based diet. However, the vitamin A was the only one that gave me results.

I've been taking 200.000 UI a day for the past 2 months. On the first week, my skin was already recovering. I had moderate acne on my face, back and scalp (I know. Terrible), and now my skin is totally clear.

I intend to keep doing this for 4 months more and then give it a break for a month or two.

Thank you for the helpful information!!



#10 austra

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 01:42 AM

I would personally take 10000-30000 IU per day, not more. And in the long term no more than 10 000 IU. Make sure to get enough vitamin D, as I've read that can affect the toxicity of vitamin A (at least 2000IU per day). It might be worthwhile to also get vitamin K supplements or eat vitamin K rich foods. I would think vitamin A supplements would be fairly okay as long as you don't go overboard. And think of it as being on Accutane - you have to be very careful with birth control and alcohol consumption etc. Discontinue use if you notice any side effects.

 

Any more than 50 000 IU per day is too much of a risk in my opinion, I wouldn't do it.


Edited by austra, 09 November 2013 - 01:45 AM.


#11 k3tchup

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 01:37 AM

Read up on this with extreme attention to liver dysfunction signs and symptoms as well as other precautions to take. This is serious business that can cause long term damage if careless. I do not care what anyone says, everyone is different you may not have the same results it is just not safe long term. Acne will only lessen until you quit the vitamin A. It then comes down to whats worth more, your acne or your liver....

 

 

I did reading long time ago on the different forms of vitamin A and how to correctly/safely take it. I would do this. This goes for anyone reading this message. Liver failure is not fun to treat.



#12 WishClean

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:17 PM

Read up on this with extreme attention to liver dysfunction signs and symptoms as well as other precautions to take. This is serious business that can cause long term damage if careless. I do not care what anyone says, everyone is different you may not have the same results it is just not safe long term. Acne will only lessen until you quit the vitamin A. It then comes down to whats worth more, your acne or your liver....

 

 

I did reading long time ago on the different forms of vitamin A and how to correctly/safely take it. I would do this. This goes for anyone reading this message. Liver failure is not fun to treat.

 

10,000 IU is the upper daily limit of vitamin A for adults, according to the source you posted. Isn't that a bit low? I've used multis with more than that.



#13 k3tchup

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 12:21 AM

Read up on this with extreme attention to liver dysfunction signs and symptoms as well as other precautions to take. This is serious business that can cause long term damage if careless. I do not care what anyone says, everyone is different you may not have the same results it is just not safe long term. Acne will only lessen until you quit the vitamin A. It then comes down to whats worth more, your acne or your liver....

 

 

I did reading long time ago on the different forms of vitamin A and how to correctly/safely take it. I would do this. This goes for anyone reading this message. Liver failure is not fun to treat.

 

10,000 IU is the upper daily limit of vitamin A for adults, according to the source you posted. Isn't that a bit low? I've used multis with more than that.

There is multiple forms of vitamin A. Some synthetic others natural. Knowing the difference could probably help in dosing. If i remember correctly, vitamin A commonly found in carrots,carotenoid, its relatively hard to overdose on because the the metabolic conversion and absorption- the body doesn't allow it after a certain point.A harmless side effect is the body turning orange from too much carotenoids. However, when it comes to synthetic versions such as retinyl palmitate overdosing is easier therefore more deadly resulting in liver damage mostly at extreme doses and doses that are long term. That is why some vitamin complexes use a makeup of both to reduce that risk. So even though a label may read 10,000iu it may be made up of like 25% carotenoids.

 

I have to recall all of this from my memory as I was heavily into the vitamins and minerals when I did my researching as its been a long while. But as i recall the daily dose is 5000iu, no more than 10,000iu long term? This again varies in males and females.

 

 

 

 

 

This site might help

 

http://ods.od.nih.go...thProfessional/


Edited by k3tchup, 12 November 2013 - 12:24 AM.


#14 WishClean

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 12:51 AM

There is multiple forms of vitamin A. Some synthetic others natural. Knowing the difference could probably help in dosing. If i remember correctly, vitamin A commonly found in carrots,carotenoid, its relatively hard to overdose on because the the metabolic conversion and absorption- the body doesn't allow it after a certain point.A harmless side effect is the body turning orange from too much carotenoids. However, when it comes to synthetic versions such as retinyl palmitate overdosing is easier therefore more deadly resulting in liver damage mostly at extreme doses and doses that are long term. That is why some vitamin complexes use a makeup of both to reduce that risk. So even though a label may read 10,000iu it may be made up of like 25% carotenoids.

 

I have to recall all of this from my memory as I was heavily into the vitamins and minerals when I did my researching as its been a long while. But as i recall the daily dose is 5000iu, no more than 10,000iu long term? This again varies in males and females.

 

 

 

 

 

This site might help

 

http://ods.od.nih.go...thProfessional/

 

Thanks for the info. Generally, beta carotene would be safer to supplement with than retinyl palmitate. 



#15 alternativista

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 07:51 AM

Read up on this with extreme attention to liver dysfunction signs and symptoms as well as other precautions to take. This is serious business that can cause long term damage if careless. I do not care what anyone says, everyone is different you may not have the same results it is just not safe long term. Acne will only lessen until you quit the vitamin A. It then comes down to whats worth more, your acne or your liver....
 
 
I did reading long time ago on the different forms of vitamin A and how to correctly/safely take it. I would do this. This goes for anyone reading this message. Liver failure is not fun to treat.

