Purica Blog

Potassium

General Description:

  • K is the main cation inside the cells with a host of important functions

Actions:

  • K interacts with Na and Cl in the conduction of nerve impulses
  • mankind evolved on a high K, low Na diet as most foods naturally occur this way (even those that naturally taste salty are higher in K than Na)
  • food processing today reverses this healthy K:Na ratio and produces foods which are unhealthy
  • beneficial effect on blood pressure and is therefore expected to interact somehow with sodium, the mineral best known for its effect on blood pressure
  • with sodium (Na) outside the cells and potassium (K) inside the cells, the two work together to maintain the body’s water balance
  • K allows for the normal functioning of the nerves and muscles, particularly the heart
  • K also assists in the body processes that synthesize proteins and store carbohydrates

Deficiency:

  • average American intake of K is only 2500 mg.
  • RDA is 3500 mg
  • deficiency is rarely seen but most often happens in those with chronic diarrhea or vomiting, alcoholism, and anorexia nervosa
  • diabetics that progress to the state of ketoacidosis and those with hyperaldosteronism are also at risk of K deficiency
  • excessive loss of K occurs in the sweat of those with cystic fibrosis
  • impaired kidney function as well as the use of diuretics can predispose one to K deficiency
  • a desirable diet should contain Na and K in equal amounts
  • K weighs 1.7 times that of Na (so in weight you would need twice as much K as Na)
  • naturally occurring foods normally have this K:Na ratio needed for good health, however, processing reverses this healthful ratio
  • symptoms of K deficiency include:
  • average K intake in America is estimated at 2800 mg. for men and 2300 mg. for women while the Na intake is estimated at a whopping 4000-6000 mg. (2-3 times the K intake)

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • infants and children should never be given large amounts of potassium chloride

Sources:

  • plant sources are the richest in this mineral

Sodium

General Description:

  • Na is one of three main electrolytes in the body (K and Cl being the other two)
  • Na is the main cation outside the cells

Deficiency:

  • average American diet provides 5 grams/day, which is 10 times the RDA
  • human body conserves its electrolytes and so deficiency is rare

Chloride

General Description:

  • Cl is the main anion outside the cells

Actions:

  • Cl interacts with Na and K to control fluid and electrolyte balance in the body

Iron

General Description:

  • for decades iron has been known as the ”king of minerals”
  • calcium has now replaced it in the limelight
  • there are three forms of iron supplementation: 1) the ferrous family, 2) the ferric family, and 3) reduced iron
  • the differences in absorption between the three seems to be insignificant
  • iron sulphate or oxide are useless compared with iron as ferrous fumarate or iron picolinate
  • principle synergists to iron are folic acid, B5, C, E, B12, and Zn

Actions:

  • iron is also a crucial part of a variety of different enzymes
  • some Fe is converted into myoglobin, a hemoglobin-like substance found in the muscle fibers
  • myoglobin is our ”iron bank” storing iron for future use
  • the only organism that can survive without iron is the lactic acid bacteria (”friendly bacteria”)
  • when a human baby is born, its GI tract is sterile, that is, it contains zero bacteria
  • it also contains zero iron and therefore the only bacteria that can grow there are the lactic acid bacteria, which start infiltrating the gut within minutes of birth
  • lactic acid bacteria are necessary for the digestion of mother’s milk
  • Nature allows only lactic acid bacteria to grow in the newborn gut in order to protect it from harmful bacteria that could otherwise multiply and kill the baby
  • all bacteria grow greedily in the presence of iron
  • mother’s milk, far and away the best food for babies, contains virtually no iron
  • most physicians seem to be unaware of the fact that infants do not need iron
  • a human baby is born with a reserve supply of iron in its tissues of approximately 75 mg/kg of bodyweight = twice the level of iron found in healthy athletes
  • infants can grow healthy and normal for one year without any external source of iron
  • Nature designed it that way to allow the immune system to develop before the onslaught of bacteria that occurs once the baby is weaned onto iron-containing solid foods
  • excess iron in the body allows infection to flourish and a lot of disease in America can be attributed directly to the overuse of iron

Blood building:

