Also, retinol Vitamin A requires zinc to support healthy vision. Great resource article by Dr. Chris Masterjohn about fat-soluble vitamins here...and he explains that:
Vitamins A, D, and K cooperate synergistically not only with each other, but also with essential minerals like magnesium and zinc, with dietary fat, and with key metabolic factors like carbon dioxide and thyroid hormone. This level of complexity is a reminder that it is best to cooperate with the wisdom of nature by obtaining vitamins through nutrient-dense foods.
That's why you want to get your retinol Vitamin A from whole foods, ideally.
Ok—with that said—if you don’t want to eat the weekly Liver “supplemental food” to get your retinol Vitamin A….here are a few other options.
A. The next best way to get your retinol Vitamin A is to take a desiccated liver supplement OR refrigerated cod liver oil:
I do recommend desiccated liver supplements (don’t worry, they don’t taste like liver at all and you'll be honoring more parts of the animal—and you would only go for ones from pasture-raised cattle who have a good life)…over the refrigerated cod liver oil, bc cod liver oil can go rancid and desiccated liver is pretty shelf-stable. Plus, certain high-dose brands of cod liver oil can be too high in Vitamin A as well….and all can be potentially higher in toxins too, since cod are at the top of the food chain (much higher than salmon or sardines).
Vitamins in freeze-dried liver are pretty stable…and again, with the exception of Red Palm Oil--only found in specific animal protein (liver, and a small amount in egg yolks & butter fat) can give you the body-usable form of Vitamin A: retinol.
(carrots just don't have the body-usable form of Vitamin A...almost all people are poor genetic converters of non-retinol Vit A)...
Even if you’re primarily a vegetarian—consider doing this for YOUR health (it’s important to care about your own health & not just animals)…and it is a beautiful thing to honor & use all parts of the animal, when it is already being raised in a good way (pasture-raised). Plus, desiccated liver pills don’t have any taste, either.
Looking at desiccated beef liver supplements—here's a brand (Ancestral Supplements) that I recommend & I'll share why I picked this one too, to help you if you want to research other brands, too:
I like this brand because it’s carefully freeze-dried…and the daily serving has 100% of the RDA for retinol Vitamin A (woot)…and no de-fattening process happened or fillers were added...plus, it's grass-fed and very reasonably priced.
Why do liver (and desiccated beef liver supplements) rock? They're a safe way to get your weekly needs for retinol Vitamin A met! They’re also very high in absorbable B12! Plus, they also contain usable iron as well.
Which brings me to an important point...
If you’re high in Iron—should you avoid liver (and desiccated liver supplements??)—well, no. This food is too important to skip. You should go for reducing your iron by donating blood or getting phlebotomies)...but don’t skip all of the nutritional goodness in liver.
It also provides a good amount of Copper too…(with a complimentary ratio of Zinc).
Depending on the amount of Retinol Vitamin A you're getting from other foods (you can use cronometer.com to track & find out)--you could take 4 - 6 of these desiccated Liver pills each day.
B. Vitamin A from refrigerated cod liver oil. Dr. Chris Kresser recommends this brand: Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil.
One nice thing about refrigerated cod liver oil is that it's a good source of both Vitamin A and D (you wouldn't need a separate Vit D supplement) and omega-3 fats, too.
For anyone else interested in using refrigerated cod liver oil—I have to say the desiccated liver supplements (pill form) have no taste--and the refrigerated cod liver oil taste is pretty strong. I just try to pour the serving down the back of my throat, and try not to taste it at all—and then “chase” it with a little Glycine stirred into water. Aaaah—the taste of health (lol).
C. And for strict Vegetarians and Vegans, the best source of Vitamin A is sustainably-grown Red Palm Oil.
Dr. Chris Masterjohn writes in his free Vitamin & Minerals 101 course:
“Red palm oil is a great plant source of vitamin A. It happens to be super-rich in carotenoids *and* vitamin E *and* all the right fats. And it's even better than pureed vegetables. Because it is an oil, the carotenoids are already perfectly dissolved and you don't need to do much digesting to extract them.”
Woot! Nutiva makes a brand of red palm oil that’s organic and grown without hurting wildlife or causing further deforestation.
My experience with palm oil is to start off slowly. It’s a traditional cooking oil in Brazil and if you eat too much of it right away, it can give you digestion trouble. 🙁
But truly—this is a great solution for Vegans/Vegetarians.
D. And—you can purchase a synthetic form of *just Vitamin A* from palmitate…but if you aren’t getting it in a natural food-balance-ratio—you could run into trouble with nutrient imbalances. Dr. Chris Masterjon writes:
"You can also just take a vitamin A supplement. Take 3,000 IU a day, or 10,000 IU twice a week. If you take more, you should work with a knowledgeable health care practitioner and make sure all your other nutrients are adequate to avoid imbalances."
Personally, as an animal lover and a former long-time vegetarian—I’m a little awed by the fact that our bodies are dependent on retinol Vitamin A--which is mainly found in Liver.
Grass-fed liver pate is a superfood…desiccated liver supplements can be good too (Vitamin A content is pretty stable here)…refrigerated cod-liver oil can work (although needs to be refrigerated and you only want a brand that gives you less than/around 3,000 IU of retinol Vitamin A a day, not more)…and you could also do liberal use of Red Palm Oil a day or synthetic Vitamin A....and there is a good amount of retinol Vitamin A (although not enough) in whole eggs, too.
Vitamin A is stored in the liver—and too much is toxic (don't take too much retinol Vitamin A on a daily or weekly basis), and it works in balance with other vitamins & minerals—so food sources are your best bet.
The main take-away is—you need retinol Vitamin A. 🙂