The Anaemia of Vitamin A Deficiency

We’ve been discussing at the length how to navigate low iron and many of you have asked how this might apply to children.

There are hundreds of studies that acknowledge the importance of retinol-A [vitamin A] for restoring haemoglobin and when it comes to children, Saraiva et al. 2014, while observational, found a higher prevalence of anaemia and iron deficiency among children with retinol deficiency.

Children, like adults, need pre-formed vitamin A [retinol; retinol-A]. This is not the same as beta-carotene found in orange foods – it is the fat-soluble vitamin found primarily in organ meats and the fat in animal products like butter, ghee, tallow and lard.

Your child can and should be eating organ meats, and in particular, liver. If you’re opposed to buying chicken and/or beef livers, consider:

  1. Ordering “carnivore mince” direct from your butcher, which could be an 80/20 beef/liver blend, anywhere up to 50/50. All you have to do is ask. Chicken livers are more mild in taste, and less is more if you are new to organ meats. It depends on your location, but check out Ethical Farmers or Full Circle Farm for more. 
  2. Buying pate. I’ve saved my favourite brands under my Q&A highlights over on Instagram.
  3. Buying liver capsules and opening into your family favourite meals including spag bol and meatballs. I love Cell Squared, which come in capsules and powdered form.
  4. Adding cod liver oil. I find Nordic Naturals to be very mild and both of my daughters (1 & 3 years old) take this directly off the spoon without a fuss. Another amazing brand is Green Pastures, which you can access here and receive a little discount using the code TNN10

I hope this helps? How do you and the family consume organ meats?


Saraiva BC, Soares MC, Santos LC, Pereira SC, Horta PM. Iron deficiency and anemia are associated with low retinol levels in children aged 1 to 5 years. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2014;90(6):593-599. doi:10.1016/j.jped.2014.03.003

Semba RD, Bloem MW. The anemia of vitamin A deficiency: epidemiology and pathogenesis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56(4):271-281. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601320

Leave a Reply