Vitamins

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Vitamins and Minerals

What You Should Know about
Vitamins and Minerals

INTRODUCTION:

  • forty percent of Americans take vitamin and mineral supplements
  • optimal bodily function, especially in athletes, cannot occur without daily ingestion of a precise mix of 59 substances, in the correct amounts
  • oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur are needed in large amounts, while the remaining 54 are needed in medium or small amounts
  • the 54 substances previously mentioned are less plentiful in the environment and thus in our food, so you are more likely to develop a deficiency in those ones
  • as of May 1992, 13 vitamins, 22 minerals, 6 cofactors, 8 amino acids, and two essential fatty acids (EFAs) were recognized as essential to the human system
  • all nutrients act in synergy to produce, maintain, and renew the body, and if even one is missing, or in short supply, the functions of the others are impaired
  • the word ”essential” means: 1) nutrients have to be present in adequate amounts or function is impaired, 2) the body cannot make nutrients or cannot make enough of them for normal tissue function, and 3) you have to get them from your diet
  • supplements can make up for shortcomings in your diet.
  • supplements can make good health easier for you to achieve.
  • on 9 April, 1991, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington lobby representing 3000 physicians, asked the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to abandon the four food groups and to reclassify meats and dairy as ”optional foods” – 2004 Harvard has instituted a food pyramid that tips the USDA and Health Canada food pyramids upside down.
  • a professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, presented evidence that the excess intakes of meat and dairy products in America is strongly linked with their high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis
  • on 27 April 1992, the USDA issued a food pyramid emphasizing whole grains, then vegetables, then fruits, as the basis of nutrition, with meats and dairy as minor foods
  • just a ”balanced” “mainstream” diet alone is not enough to ensure good nutrition.
  • pregnant women, dieters, and senior citizens, simply cannot obtain the recommended allowances for certain nutrients through “mainstream” food alone.
  • sometimes supplements are a safer source of certain nutrients than certain foods.

Principles Of Nutrition

  1. Synergy.
    Nutrients are co-dependant on other nutrients to exert function within the body. They function only by interdependent interactions with each other.
  2. Completeness.
    The corollary of synergy is that even if one essential nutrient is in short supply, none of the others can function properly.
  3. Biochemical Individuality.
    Nutritional needs of individuals differ as much as their faces and fingerprints. Each person requires an individual nutrition program
  4. Lifestyle Dynamics.
    Lifestyle choices such as the choice of training level, or the choice of living in a polluted urban area, dramatically affect nutritional needs.
  5. Precision.
    There is only a narrow range of intake of each nutrient that will produce the optimum function.
  6. Physiological Dynamics.
    Improved nutrition must wait on nature to renew whole bodily systems before its effects can show.

Vitamin U

Actions:

  • promotes healing activity in ulcers, particularly duodenal ulcers

Sources:

  • fresh cabbage and its juice, and homemade sauerkraut

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

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

General Description

  • water-soluble vitamin which has multiple roles in energy metabolism

Actions

  • involved in all vital functions of the body
  • important for the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
  • part of coenzyme A, a part of one of the carrier proteins for the enzyme fatty acid synthetase, which means it is necessary for making glucose and fatty acids, the main fuels of the body
  • involved in the processing of a variety of important substances in the body, including steroid hormones and brain neurotransmitters
  • stimulates the adrenal glands and increases the production of cortisone and other adrenal hormones
  • primarily used as an anti-stress factor
  • protects against most mental and physical stresses and toxins
  • increases vitality
  • wards off infection and speeds recovery to good health
  • helps in maintaining normal growth and development of the CNS
  • helps prevent premature aging (wrinkles etc.)
  • can help prevent against damage caused by excessive radiation
  • restores colour and luster to the hair
  • combats wrinkles

Deficiency

  • deficiency is very rare but may be caused by malnutrition
  • average American intake is 6 mg./day
  • symptoms of deficiency include: headache, tiredness, insomnia, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, burning or tingling sensations of hands and feet, complaints of ”hot spots”, circles under the eyes, increased tendency of infections, dizziness, muscular weakness, stomach distress, constipation, adrenal exhaustion, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, allergies and asthma, and difficult coordination.

