Hypothesis: Measles infections are evidence of vitamin A deficiency and Rubella infections are evidence of TOO MUCH vitamin A
Written By: Ashley Everly
"The combination of increased vitamin A sufficiency via the use of cod liver oil and liver consumption, along with reduced air pollution >>> reduced the severity and *incidence* of measles. The over-consumption of liver and cod liver oil, and over-intake of pre-formed vitamin A in general, increased the severity and incidence of rubella. As the use of cod liver oil declined, and the consumption of organ meats decreased, the risk of rubella and congenital malformations decreased.
If you've followed me for a while you may remember I have encouraged people to get their vitamin A from plant sources ("provitamin A" / carotenoids) rather than animal products ("pre-formed A" / retinoids).
In the body, carotenoids are converted to the usable form of vitamin A (retinoid acid), but every individual does this at a different rate. Maybe because some of us need more than others, or because some of us just struggle to convert (genetics or other functional impairment).
With carotenoids from plant foods, it is difficult to get "too much" unless you're taking in high doses daily, for years. I mean, you can drink so much carrot juice that your skin turns orange, but that doesn't harm you.
Animal sources of vitamin A, on the other hand, can much more quickly become toxic. Let's discuss...
Your liver stores vitamin A.
Why? Because you don't want too much vitamin A (retinoid acid) circulating in your bloodstream, or else it will cause all kinds of problems, including loss of bone density as your body removes calcium from your bones to remediate the high concentration of retinoid acid in the blood. (Think: acid/base chemistry - we need to maintain proper pH. Just one aspect of why calcium is pulled from bones.)
When you get too much vitamin A stored in your *liver* (in order to protect your bloodstream and all your other vital organs), it eventually causes liver damage.
What happens when you are infected with rubella?
*** Your liver dumps vitamin A into your bloodstream and causes all the same symptoms of vitamin A toxicity/hypervitaminosis. ***
<< Maybe the immune system has some sort of failsafe mechanism to prevent further liver damage and death, by sacrificing the health of the rest of your vital organs? >>
Therefore, who is likely to contract rubella and have severe symptoms? >> People who are consuming a lot of pre-formed / animal sources of vitamin A.
Let's think about this for a moment.
The "food" that is highest in vitamin A, is LIVER.
If you want to overload your own liver with vitamin A, eat animal liver regularly! And, take cod liver oil.
Pause for a moment.
Let's go back to measles.
Many have suggested that the reason for the decline in measles severity and mortality was because of the use of cod liver oil (CLO) as a natural in-home treatment. We *do* know that improved nutrition and vitamin A sufficiency was the biggest factor. But the use of CLO became increasingly popular between 1900-1950, during the same time that measles became less and less of a worry for parents (mortality rate sharply declined). The US government was even subsidizing CLO and vitamin A supplements in the early 1950s to women of childbearing age. In the 1960s, CLO use began to decline.
But in the 1940s, the US government began a campaign to encourage people to eat organ meats (because of WWII).
By the 1950 and 60s, eating liver had become a popular food item on dinner plates. Gerber even sold "Strained Beef Liver" in baby food jars in the 60s.
Now, when you look at the graph of measles *incidence*, the decline begins around 1965. After that, the incidence of measles diminishes greatly. Of course, it is claimed that this is because of the introduction of the vaccine...
*Measles cases cluster around areas of high air pollution.
*Air pollution was increasingly becoming a huge problem by the mid-1900s.
*The first air pollution agency in the US was created in 1947.
*The National Air Pollution Control Act was enacted in 1955.
*The Clean Air Act was introduced in 1963.
*Vitamin A sufficiency had dramatically increased during this time with the use of CLO and consumption of liver.
*And vitamin A is important for protecting the lungs against the effects of air pollution...
BUT, NO, IT WAS THE VACCINE (introduced in 1963) that reduced the incidence of measles.
Let's move on...
The use of CLO peaked in the 1950s, then began to decline in the 1960s, and liver consumption in the US reached its peak in the 1960s and began to decline in the 1970s when cholesterol began to be the focus (liver is high in cholesterol).
Again, measles severity and incidence began to decline along with increasing vitamin A sufficiency (peak CLO + peak liver consumption) and reduced pollution, beginning in 1965-1966...
But in 1964-1965, there was a rubella epidemic, with 12.5 million who contracted it. 11,000 pregnant women lost their babies, 2,100 newborns died, and 20,000 babies were born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
Could this have been brought on because of the combination of taking CLO as a supplement, while also regularly eating liver...? Were Americans overloading themselves with vitamin A to prevent measles (and other infections of deficiency), while increasing their risk of severe rubella via chronic vitamin A toxicity...?
Again, after 1970, CLO use and liver consumption declined, gradually. The largest peak in rubella incidence was the same year the vaccine was introduced, in 1969. And then another resurgence occurred in 1990-1991 (mostly in Pennsylvania & California, in Amish communities, who still traditionally eat liver and other organ meats).
SO... I just thought I would share my thoughts because I found all of this quite interesting.
*Side note: Ever heard of someone taking the drug "Accutane" for their acne? It's essentially high dose synthetic vitamin A. What else do they have to take? Birth control. Because if they're on Accutane and they get pregnant, the high dose vitamin A will cause birth defects. What is the main reason for a rubella vaccine? To prevent pregnant women from contracting rubella, which can cause birth defects..."
"Retinoid toxicity can occur due to excessive dietary intake, supplements, and vitamin A medications. Vitamin A intake only marginally above the recommended amount is associated with embryopathy, reduced bone mineral density in the neonate, and increased risk for hip fracture."
"Provitamin A (beta-carotene and other carotenoids), found in plants such as green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, and carrots, must be metabolized to vitamin A. As a result, it is less likely to cause toxicity." "Excessive intake of preformed vitamin A, but not precursors, has been linked to teratogenicity in both human and animal studies."