Chapter 7

Vitamins

Vitamins are nutrients you must get from food because your body can't make them from scratch.

Nutrition textbooks dryly define vitamins as organic compounds that the body needs in small quantities for normal functioning.

13 compounds have been classified as vitamins.

There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) tend to accumulate in the body. They are stored in the fat tissues of your body and in your liver. When needed special carriers in your body transport them to the desired sites.

Water-soluble vitamins are different; the body does not store water-soluble vitamins. Vitamin C and the eight B vitamins-biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12-dissolve in water, so excess amounts are excreted (they travel through one’s bloodstream and if not used are excreted through the urine). Constant replenishment of water-soluble vitamins is imperative 

I do not believe that one can consume enough food, on a daily basis, to supply the body with the daily requirements of vitamins, and minerals needed to achieve optimal health. The idea of optimal health varies greatly from average or mediocre, which implies the average rate of heart attacks , the average amount of disease, the average cancer rate, and the average death rate. 

One should begin vitamin supplementation whether he or she is going to begin a diet or not.

It is well documented, and my contention that man’s genetic potential for longevity is between 120 to 140 years of age. This of course, can only be accomplished by providing the body with all that it requires, and by not depriving it of the vitamins and minerals that it demands. 

I am convinced that our bodies were created to function as  well tuned, constantly correcting, and continually healing miracles of God and nature.

The "letter" vitamins sometimes go by different names.

 These include:


Vitamin A = retinol, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid
Vitamin B1 = thiamin
Vitamin B2 = riboflavin
Vitamin B6 = pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine
Vitamin B12 = cobalamin
Vitamin C = ascorbic acid
Vitamin D = calciferol
Vitamin E = tocopherol, tocotrienol
Vitamin K = phylloquinone
 

The following is a listing of vitamins, offering a description of their importance, deficiency symptoms, a brief discussion of benefits, optimum intake suggestions, and rich-food sources:

 

Vitamin A:

(Beta Carotene, retinol, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid):

 

IMPORTANCE:

Necessary for growth & repair of body tissues; helps maintain smooth, soft disease-free skin; helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat & lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infections; protects against air pollutants; counteracts night-blindness & weak eyesight; aids in bone and teeth formation. Current medical research shows that foods rich in Beta Carotene will help reduce the risk of lung cancer & certain oral cancers. Unlike Vitamin A from fish liver oil, Beta Carotene is non-toxic.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May result in night blindness; increased susceptibility to infections; rough, dry, scaly skin; loss of smell & appetite; frequents fatigue; lack of tearing; defective teeth & gums' retarded growth.

Vitamin A:

This vitamin plays a large part in eyesight. Vitamin A helps you see in color, too, from the brightest yellow to the darkest purple. Vitamin A however does much more than help you see in the dark. It stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, takes part in remodeling bone, helps maintain the health of endothelial cells (those lining the body's interior surfaces), and regulates cell growth and division. In addition, it helps one grow properly and aids in healthy skin.

Optimal Intake:

The current recommended intake of vitamin A is 5,000 IU for men and 4,000 IU for women. Many breakfast cereals, juices, dairy products, and other foods are fortified with vitamin A. Many fruits and vegetables, and some supplements, also contain beta-carotene and other vitamin A precursors, which the body can turn into vitamin A. Intake of up to 10,000 IU, twice the current recommended daily level, is thought to be safe.

                                            Tolerable Upper Level of Intake (UL) for Preformed Vitamin A (Retinol)
Age Group  UL in mcg/day (IU/day)
Infants 0-12 months  600 (2,000 IU) 
Children 1-3 years  600 (2,000 IU) 
Children 4-8 years  900 (3,000 IU) 
Children 9-13 years  1,700 (5,667 IU) 
Adolescents 14-18 years  2,800 (9,333 IU) 
Adults 19 years and older  3,000 (10,000 IU)

 

Some adverse signs and symptoms have been seen in certain individuals with amounts as low as 50,000 IU per day for a period of 18 to 24 months. Conversely, there are many practitioners who have utilized vitamin A for teenage acne with levels of 300,000 to 500,000 IU per day for up to five months with no side effects