Interactions and Toxicity: Sources:

  • royal jelly is the richest natural source
  • other sources include: brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, wheat bran, whole grains, green vegetables, peas and beans, peanuts, crude molasses, egg yolk

Choline

General Description:

  • one of the body’s raw ingredients
  • every cell in the body contains components derived from choline

Actions:

  • essential for proper fat metabolism
  • a part of lecithin, which helps to digest, absorb, and carry fats and fat soluble vitamins in the blood
  • necessary for synthesis of nucleic acids
  • minimizes excessive deposits of fat and cholesterol in the liver and arteries
  • essential for the health of the myelin sheaths of the nerves
  • regulates and improves the function of the liver and gallbladder
  • necessary for the production of phospholipid, a substance in the blood
  • useful in the treatment of neuritis
  • can prevent the formation of gallstones
  • useful in the treatment of high blood pressure
  • has been used to treat atherosclerosis, kidney damage, glaucoma, and myasthenia gravis
  • a part of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain and nervous system that regulates a variety of body functions.
  • helps carry fats through the bloodstream and prevent their deposition on the blood vessel walls
  • sometimes termed a lipotropic factor
  • methyl donor in energy metabolism
  • a condition known as tardive dyskinesia may benefit from choline supplementation

Deficiency:

  • no deficiency syndrome exists
  • however, prolonged deficiency may cause high blood pressure, cirrhosis and fatty degeneration of the liver, atherosclerosis, and hardening of the arteries
  • average intake in America is 400-900 mg.

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • relatively non-toxic
  • high doses of choline may aggravate depression
  • mega-doses (15-25 g) may cause gas and diarrhea
  • a quartet of chemicals in the brain influence depression and one of these if acetylcholine for which choline is used to make
  • high doses of choline may stimulate Ach formation which could lead to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain which could then lead to depression or anxiety for that matter
  • choline and morphine and/or anti-depressant drugs are not advisable partnerships

Sources:

  • choline naturally occurs in lecithin
  • widely available, from foods like eggs, to soybeans, to many vegetables and legumes

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

General Description:

  • water-soluble
  • partly supplied by the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to niacin by the body
  • ”niacin” is really a generic term referring to several substances.
  • only two of these substances are important: nicotinic acid and niacinamide or nicotinamide, both of which can perform the traditional functions of niacin

Actions:

  • niacin teams up with other substances in the body to form compounds that play a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
  • functions as a part of two enzymes, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and with an additional phosphate as NADP, which work in the glycogen energy cycle, the oxidation of fatty acids for energy, and in tissue respiration
  • has been used for certain blood fat disorders that increase the chance of developing heart disease
  • shows promise in new treatments for psoriasis
  • only nicotinic acid combats high blood fats and dilates blood vessels
  • softens skin
  • for almost a quarter of a century, heart experts have been using nicotinic acid to treat high blood fat levels
  • important for proper circulation and for a healthy nervous system
  • maintains normal function of the GI tract
  • may prevent migraine headaches

Deficiency:

  • RDA is 19 mg.
  • a dose greater than 30 mg. causes vascular dilation with flushing, burning, and itching, the ”niacin flush”
  • no other nutrient deficiency disease claimed nearly as many American lives
  • nicknamed the ”plague of corn” the disease is called pellagra
  • the plague came to an end with the discovery that it was not caused by a germ, but rather a diet deficient in niacin
  • however, before pellagra occurs, B2, B6, and the amino acid tryptophan are also likely to be deficient, in addition to B3
  • some foods contain niacin in a form the body does not absorb (eg. corn)
  • therefore, pellagra occurs most commonly where corn and other grains are the basis of the diet
  • tryptophan, an amino acid, can be converted to niacin in the body.
  • niacin deficiency still does occur from time to time and most commonly the victims are alcoholics or those who have a poor diet
  • other possible causes include: chronic diarrhea, malabsorption diseases, cancer, prolonged fever, deficiency of vitamin B6 (impairs the body’s ability to convert tryptophan to niacin)
  • mild deficiency may cause: diarrhea, anxiety, depression, irritability, coated tongue, canker sores, nervousness, skin lesions, forgetfulness, insomnia, chronic headaches, digestive disorders, and anemia
  • first signs of deficiency usually show in the skin: ulcers, sores, and areas that appear sunburnt
  • more advanced symptoms: hallucinations, delerium, confusion, depression, mental dullness, disorientation and mental disease, pellagra, neurasthenia, and ultimately coma and death