 
10,000 IU is the upper daily limit of vitamin A for adults, according to the source you posted. Isn't that a bit low? I've used multis with more than that.

Are you sure they had preformed A and not beta carotene. I think Few multis actually contain Vitamin A.

#16 Fult

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 12:17 PM

People on this forum have been megadosing this and that forever. There is no magic bullet I can assure you.



#17 WishClean

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 09:55 PM

 

Read up on this with extreme attention to liver dysfunction signs and symptoms as well as other precautions to take. This is serious business that can cause long term damage if careless. I do not care what anyone says, everyone is different you may not have the same results it is just not safe long term. Acne will only lessen until you quit the vitamin A. It then comes down to whats worth more, your acne or your liver....
 
 
I did reading long time ago on the different forms of vitamin A and how to correctly/safely take it. I would do this. This goes for anyone reading this message. Liver failure is not fun to treat.

 
10,000 IU is the upper daily limit of vitamin A for adults, according to the source you posted. Isn't that a bit low? I've used multis with more than that.

Are you sure they had preformed A and not beta carotene. I think Few multis actually contain Vitamin A.

I checked, it is beta carotene. But isn't even beta carotene unsafe to take in large doses? Unfortunately, I can't digest other vitamin A sources very well, like cod liver oil, so I basically get my vitamin A from juicing vegetables and raw carrots. This past year, due to digestive issues and allergies, I wasn't even able to tolerate my whole food multivitamin, so I stopped taking it. But a few weeks ago I was looking for a multivitamin substitute and came across herpanacine. It's apparently the no.1 skin formula, and the salesperson at the store told me to try it for a month and if I don't like it I can return it for a full refund. So far, I like it a lot. It's weird, but taking the main ingredients on their own never helped me that much, but the combination seems to work. I was surprised how many positive reviews his supplement has online, but it does indeed help based on trying it out this month. However, it says that up to 2 servings can be taken safely per day, which means 25,000 IU total (beta carotene). Isn't that too much??? Especially long term.

 

 

 

Supplement Facts
Serving Size  3 CAPSULES
Servings Per Container   66
block.gif  
Amount Per
Serving
% Daily
Value
block.gif
CALORIES
N/A*
block.gif
VITAMIN A (AS BETA CAROTENE)
12500 IU
N/A*
block.gif
VITAMIN E (As D-Alpha Tocopheryl Succinate)
100 IU
N/A*
block.gif
ZINC (AS ZINC GLUCONATE)
20 Mg
N/A*
block.gif
SELENIUM (AS SODIUM SELENATE)
50 Mcg
N/A*
block.gif
HERPANACINE PROPRIETARY BLENDL-LYSINE (AS L-LYSINE HCI), L-TYROSINE, ASTRAGALUS ROOT, DANDELION ROOT, SARSAPARILLA ROOT, ECHINACEA (AERIAL PARTS), LIGUSTRUM BERRY.
1400 Mg
N/A*
block.gif block.gif

* Daily value not established

Other Ingredients:
VEGETABLE CELLULOSE,CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, VEGETABLE MAGNESIUM STERATE,SILCIA,AND CALCIUM SILLICATE.



#18 k3tchup

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 10:57 PM

Well I did this quick research off of Wikipedia which complies some of this information. To answer your question first I will quote my findings.

“Hypervitaminosis A occurs when the maximum limit for liver stores of retinoids is exceeded. The excess vitamin A enters the circulation causing systemic toxicity. Betacarotene, a precursor form of vitamin A typical of vegetable sources such as carrots, is selectively converted into retinoids, so it does not cause toxicity; however, overconsumption can cause carotenosis, a benign condition in which the skin turns orange.”

“Newer research has shown that the absorption of provitamin-A carotenoids is only half as much as previously thought.”

“Because the conversion of retinol from provitamin carotenoids by the human body is actively regulated by the amount of retinol available to the body, the conversions apply strictly only for vitamin A-deficient humans. The absorption of provitamins depends greatly on the amount of lipids ingested with the provitamin; lipids increase the uptake of the provitamin”

“Since vitamin A is fat-soluble, disposing of any excesses taken in through diet takes much longer than with water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C. This allows for toxic levels of vitamin A to accumulate.”

“In general, acute toxicity occurs at doses of 25,000 IU/kg of body weight, with chronic toxicity occurring at 4,000 IU/kg of body weight daily for 6–15 months” “Toxic symptoms can also arise after consuming very large amounts of preformed vitamin A over a short period of time”

“However, liver toxicities can occur at levels as low as 15,000 IU per day”

“The carotenoid forms (such as beta-carotene as found in carrots), give no such symptoms, except with supplements and chronic alcoholism, but excessive dietary intake of beta-carotene can lead to carotenodermia, which causes orange-yellow discoloration of the skin.”


I hope this answers questions. I’m pressed for time. But it is similar to what I’ve read in the past. There really is no mention of long term effects of beta carotene as there are synthetic versions of vitamin A.


Edited by k3tchup, 12 November 2013 - 10:58 PM.


#19 alternativista

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 03:14 PM

alternativista, on 12 Nov 2013 - 07:57, said:
Are you sure they had preformed A and not beta carotene. I think Few multis actually contain Vitamin A. 

I checked, it is beta carotene. But isn't even beta carotene unsafe to take in large doses? 

 

 

 

 

No.  Your body will convert however much to A that it needs and use the rest for anti-oxidant purposes.  It might have an adverse affect on smokers. Or is that B-vitamins.  I don't know. There's some study they cite all the time when they want to tell us that supplements are bad. 






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