How Do Vitamins Help Your Body?

Vitamin A – Retinol

Retinol is the naturally occurring form of vitamin A and is found mainly in animal products. Beta-carotene, also called plant vitamin A, is a carotenoid, which is converted into vitamin A by the liver. Retinol is a fat-soluble nutrient that occurs in nature in two forms: preformed vitamin A and beta-carotene. Preformed vitamin A is concentrated only in certain tissues of animal products in which the animal has metabolised the carotene contained in its food into vitamin A.

Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect the cells against cancer and other diseases and is necessary for new cell growth. This important vitamin also slows the aging process. The body, without vitamin A, cannot utilise protein.

Vitamin A prevents night blindness and other eye problems as well as some skin disorders such as acne. It enhances immunity, may heal gastrointestinal ulcers, protects against pollution and cancer formation, and is needed for the maintenance and repair of epithelial tissue, which is found as skin and mucous membranes. Vitamin A aids in the growth and repair of body tissues and helps maintain smooth, soft, disease-free skin. Internally it helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infection. This protection also aids the mucous membranes in combating the ef­fects of various air pollutants. The soft tissue and all linings of the digestive tract, kidneys, and bladder are also protected. In addition, vitamin A prompts the secretion of gastric juices necessary for proper digestion of proteins.

Ribonucleic acid [RNA] production is greatly enhanced by vitamin A. RNA is a nucleic acid that trans­mits to each cell of the body instructions on how to perform so that life, health, and proper function can be maintained. The body must be able to synthesise new RNA or cell degeneration begins. Studies have revealed that new RNA can be produced in vitamin A deficient bodies; however, the rate of production of new RNA is much less than if sufficient A is availa­ble. One of the best sources of RNA is yeast.

The various stores in the body can be depleted by infections and a deficiency of vitamin A may be obvious if dry hair or skin, dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea, poor growth, and/or night blindness is present. Other possible results of vitamin A deficiency include abscesses in the ears; insomnia; fatigue; reproductive difficulties; sinusitis, pneumonia, frequent colds and other respiratory infections; skin disorders, including acne; and weight loss.

If you have liver disease, do not take a daily dose of over 10,000 international units of vitamin A in pill form, or any amount of cod liver oil.

If you are pregnant, do not take more than 10,000 international units of vitamin A daily.

Children should not take more than 18,000 international units of vitamin A on a daily basis for over one month.

If you have hypothyroidism, avoid beta-carotene, because your body probably cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A.

Taking large amounts of vitamin A over long periods can be toxic to the body, mainly the liver. Antibiotics, laxatives, and some cholesterol-lowering drugs interfere with vitamin A absorption.

Deficiencies of vitamin A can be seen in symptoms such as abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, enlargement of the liver and/or spleen, gastrointestinal disturbances, hair loss, itching, joint pain, nausea and vomiting, water on the brain, and small cracks and scales on the lips and at the corners of the mouth.

N.B. No overdose can occur with beta-caro­tene, although if you take too much, your skin may turn slightly yellow-orange in colour.

Vitamin A can be found in animal livers, fish liver oils, and green and yellow fruits and vegetables. Foods that contain significant amounts include apricots, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, dandelion greens, garlic, kale, mustard greens, papayas, peaches, pumpkin, red peppers, spirulina, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, and watercress. It is also present in the following herbs: alfalfa, borage leaves, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, rasp­berry leaf, red clover, rose hips, sage, violet leaves and yellow dock.

Taking extra vitamin A may help the body overcome such diseases as Alcoholism, Allergies, Angina pectoris, Arteriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Arthritis, Asthma, Bronchitis, Canker sore, Cataracts, Cirrhosis of liver, Coeliac disease, Colitis, Common cold, Conjunctivitis, Constipation, Croup, Cystic fibrosis, Cystitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Ear infections, Emphysema, Epilepsy, Eyestrain, Fevers, Gallstones, Glaucoma, Goitre, Gout, Hay fever, Hair problems, Headaches, Haemophilia, Haemorrhoids, Hepatitis, Hyperthyroidism, Impotence, Influenza, Jaundice, Kidney stones, Muscular dystrophy, Nail problems, Nephritis, Night blindness, Prostatitis, Rickets, Sinusitis, Swollen glands, Tuberculosis, Varicose veins, and Worms,

What are known, as carotenoids are a class of compounds related to vitamin A. In some cases, they can act as precursors of vitamin A; some act as antioxidants or have other important functions. The best known of the carotenoids is beta-carotene, but there are others, including alpha- and gamma-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. When food or supplements containing beta-carotene are consumed, the beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the liver. According to recent reports, beta-carotene appears to aid in cancer prevention by scavenging, or neutralizing, free radicals.

Carotene is a substance that must be converted into vitamin A before it can be utilised by the body. It is abundant in carrots, from which its name is derived, but it is present in even higher concentra­tions in certain green leafy vegetables, such as beet greens, spinach, and broccoli. If, owing to any disor­der, the body is unable to use carotene, a vitamin A deficiency may arise.

Beta-carotene does not have the same effect as vitamin A in the body and is not harmful in larger amounts unless you cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. People with hypothyroidism often have this problem.

Good sources of Beta-carotene include carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, parsley, spinach, kale and sweet potatoes

The upper intestinal tract is the primary area of absorption of vitamin A; it is here that the fat-splitting enzymes and bile salts convert carotene into a usable nutrient. This conversion is stimulated by thyroxine, a hormone obtained from the thyroid gland. Once converted into vitamin A, carotene is absorbed in the same way, as is the preformed vitamin. Vitamin A is carried through the bloodstream and is readily accessible to tissues throughout the body. The body absorbs Vitamin A 3 to 5 hours after ingestion, whereas the conversion and absorption of beta-carotene takes 6 to 7 hours.

The conversion of carotene into vitamin A is not 100 percent complete; approximately one-third of the carotene in food is converted into vitamin A. Less than a quarter of the carotene in carrots and root vegetables undergoes conversion, and about one-half of the carotene in leafy green vegetables undergoes conversion. Some unchanged carotene is absorbed into the circulatory system and stored in the fat tissues rather than in the liver. Unabsorbed carotene is excreted in the faeces.

Vitamin B – Complex

All B vitamins are water-soluble substances that can be cultivated from bacteria, yeasts, fungi, or moulds. The known B-complex vitamins are:

  • B1 thiamine,
  • B2 riboflavin,
  • B3 niacin,
  • B5 pantothenic acid,
  • B6 pyridoxine,
  • B12 cyanocobalamin or Cobalamin,
  • B15 pangamic acid,
  • biotin,
  • choline,
  • folic acid,
  • inositol, and
  • PABA para-aminobenzoic acid.