  • erythrocytes, or red blood cells that carry oxygen, make up 35-50% of the blood
  • the rest is plasma fluid and a few white blood cells
  • proportion of the blood made of RBCs is measured by the hematocrit
  • a hematocrit of 50 provides 25% more RBCs than a hematocrit of 40
  • Fe is a vital component of hemoglobin which has the life-sustaining responsibilty of picking up oxygen in the lungs and transporting it through the entire body
  • each RBC is 25-35% hemoglobin and the greater the hemoglobin/RBC, the greater the amount of oxygen the body can use
  • a hemoglobin level of less than 13 g./dl. in males and less than 12 g./dl. in females is an identifying sign of iron deficiency anemia
  • so is a serum Fe level of less than 40 mcg./dl.
  • however neither test gives much information on Fe status because Fe stores can be virtually exhausted before hemoglobin or serum Fe register at any abnormal level
  • a hemoglobin test is useful to show how much of your Fe is getting converted into hemoglobin
  • in conjunction with hematocrit and RBC count it is also useful to show how much oxygen carrying capacity you have, but it is useless for determining Fe store
  • hematopoietic (blood-building) nutrients that work in synergy with Fe are folate, Zn, B12, B5, and vitamins C, and E
  • erythropoiesis is the making of RBCs
  • inadequate folate intake reduces RBC formation
  • the average intake of folate in sedentary people has declined to 200 mcg. and thus the RDA has been lowered to 200 mcg. (half the value it was 20 years ago)
  • folate status effects iron status and vice versa
  • Zn is required for increased production of RBCs, for increased free fatty acid metabolism during exercise, for replacement of dermal losses of Zn during sweating, and for the interactions of Zn and Fe metabolism
  • erythropoiesis also requires B12 which is also essential for folate metabolism
  • B5 plays a role in the formation of the heme portion of hemoglobin
  • B5 deficiency impairs B12 absorption, lowering tissue levels of that nutrient
  • vitamin C deficiency by itself produces anemia, as can E deficiency, no matter how much Fe you have
  • C protects folate from oxidation
  • E is important in combating hemolysis, and a deficiency causes increased hemolysis because it leaves RBCs more fragile and they are then easily damaged
  • adequate E is also essential for normal metabolism of B12 and Zn

Deficiency:

  • sedentary males use approximately 1.0 mg. of iron/day and sedentary females use approximately 1.5 mg. of iron/day
  • the body may absorb more of a mineral from some foods than from others
  • interfering factors may prevent the body from absorbing nutrients in the food, for example, phytates, dietary fiber, EDTA in the case of iron, and coffee and tea.
  • the greatest influence on iron absorption seems to be iron itself
  • the best absorbed iron is termed heme iron and is found in flesh foods
  • iron in non-flesh foods is not as well absorbed and is termed nonheme iron
  • nonheme iron cannot be absorbed unless it is in a soluble form ie. dissolved in water etc., which is where stomach acid and nutritional factors, such as vitamin C, can lend a hand
  • vitamin C combines with iron to make a partnership that is then absorbed
  • heme iron is more readily absorbed (10% bioavailable) but while it wins for quality nonheme iron (1% bioavailable) wins for quantity and therefore it too plays a large role in iron contribution
  • although it is commonly believed that vegetarians have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than meat eaters this is not always the case
  • the body absorbs less iron when its stores are good and absorption rises when stores are low
  • men absorb approximately 15% of the heme iron in food while women absorb 23-35% depending on iron stores
  • many heme-rich foods are also high in fat and are therefore not the best choices for iron
  • iron deficiency exists when the body’s stores are inadequate, but anemia does not develop until iron stores are depleted
  • about 1/3 of the body’s iron is stored as ferritin and hemosiderin in the bone marrow and the liver
  • a test of blood ferritin can diagnose iron deficiency in it’s preanemic state
  • blood ferritin reflects the amount of stored iron, so low levels indicate poor iron stores
  • the amount of iron in the blood (serum iron) and the percentage of iron bound to a substance called transferrin (a protein) also drop too low in cases of anemia
  • as excessive iron accumulates, however, transferrin is then able to bind an unusually large amount of iron, termed the iron-binding capacity or TIBC
  • there are also two other familiar lab tests for iron called the blood hemoglobin and the hematocrit
  • some people actually test positive for anemia on these tests may actually be experiencing iron overload, but the problem is that they are not getting enough iron into the hemoglobin and instead the excess iron is being stored elsewhere
  • a simple way to distinguish iron-deficiency anemia and iron overload is a blood iron level (low in anemia but not in overload)
  • symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include: coldness and/or tingling of hands and feet, craving for non foods such as ice or dirt, irritability, overwhelming fatigue and weakness, sensation of rapid or fluttering heartbeat, shortness of breath upon exertion, and paleness of the mucous membranes such as the eyelids
  • infants iron stores are usually large enough to last them almost a year while they are being breastfed and they do not require supplemental iron
  • when iron is supplemented their bacterial flora is disrupted and pathogenic bacteria, which use iron for reproduction, overgrowth and cause them many problems involving immunity (eg. recurrent infection)
  • milk (including breast milk) is a poor source of iron, but this is beneficial for the baby to limit the iron intake until solid foods are introduced at the preferable age of one year
  • during growth spurts in childhood and adolescence there is an increased need for iron to fill expanding stores
  • those women who bleed heavily, diet regularity, or suffer from frequent infections may be at risk of iron deficiency
  • the later stages of pregnancy are when the mother is most likely to suffer from a nutritional deficiency so need to supplement but not with inorganic iron
  • iron is lost in most body secretions, including sweat (athletes)
  • in runners, food passes through the digestive tract much faster and so not as much iron may be absorbed from food
  • also a lot of iron is lost in sweat as in every liter of sweat there is approx. 0.5 mg. Fe
  • compression hemolysis, crushing of blood cells by intense muscular contraction, is a potent source of iron loss in athletes
  • other sources of hemolysis and therefore Fe loss include heavy training, GI bleeding, acidosis, and peroxidation of cellular membranes by free radicals
  • calcium, fiber, and antacids can inhibit iron absorption

