Oompa Loompa Syndrome: Myxedema, Sluggish Liver, Vitamin A and Excess Carotene

1. “In other words, the thyroid has a profound effect on the liver. We have other evidence that a lack of thyroid is accompanied by a sluggish liver. In the first place, it has been apparents for a century that patients with myxedema (very low thyroid activity) have a yellowish tint to their skins. This has been found to be due to the presence of too much carotene in the blood. The liver converts carotene into vitamin A which is colorless. Under the administration of thyroid, the liver becomes more active and the carotene soon disappears. In the second place, the cholesterol level in the blood is usually elevated in hypothyroidism. Thyroid administration will lower cholesterol, and if too much is given, the cholesterol will fall below normal. The liver converts cholesterol into bile salts which are eliminated in the bile; this process is the usual means of eliminating excess cholesterol. The liver is sluggish in this function among thyroid-deficient individuals…Since a sluggish liver is the most common cause of hypoglycemia, it should follow that the hypothyroid patient is highly susceptible to low blood sugar.” Broda Otto Barnes, MD, PhD and Charlotte Barnes

2. “In the 1930’s accurate diagnosis [of hypothyroidism] was made by evaluating a variety of indications, including basal oxygen consumption, serum cholesterol level, pulse rate, temperature, carotenemia, bowel function, and quality of hair and skin.” Raymond Peat, PhD

3. “Vitamin B12 and thyroid will lower the carotene quickly, but the calluses take a long time to wear off.” Raymond Peat, PhD

4. “If your cholesterol is above 200, and the thyroid supplements didn’t warm you up, it’s possible that something is interfering with your steroid synthesis, which might be a deficiency of something like vitamin A, or interference from something like iron or carotene.” Raymond Peat, PhD

5. “Yes, it’s definitely hard to get them coordinated when there’s an imbalance in one direction or the other. For several years, when I had an extremely high metabolic rate, I needed 100,000 units per day during sunny weather to prevent acne and ingrown whiskers, but when I moved to a cloudy climate, suddenly that much was too much, and suppressed my thyroid. The average person is likely to be hypothyroid, and to need only 5,000 units per day. Avoiding large amounts of carotene, and getting plenty of vitamin B12 to be able to convert any carotene that’s in your food, helps to use vitamin A efficiently.” Raymond Peat, PhD

6. “Thomas H. McGavack’s 1951 book, The Thyroid, was representative of the earlier approach to the study of thyroid physiology. Familiarity with the different effects of abnormal thyroid function under different conditions, at different ages, and the effects of gender, were standard parts of medical education that had disappeared by the end of the century. Arthritis, irregularities of growth, wasting, obesity, a variety of abnormalities of the hair and skin, carotenemia, amenorrhea, tendency to miscarry, infertility in males and females, insomnia or somnolence, emphysema, various heart diseases, psychosis, dementia, poor memory, anxiety, cold extremities, anemia, and many other problems were known reasons to suspect hypothyroidism.” Raymond Peat, PhD

7. “I avoid carotene, because it blocks thyroid and steroid production, and very large, excessive, amounts of vitamin A, retinol, can do the same.” Raymond Peat, PhD

8. “Yes, vitamin A and estrogen are antagonistic, and while estrogen promotes keratinization (shedding of skin cells), vitamin A opposes it. Since vitamin A is highly unsaturated, in excess it suppresses the thyroid, so it has to be balanced with the thyroid; the combination is effective for increasing progesterone and decreasing estrogen, slowing the turnover of skin cells, and making the skin cells function longer before flaking off.” Raymond Peat, PhD

9. “Long ago, people knew that polyunsaturated fats blocked proteolytic enzymes. The first effect of too much PUFA is to block the ability of the thyroid gland to secrete the hormone by breaking down the thyroid globulin. If the thyroid does manges to secrete it, the transport of it on proteins in the blood is inhibited in proportion to the unsaturation. Fish oils with 5 and 6 unsaturated double bonds are the most powerful, almost total inhibitors of thyroid transport. Linolenic acid (omega -3) fats with 3 double bonds inhibits about 50%, linoleic acid (omega -6) with 2 double bonds inhibits about 30%. So the inhibition is proportional to the amount of double bonds. The responsiveness of the cell to thyroid is inhibited in proportion to the amount of unsaturated fats. Carotene is highly unsaturated and it has the same effect of interfering with thyroid function because of this series of unsaturations.“ Raymond Peat, PhD

10. “Did you know that excess Vit A (carotenoids) from plant sources will cause orange calluses….but also be converted into estrogen and serotonin…which are excitatory and inhibitory to the liver, vascular system and hormonal system! Balance them out by using more animal sources of Vit A (retinoids) from dairy, liver and eggs!” EastWest Healing

11. “The Benefits of Vitamin A (fat soluble)


• Required along with thyroid hormone for the conversion of cholesterol into all steroidal hormones
• Preformed vitamin A or retinal (an aldehyde form of retinol) is needed for the formation of rhodospin, or visual purple, light receptors in the eyes
• Stimulates growth of the base layer of skin and helps the skin with structural integrity
• Involved with laying down new cells, including bone, lung, teeth, skin and intestinal tract cells
• Needed for a healthy immune system by optimizing the function of white blood cells
• Needed to protect tissue from infection and in the repair process of tissue
• Needed for the absorption of calcium and the synthesis of protein
• Enhances recognition of food antigens by improving the antibody response
• Vitamin A from animal sources (retinoids) converts beta carotene to Vitamin A
• Too much beta carotene will be converted to estrogen and serotonin, which can be toxic
• Too much retinol can lead to slight swelling of brain causing pressure headaches
• Vitamin E deficiency, cortisone or cortisol, high iron, alcohol decrease the absorption of Vitamin A
• Deficiency in Zinc can interfere with the metabolism of vitamin A
• Liver
• eggs
• milk
• cheese” EastWest Healing, The Benefits of Vitamin A

12. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1981 Jan;20(1):25-9.
Carotenemia. A review.
Lascari AD.
Awareness of carotenemia is important to avoid confusion with jaundice and unnecessary diagnostic studies. It is surprising how little information can be found about this relatively common condition in the standard pediatric textbooks. Ingestion of excessive amounts of carrots is the usual cause of carotenemia, but it can also be associated with ingestion of many other yellow vegetables, as well as some green vegetables. Mothers may unknowingly be giving their infants large amounts of carrots in the form of commercial infant food combinations. Carotenemia is a benign condition; vitamin A poisoning does not occur despite massive doses of carotene because the conversion of carotene to vitamin A is slow. Hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, hepatic and renal diseases may be associated with carotenemia, but are not caused by ingestion of carotene. The absence of yellow pigment in the sclera and oral cavities distinguishes carotenemia from jaundice. A similar disorder, lycopenemia, is associated with an orange-yellow skin pigmentation as a result of ingestion of large amounts of tomatoes.

13. The Journal of Pediatrics Volume 41, Issue 6 , Pages 784-791, December 1952
The carotenemia of hypothyroidism
Hugh W. Josephs, MD
Twenty-five cases of hypothyroidism were studied from the point of view of carotenemia, a number of them over a period of time during which thyroid medication was withdrawn and reinstituted.
The occurrence of carotenemia in hypothyroidism, long known, is confirmed. However, it is found only in those who ingest food containing carotene, so is not likely to be encountered in infancy.
It is regularly associated with lipemia and cholesterolemia, but the carotene tends to be relatively more increased than the lipids or cholesterol.
It was also found that when thyroid medication was withdrawn or instituted the resultant rise or fall in carotene tended to lag behind that of the total lipid. It was pointed out that carotene was probably “carried” by the lipids and as a result would not only show some lag in movement but would tend to accumulate in the blood stream when the lipids were increased.
It was felt that this behavior of carotene might well be a factor in the “failure” to convert carotene to vitamin A in hypothyroidism.

14. Acta Med Austriaca. 1993;20(1-2):17-20.
[Beta-carotene, vitamin A and carrier proteins in thyroid diseases].
[Article in German]
Aktuna D, Buchinger W, Langsteger W, Meister E, Sternad H, Lorenz O, Eber O.
The conversion of beta-carotene (provitamin A) to 2 molecules of vitamin A (retinol) is accelerated by thyroxine and hyperthyroidism, respectively. The characteristic yellow tint of the skin in hypothyroidism is due to hyper-beta-carotenemia. Both in hyper- and hypothyroidism in a retinol deficiency has been observed in literature. In a series of 36 patients (16 hyper-, 8 hypo-, and 12 euthyroid) serum samples were analyzed for retinol and beta-carotene levels (high pressure liquid chromatography) as well as retinol binding protein (radial immune diffusion), prealbumin (nephelometry), and serum zinc values (atomic absorption spectrometry) were established. The beta-carotene serum level in the hypothyroid group (mean 1.1 microgram/ml) was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in relation to euthyroid controls (0.6 microgram/ml), the hyperthyroid group showed significantly lower values (0.3 microgram/ml). RBP and prealbumin concentrations were significantly lower (p < 0.05) in hyperthyroid as against eu- and hypothyroid patients. Surprisingly, in all 3 groups the retinol levels were not significantly different, although the hyperthyroid group was slightly lower (0.6 microgram/ml) than the mean value of 0.7 micrograms/ml in the other groups. A vitamin A and protein rich food, customary in Central Europe, seems to rule out any vitamin A deficiency both in hyper- and hypothyroidism. However, the beta-carotene values are significantly higher in hypothyroidism, while in hyperthyroidism they were lower. As intrahepatic zinc content plays an important role in the synthesis of RBP and its secretion together with retinol, we also analyzed this component: The serum zinc levels in hyperthyroid patients were clearly higher (79.1 micrograms/dl) than in the hypothyroid group with 57 micrograms/dl (p < 0.05).

15. Pediatr Dermatol. 2004 Nov-Dec;21(6):657-9.
Carotenemia associated with green bean ingestion.
Sale TA, Stratman E.
Carotenemia is a condition characterized by yellow discoloration of the skin and elevated blood carotene levels. Excessive and prolonged ingestion of carotene-rich, yellow- or orange-colored foods such as carrots and winter squash is the most common cause, but more rarely it may be associated with consumption of other foods as well as with hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, anorexia nervosa, liver disease, or kidney disease. Though not uncommon in children, there are few reports in the pediatric literature since its early descriptions in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Awareness of carotenemia can help the provider resolve confusion with jaundice and avoid unnecessary worry and costly tests. Herein we describe carotenemia in an 8-month-old Caucasian girl secondary to increased consumption of commercial infant food green beans.

16. J Dermatol. 2006 Feb;33(2):132-4.
A case of carotenemia associated with ingestion of nutrient supplements.
Takita Y, Ichimiya M, Hamamoto Y, Muto M.
Carotenemia is characterized by an abnormal yellowish orange pigmentation of the skin, most prominently seen on the palms and soles. Although it is associated with several disease such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and anorexia nervosa, it is caused by excessive intake of carotene-rich food such as oranges and carrots in most cases.Herein, we describe an interesting case of carotenemia in a 66-year-old female secondary to increased ingestion of oral supplements of carotene in order to improve hemorrhage in the eyeground. There could be an increasing trend of intake of commercial nutrient supplements in which case it is necessary to remind ourselves that commercial nutrient supplements could cause various skin disorders as side-effects.

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