The B-complex vitamins are active in providing the body with energy, basically by converting carbohydrates into glucose, which the body “burns” to produce energy. B-complex vitamins are vital in the metabolism of fats and protein. In addition B vitamins are necessary to maintain the normal functioning of the nervous system and may be the single most important factor for health of the nerves. They are essential for maintenance of muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and for the health of skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver.

Because of the water-solubility of the B-complex vitamins, any excess is excreted and not stored. Therefore they must be continually replaced. Sulpha drugs, sleeping pills, insecticides, and oestrogen create a condition in the digestive tract that can destroy the B vitamins. Certain B vitamins are lost through perspiration.

The B vitamins have been used in the treatment of barbiturate overdosage, alcoholic psychoses, and drug-induced delirium. An adequate dose has been found to control migraine headaches and attacks of Ménière’s syndrome. Some heart abnormalities have responded to the use of B complex vitamins because the nerves affecting the heart need these vitamins to ensure their smooth, quiet functioning.

Massive dosages of the B-complex vitamins have been helpful in polio, to improve the condition of hypersensitive children who fail to respond favourably to drugs such as Ritalin, and to improve cases of shingles. Nervous individuals and persons working under tension can greatly benefit from taking larger than normal doses of B vitamins.

The B vitamins help to maintain the health of the nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, and mouth, as well as healthy muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and proper brain function. B-complex vitamins are coenzymes involved in energy production, and may be useful for alleviating depression or anxiety. An adequate intake of the B vitamins is very important for elderly people because these nutrients are not as well absorbed as we age. There have even been cases of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease whose problems were later found to be due to a deficiency of vitamin B12 plus the B complex. The B vitamins should always be taken together, but up to two to three times more of one B vitamin than another can be taken for a particular disorder. Although the B vitamins are a team, they will be discussed individually.

The thirteen or more B vitamins are often missing in the diet because of over eating of a few foods. If a person is tired, irritable, nervous, depressed, or even suicidal, suspect a vitamin B deficiency.

A poor appetite, insomnia, neuritis, anaemia, constipation, or a high cholesterol level may also be an indicator of a vitamin B deficiency.

Another reason for widespread deficiency is the high amount of sugar consumed. Sugar produces an abnormal intestinal flora from which some of the B vitamins are manufactured. Sugar also is pure carbohydrate with no vitamins or minerals or enzymes to aid in its digestion. Therefore it takes nutrient supplies, including the B vitamins, from other parts of the body so depleting those storage areas.

The caffeine in coffee is known to destroy the B vitamin thiamine, which is, among other things, essential for the health of the nervous system.

Having an enlarged tongue that is shiny, bright red, and full of grooves means B vitamins are needed.

Vitamin B1 – Thiamine

Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as a coenzyme participating in the complex process of glucose conversion into energy. Thiamine is vulnerable to heat, air, and water in cooking. It is a member of the B-complex family and is necessary for the functioning of the nervous system. Thiamine enhances circulation and assists in blood formation, carbohydrate metabolism, and the production of hydrochloric acid, which is important for proper digestion. Thiamine also optimises cognitive activity and brain function. It has a positive effect on energy, growth, normal appetite, and learning capac­ity, and is needed for muscle tone of the intestines, stomach, and heart. Thiamine also acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from the degenerative effects of aging, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

Symptoms that can result from a thiamine deficiency include constipation, oedema, an enlarged liver, fatigue, forgetfulness, gastrointestinal disturbances, heart changes, irritability, laboured breathing, loss of appetite, muscle atrophy, nervousness, numbness of the hands and feet, pain and sensitivity, poor coordination, tingling sensations, weak and sore muscles, general weakness, and severe weight loss.

The richest food sources of thiamine include brown rice, egg yolks, fish, legumes, liver, peanuts, peas, pork, poultry, rice bran, wheat germ, and whole grains. Other sources are aspara­gus, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kelp, most nuts, oatmeal, plums, dried prunes, raisins, spirulina, and watercress.

Herbs that contain thiamine include alfalfa, bladderwrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, sage, yarrow, and yellow dock.

Antibiotics, sulpha drugs, and oral contraceptives may decrease thiamine levels in the body. A high-carbohydrate diet increases the need for thiamine.

Taking extra thiamine may be useful for the following diseases: Alcoholism, Anaemia, Bell’s palsy, Congestive heart failure, Constipation, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Fever, Headache, Influenza, Leg cramp, Méniêre’s syndrome, Mental illness, Multiple sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, Neuritis, Night blindness, Sciatica, Shingles, Stress, and Worms.

Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is a water-soluble vitamin occurring naturally in those foods in which the other B vitamins exist. Riboflavin is stable to heat, oxidation, and acid although it disintegrates in the presence of alkali or light, especially ultraviolet light.

Riboflavin functions as part of a group of enzymes that are involved in the breakdown and utilisation of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Riboflavin is necessary for cell respiration because it works with enzymes in the utilisation of cell oxygen. It is also necessary for the maintenance of good vision, skin, nails, and hair.

Riboflavin plays an important role in the prevention of some visual disturbances, especially cataracts. Undernourished women during the end of pregnancy often suffer from conditions such as visual distur­bances, burning sensations in the eyes, excessive watering of the eyes, and failing vision.

Riboflavin is necessary for red blood cell formation, antibody production, cell respiration, and growth. It alleviates eye fa­tigue and is important in the prevention and treatment of cataracts. It aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Together with vitamin A, it maintains and improves the mucous membranes in the digestive tract. Riboflavin also facilitates the use of oxygen by the tissues of the skin, nails, and hair; eliminates dandruff; and helps the absorption of iron and vitamin B6. Consumption of adequate amounts of riboflavin is important during pregnancy, because a lack of this vitamin can damage a developing foetus even though the woman shows no signs of deficiency. Riboflavin is needed for the metabolism of the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into niacin in the body. Carpal tunnel syndrome may benefit from a treatment program that includes riboflavin and vitamin B6.

Deficiency symptoms include – sore mouth, lips and tongue, insomnia, photosensitivity, bloodshot and gritty eyes, scaly red skin on the sides of the nose and stress. Other possible deficiency symptoms include dermatitis, dizziness, hair loss, insomnia, light sensitivity, poor digestion, retarded growth, and slowed mental response. Stress increases our need for this vitamin particularly during periods of emotional or physical pressure.