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • excess Fe is difficult for the body to excrete
  • the side effects of iron supplements include: diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation (the most common one), headache, heartburn, loss of appetite, gas, and vomiting
  • iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach in the presence of vitamin C
  • Ca/Mg supplements may reduce the availability of iron if taken at the same time
  • tea, even worse than coffee, inhibits the absorption of iron
  • iron supplements should not be used if you suffer from a peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, diseases of the liver or pancreas, alcoholism, or any other condition where iron overload may occur.
  • signs of iron overload: abdominal and joint pain, weight loss, bronze coloring of the skin, fatigue or loss of libido, symptoms of diabetes, such as excessive thirst and urination, hunger, and frequent yeast infections in women
  • iron overload may cause an enlarged spleen, damage to the heart and joints, loss of body hair, abnormal skin pigmentation, and decreased testicle size in males
  • iron overload eventually damages the liver, but in some cases, liver damage can lead to iron overload
  • IHC is a rare genetic disorder that interferes with the body’s iron thermostat and causes excess iron to be absorbed and stored
  • iron was reported to provoke extreme sensitivity to sunlight in women with EPP (erythropoietic protoporphyria)
  • excess zinc interferes with iron metabolism

Sources:

  • beer brewed in iron pots can be a very high source of iron and it is suspected that alcohol itself increases iron absorption
  • heme iron in flesh foods
  • nonheme iron in non-flesh foods

Zinc

General Description:

  • a component of dozens of enzymes including some that metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and alcohol, some essential for cell growth, and some necessary for testosterone production
  • much of the blood’s zinc is found in the RBCs
  • skin holds 20% of the body’s zinc
  • zinc picolinate is better than sulphate

Actions:

  • body pool of Zn is small and needs to be constantly replaced
  • inadequate zinc, even for one week, retards muscle growth and weakens immunity
  • possibly to relieve colds, certain skin troubles, and bring back the sense of taste and smell
  • plays a role in the body’s synthesis of protein
  • helps build strong bones
  • has a major effect on the sense of smell and taste
  • helps to rid the blood of carbon dioxide
  • involved in the making of RNA and DNA
  • provides invaluable help in wound healing
  • adequate zinc is essential for normal testosterone levels and sperm counts
  • Wilson’s disease is a rare genetic disorder where the body stores too much copper, which accumulates in the brain and liver and can be life threatening if not treated.
  • zinc supplementation may help to prevent excessive copper stores
  • doctors are experimenting with zinc in the possible treatment of: sickle cell anemia, anorexia, acne, rheumatoid arthritis, and for strengthening the immune system in the elderly

Deficiency:

  • key symptoms in general: decreased growth, enlarged spleen, and delayed sexual maturation
  • key symptoms in children: poor appetite, suboptimal growth, decreased sense of taste and smell, and mood changes
  • other symptoms: scaliness of the skin, delayed wound healing, depression, fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, and decreased resistance to infection
  • zinc deficiency ironically affects both poor and wealthy nations because both too little and too much processing can result in deficiency
  • disorders that can lead to zinc deficiency are: alcoholism, chronic infections or inflammatory diseases, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, psoriasis, sickle-cell anemia, and thalassemia
  • processing can work in zinc’s favor by removing naturally occurring substances, fiber, phytates, that adversely affect absorption
  • phytates are found mostly in cereals, grains, and unleavened breads but research has shown that yeast and fermentation can break them down
  • zinc is lost via sweating, hemolysis, increased fatty acid metabolism accompanying exercise, multiple interactions with iron metabolism, and the added testosterone required for muscle growth

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • additives in food (processing) may inhibit zinc absorption, for example, EDTA in canned foods, beer, pop, and products rich in vegetable oils
  • EDTA traps metal impurities that ravel into food, but also traps zinc (a metal)
  • high doses of zinc can lead to copper deficiency
  • a higher zinc-to-copper ratio has been found in patients with confirmed heart disease
  • exercise has been linked to a decreased risk for heart disease, partly because exercise boosts HDL and also exercise may narrow the gap between zinc and copper
  • zinc is also lost in sweat leading to a better balance with copper
  • high blood pressure promotes heart disease
  • some hypertensive patients excrete large amounts of copper, which can create a further imbalance between zinc and copper, and further increase the rick of heart disease
  • zinc may have a tendency to lower HDL cholesterol if taken in large doses (30 mg. of zinc/day had no effect)
  • high doses of zinc can impair the body’s ability to fight infection
  • calcium may inhibit zinc absorption
  • antibiotics, anticancer drugs, diuretics, metal-binding drugs, and oral contraceptives can interfere with zinc nutrition as well
  • excess zinc interferes with copper metabolism

