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.
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.
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.
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:
(Beta Carotene, retinol, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid):
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.
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.
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:
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:
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)
VITAMIN B-2 (Riboflavin):
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.
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)
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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)|
|Adults||19 years and older||400||400|
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|
|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|
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)|
|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|
Foods rich in vitamin C are as follows:
Vitamin D (Calciferol):
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.
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?
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.
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
Which foods are rich in vitamin E?
Vitamin K (Phylloquinone):
Vitamin K is the clot
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.
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?
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
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.
Other Common Antioxidants
Some common phytochemicals
Antioxidant enzymes made by the body:
Back to Table of Contents