High levels of vitamin B2 are found in the following food products: cheese, egg yolks, fish, legumes, meat, milk, poultry, spinach, whole grains, and yoghurt. Other sources include as­paragus, avocados, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, currants, dandelion greens, leafy greens, mushrooms, molasses, nuts, and watercress.

Herbs that contain vitamin B2 include alfalfa, bladderwrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, kelp, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, sage, and yellow dock.

Increased dosages of riboflavin are needed for hyperthyroidism, fevers, stress of injury or surgery, and malabsorption. Other diseases that may be helped by taking this vitamin are Acne, Adrenal exhaustion, Alcoholism, Arthritis, Baldness, Bedsores, Cancer, Cataracts, Conjunctivitis, Dermatitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Glaucoma, Influenza, Kidney, Leg cramp, Ménière’s syndrome, Multiple sclerosis, Nephritis, Neuritis, Night blindness, Parkinson’s disease, Peptic ulcer, Retarded growth Stomach problems, Ulcers, Vaginitis, Vertigo, and Worms.

Vitamin B3 – Niacin, Nicotinic Acid

Niacin, a member of the vitamin B complex is water-soluble. There are synthetic forms of niacin including nicotinic acid, and nicotinamide. As a coenzyme, niacin assists enzymes in the break­down and utilisation of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Niacin is effective in improving circulation and reducing the cholesterol level in the blood. It is vital to the proper activity of the nervous system and for formation and maintenance of healthy skin, tongue, and digestive-system tissues. Niacin is also neces­sary for the synthesis of sex hormones.

Niacin is vital for brain function and Niacin deficiency has been linked to schizophrenia and depression. Smaller deficiencies may be responsible for mouth ulcers, insomnia and fatigue. It is necessary for the synthesis of sex hormones and cortisone, thyroxin and insulin. It improves circulation, health of the skin, nerves, brain and digestive organs.

Niacin is required for the synthesis of DNA and converts carbohydrates to energy.

Vitamin B3 is needed for proper circulation and healthy skin. It aids in the functioning of the nervous system; in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins; and in the production of hydrochloric acid for the digestive system. It is involved in the normal secretion of bile and stomach fluids, and in the synthesis of sex hormones. Niacin lowers cholesterol and improves cir­culation. It is helpful for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and is also a memory-enhancer.

Vitamin B3 is found in beef liver, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, carrots, cheese, corn flour, dandelion greens, dates, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat germ, and whole-wheat products.

Herbs that contain niacin include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, liquorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, pep­permint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, slippery elm, and yellow dock.

People who are pregnant or who suffer from diabetes, glaucoma, gout, liver disease, or peptic ulcers should use niacin supplements with caution. Amounts over 500 milligrams daily may cause liver damage if taken for prolonged periods. Alcohol inhibits the metabolism of niacin, sleeping pills, oestrogen and food processing.

Deficiency symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, poor appetite, digestive problems, muscle weakness, irritability, mouth sores and psychiatric disturbances. In the early stages of any deficiency muscular weakness will occur and general fatigue, loss of appetite, indigestion, and various skin eruptions. A niacin deficiency may also cause bad breath, small ulcers, canker sores, insomnia, irritability, nau­sea, vomiting, recurring headaches, tender gums, strain, tension, and deep depression.

Niacin is absorbed in the intestine and is stored primarily in the liver. Any excess is eliminated through the urine. Excessive consumption of sugar and starches will deplete the body’s supply of niacin, as will certain antibiotics.

The amazing thing about niacin is the speed with which it can reverse disorders. Diarrhoea has been cleared up in 2 days. Atherosclerosis, attacks of Ménière’s syndrome, and some cases of progressive deafness have improved or even disappeared. Niacin is often used to reduce high blood pressure and increase circulation in cramped, painful legs of the elderly. It also helps to stimulate the production of hydro­chloric acid to aid impaired digestion. Acne has been successfully treated with niacin. Niacin can decrease the effects of hallucinogens like LSD and mescaline. Because of its calming properties, niacin can reduce the amount of tranquillisers needed or may even be able to replace them.

Extra niacin may be helpful for the following diseases Acne, Alcoholism, Arteriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Arthritis, Baldness, Bedsores, Cancer, Canker sore, Conjunctivitis, Constipation, Dermatitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Dizziness, Epilepsy, Haemophilia, Halitosis, Headache, Hypertension, Hypoglycaemia, Insomnia, Ménière’s syndrome, Mental illness, Multiple sclerosis, Neuritis, Night blindness, Parkinson’s disease, Phlebitis, Pyorrhoea, Tuberculosis, and Stress

Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic acid, a part of the vitamin B complex, is water-soluble. It occurs in all living cells, and is found in yeasts, moulds, bacteria, and in the indi­vidual cells of all animals and plants. Organ meats, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, and whole-grain cereals are the richest sources.

Pantothenic acid is synthesised in the body by the bacterial flora of the intestines. There is a close correlation between pantothenic acid tissue levels and the functioning of the adrenal cortex.

Pantothenic acid stimulates the adrenal glands and increases production of cortisone and other adrenal hormones important for healthy skin and nerves. Canning, oestrogen, food processing, caffeine, sulphur drugs, sleeping pills and alcohol can all reduce the B5 content of food.

Known as “the anti-stress vitamin,” it is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters. This vitamin is an essential element of coenzyme A, a vital body chemical involved in many necessary metabolic functions. Pantothenic acid is also a stamina enhancer and prevents certain forms of anaemia. It is needed for normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and maybe helpful in treating depression and anxiety a deficiency of pantothenic acid may cause fatigue, headache, nausea, and tingling in the hands. It is one of the safest of all the vitamins and helpful in times of stress. It is essential for the carbohydrates to change to energy and even a slight deficiency can lead to fatigue.

The following foods contain pantothenic acid: beef, brewer’s yeast, eggs, fresh vegetables, kidney, legumes, liver, mushrooms, nuts, pork, royal jelly, saltwater fish, torula yeast, whole rye flour, and whole wheat.

Pantothenic Acid deficiency symptoms include duodenal ulcers, blood and skin disorders, fatigue, and loss of appetite, poor coordination, weakness, hypoglycaemia and burning feet. May also include vomiting, restlessness, abdominal pains, burning feet, muscle cramps, and sensitivity to insulin, decreased antibody formation, and upper respiratory infections.