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • toxicity is low up to 1000 mg./day
  • mega-doses (3-10 g.) cause glycogen to be used more quickly and also block the use of fatty acids as fuel
  • liver seems sensitive to excessive niacin and one symptom of objection is jaundice
  • if jaundice is not present at high doses of niacin it does not mean that all is well with the liver
  • toxicity seems to develop more quickly on time-released forms
  • chances are good for a full recovery from liver damage due to nicotinic acid
  • abnormal glucose tolerance has been found in both diabetic and normal patients taking high doses of nicotinic acid
  • blood levels of uric acid may also increase on large doses of nicotinic acid (Gout!)
  • hypothyroidism may also occur
  • nicotinic acid may enhance the pressure-lowering effects of some hgh blood pressure drugs
  • those with abnormal liver function, duodenal ulcers or active peptic ulcers, severe low blood pressure, hemorrhaging, or bleeding of the arteries should consider niacin off-limits
  • diabetics and those with gout, allergies (release of histamine) and pregnant women should take caution

Sources:

  • brewer’s yeast, torula yeast, wheat germ, rice bran and rice polishings, nuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, whole wheat products, brown rice, and green vegetables

Vitamin B6

General Description:

  • vitamin B6 is not a single substance but a complex of three different ones that can all meet your body’s need for this vitamin
  • supplemental B6 is usually pyridoxine

Actions:

  • pyridoxine coenzymes function at all levels of protein and amino acid metabolism, and in making hemoglobin
  • activates many enzymes and enzyme systems
  • B6 is essential to the enzyme glycogen phosphorylase that breaks down muscle glycogen for fuel
  • doctors are experimenting with B6 for a variety of health problems, such as PMS and the nerve disorder carpal tunnel syndrome
  • the effects of vitamin B6 on the brain are also under study, with possible importance to conditions such as depression
  • involved in the production of antibodies which protect against bacterial invasion
  • essential for the synthesis and proper action of both DNA and RNA
  • helps maintain the healthy function of the brain and nervous system
  • important for normal reproductive processes and a healthy pregnancy
  • prevents nervous and skin disorders, such as acne
  • protects against degenerative diseases, such as elevated cholesterol, some types of heart disease and diabetes
  • prevents tooth decay
  • is a natural diuretic
  • can prevent or lessen epileptic seizures
  • helps prevent and relieve premenstrual edema
  • regulates the balance between Na and K
  • required for B12 absorption and for the production of sufficient HCl
  • helps to convert tryptophan to niacin and serotonin
  • assists in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
  • allows body to make heme, an important component of blood
  • protects skin from acne and stress

Deficiency:

  • RDA is 2.0 mg.
  • two groups of people give nutritionists concern regarding deficiency: 1) the elderly and 2) women who are pregnant and nursing
  • deficiency symptoms include: digestive problems, such as abdominal distress and bloating; nervous system complaints, such as depression, confusion, and irritablity; skin problems, such as flaking, irritation, and cracking; anemia; edema; inflammation of the colon; insomnia; tooth decay; migraine headaches, and weight loss
  • pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) is an activated form of vitamin B6
  • most molecules of P-5-P are broken down in digestion to plain pyridoxine, and transported that way through the intestinal wall
  • the body then turns pyridoxine into P-5-P again

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • toxicity is low up to 2000 mg.
  • high doses (2000 – 6000 mg.) can cause a nerve disorder called sensory neuropathy where there is damage to the nerves resulting in loss of touch sensation
  • mega-doses cause the body to deplete glycogen stores very quickly
  • vitamin B6 can strip levodopa (L-dopa) of it’s healing properties with Parkinson’s disease
  • B6 can sharply reduce the amount of phenobarbitol of phenytoin (Dilantin) in the blood
  • B6 also interacts with the following drugs: birth control pills; cycloserine, an antibiotic; Hydralazine, to lower blood pressure; Isoniazid or INH, the anti-tuberculosis drug; Penicillamine, which is not penicillin, but a drug used in rare genetic disorders and in severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Nursing mothers should avoid high doses of vitamin B6 (eg. 2000mg.) as it may interfere with the secretion of breast milk.