Sources:

  • pumpkin seeds, eggs, oysters

Selenium

General Description:

  • Se is a part of the detoxifying enzyme, phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase, which destroys damaging free radicals called hydroperoxides and detoxifies peroxidized fats (lipid peroxides) within the membrane, thereby sparing vitamin E
  • works in synergy with vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant
  • Se as L-selenomethionine is better absorbed than sodium selenite

Actions:

  • helps to maintain the health of muscle, RBCs, and keratins
  • supports the pancreas and the immune system
  • helps decrease the toxicity of mercury, silver, and cadmium, which are harmful when they accumulate in the body
  • as an antioxidant it shows cancer-fighting potential, but ironically it was once thought to be cancer causing
  • studies show that cancer death rates decrease as the average blood level of selenium increases (27 countries showed this ”inverse relationship”)
  • lowest levels of cancer have been found among people living where the soil is selenium-rich, with evidence strongest for cancers of the digestive tract, probably because they are the organs most likely to come in contact with Se

Deficiency:

  • Se deficiency almost certainly does not cause cancer directly but low Se intakes probably lower our defenses against substances that do
  • on a low-selenium diet, sufficient amounts of the key selenium-containing enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, may be lacking, depriving us of this important substance that fights free radicals
  • Se deficiency is often assessed in medicine by the level of glutathione peroxidase activity

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • most nutritionists exaggerate the amount of Se likely to be toxic
  • Se toxicity is termed selenosis
  • symptoms of toxicity include: bad teeth, brittle fingernails, discolored skin, dizziness, fatigue and tiredness, garlic odor on breath, GI complaints, hair brittleness and/or loss possibly in bunches, irritability, jaundice, and skin inflammation
  • reports of an unusual rate of spontaneous abortions ”miscarriages” among women working with sodium selenite powder

Sources:

  • whole grains, if grown in selenium-rich soil
  • mushrooms and radishes, followed by carrots and cabbage, have the highest levels of Se for vegetables, if grown in Se-rich soil
  • most fruits are low in Se

Chromium

General Description:

  • biologically active chromium, or glucose tolerance factor (GTF), is not simply chromium, but rather a complex of substances that includes chromium, nicotinic acid and some amino acids
  • chromium picolinate is superior to both chloride and nicotinate (for muscle building effects)

Actions:

  • chromium is essential for normal glucose metabolism, insulin metabolism, and muscle growth
  • the body cannot handle sugar without chromium as it evolved with a sugar source containing chromium ie. the sugar cane
  • chromium, in the form picolinate, increases muscle growth and decreases bodyfat

Deficiency:

  • average daily intake in America is 33 mcg for males and 25 mcg for females
  • RDA 50-200 mcg
  • thus, chromium is one of the most deficient minerals in the American food supply
  • impaired GT is found in diabetes and hypoglycemia, and chromium deficiency is now considered the leading cause of these conditions
  • chromium is rapidly depleted during exercise
  • severe deficiency is rare in the US, but borderline deficiency is common
  • marginal deficiency probably occurs with age, as our bodies tend to store less
  • food choices greatly affect chromium health: white flour, sugar, and rice, along with butter and margarine are low in chromium and often make up the most part of ones diet today

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • trivalent chromium in foods is non-toxic but hexavalent chromium or chromate is highly toxic and a known carcinogen

Sources:

  • brewer’s yeast is one of the richest sources of biologically active chromium
  • GTF is not the biologically active form and must be converted to it in the body
  • rich sources of chromium are brewer’s yeast, whole grain cereals, bran, wheat germ and cheese

Copper

General Description:

  • copper in the blood is bound to a protein called ceruloplasmin
  • Cu is a part of many enzymes including one that produces noradrenaline

Deficiency:

  • levels of ceruloplasmin (a copper-containing enzyme) are used to test for Cu deficiency
  • a rare genetic disease called Menke’s syndrome, is marked by a copper deficiency, but it is failure to absorb copper rather than an inadequate intake to blame

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • kidney disease can impair Cu nutrition
  • high intakes of zinc and vitamin C can impair Cu absorption

Sources:

  • best: oysters and dried yeast
  • good source: nuts, seeds, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables
  • poor source: refined sugars, cereals, and milk

Inositol

General Description:

  • more correctly it is called myo-inositol, which is the form used by the body
  • termed a lipotropic agent
  • found in virtually every body cell with the heart, brain, and muscles of the skeleton containing high amounts

Actions:

