Category Archives: Vitamins

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.

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