The safest way to take increased amounts of Vitamin A is to take no more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A and supplement with Beta Carotene (which the body converts to Vitamin A and is completely safe and healthful at any doseage):

 

Foods that are rich in vitamin A are as follows:

  • Milk fortified with vitamin A
  • Liver
  • Orange fruits and vegetables (cantaloupe, carrots, & sweet potatoes)
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach)

 

B Vitamins and Heart Disease

There's more than one B vitamin: B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, biotin, and pantothenic acid.

The B vitamins are important in metabolic activity; they help make energy and set it free when your body needs it. This group of vitamins is also involved in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body. Every part of your body needs oxygen to work properly, so these B vitamins have a really important job.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B are as follows:

  • Whole grains, such as wheat and oats
  • Fish and seafood
  • Poultry and meats
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products, like milk and yogurt
  • Leafy green vegetables

Folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 play key roles in recycling homocysteine into methionine, one of the 20 or so building blocks from which the body builds new proteins. Without enough folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, this recycling process becomes inefficient and homocysteine levels increase. High levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risks of heart disease and stroke. Increasing the intake of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 decreases homocysteine levels

 

VITAMIN B-1 (Thiamin)

IMPORTANCE:

Plays a key role in the body's metabolic cycle for generating energy; aids in the digestion of carbohydrates; essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system, muscles & heart; stabilizes the appetite; promotes growth & good muscle tone.

 

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May lead to the loss of appetite; weakness & feeling tired; paralysis & nervous irritability; insomnia; loss of weight; vague aches & pains; mental depression & constipation; heart & gastrointestinal problems.

 

VITAMIN B-2 (Riboflavin):

 Necessary for carbohydrate, fat & protein metabolism; aids in the formation of antibodies and red blood cells; maintains cell respiration; necessary for the maintenance of good vision, skin, nails & hair; alleviates eye fatigue; promotes general health.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

 May result in itching and burning eyes; cracks and sores in the mouth & lips; bloodshot eyes; purplish tongue; dermatitis; retarded growth; digestive disturbances; trembling; sluggishness; oily skin.

 

Vitamin B-3 (NIACINAMIDE/Niacin)

 

IMPORTANCE:

Improves circulation and reduces the cholesterol level in the blood; maintains the nervous system; helps metabolize protein, sugar & fat; reduces high blood pressure; increases energy through proper utilization of food; prevents pellagra; helps maintain a healthy skin, tongue & digestive system.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May result in pellagra, gastrointestinal disturbance, nervousness, headaches, fatigue, mental depression, vague aches & pains, irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia, skin disorders, muscular weakness, indigestion, bad breathe, canker sores.

 

Vitamin B6: 

      (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)

IMPORTANCE:

Necessary for the synthesis & breakdown of amino acids, the building blocks of protein; aids in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, the formation of antibodies; maintains the central nervous system, aids in the removal of excess fluid of premenstrual women, promotes healthy skin, reduces muscle spasms, leg cramps, hand numbness, nausea & stiffness of hands, helps maintain a proper balance of sodium & phosphorous in the body.

 

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

 May result in nervousness, insomnia, skin eruptions, loss of muscular control, anemia, mouth disorders, muscular weakness, dermatitis, arm & leg cramps, loss of hair, slow learning, and water retention.

 

Vitamin B6:

A healthy diet should include 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B6. Higher doses have been tested as a treatment for conditions ranging from premenstrual syndrome to attention deficit disorder and carpal tunnel syndrome.

                                                                                      

VITAMIN B-12 (Cobalamin)

IMPORTANCE:

Helps in the formation & regeneration of red blood cells, thus helping prevent anemia; necessary for carbohydrate, fat & protein metabolism; maintains a healthy nervous system; promotes growth in children; increases energy; needed for Calcium absorption.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May lead to pernicious anemia, poor appetite, and growth failure in children, tiredness, brain damage, nervousness, neuritis, and degeneration of spinal cord, depression, lack of balance.