Pantothenic acid is so widely distributed in foods that deficiency is rare. The means of detecting deficiencies are limited, although low intakes may slow down many metabolic processes.

Extra intake of this vitamin may help alleviate the following diseases Acne, Adrenal exhaustion, Alcoholism, Allergies, Anaemia, Arthritis, Asthma, Baldness, Burning and tingling sensations, Cancer, Cataracts, Cystitis, Depression, Diarrhoea, Epilepsy, Fainting spells, Fatigue, Flatulence, Fractures, Gastritis, Gout, Headache, Hypoglycaemia, Indigestion, Infections, Insomnia, Leg cramp, Mental illness, Multiple sclerosis, Muscular dystrophy, Neuritis, Phlebitis, Psoriasis, Retarded growth, Stress, Tuberculosis, and Worms.

Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin consisting of three related compounds: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. It is required for the proper absorption of vitamin B12 and for the production of hydrochloric acid and magnesium. It also helps linoleic acid function better in the body. Pyridoxine plays an important role as a coenzyme in the breakdown and utilisation of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It must be present for the production of antibodies and red blood cells. The release of glycogen for energy from the liver and muscles is facilitated by vitamin B6. It also aids in the conversion of tryptophan, an essential amino acid to niacin, and is necessary for the synthesis and proper action of DNA and RNA.

Vitamin B6 plays a role in cancer immunity and aids in the prevention of arteriosclerosis. It inhibits the formation of a toxic chemical called homocysteine, which attacks and allows the deposition of cholesterol around the heart muscle. Pyridoxine acts as a mild diuretic, reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and it may be useful in preventing oxalate kidney stones as well. It is helpful in the treatment of allergies, arthritis, and asthma.

A deficiency of this vitamin is very common especially in those who eat a lot of junk foods. Food processing destroys around 90% of this vitamin. Canning, roasting, heat processing, water, alcohol and oestrogen all destroy this vitamin.

People with high protein diets and excessive alcohol consumption also need supplements. A deficiency of vitamin B6 may be recognized by anaemia, convulsions, headaches, nausea, flaky skin, a sore tongue, and vomiting. Carpal tunnel syndrome has been linked to a deficiency of this vitamin B.

Women taking the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or the contraceptive pill all have increased needs. Many menstrual problems are linked to a deficiency of this vitamin.

All foods contain some vitamin B6; however, the following foods have the highest amounts: brewer’s yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and wheat germ. Other sources include avocado, bananas, beans, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, brown rice and other whole grains, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, plantains, potatoes, rice bran, soybeans, and herbs that contain vitamin B6 include alfalfa, catnip, and oat straw.

Caution – should not be taken by anyone taking drugs for Parkinson’s disease without a Doctors consent. B6 is involved in the production of hydrochloric acid; people with stomach ulcers should seek a doctor’s advice before taking the vitamin in large doses.

In cases of B6 deficiency there is low blood sugar and low glucose tolerance, resulting in sensitivity to insulin. Deficiency may also cause loss of hair, water retention during pregnancy, cracks around the mouth and eyes, numbness and cramps in arms and legs, slow learning, visual disturbances, neuritis, arthritis, heart disorders involving nerves, temporary paralysis of a limb, and an increase in urination.

If a vitamin B6 deficiency is allowed to continue through late pregnancy, stillbirths or post-delivery infant mortality may result. Infants born to B6 deficient mothers may have convulsions. Studies have shown that pregnant women retain more B6 than non-pregnant women; therefore supplemental doses may be needed to make sure the foetus is adequately supplied.

Extra amounts of this vitamin may help sufferers of the following diseases Acne, Anaemia, Arthritis, Asthma, Baldness, Bell’s palsy, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Coeliac disease, Colitis, Common cold, Conjunctivitis, Cystitis, Dandruff, Dermatitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Dizziness, Eczema, Epilepsy, Gastritis, Haemorrhoids, Halitosis, Headache, High Cholesterol levels, Hypoglycaemia, Infantile autism, Influenza, Insomnia, Jaundice, Kidney, Kidney stones Mental illness, Multiple sclerosis, Muscular dystrophy, Neuritis, Oedema, Parkinson’s disease, Pernicious anaemia, Prostatitis, Psoriasis, Pyorrhoea, Rheumatism, Shingles Tuberculosis, Vaginitis, and Worms.

Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid

Folic acid is part of the water-soluble vitamin B complex and functions as a coenzyme, together with vitamins B12 and C, in the breakdown and utilisation of proteins. Folic acid performs its basic role as a carbon carrier in the formation of heme, the iron-containing protein found in haemoglobin, which is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. It is also needed for the forma­tion of nucleic acid, which is essential for the processes of growth and reproduction of all body cells.

Considered a brain food, folic acid is needed for energy pro­duction and the formation of red blood cells. It also strengthens immunity by aiding in the proper formation and functioning of white blood cells. Because it functions as a coenzyme in DNA and RNA synthesis it is important for healthy cell division and replication. It is involved in protein metabolism and has been used in the prevention and treatment of folic acid anaemia. This nutrient may also help depression and anxiety. It may also be effec­tive in the treatment of uterine cervical dysphasia.

Vitamin B9 is crucial for the development of the foetus, and it is now known that it is wise to take it for three months before becoming pregnant. This avoids problems of neuro organs being formed wrongly, or spina bifida occurring in the developing foetus. Studies have shown that a daily intake of 400 micrograms of folic acid in early pregnancy may prevent the vast majority of neural tube defects. Folic acid works best when combined with vitamin B12 and vitamin C.

Folic acid deficiency may be caused by inadequate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables; consumption of only cooked or microwave vegetables and malabsorption problems. In the past few years there have been a number of studies implicating folic acid deficiency as a contributing factor in mental illness. A sore, red tongue is one sign of folic acid deficiency. Other possible signs include anaemia, apathy, digestive disturbances, fatigue, greying hair, growth impairment, insomnia, laboured breathing, memory problems, paranoia, weakness, and birth defects in one’s offspring.

Studies have shown that prolonged folic acid deficiency can cause neurological changes and mental deterioration. Because of their close interrelationship, vitamin B12, in almost every case, should accompany any folic acid therapy.

Good sources of folic acid include leafy green vegetables, carrots, liver, egg yolk, apricots, avocados, beans, whole wheat, melons and fresh oranges.