  • forms part of lipids in the cell membranes
  • essential for normal calcium and insulin metabolism
  • provided in food and also made by the body
  • vital for hair growth and can prevent thinning hair and baldness
  • part of lecithin which decreases cholesterol
  • important for healthy heart muscle
  • treatment of obesity and schizophrenia

Deficiency:

  • no deficeincy syndrome exists
  • symptoms: hair loss, constipation, eczema, eye abnormalities, and high blood cholesterol

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • doses in the gram range appear to be toxic, but studies have not been done

Sources:

  • brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, lecithin, unprocessed whole grains especially oatmeal and corn, nuts, milk, crude unrefined molasses, citrus fruits

Vitamin B13

General Description:

  • also called orotic acid Actions
  • essential for the biosynthesis of nucleic acids
  • vital for the regenerative processes in cells
  • treatment of MS

Deficiency:

  • symptoms are not known but believed that may lead to liver disorders, cell degeneration, and premature aging
  • also overall degeneration as in MS

Sources:

  • whey portion of milk, particularly soured milk

Vitamin B15

General Description.

  • called pangamic acid, or calcium pangamate

Actions:

  • increases body’s tolerance to hypoxia of tissues
  • helps to regulate fat metabolism
  • stimulates the glandular and nervous systems
  • treatment of heart disease, angina, elevated blood cholesterol, impaired circulation, and premature aging
  • can help prevent against hte damaging effects of CO poisoning
  • a good detoxifier

Deficiency:

  • symptoms: may cause diminished oxygenation of cells, hypoxia, heart disease, glandular and nervous disorders

Sources:

  • whole grains, seeds and nuts, whole brown rice

Vitamin B17

General Description:

  • called nitrilosides, amygdalin, and laetrile

Actions:

  • specific preventative and controlling anti-cancer effects

Deficiency:

  • may lead to diminished resistance to malignancies

Sources:

  • most whole seeds of fruits and many grains and vegetables including apricot, peach and plum pits, apple seeds, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries and blueberries, mung, lima and garbanzo beans, millet, buckwheat and flax seed, and almonds

Vitamin C

General Description:

  • water-soluble
  • most vitamin C is made from corn where corn is chemically converted to sugar (d-glucose) and crystallized and then the chemical is converted to pure, synthetic ascorbic acid
  • the best rosehip powder contains only a few milligrams of vitamin C/ounce and thus a 1000 mg. pill made of rosehip powder would be the size of a baseball
  • acerola powder, made from the acerola cherries, is the most expensive and most common source of natural vitamin C
  • acerola powder contains approximately 200 mg of natural vitamin C/gram of powder

Actions:

  • preventing and alleviating colds, but requires B6, B12, zinc, folic acid, and choline to do so
  • cancer prevention
  • absorption of iron
  • fighting infection – the vitamin C concentration in neutrophils and macrophages is approximately 150 times the plasma C concentration
  • essential for the hydroxylation of the amino acids proline and lysine necessary for the formation of collagen, a substance essential to the health of body tissues
  • formation of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin
  • metabolism of folate
  • metabolism of protein
  • wound healing
  • daily excretion of this water-soluble vitamin is a normal function that helps to protect the urinary tract
  • essential for the proper functioning of adrenal and thyroid glands
  • specific protector against the toxic effects of cadmium
  • specific against fever, all sorts of infections, and GI disorders

Deficiency:

  • early signs are loss of appetite, irritability, and weight loss
  • tooth decay, soft gums (pyorrhea), anemia, and slow healing of sores and wounds
  • premature aging
  • thyroid insufficiency
  • as deficiency progresses there is pain on movement and tenderness in the limbs, and bleeding in the tissues and certain types of anemia may follow
  • scurvy, noted by tissue disintegration, is the final stage of inadequate vitamin C intake
  • if you were to remove all the vitamin C from your diet, within 4 weeks the blood vitamin C level would equal zero, and in another 12 weeks the symptoms of scurvy would start