Vitamin B12 Recommendations:

The current recommended intake for vitamin B12 is 6 micrograms per day. Barely 100 years ago, a lack of vitamin B12 was the cause of a common and deadly disease called pernicious anemia. Its symptoms include memory loss, disorientation, hallucinations, and tingling in the arms and legs. Although full-blown pernicious anemia is less common today, it is still often diagnosed in older people who have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from food. It's also possible that some people diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease are actually suffering from the more reversible vitamin B12 deficiency

 

PANTOTHENIC ACID

 

IMPORTANCE:

Participates in the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats & protein, aids in the utilization of vitamins; improves the body's resistance to stress; helps in cell building & the development of the central nervous system; helps the adrenal glands, fights infections by building antibodies

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May lead to painful & burning feet, skin abnormalities, retarded growth, dizzy spells, digestive disturbances, vomiting, restlessness, stomach stress, muscle cramps

 

BIOTIN:

IMPORTANCE:

Aids in the utilization of protein, folic acid, Pantothenic acid, and Vitamin B-12, promotes healthy hair. Biotin is a B vitamin that's needed for the formation of fatty acids and glucose, which are essential for the production of energy. It also helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

 

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May lead to extreme exhaustion, drowsiness, muscle pain, and loss of appetite, depression, and grayish skin color, skin rash, hair loss, high cholesterol and heart problems.

]

FOLIC ACID:

IMPORTANCE:

Folate helps produce and maintain new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. It also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer . Both adults and children need folate to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia. Folate is also essential for the metabolism of homocysteine, and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid. Necessary for DNA & RNA synthesis, which is essential for the growth and reproduction of all body cells; essential to the formation of red blood cells by its action on the bone marrow; aids in amino acid metabolism.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May result in gastrointestinal disorders, anemia, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, and pre-mature gray hair.

Folic Acid and Cancer

In addition to recycling homocysteine, folate plays a key role in building DNA, the complex compound that forms our genetic blueprint. Observational studies show that people who get higher than average amounts of folic acid from their diets or supplements have lower risks of colon cancer and breast cancer. This could be especially important for those who drink alcohol, since alcohol blocks the absorption of folic acid and inactivates circulating folate. A high intake of folic acid blunts the increased risk of breast cancer seen among women who have more than one alcoholic drink a day.

Optimal Intake:

The current recommended intake for folic acid is 400 micrograms per day. There are many excellent sources of folic acid, including prepared breakfast cereals, beans, and fortified grains.

One of the advances that changed the way we look at vitamins is the discovery that too little folic acid, one of the eight B vitamins, is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Getting too little folic acid increases a woman's chances of having a baby with spina bifida or anencephaly and enough folic acid could prevent these birth defects.

Enough folic acid, at least 400 micrograms a day, isn't always easy to get from food. That's why women of childbearing age are urged to take extra folic acid. It's also why the US Food and Drug Administration now requires that folic acid be added to most enriched breads, flour, cornmeal, pastas, rice, and other grain products, along with the iron and other micronutrients that have been added for years. Folic acid and two other B vitamins may also help to fight heart disease and some types of cancer.
 

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Folate in Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE)
Life Stage Age Males (mcg/day) Females (mcg/day)
Infants 0-6 months 65 (AI) 65 (AI)
Infants 7-12 months 80 (AI) 80 (AI)
Children 1-3 years 150 150
Children 4-8 years 200 200
Children 9-13 years 300 300
Adolescents 14-18 years 400 400
Adults 19 years and older 400 400
Pregnancy all ages - 600
Breast-feeding all ages - 500

Ingestion of over 1,000 mcg is discouraged:

 

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Folic Acid

Age Group UL (mcg/day)
Infants 0-12 months Not possible to establish*
Children 1-3 years 300
Children 4-8 years 400
Children 9-13 years 600
Adolescents 14-18 years 800
Adults 19 years and older 1,000

 

 

 

                                             INOSITOL:

IMPORTANCE:

Necessary for the formation of lecithin; aids in the breakdown of fats; helps reduce blood cholesterol; helps prevent thinning hair.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May result in high blood cholesterol, constipation, eczema, and hair loss.

