Vitamins

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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

Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene

General Description:

There are two types of vitamin A:

  • Retinol, or vitamin A, which is preformed vitamin A, is found in animal foods.
  • Beta-carotene, or pro vitamin A, which is a precursor to vitamin A and is found almost exclusively in plant foods.
  • Retinol, named after the retina of the eye, is fat-soluble, as is beta-carotene

Actions:

  • the liver will convert beta-carotene into vitamin A only as it is needed (prevents possible toxicity)
  • if you eat an abundance of plant foods, you will ensure that you are receiving a sufficient supply of carotenoids which, like carotene, can be converted to vitamin A in the body
  • body deposits some of the extra carotene in some body tissues, such as the skin, and uses some of the excess as an antioxidant to fight free radicals that cause aging and cancer
  • takes 6 mcg.(1 mcg. = 3.3 IU) beta-carotene to yield 1 mcg. RE of vitamin A
  • the average carrot contains 18,000 IU of active beta-carotene
  • essential for growth in young animals, healthy skin and mucous membranes, cell growth, reproduction, normal immunity, and healthy bones
  • promotes healthy eyes – helping you to see in dim light and preventing the disease xeropthalmia that can lead to blindness.
  • retinol makes the visual purple of your eyes that is essential for night vision
  • promotes healthy organs – essential to health of tissues lining lungs, digestive system, and the genitourinary tract.
  • beta-carotene cause macrophages to release TNF
  • vitamin A builds resistance to all kinds of infections as it is a ”membrane conditioner”
  • essential during pregnancy and lactation
  • helps maintain testicular tissue in a healthy state
  • aids in the secretion of gastric juices and in the digestion of proteins
  • prevents premature aging and senility
  • protects against the damaging effects of polluted air
  • increases the permeability of capillaries contributing to better tissue oxygenation

Deficiency:

  • deficiency is not very common in America
  • average diet contains 5,400 IU of vitamin A
  • ”night blindness” is often the first sign
  • prolonged deficiency may result in lumps of hard skin forming on various body parts, eye inflammations, poor vision, and severe eye damage can occur (cornea dries out and ulcerates)
  • increased susceptibility to infections, especially in the respiratory tract; and frequent colds
  • retarded growth in children; lack of appetite and vigor; defective teeth and gums
  • rough, scaly, and dry skin, and such skin disorders as acne, pimples, boils, premature wrinkles, and psoriasis
  • dry, dull hair, dandruff, and excessive hair loss
  • nails which peel and/or are ridged
  • poor senses of taste and smell
  • prolonged diarrhea can inhibit vitamin A absorption.
  • other malabsorption syndromes, such as Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease can also put you at risk of vitamin A deficiency, as can obstruction of the bile, liver, and/or gallbladder ducts
  • laxatives can inhibit the absorption of vitamin A
  • the drug Clofibrate, to treat high blood triglycerides, can decrease the body’s ability to absorb carotene
  • the body’s ability to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A is impaired in three conditions: diabetes, hypothyroidism, and severe liver malfunctioning

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • toxicity of vitamin A does not normally occur for most people in normal health until they take a dose above 1000mcg RE/kg of body weight
  • 25,000 IU/day for adults is usually considered safe except in the case of pregnancy (should not exceed 6,000 IU)
  • one should not take a vitamin A supplement if currently taking Accutane
  • the drug cholestyramine (Questran), which lowers blood cholesterol levels, may also interfere with vitamin A absorption (as well as other fat-soluble vitamins)
  • the pill can increase the amount of vitamin A in the blood as well as the rate at which beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A
  • OTC mineral oil (laxative) can also prevent A absorption
  • high doses of vitamin A can cause miscarriages and birth defects
  • carotenemia or hypercarotenemia are terms referring to high blood carotene levels which accompany the yellow skin syndrome
  • one can distinguish between carotenemia and jaundice by looking at the whites of the eyes – white in the case of carotenemia and yellow in the case of jaundice
  • a very high intake of carrots during pregnancy has been reported to cause a yellowing of the skin in both the mother and newborn
  • a study in rats showed that large doses of carotene adversely affected bone development and the ability to maintain pregnancy

Sources:

  • beta-carotene: carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, melons, squash, yams, tomatoes, eggs

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

General Description:

  • thiamin is a water-soluble vitamin that has several different roles in the body
  • however, the fat-soluble forms, called allithiamins, are superior to the water soluble forms

 

Actions:helps your body release energy from food – specifically carbohydrates.