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • high doses of vitamin C can interfere with anti clotting drugs, cause kidney stones, and cause rebound scurvy when dosage is stopped
  • vitamin C may enhance the toxicity of certain metals, diminish your ability to adjust rapidly to changes in altitude, lower fertility, and accelerate the loss of calcium and other minerals from the bones due to it’s acidic nature
  • vitamin C breaks down to oxalic acid in the body
  • oxalic acid is often found in kidney stones which have formed due to high amounts of oxalic acid in the urine
  • it should be noted that although some people have a greater tendency to excrete oxalic acid in the urine that, regardless of one’s tendency to turn vitamin C into oxalate, major increases in urine oxalic levels occurred only at very high doses if viamin C (starting at 4000 mg./day)
  • in other words, those that are at a higher risk of kidney stones are there with or without vitamin C supplementation
  • in men high doses of vitamin C may push copper levels too low
  • people who already have serious kidney disease or kidney failure should avoid large doses of vitamin C
  • the effect of vitamin C on copper nutrition in females may differ because a woman’s estrogen hormones affect copper nutrition
  • symptoms of iron overload: odd bronze pigment or discoloration of the skin, cirrhosis of the liver, disease of the heart muscle, folic acid deficiency, leukemia, polycynthemia (an increase in the total cell mass of the blood), and thalassemia
  • rebound scurvy may occur after withdrawing from large doses of vitamin C because the body becomes dependent on the high intake of vitamin C
  • daily chewing of vitamin C tablets can lead to severe dental erosion because they are approximately three times more acidic than saliva
  • vitamin C has been shown to damage vitamin B12 but only large doses would put a healthy person, consuming enough B12, at risk of deficiency
  • vitamin C enhances iron absorption which is important for two reasons: 1) the body only absorbs a small fraction of the iron taken in and 2) some people take in too little iron
  • people with hemochromatosis, or simply iron overload, need to avoid both iron and vitamin C supplements
  • vitamin C seems to help with the mucus build-up of colds and so it may also decrease the cervical mucus needed for conception
  • pregnancy is not a good time to experiment with high doses of vitamin C
  • vitamin C reduces the effectiveness of the anti clotting drug warfarin, amphetamines and tricyclic antidepressants
  • drugs that increase the body’s need for vitamin C include: barbiturates, birth control pills, cortisone’s, L-dopa, phenacetin, salicyclates, sulfonamides and tetracycline
  • large doses of aspirin cause more vitamin C to be excreted
  • overdosing on vitamin C will cause urgent diarrhea in anyone

Sources:

  • rosehips, citrus fruits, black currants, strawberries, persimmons, guavas, acerola cherries, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, turnip greens, and green bell peppers

Vitamin D

General Description:

  • sunshine vitamin
  • fat-soluble vitamin
  • not only a vitamin, but also a hormone
  • comes in several forms, some of which are natural and some of which are synthetic
  • vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is synthetic and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) occurs naturally in some foods and is made by our skin when exposed to the sun’s UV rays

Actions:

  • plays a key role in calcium and phosphorus metabolism
  • vitamin D and calcium have been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer as calcium seems to tie up carcinogens in the digestive tract, preventing them from causing damage to the colon wall
  • necessary for healthy function of parathyroid and thyroid glands
  • essential to the formation of teeth and bones

Deficiency:

  • 30 minutes/day in the summer sun produces a lot more vitamin D than the RDA of 10mcg. (1 mcg. is equal to 40 IU)
  • rickets is the final stage of vitamin D deficiency in children and it is called osteomalacia in adults
  • inadequate vitamin D prevents the body from absorbing enough calcium and without calcium osteoporosis is a major risk factor
  • body’s ability to make vitamin D declines as you age

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • vitamin D is the most toxic of all vitamins
  • damage from too much can be irreparable under certain, unfortunate circumstances
  • you cannot overdose on vitamin D via the sun, but you can using supplements
  • classic symptoms of overdose are: loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, excessive urination and thirst, and headaches
  • excessive vitamin D in the blood leads to excessive calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), which can be a serious medical condition
  • if calcium is severely elevated in the blood, muscles may weaken and symptoms such as confusion, delirium, and coma can occur
  • in addition, in the most extreme cases shock and death may occur
  • to remove excess calcium from the blood, the kidneys may direct it into the urine for excretion leading to the possibility of developing kidney stones and if calcium level gets too high the kidneys may fail
  • calcium is found in 90% of all kidney stones in the USA
  • vitamin D overdose can cause permanent kidney damage or calcification of other organs, such as the lungs and stomach
  • children, and especially infants, are more sensitive to vitamin D supplementation
  • infants can develop a rare disorder called idiopathic hypercalcemia which slows the infants growth, produces an ”elfin” facial appearance, kidney malfunction, and severe mental retardation
  • research in animals indicates that a high intake of vitamin D can be hazardous to the arteries
  • barbiturates, certain anticonvulsants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, cortisone and certain laxatives increase the need for vitamin D

Sources:

  • vitamin D is unique because our main source is not food, but rather the sun
  • sunlight activates a compound in the skin (7-dehydrocholesterol), which the liver and kidneys convert to the active form of vitamin D
  • fair skin is more cooperative with this process than dark skin, which lets in less of the sun’s D-making rays
  • window glass screens out UV light, which activates the D-forming process
  • egg yolks, milk, butter, sprouted seeds, mushrooms, sunflower seeds

Vitamin E

General Description:

  • fat-soluble vitamin
  • main function is as an antioxidant
  • the correct units for vitamin E are milligrams of alpha-tocopherol equivalents (alpha TE)
  • dl-alpha-tocopherol is a synthetic form of vitamin E
  • d-alpha-tocopherol is the natural form which has been shown to raise serum vitamin E levels 40% higher and the RBC levels 300% higher than the synthetic form