 

                                                             CHOLINE:

 

IMPORTANCE:

Very important in controlling fat & cholesterol buildup in the body, prevents fat from accumulating in the liver, facilitates the movement of fats in the cells, helps regulate the kidneys, liver & gallbladder, important for nerve transmission (precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine), helps improve memory, and is important in the structure of cell membranes. Because of rapid development in fetuses and infants, we have a great need for choline in our early lives. Human milk has high levels of choline.

Food Sources

  • Beef liver - pan-fried - 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) - 418 mg
  • Whole large egg - 112 mg choline
  • Beef (ground) 80% lean/20% fat - 3.5 oz patty - 81 mg
  • Cauliflower - 3/4 C cooked (1" pieces) - 62 mg
  • Navy beans - 1/2 C cooked - 48 mg
  • Tofu - 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) - 28 mg
  • Almonds - sliced - 1/2 cup - 26 mg
  • Peanut butter - 2 T - 20
  •  

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May result in cirrhosis and fatty degeneration of the liver, hardening of the arteries, heart problems, and high blood pressure, hemorrhaging kidneys.

 

Recommended Choline Intakes (AI=Adequate Intake)

 

Age   Daily AI
Infants 0-6 mos 125 mg.
  7-12 mos 150 mg
Children 1-3 yrs 200 mg
  4-8 yrs 250 mg
Boys 9-13 yrs 375 mg
  14-18 yrs 550 mg
Girls 9-13 yrs 375 mg
  14-18 yrs 440 mg
Men   550 mg
Women   425 mg
  Pregnant 450 mg
  Lactating 550 mg

 

The Tolerable Upper Intake level for adults has been set at 3.5 grams (3500 mg) per day. Above this, adverse effects can include low blood pressure, diarrhea, and fishy body odor.

 

 

                                            PABA (Para Amino Benzoic Acid)

 

IMPORTANCE:

Aids healthy bacteria in producing folic acid; aids in the formation of red blood cells; contains sun screening properties; aids in the assimilation of Pantothenic acid; returns hair to its natural color.

 

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May cause extreme fatigue, eczema, irritability, depressions, nervousness, constipation, headaches, digestive disorders, and hair turning prematurely gray.

 

                                    VITAMIN C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. Unlike most mammals and other animals, humans do not have the ability to make their own vitamin C. Therefore, we must obtain vitamin C through our diet:

Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke). Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. One recent study of cigarette smokers found that vitamin C regenerated vitamin E from its oxidized form.

 

IMPORTANCE:

Essential for healthy teeth, gums & bones; helps heal wounds, scar tissue, & fractures, prevents scurvy, builds resistance to infection, aids in the prevention & treatment of the common cold, gives strength to blood vessels, aids in the absorption of iron. It is required for the synthesis of collagen, the intercellular "cement" which holds tissues together. It is also one of the major antioxidant nutrients. It prevents the conversion of nitrates (from tobacco smoke, smog, bacon, lunch meats, & some vegetables) into cancer-causing substances. According to Dr. Linus Pauling, the foremost authority on Vitamin C, Vitamin C will decrease the risk of getting certain cancers by 75%.

Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are critical to brain function and are known to affect mood. In addition, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of carnitine, a small molecule that is essential for the transport of fat into cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the fat is converted to energy. Research also suggests that vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and the incidence of gallstones.

 

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May lead to soft & bleeding gums, swollen or painful joints, slow-healing wounds & fractures, bruising, nosebleeds, tooth decay, loss of appetite, muscular weakness, skin hemorrhages, capillary weakness, anemia, impaired digestion.

Vitamin C has been in the public eye for a long time. Even before its discovery in 1932, nutrition experts recognized that something in citrus fruits could prevent scurvy, a disease that killed as many as 2 million sailors between 1500 and 1800. Vitamin C plays a major role in controlling infections. Nobel laureate Linus Pauling promoted daily megadoses of vitamin C (the amount in 12 to 24 oranges) as a way to prevent colds and protect the body from other chronic diseases; it is also a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals, and it helps make collagen, a tissue needed for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels.

