Vitamin A, iron and anaemia

Vitamin A is a class of fat soluble substances, the two main dietary sources of which are retinol found in animal products and beta-carotene which is found in colourful vegetables.

Anaemia is said to be caused by a lack of Iron in the diet but Iron supplements seem to make the problem worse whereas Vitamin A supplements can improve matters.

This page concentrates on the relationship between Vitamin A levels and iron function. We find that Vitamin A is essential for overall health and that deficiency leads to anaemia. The mechanisms for this lie in way that Vitamin A helps with the regulation of iron and the manufacture of red blood cells.

In the summary below, ‘Vitamin A’ means ‘Retinol’ and ‘Vitamin A levels’ refer to levels of Retinol in the blood.

Hematopoietic studies in vitamin A deficiency – R E Hodges et al.

The paper looked at 3 types of studies:

  • Population wide examination of dietary vitamin A levels and incidence of anaemia
  • A study conducted on male humans who were deprived of vitamin A
  • Laboratory studies on rats given varying amounts of iron and vitamin A

In all cases it was found that:

  • Reduced vitamin A in the diet led to symptoms of anaemia
  • A decrease of vitamin A in the diet led to a slow decrease of vitamin A (retinol) in the blood
  • Reduced levels of retinol in the blood corresponded with reduced levels of haemoglobin and an increase in malformed red blood cells
  • There was no relationship between haemoglobin levels and iron intake
  • Iron supplements are of no benefit if retinol levels are low
  • Blood regeneration (haematopoiesis) cannot take place without the presence of retinol
  • Anaemia was often accompanied by an accumulation of iron in the liver and spleen
  • All the apparent effects of vitamin A deficiency were reversed when dietary levels were restored

Haemosiderosis (pictured) is an overload of iron in the organs or tissues. Iron belongs mostly in the blood in the form of haemoglobin to transport oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body.

The build up of iron in these other tissues suggests that vitamin A is somehow involved in the correct distribution of iron.

The observation that red blood cells may be abnormal in size, shape and staining characteristics suggest that the cells may be imperfectly formed – hence they may have a shortened survival time

Accumulation of iron in the liver may also suggest an alteration in the use and/or mobilization of iron

Bio-available copper wrapped up in the protein ceruloplasmin is needed for the construction of haemoglobin but to transform mineral copper into the bio-available form, ceruloplasmin, the presence of retinol is required.
A deficiency of either copper or Vitamin A (but not iron) will therefore lead to the symptoms of ‘iron deficiency’ anaemia.

Hormesis: “a process in which exposure to a low dose of a chemical agent or environmental factor that is damaging at higher doses induces an adaptive beneficial effect on the cell or organism” – NCBI

Take a look at what happened in the chart below when iron was supplemented at 350 days of a vitamin A depletion diet. The haemoglobin levels increased rapidly thereby giving the impression that the treatment was working as required. However, levels plummeted just as quickly and returned to their original level with permanent recovery only after restoration of vitamin A in the diet.

Note that many doctors are seeing sharp improvements for many conditions after vitamin D3 supplementation and are then recommending higher doses to effect cures and regular consumption as prophylaxis. This is faulty logic and potentially vey damaging.


Anaemia is a condition of Iron dis-regulation rather than Iron deficiency and the root cause is usually a lack of Copper and/or a lack of Vitamin A.

Standard blood tests will either measure iron levels in the blood via haemoglobin or they will measure ferritin levels, which have been shown to be unrepresentative of iron levels. If either of these tests suggest low levels of iron then either oral or intravenous supplements are given.

The problem with this is that more iron is being pumped into an already overloaded and dysfunctional system with the result being that the new iron never makes it to the bloodstream and instead is bundled up into hemosiderin and stored in the liver and spleen.

More problems result but the blood iron levels remain unchanged and so more iron supplements are recommended and the patient is caught in a vicious circle of fatigue, toxic treatments and chronic disease.


Hematopoietic studies in vitamin A deficiency – R E Hodges et al.

Iron Accumulation During Cellular Senescence in Human Fibroblasts In Vitro – Killilea, Ames, Liao, Atamna

Serum ferritin is an important inflammatory disease marker, as it is mainly a leakage product from damaged cells – Bell, Pretorius

The Root Cause Protocol – Morley Robbins

Cure your fatigue – Morley Robbins