Actions:

  • promising substance in the treatment and prevention of cancer and in the treatment of PMS
  • helps prevent blood clots
  • plays a role in the metabolism of polyunsaturated fats, the kind that help lower blood cholesterol and prevent heart disease
  • acts as an antioxidant preventing certain harmless chemicals in the body from becoming harmful ones
  • an antioxidant also prevents a benign substance from being oxidized into a harmful one that contributes to the cancer process
  • vitamin E may benefit those with benign breast lumps and PMS
  • glutathione protects cells by surface cell membranes whereas vitamin E is located inside cell membranes, where the lipid peroxidation occurs
  • vitamin E breaks the reaction by absorbing the free radicals to form tocopherol and tocopheroxyl radicals
  • breaking the chain quickly uses up vitamin E stores
  • however, vitamin C neutralizes tocopheroxyl free radicals and regenerates vitamin E again
  • Se helps both glutathione and vitamin E, as it forms what is called the active site where glutathione destroys peroxide radicals
  • the vitamin E content of lymphocytes and neutrophils is 10-20 times that of RBCs indicating its importance to the immune system
  • vitamin E also reduces the damage caused by the immune system itself
  • oxygenates the tissues and reduces the need for oxygen intake
  • effective as a vasodilator
  • prevents scar tissue formation
  • effective antithrombin and a natural anti-coagulant
  • essential for healthy function of reproductive glands
  • good for: heart disease, asthma, phlebitis, arthritis, burns, angina, emphysema, leg ulcers, restless legs, varicose veins, hypoglycemia etc.
  • improves glycogen storage in the muscles
  • used successfully in prevention and treatment of reproductive disorders, miscarriages, male and female infertility, still births, and menopausal and menstrual disorders

Deficiency:

  • total vitamin E intake from food is unlikely to exceed 20 IU/day
  • the requirement for vitamin E for an individual depends on the levels of fatty acids in his tissue that can suffer oxidation, and the levels of free radicals he generates
  • deficiency reduces bodily levels of zinc because the two nutrients interact to protect the membranes against damage by free radicals (lipid peroxidation)
  • when there is not sufficient vitamin E, the body compromises by using more zinc, and this can deplete zinc stores and thus increase bodily copper levels
  • symptoms: cardiovascular disease, may cause degeneration of the epithelial and germinal cells of the testicles and lead to loss of sexual potency
  • prolonged deficiency may cause reproductive disorders, abortions, miscarriges, male or female sterility, muscular disorders and increased fragility of RBCs

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • vitamin E prolongs the amount of time required for necessary clotting of the blood which can lead to internal bleeding
  • vitamin E, when initially taken in large doses, improves the tone of the heart muscle, and could lead to an increase in blood pressure in susceptible individuals
  • excess EFAs can deplete the body of vitamin E
  • known antagonists of vitamin E: inorganic iron, estrogenic drugs, chlorine or chlorinated water

Sources:

  • unrefined cold-pressed, crude vegetable oils especially wheat germ and soybean oil
  • all whole raw or sprouted seeds, nuts, and grains
  • green-leafy vegetables and eggs
  • wheat germ must be less than 1 week old unless frozen

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)

General Description

Actions:

  • essential for virtually all energy production
  • works to help transfer electrons (in the mitochondria) in the energy cycle
  • intimately involved in maintaining immunity, and in the normal functioning of the heart
  • CoQ10 enhances macrophage activity
  • it is a potent antioxidant
  • antiviral activity, as well as increases ones resistance to viruses
  • body converts CoQ, as well as the amino acid methionine, into CoQ10
  • exercise produces millions of superoxide free radicals, hydroperoxides and hydroxyl free radicals, which is the major source of continued muscle soreness and weakness you feel for days after heavy exercise
  • the free radicals produced are a result of the use of oxygen
  • the first pathway, called the tetravalent reduction of oygen with cytochrome C oxidase, for oxygen use is pretty clean and it uses approximately 95% of the oxygen
  • the second pathway,called the univalent reduction pathway, which uses the remaining 5% of the oxygen, is a very dirty pathway, producing lots of free radicals
  • however, the sheer volume of oxygen used during exercise is not the only reason that exercise overwhelms muscles with free radicals
  • the vital chemical cytochrome C also gets used up
  • cytochrome C oxidase is the last catalyst in the chain that regenerates ATP, so that the muscles can continue working
  • when cytochrome C activity falls, CoQ comes to the rescue in completing the regeneration of ATP
  • however, CoQ may itself produce superoxide radicals
  • CoQ10, also known as a powerful antioxidant, neutralizes some free radicals as well as increases the efficiency of the energy cycle
  • overall the effect of elevated CoQ in the muscles is a net reduction in free radicals
  • in addition, the free radicals from exercise continue to damage tissue long after exercise has ceased
  • hydroxy radicals react with fats inside cell membranes to make them go rancid (lipid peroxidation)
  • rancid fats themselves become free radicals called peroxy radicals and the cascade of events continues
  • with every bout of intense exercise, free radicals lead to an inflammatory chain reaction that can last 20 hours after exercise has ceased
  • there are 3 endogenous enzymes that can fight free radicals. catalase neutralizes hydrogen peroxides, SOD neutralizes superoxide radicals, and glutathione peroxidase neutralizes peroxides
  • after exercise, muscle and liver glutathione levels continue to decline, thus indicating their use to destroy free radicals