Optimal Intake:

 The current recommended dietary intake for vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women (add an extra 35 mg for smokers). As the evidence continues to unfold, 200 to 300 mg of vitamin C a day appears to be a good target. 

In the U.S., the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C was revised in 2000 upward from the previous recommendation of 60 mg daily for men and women. The RDA continues to be based primarily on the prevention of deficiency disease, rather than the prevention of chronic disease and the promotion of optimum health. The recommended intake for smokers is 35 mg/day higher than for nonsmokers, because smokers are under increased oxidative stress from the toxins in cigarette smoke and generally have lower blood levels of vitamin.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C
Life Stage Age Males (mg/day) Females (mg/day)
Infants 0-6 months 40 (AI) 40 (AI)
Infants 7-12 months 50 (AI) 50 (AI)
Children 1-3 years 15 15
Children 4-8 years 25 25
Children 9-13 years 45 45
Adolescents 14-18 years 75 65
Adults 19 years and older 90 75
Smokers 19 years and older 125 110
Pregnancy 18 years and younger - 80
Pregnancy    19 years and older - 85
Breast-feeding     18 years and younger - 115
Breast-feeding 19 years and older - 120

 

 

Linus Pauling purported massive doses, of up to 10,000 mg to be taken to alleviate severe disease states and 2 to 3,000 mg. as a maintenance dose.

Foods rich in vitamin C are as follows:

  • Citrus fruits, like oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Sweet red peppers


                                                            
Vitamin D (Calciferol):

IMPORTANCE:

Improves absorption and utilization of Calcium and Phosphorous; required for bone and teeth formation; maintains a stable nervous system and normal heart action.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May lead to rickets, tooth decay, softening of bones, improper healing of fractures, lack of vigor, muscular weakness, and inadequate absorption of calcium, retention of phosphorous in the kidneys.

If you live north of the line connecting San Francisco to Philadelphia, odds are you don't get enough vitamin D. The same holds true if you don't, or can't, get outside for at least a 15-minute daily walk in the sun.

Vitamin D helps ensure that the body absorbs and retains calcium and phosphorus, both critical for building bone. Laboratory studies also show that vitamin D keeps cancer cells from growing and dividing.

Some preliminary studies indicate that insufficient intake of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of fractures, and that vitamin D supplementation may prevent them. Other early studies suggest an association between low vitamin D intake and increased risks of prostate, breast, colon, and other cancers.

Optimal Intake:

The current recommended intake of vitamin D is 5 micrograms up to age 50, 10 micrograms between the ages of 51 and 70, and 15 micrograms after age 70. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Good sources include dairy products and breakfast cereals (which are fortified with vitamin D), and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. For most people, the best way to get the recommended daily intake is by taking a multivitamin.

Because man can synthesize vitamin D in the skin with a little sun exposure, normal, healthy patients need not consume any more than 400 IU per day in supplemental form.
 

Which foods are rich in vitamin D?

  • Milk fortified with vitamin D
  • Fish
  • Egg yolks 
  • Liver
  • Fortified cereal

Vitamin E (Tocopherol, Tocotrienol):

 

IMPORTANCE:

Major anti-oxidant nutrient; retards cellular aging due to oxidation; supplies oxygen to the blood which is then carried to the heart and other organs; thus alleviating fatigue; aids in bringing nourishment to cells; strengthens the capillary walls & prevents the red blood cells from destructive poisons; prevents & dissolves blood clots; has also been used by doctors in helping prevent sterility, muscular dystrophy, calcium deposits in blood walls and heart conditions. Everybody needs E. This hard-working vitamin maintains a lot of your body's tissues, like the ones in your eyes, skin, and liver. It protects your lungs from becoming damaged by polluted air. And it is important for the formation of red blood cells. Promising observational studies, suggest that a 20% to 40% reduction in coronary heart disease risk among individuals can be achieved with vitamin E supplements (usually containing 400 to 800 IU) for at least two years.