Oral contraceptives may increase the need for folic acid. Alcohol can also act as an enemy to folic acid absorption. Cooking, processing, and exposure to light and air, especially sunlight, destroy Folic Acid.

Caution – Do not take high doses of folic acid for extended periods if you have a hormone-related cancer or convulsive disorder.

Especially good for some anaemia’s, some immune problems, for food poisoning and intestinal parasites, depression, skin problems, mouth ulcers and pain (when vitamin B9 acts as an analgesic).

Folic acid is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract by active transport and diffusion and is stored primarily in the liver.

Sulpha drugs may interfere with the bacteria in the intestine, which manufacture folic acid.

Streptomycin may destroy folic acid.

Oral contraceptives interfere with the absorption of folic acid.

Any disease such as sprue, coeliac disease, or any illness accompanied by vomiting or diarrhoea interferes with the absorption of food can result in a deficiency of Folic acid.

Folic acid may be helpful in treating the following diseases Adrenal exhaustion, Alcoholism, Anaemia, Arteriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Arthritis, Baldness, Bruises, Coeliac disease, Diarrhoea, Diverticulitis, Emphysema, Fatigue, Gastritis, Indigestion, Kwashiorkor, Leukaemia, Mental illness, Nail problems, Pernicious anaemia, Psoriasis, Scurvy, Tonsillitis, Ulcers and Pregnancy.

Vitamin B12 – Cyanocobalamin

Vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin, is unique in be­ing the first cobalt-containing substance found to be essential for longevity; it is also the only vitamin that contains essential mineral elements. It cannot be made synthetically but must be grown, like penicillin, in bacteria or moulds. Animal protein is almost the only source in which B12 occurs naturally in foods in substantial amounts. Liver is the best source; kidney, muscle meats, fish, and dairy products are other good sources.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for normal metabolism of nerve tissue and is involved in protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism. B12 is closely related to the actions of four amino acids, pantothenic acid, and vitamin C. It also helps iron function better in the body and aids folic acid in the synthesis of choline. B12 helps the placement of vitamin A into body tissues by aiding the carotene absorption or vitamin A conversion and in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by malabsorption, which is most common in elderly people and in those with food allergies or coeliac disease or who suffer from digestive disorders. Deficiency can cause abnormal gait, chronic fatigue, constipation, depression, digestive disorders, dizziness, drowsiness, enlargement of the liver, eye disorders, hallucinations, headaches, inflammation of the tongue, irritability, laboured breathing, memory loss, moodiness, nervousness, neu­rological damage, and palpitations.

Vitamin B12 forms and regenerates red blood cells and is essential for a healthy nervous system, for growth and development, and for utilising fats, proteins and carbohydrates. B12 improves concentration, memory and balance, and detoxifies cyanide from foods and tobacco smoke.

Vitamin B12 is needed to prevent anaemia, aids folic acid in regulating the formation of red blood cells, and helps in the utilisation of iron. This vitamin is also required for proper digestion, absorption of foods, the synthesis of protein, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It aids in cell formation and cellular longevity. In addition, vitamin B12 prevents nerve damage, maintains fertility, and promotes normal growth and development by maintaining the fatty sheaths that cover and protect nerve endings. B12 is linked to the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that assists memory and learning.

The largest amounts of vitamin B12 are found in brewer’s yeast, clams, eggs, herring, kidney, liver, mackerel, milk and dairy products, and seafood. Vitamin B12 is not found in many vegetables; it is available only from sea vegetables, such as kelp, and soy products and is also present in the herbs alfalfa, bladderwrack, and hops.

Anti-gout medications, anticoagulant drugs, and potassium supplements may block the absorption of vitamin B12 from the digestive tract. Vegetarians need supplements of vitamin B12 because it is found mostly in animal sources. Those sufferers of hypothyroidism are also liable to be short of this vitamin as the loss of thyroxine makes assimilation inadequate. It needs calcium for proper assimilation and deficiency may give rise to anaemia. Symptoms of a B12 deficiency may take up to five years to show up as the liver stores a quantity.

Vitamin B12 is prepared for absorption by two gastric secretions. Vitamin B12 is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract unless the ‘intrinsic factor,’ a mucoprotein enzyme, is present. Autoimmune reactions in the body can bind the intrinsic factor, preventing B12 absorption. The intrinsic factor itself may not even be made because autoimmune reactions prevent the cells’ ability to produce it. A defect in the molecule that transports B12 from the blood to the tissues can cause a deficiency even when a normal serum B12 level is read. Anyone who has an autoimmune disease is wise to get his or her blood checked for a deficiency perhaps once every two years.

The actual amount of B12 absorbed is regulated by the intrinsic factor described above. When intake is low, 60 to 80 percent of the vitamin is absorbed. When the intake is high, the absorption decreases to 5 to 10 percent. Absorption of B12 is better when it is taken with several meals instead of one.

The effects of the absorption of B12 appear to decrease with age and with iron, calcium, and B6 deficiencies; absorption increases during pregnancy. The use of laxatives depletes the storage of B12.

A deficiency can also be the result of fish tapeworm infestation or excessive bacteria in the stomach and intestines. Symptoms of a deficiency begin with changes in the nervous system typically soreness and weakness in the legs and arms, diminished reflex response and sensory perception, difficulty in walking and speaking and jerking of the limbs. Lack of B12 has been found to cause a type of brain damage resembling schizophrenia. This type of brain damage may be suggested by the following symptoms: sore mouth, numbness or stiffness, a feeling of deadness, shooting pains, pins-and-needles, or hot-and-cold sensations.

Because of its close relationship with folic acid, both vitamins taken together could be of benefit in many cases.

Injections of B12 can be used to treat patients suffering from pernicious anaemia, an ailment characterized by insufficient red blood cells in the bone marrow. Injections rather than oral doses of B12 are used to bypass the absorption defect in pernicious anaemic patients. B12 helps the red blood cells to mature up to a certain point, and after that, protein, iron, vitamin C, and folic acid help to finish the development of the cells so that they can mature. Like folic acid, vitamin B12 has been effective in the treatment of the intestinal syndrome sprue.

There are many diseases helped by the taking of extra vitamin B12. It is best to ask the doctor to check the blood first as any extra may hide more serious diseases that are or that could be life threatening.