Deficiency:

  • CoQ10 levels decline rapidly with age after 25

Sources:

  • occurs widely in foods, especially polyunsaturated vegetable oils

Bioflavonoids

Actions:

  • maintain the strength of the capillaries
  • anticoagulant
  • may prevent strokes
  • linked to all vitamin C functions and considered to be part of the vitamin C complex
  • beneficial in hypertension, respiratory infections, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, all hemorrhaging, eczema and psoriasis, cirrhosis, radiation sickness, coronary thrombosis, atherosclerosis

Deficiency:

  • blue spots on skin, diminished vitamin C activity and susceptibility to above mentioned conditions

Sources:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • cooking largely destroys bioflavonoids

Pyrolloquinolone Quinone (PQQ)

Actions:

  • required for an enzyme lysyl oxidase, essential for normal collagen metabolism
  • it may be an ”essential” nutrient ie. we may have to get it from our diet
  • may be an anti-aging compound

Sources:

  • the best source is unprocessed citrus fruits

Vitamin T

General Description:

  • called the sesame seed factor

Actions:

  • re-establishes platelet integrity in the blood
  • useful in correcting nutritional anemia
  • promoted the formation of blood platelets
  • combats anemia and hemophilia
  • useful in improving fading memory

Sources:

  • sesame seeds, egg yolks and some vegetable oils

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)

General Description:

  • cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (the ”red” vitamin)
  • although many doctors, nutritionists, and books will say that B12 is only found in animal products this is false because it naturally occurs in a type of blue-green algae called Spirulina
  • you require only a few micrograms each day
  • blood contains only about 5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per liter, which represents less than one part per trillion of bodyweight
  • if you lack that miniscule amount it leads to pernicious anemia, which gradually destroys the myelin sheath of the nerves, leading to blindness, insanity, and death
  • 5,6-dimethylbenzimidazolyl cobamide is a coenzyme and the form of B12 that the body uses
  • the dibencoside form of the vitamin is an expensive form of the vitamin, but the body efficiently converts 5,6-methylbenzidazolyl cobamide to dibencoside in the body, so there is no need to take the expensive form

Actions:

  • forms part of the coenzymes essential for all cells, particularily rapid turnover cells, the lining of the digestive tract, and bone marrow cells
  • guarded preciously by the body, B12 is called upon to do it’s work and then reabsorbed
  • has a role in treating pernicious anemia
  • versatile vitamin that serves as an ”ingredient” used to manufacture blood and other body cells, as well as covering nerve fibers, helping to metabolize carbohydrates and fats
  • improves memory, ability to reason and concentrate, dispels mental disturbances, prevents mental deterioration, and makes you feel younger
  • may help one recover faster from viral and/or bacterial diseases
  • promotes growth in children and is involved in many vital metabolic and enzymatic processes
  • essential for production and regeneration of RBCs

Deficiency:

  • RDA is only 2 mcg.
  • average intake in America is 8 mcg./day for men and 5 mcg. for women
  • 3 mcg./day is sufficient to offset B12 deficiency
  • B12 is absorbed principally in the stomach with the aid of what is called the intrinsic factor
  • without the intrinsic factor the body is unable to absorb B12 and this can lead to pernicious anemia
  • heavy use of alcohol can have serious effects on B12 nutrition
  • Alzheimer’s disease may be caused by B12 deficiency
  • deficiency of B12 may lower blood level of protein necessary for bone formation
  • deficiency is associated with an impaired ability to produce phagocytes to kill the tubercle bacillus (TB), HIV infection, and depression
  • symptoms: poor appetite and growth in children, chronic fatigue, sore mouth, feeling of numbness or stiffness, loss of mental energy, difficulty in concentrating, and osteoporosis

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • even at 10,000 times the RDA it appears non-toxic
  • vitamin B12 does not interfere with the action of any drugs but many drugs interfere with B12 nutrition: anticonvulsants, antituberculosis, cholesterol-lowering, anticancer, and antigout drugs to name a few.
  • B12 can also mask the signs of folate deficiency at higher doses (10mcg. or more)
  • B6 must be present in adequate amounts for the body to absorb B12

Sources:

  • nutritional yeast, milk, eggs, aged cheese, fortified brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, comfrey leaves, kelp, bananas, peanuts, concord grapes, raw wheat germ, pollen

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