  • required for the oxidative decarboxylation of alpha-keto acids and for the transketolase activity in the pentose phosphate pathway (ie carbohydrate burning)
  • keeps appetite, digestive tract, and the nervous system healthy
  • anti-beriberi, anti-neuritic, and anti-aging vitamin
  • essential for proper protein metabolism
  • promotes growth
  • protects the heart muscle
  • stimulates brain action
  • improves peristalsis and helps prevent constipation
  • helps maintain normal RBC count
  • protects against the damaging effects of lead poisoning
  • prevents edema, or fluid retention, in connection with heart condition
  • improves circulation
  • prevents fatigue and increases stamina

Deficiency:

  • the body can only absorb and retain so much thiamin at a time and thus it must be consumed everyday
  • except those afflicted with alcoholism, genetic disease, or metabolic disorders thiamin intake is usually adequate.
  • symptoms of thiamin deficiency: tired and lacking energy, irritability, depression, anger, loss of appetite and weight, headaches, indigestion (defective HCl production), diabetes, neuritis, edema, and constipation.
  • hallmark of deficiency is nerve damage of the legs.
  • final stage of thiamin deficiency is beri-beri which is very painful and can lead to death if left untreated.
  • there are two types of beri-beri – ”dry” and ”wet”
  • in ”wet” the body retains too much fluid and there is abnormal heart functioning
  • in ”dry” there are nerve and muscle problems
  • heart and digestive malfunctioning can usually be reversed, however, nerve malfunctioning may be more difficult to correct.
  • antacids can inactivate thiamin
  • diuretics or ”water pills” are known to increase thiamin excretion
  • barbiturates can decrease absorption of thiamin

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • high doses of thiamin may enhance drugs known as neuromuscular blocking agents.

Sources:

  • whole grains are the best source
  • brewer’s yeast, wheat germ and bran, rice polishings, all seeds and nuts, beans especially soybeans, milk and milk products, beets, potatoes, and green leafy vegetables

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

General Description:

  • a water-soluble vitamin

Actions:

  • riboflavin works at the most basic level in your body – helping you to metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
  • essential for growth and general health
  • essential for healthy eyes, skin, nails, and hair
  • may help in the prevention of some types of cataracts
  • it functions especially to help the mitochondria fo your muscle cells to produce energy
  • also acts as an antioxidant in the mitochondria
  • prevents excessively oily skin
  • involved with glutathione reductase, which helps maintain glutathione

Deficiency:

  • when it occurs, riboflavin deficiency does not usually do so alone. Normally there are also deficiencies of other B vitamins as well
  • RDA is 1.7 mg./day
  • average diet provides almost 2.5 mg. of riboflavin
  • symptoms can occur in many different parts of the body, but the eyes are often first to react, becoming sensitive to light and quick to tire, itching, watering, bloodshot and sore
  • other symptoms: dull or oily hair, oily skin, premature wrinkles on face and arms, eczema, split nails
  • inflammation of the mouth as well as cracks around the corners of the mouth may also occur
  • the best known symptom is cheilosis
  • gout drugs, antibiotics, and CNS drugs can decrease riboflavin absorption and diuretics increase the amount of riboflavin excreted
  • in addition, oral contraceptives may change the way the body uses many vitamins including riboflavin
  • you need more riboflavin if you are active because riboflavin is intimately involved in the burning of calories for energy (ie. body’s need for riboflavin corresponds directly to the number of calories consumed each day)
  • growth, pregnancy, and breast-feeding increase riboflavin needs
  • hepatitis, cirrhosis, and biliary obstruction decrease the body’s ability to absorb riboflavin
  • illnesses involving fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and other physical stresses can also increase the body’s need for riboflavin.
  • the body’s need for riboflavin corresponds directly to the number of calories consumed
  • a deficiency of B2, as with other vitamins, can lead to a horrendous cascade of events: first impairing B12 metabolism, which affects vitamin C metabolism, which leads to a depletion of C, which impairs iron absorption, which encourages excessive copper absorption, which impairs zinc metabolism, etc. (note that this is only one of the many possible sequences that can occur)

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • chances of overdosing on B2 are slim
  • cancer patients should not take B2 supplements without approval because riboflavin deficiency has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors

Sources:

  • brewer’s yeast, torula yeast, wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, cooked leafy vegetables

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