Biotin – Vitamin H or Co-enzyme R

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and not stored in the body. This substance is a complex organic acid containing sulphur, it is synthesised by intestinal bacteria and is found in many foodstuffs. It is necessary for the metabolism of energy, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and for the growth and health of hair, nerves, sex glands and bone marrow. As a coenzyme, it assists in the making of fatty acids and in the oxidation of fatty acids and carbohydrates. It aids in the utilisation of protein, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12. Biotin also promotes healthy sweat glands, nerve tissue, and bone marrow. In addition, it helps to relieve muscle pain. Without biotin the body’s fat production is impaired.

Raw egg whites prevent the absorption of biotin because they contain a protein called avidin, which combines with biotin in the intestinal tract and depletes the body of this needed nutrient. Long-term use of antibiotics will increase the requirements of biotin, since the natural bacteria, necessary for antibiotics destroy the synthesis of biotin in the gut. Antibiotics, sulpha drugs, and saccharin also threaten the availability of biotin. One hundred milligrams of biotin daily may prevent hair loss in some men.

Biotin deficiency symptoms are rare but include depression, muscular pain, severe eczema and dermatitis, exhaustion, inflammation or pallor of the skin and mucous membranes, impairment of fat metabolism, hair loss, premature greying and anorexia. In infants, a condition called seborrhoeic dermatitis, or “cradle cap,” which is characterized by a dry, scaly scalp, may occur as a result of a biotin deficiency.

Good sources of biotin include meats, dairy produce, wholegrain, liver, cauliflower, nuts, fruits and unpolished rice. Biotin is also found in brewer’s yeast, cooked egg yolks, meat, milk, poultry, saltwater fish, and soybeans. Lowered haemoglobin level, a raised cholesterol level, and a de­crease in biotin excretion are signs of a biotin deficiency. Biotin is stored mainly in the liver, kidney, brain, and adrenal glands.

Dermatitis has shown improvement when treated with biotin. The use of biotin has been beneficial in treating baldness. Other diseases that may benefit from extra biotin include Muscle pains, Dermatitis, Eczema, Infant dermatitis and Depression.


Choline is considered one of the B-complex vitamins and functions with inositol as a basic constituent of lecithin. It is present in the body of all living cells and is widely distributed in animal and plant tissues. The richest source of choline is lecithin, but other rich dietary sources include egg yolk, liver, brewer’s yeast, and wheat germ. Choline is synthesised by the interaction of B12 and folic acid with the amino acid methionine.

Choline helps the nerve impulses to pass and these impulses include those in the brain, as well as those impulses needed for gallbladder regulation. Choline assists the liver to function as it helps to remove excess fat from the liver; it also helps in hormone production. Choline can be synthesised by the body provided that the intake of the amino acid methionine is sufficient, it is necessary for the maintenance and structure of cells, works with inositol to metabolise fats and cholesterol and enhances memory.

Choline is also essential for the health of the myelin sheaths of the nerves; the myelin sheaths are the princi­pal component of the nerve fibres and are therefore beneficial for disorders of the nervous system such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. A deficiency may result in fatty build-up in the liver, as well as in cardiac symptoms, gastric ulcers, high blood pressure, the in­ability to digest fats, kidney and liver impairment, and stunted growth.

Choline has been successful in reducing high blood pressure because it strengthens weak capillary walls. Symptoms such as heart palpitation, dizziness, insomnia, visual distur­bances, and blood flow to the eyes, headaches, ear noises, and constipation have been relieved or removed entirely within 5 to 10 days after the adminis­tration of choline treatments.

Sources include egg yolk, brain, heart, nuts, legumes, soybeans, leafy green vegetables, liver, pulses, yeast and lecithin.

It is important to remember that the B-complex vitamins function better when all are taken together.

Extra biotin may be useful for treating the following diseases as well as those already mentioned above, Alcoholism, Angina pectoris, Arteriosclerosis, Asthma, Cirrhosis of liver, Constipation, Eczema, Glaucoma, Hair problems, Hepatitis, high Cholesterol level, Hypertension, Hyperthyroidism, Hypoglycaemia, Muscular dystrophy and Stroke.


Inositol is recognized as part of the vitamin B complex and is closely associated with choline and biotin. This vitamin has a calming effect and helps to reduce cholesterol levels and fat from the liver. It helps prevent hardening of the arteries, and is important in the formation of lecithin and the metabolism of fat and cholesterol and for normal brain cell functions and neurotransmitters. Helpful for depression and anxiety and diabetic neuropathy Animal studies have shown that the vita­mins B6, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and PABA also have a close working association with inositol.

Always take calcium with inositol, as it is required to balance the phosphorus and calcium in the body.

Large quantities of inositol are found in the spinal cord nerves, the brain and in the cerebral spinal fluid. It is needed for the growth and survival of cells in bone marrow, eye membranes, and the intestines.

Both animal and plant tissues contain inositol.

In animal tissues it occurs as a component of phospholipids, substances containing phosphorus, fatty acids, and nitrogenous bases.

In plant cells it is found as phytic acid, an organic acid that binds calcium and iron in an insoluble complex and interferes with their absorption.

An inositol deficiency can lead to arteriosclerosis, constipation, hair loss, high blood cholesterol, irritability, mood swings, abnormalities of the eyes, and skin eruptions. The consumption of large amounts of caffeine may cause a shortage of inositol in the body.

Inositol is found in brewer’s yeast, fruits, liver, lecithin, legumes, citrus fruits, meats, milk, unrefined molasses, raisins, raisins, vegetables, peanuts, cantaloupe melon, cabbage and whole grains.

About 7 percent of ingested inositol is converted to glucose; inositol is only one-third as effective as glucose in alleviating ketosis, the incomplete metabolism of fatty acids.

Tests on yeast cells have shown that when they are deprived of inositol, metabolic processes are prevented from functioning and consequently most of the cells die. In other studies, inositol deficiency in yeast cells led to abnormal cell walls and an inability of daughter cells to separate from the parent cells. Also found was the inhibition of fermentation and oxidation ac­tions as well as a lower level of nucleotide coenzymes.

Because inositol has a sedative-like effect, it can be beneficial for insomnia. Inositol is helpful for schizophrenia, hypoglycaemia, and for people with high serum copper and low serum zinc levels. The phosphate ester of inositol impedes zinc absorption, so pure inositol is recommended. It is also helpful for extra amounts to be ingested to treat Asthma, Arteriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Baldness, Cirrhosis of the liver, Constipation, Dizziness, Gastritis, Glaucoma, high Cholesterol level, Hypertension, Hypoglycaemia, Insomnia, Overweight and obesity, Schizophrenia and Strokes.