Sources:

  • wheat germ, wheat bran, soybeans, walnuts, black strap molasses, cantaloupe, cabbage, milk, leafy green vegetables, green peppers, carrots, peanuts, pecans, brewer’s yeast, bananas, avocados, and eggs
  • raw foods contain more than cooked foods as heat and processing destroy B6

Folic Acid

General Description:

  • folate is another name for folic acid
  • folate is a water soluble vitamin

Actions:

  • folate is absolutely essential for healthy bones, for a healthy pregnancy, and for the metabolism of proteins, as it forms part of the vital transport coenzymes that control amino acid metabolism
  • necessary for the growth and division of all cells in the body and for the production of RNA and DNA, the nucleic acids that carry hereditary patterns
  • folate helps to prevent breakage of DNA which is probably a key step in the cancer process
  • folate may be able to turn precancerous conditions of the lung and cervix around
  • essential for the formation of RBCs
  • folic acid must be present in adequate amounts for iron to initiate hemoglobin synthesis
  • aids in protein metabolism and contributes to normal growth
  • essential for the healing process
  • helps build antibodies to prevent and heal infections
  • essential for the health of hair and skin
  • helps prevent premature graying of hair
  • long been used in the treatment of atherosclerosis, circulation problems, anemia, radiation injuries and burns, in the treatment of sprue, a tropical nutritional disease, anemia and acute diarrhea

Deficiency:

  • RDA is 200 mcg.
  • a deficiency of folic acid inhibits the growth of new cells, especially the rapidly dividing ones (eg. blood and muscle cells)
  • a deficiency of folic acid can cause a type of anemia (megaloblastic), with early symptoms of fatigue, loss of appetite, pallor, and inflammation of the tongue, a tell-tale sign.
  • other symptoms include: serious skin disorders, loss of hair, impaired circulation, a grayish-brown skin pigmentation, depression, reproductive disorders (spontaneous abortions, difficult labor, and high infant death rate), and loss of libido in males
  • most frequently the victims of folate deficiency are alcoholics, those suffering form malabsorption syndromes, and the elderly
  • folate can mask the signs of pernicious anemia, caused by vitamin B12 deficiency and B12 deficiency, although quite rare, can lead to irreversible nerve damage if left unchecked
  • folate needs increase during pregnancy
  • alcohol causes the body to excrete more folate than normal
  • many drugs interfere with folic acid nutrition: antibacterial, anticancer, anticonvulsant, antituberculosis, barbiturates, birth control pills, cortisone, sulfa drugs etc.

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • large doses of folate can mask the symptoms of pernicious anemia, a disorder marked by an inablity to absorb vitamin B12.
  • toxicity is low, but the FDA has restricted the dose to 400 mcg./day, because of its possibility of masking signs of pernicious anemia
  • high doses may interfere with your body’s abliity to absorb and retain zinc
  • increased zinc has been found in the blood in cases of folic acid deficiency

Sources:

  • dark-green leafy vegetables, legumes, asparagus, lima beans, Irish potatoes, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, mushrooms, nuts, and egg yolk

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

Biotin

General Description:

Actions:

  • helps the body metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for fuel
  • forms part of two enzymes, pyruvate carboxylase and acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase
  • biotin is essential for gluconeogenesis (formation of new glucose) and fatty acid synthesis, two major fuels in the body
  • 3-methylcrotonyl coenzyme A is another enzyme dependent on biotin and is essential for the catabolism of branched-chain amino acids
  • important for healthy skin, hair, and nails
  • antiseptic qualities
  • used in the treatment of Malaria

Deficiency:

  • deficiency can be caused by a high intake of raw eggs because they contain a substance called, avidin, that prevents the absorption of biotin. Note: cooking destroys avidin
  • deficiency may cause eczema, dandruff, hair loss, seborrhea, skin disorders, pallor, heart abnormalities, lung infections, anemia, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, confusion, mental depression, drowsiness, and hallucinations

Interactions and Toxicity:

Sources:

  • brewer’s yeast, unpolished rice, soybeans

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