 

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

May lead to a rupture of red blood cells, loss of reproductive powers, lack of sexual vitality, abnormal fat deposits in muscles, degenerative changes in the heart and other muscles; dry skin.  

Optimal Intake:

The recommended daily intake of vitamin E from food now stands at 15 milligrams from food. That's the equivalent of 22 IU from natural-source vitamin E or 33 IUs of the synthetic form. Evidence from observational studies suggests that at least 400 to 800 IU of vitamin E per day are needed for optimal health. Since standard multivitamins usually contain around 30 IU, a separate vitamin E supplement is needed to achieve this level.

In a few susceptible individuals, ingestion of over 1,000 IU of vitamin E per day may cause immune suppression. In levels below 1,000 IU, vitamin E is known to enhance the immune system. 

A safe dose and the one most often recommended for optimal health benefits is 800 IU per day:
 

Which foods are rich in vitamin E?

  • Whole grains, such as wheat and oats
  • Wheat germ
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Sardines
  • Egg yolks
  • Nuts and seeds

 

Vitamin K (Phylloquinone):

Vitamin K is the clot master!
Vitamin K helps make six of the 13 proteins needed for blood clotting. Its role in maintaining the clotting cascade is so important that people who take anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin) must be careful to keep their vitamin K intake stable.

Lately, researchers have demonstrated that vitamin K is also involved in building bone. Low levels of circulating vitamin K have been linked with low bone density, and supplementation with vitamin K shows improvements in biochemical measures of bone health. Women who get at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K a day are 30% less likely to break a hip as women who get less than that. Eating a serving of lettuce or other green leafy vegetable a day cut the risk of hip fracture in half when compared with eating one serving a week. Data shows an association between high vitamin K intake and reduced risk of hip fracture.

Optimal Intake:

The recommended daily intake for vitamin K is 80 micrograms for men and 65 for women. Because this vitamin is found in so many foods, especially green leafy vegetables and commonly used cooking oils, most adults get enough of it. According to a 1996 survey, though, a substantial number of Americans, particularly children and young adults, aren't getting the vitamin K they need.
 

Which foods are rich in vitamin K?

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Dairy products, like milk and yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Soybean oil

                                                      Antioxidants

Our cells must constantly contend with nasty substances called free radicals. They can damage DNA, the inside or artery walls, and proteins in the eye--just about any substance or tissue imaginable. Some are made inside the body, inevitable byproducts of turning food into energy. Others come from the air we breathe and the food we eat.

We aren't defenseless against free radicals. We extract free-radical fighters, called antioxidants, from food. Fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods deliver dozens, if not hundreds, of antioxidants. The most common are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and related carotenoids. Food also supplies minerals such as selenium and manganese, which are needed by enzymes that destroy free radicals.

During the 1990s, the term antioxidants became a huge nutritional “buzz word”. They were promoted as wonder agents that could prevent heart disease, cancer, cataracts, memory loss, and a host of other conditions.
Ongoing trials of other antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin for macular degeneration and lycopene for prostate cancer, are underway.

While most people get enough vitamins to avoid the classic deficiency diseases, relatively few get enough of five key vitamins that may be important in preventing several chronic diseases.

These include:

  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

 

Other Common Antioxidants

Some common phytochemicals

 

  • Flavonoids / polyphenols
    • soy
    • red wine
    • purple grapes or Concord grapes
    • pomegranate
    • cranberries
    • tea

     

  • Lycopene
    • Tomato and tomato products
    • pink grapefruit
    • watermelon

     

  • Lutein
    • dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, kiwi, brusselsprouts and spinach

     

  • Lignan
    • flax seed
    • oatmeal
    • barley
    • rye

     

Vitamin-like Antioxidants:

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
  • Glutathione

 

Antioxidant enzymes made by the body:

  • superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • catalase
  • glutathione peroxidase

 

 

 

 

Back to Table of Contents