Para-Aminobenzoic ACID – known as PABA

Para-aminobenzoic acid, an integral part of the vitamin B complex, is water-soluble and is considered unique in that it is a “vitamin within a vitamin,” occurring in combination with folic acid. One of the basic constituents of folic acid it also helps in the assimilation of pantothenic acid.

PABA is an antioxidant that helps to protect against sunburn and skin cancer, acts as a coenzyme in the breakdown and utilisation of protein, and assists in the formation of red blood cells. PABA plays an important role in determining skin health, hair pigmentation, and health of the intestines. Supplementing the diet with PABA may restore grey hair to its original colour if the greying was caused by stress or a nutritional deficiency. PABA stimulates the intestinal bacteria, enabling them to produce folic acid, which in turn aids in the production of pantothenic acid.

A deficiency of PABA may result from the use of sulpha drugs, these resemble PABA in structure and kill the intestinal bacteria by substituting for the PABA they need. Deficiency symptoms in­clude fatigue, irritability, depression, nervousness, headache, constipation, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders and other digestive disorders.

PABA is found in liver, yeast, wheat germ, and molasses.

PABA often soothes the pain of burns even more effectively than vitamin E. People who are normally susceptible to sunburn have been able to remain many hours in the sun after applying PABA ointment. Continued ingestion of high doses of PABA is not recommended because it can be toxic to the liver, heart, and kidneys. Symptoms of toxicity are nausea and vomiting.

Extra amounts taken of this vitamin may be helpful for treating Anaemia, Baldness, Burns, Constipation, Headache, Schizophrenia, Sunburn and Vitiligo.

Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient. Although fairly stable in acid solution, it is normally the least stable of vitamins and is very sensitive to oxygen. Its potency can be lost through exposure to light, heat, and air, which stimu­late the activity of oxidative enzymes.

A primary function of vitamin C is maintaining collagen, a protein necessary for the formation of connective tissue in skin, ligaments, and bones. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is required for tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, and healthy gums. It also aids in the production of anti-stress hormones and interferon, and is needed for the metabolism of folic acid, tyrosine, and phenylalanine.

The lubricating fluid of joints, called the synovial fluid, becomes thinner and allows for freer movement when the serum levels of ascorbic acid are high. Therefore ar­thritic patients given vitamin C may find some relief of pain. It is an important nutrient in treating wounds because it speeds up the healing process. Ascorbic acid may lower blood cholesterol content of patients with arteriosclerosis.

Vitamin C prevents the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines from nitrites and nitrates found in some foods.

Vitamin C has been successfully used to treat snake and spider bites, insect stings and rabies.

Vitamin C is necessary for the absorption of iron, it is antioxidant, stimulates activity of the immune system, encourages production of the stress hormones, helps wounds to heal. It is also necessary for healthy bones and tissue, and for the growth and repair of blood. It is the most important vitamin for the immune system. Humans, guinea pigs and apes are the only animals not to synthesise this vitamin and therefore it must be provided in the diet.

Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron. New evidence indicates that vitamin C works synergistically with vitamin E, that is, when these vitamins work together, they have a greater effect than when they work separately. Vitamin E scavenges for dangerous free radicals in cell membranes, while vitamin C attacks free radicals in biologic fluids. These vitamins reinforce and extend each other’s antioxidant activity.

Most of the vitamin C consumed in the diet is lost in the urine. Scurvy is a disease caused by a vitamin C deficiency. Poor wound healing, soft and spongy bleeding gums, oedema, and extreme weakness also characterize a deficiency. Other deficiency symptoms include bleeding, sore gums, loose teeth, fatigue, lowered immune activity, bruising, and hypoglycaemia.

Alcohol, analgesics, antidepressants, anticoagulants, oral con­traceptives, and steroids may reduce levels of vitamin C in the body.

Smoking causes a serious depletion of vitamin C.

Diabetes medications such as chlorpropamide and sulpha drugs may not be as effective when taken with vitamin C.

Taking high doses of vitamin C may cause a false-negative reading in tests for blood in the stool.

If aspirin and vitamin C supplements are taken together in large doses, stomach irritation can occur, possibly leading to ulcers. If you need to take aspirin regularly, use a supplement that has a coating. Avoid using chewable vitamin C supplements, as these can damage tooth enamel.

Vitamin C aids in the metabolism of the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine. Vitamin C also converts the inactive form of folic acid to the active form, folate, and may have a role in calcium metabolism. Additionally vitamin C protects thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamins A and E against oxidation. Excess vitamin C is rapidly excreted from the body and easily lost from foods when cooked. Large concentrations of vitamin C are found in the adrenal glands, and the vitamin is essential in the for­mation of adrenalin. During stress, the level of adrenal ascorbic acid is rapidly used up. The level of ascorbic acid in the blood reaches a maxi­mum in 2 or 3 hours after ingestion of a moderate quantity of Vitamin C, and then decreases as it is eliminated in the urine and through perspiration.

Physicians in Scotland report that vitamin C coun­teracts bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract caused by aspirin or alcohol. The bleeding may also continue or restart if sufficient vitamin C is not available for wound healing.

Vitamin C is found in berries, citrus fruits, and green vegetables. Good sources include asparagus, avocados, beet greens, black currants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, collards, dan­delion greens, grapefruit, kale, lemons, mangos, mustard greens, onions, oranges, papayas, green peas, sweet peppers, persimmons, pineapple, radishes, rose hips, spinach, strawber­ries, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnip greens, and watercress. Herbs that contain vitamin C include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, kelp, peppermint, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, pine needle, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, skullcap, violet leaves, yarrow, and yellow dock.

Extra supplements of vitamin C may be useful for treating the following ailments, but as vitamin C is so useful a product it may be thought that ‘there are very few diseases that cannot benefit by taking extra’. Therefore this list is not exhaustive – Adrenal exhaustion, Alcoholism, Allergies, Anaemia, Angina pectoris, Arteriosclerosis, Arthritis, Backache, Baldness, Beriberi, Bronchitis, Bruising, Bursitis, Cancer, Canker sore, Carbuncle, Cataracts, Chicken pox, Cirrhosis of liver, Coeliac disease, Colitis, Common cold, Conjunctivitis, Constipation, Croup, Cystic fibrosis, Cystitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Dizziness, Ear infection, Eczema, Epilepsy, Eyestrain, Emphysema, Fatigue, Fevers, Fractures, Gallstones, Gastroenteritis, Glaucoma, Goitre, Gout, Haemophilia, Haemorrhoids, Hair problems, Halitosis, Headache, Hepatitis, high Cholesterol level, Hypertension, Hypoglycaemia, Hay fever, Impetigo, Influenza, Insomnia, Jaundice, Kidney stones, Kwashiorkor, Leukaemia, Leg cramp, Meningitis, Mental illness, Mononucleosis, Nephritis, Pernicious anaemia, Phlebitis, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, Rickets, Multiple sclerosis, Overweight and obesity, Parkinson’s disease, Peptic ulcer, Phlebitis, Pneumonia, Polio, Pregnancy, Prostatitis, Psoriasis, Pyorrhoea, Schizophrenia, Shingles, Stroke, Rheumatic fever, Scurvy, Swollen glands, Tooth and gum disorders, Tuberculosis, Snake and insect bites, Stress, Stroke, Varicose veins and Worms.

Vitamin D – Calciferol and Ergocalciferol

The body in the presence of sunlight produces this vitamin. It is fat soluble and is stored in the body and deficiency is uncommon except in the dark days of winter and in people who wear long dresses and clothes and whose bodies do not get much sun. People who live in areas of high pollution may also have a deficiency. Sunlight acts upon the oils in the skin and produces the vitamin that is then absorbed into the skin. The vitamin is absorbed through the fats in the intestines if taken orally.

The provitamins D are found in both plant and animal tissue. Vitamin D2 is known as calciferol, a synthetic; vitamin D3 is the natural form as it occurs in fish-liver oils. D3 can be made synthetically by ultraviolet irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol, a deriv­ative of cholesterol. It is necessary for the absorption of magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and other minerals, helps the body to assimilate vitamin A, is necessary for the metabolism of calcium and phosphorous and is required for kidney functions. It helps synthesise those enzymes in the mucous membranes that are involved in the active transport of available calcium. Vitamin D is necessary for normal growth in children, for without it bones and teeth do not calcify properly. The form of vitamin D that we get from food or supplements is not fully active. It requires conversion by the liver, and then by the kidneys, before it becomes fully active. This is why people with liver or kidney disorders are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.

Adults also benefit from vitamin D. It is valuable in maintaining a stable nervous system, normal heart action, and normal blood clotting because all these functions are related to the body’s supply and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is best utilised when taken with vitamin A. Fish-liver oils are the best natural source of vitamins A and D.

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is required for the absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus by the intestinal tract. It is necessary for growth, and is especially important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth in children. It protects against muscle weakness and is involved in regulation of the heartbeat. It is also important in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and hypocalcaemia, enhances immunity, and is necessary for thyroid function and normal blood clotting. When the skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, a cholesterol compound in the skin is transformed into a pre­cursor of vitamin D. Exposing the face and arms to the sun for fifteen minutes three times a week is an effective way to ensure adequate amounts of vitamin D in the body.

Severe deficiency of vitamin D can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia, a similar disorder, in adults. Lesser degrees of deficiency may be characterized by loss of appetite, a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, diarrhoea, insomnia, visual problems, and weight loss.

Intestinal disorders and liver and gallbladder malfunctions interfere with the absorption of vitamin D. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs, antacids, mineral oil, and steroid hormones also interfere with absorption. Do not take vitamin D without calcium.

Caution it is dangerous to take too much of this vitamin Toxicity may result from taking amounts over 65,000 international units over a period of years. Symptoms of acute overdosage are increased frequency of urination, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscular weakness, dizziness, weariness and calcification of the soft tissues of the heart, blood vessels, and lungs. These symptoms will disappear within a few days when the overdosage is terminated.

Ingested vitamin D is absorbed with the fats through the intestinal walls with the aid of bile. Vitamin D from dehydrocholesterol by sun radiation is formed in the skin and absorbed into the circulatory system. Pigmentation is a factor in the absorption of ultraviolet rays. The more pigment there is in the skin, the less vitamin D is produced in the body by irradiation.

After absorption from the intestine or formation in the skin, vitamin D is transported to the liver for storage; other deposits are found in the skin, brain, spleen, and bones. The body can store sizable reserves of vitamin D. Mineral oil can destroy the vitamin D already stored in the intestinal tract.

Sources of vitamin D include fish liver oils and fatty saltwater fish, dairy products, and eggs all contain vitamin D. it is found in butter, cod liver oil, dandelion greens, egg yolks, halibut, liver, milk, oatmeal, salmon, sardines, sweet potatoes, tuna, and vegetable oils. Vitamin D is also formed by the body in response to the action of sunlight on the skin. Herbs that contain vitamin D include alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, and parsley.

Though toxic at a low dose, there are some diseases that benefit from extra vitamin D, these include Acne, Ageing, Alcoholism, Allergies, Arthritis, Backache, Bedsores, Bronchitis, Burns, Cancer, Canker sores, Carbuncles, Cataracts, Cirrhosis of liver, Coeliac disease, Common cold, Constipation, Cystic fibrosis, Cystitis, Diabetes, Eczema, Emphysema, Epilepsy, Eyestrain, Fatigue, Fever, Fracture, Gallstones, Glands, Glaucoma, high Cholesterol level, Insomnia, Jaundice, Kwashiorkor, Leg cramp, Intestine, Liver, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, Psoriasis, Pyorrhoea, Rheumatic fever, Rickets, Sciatica, Shingles, Stress, Tetany, Tuberculosis, Vaginitis, Vision and focus disorders, Worms, and Pregnancy.

Vitamin E – Alpha Tocopherol

Vitamin E is actually a family of eight different but related molecules that fall into two major groups: the tocopherols and the tocotrienols. Within each group, there are alpha, beta, gamma, and delta forms. Of all eight of these molecules, it is the alpha-tocopherol form that is the most potent.

Vitamin E slows the ageing process, provides the body with oxygen, is antioxidant, protects the lungs against pollution, helps the development and maintenance of nerves and muscles, helps to prevent miscarriages, improves immune activity in the body, works as a natural diuretic, heals the skin, helps to prevent scarring, improves fertility and reduces the oxygen requirements of muscles. Up to 70% is secreted in the faeces each day. What remains is stored in the liver, fatty tissues, heart, testes, uterus, muscles, blood, adrenal and pituitary glands.

As an antioxidant, vitamin E prevents cell damage by inhib­iting the oxidation of lipids and the formation of free radicals. It protects other fat-soluble vitamins from destruction by oxygen, and aids in the utilisation of vitamin A and protects it from destruction by oxygen. It retards aging and may prevent age spots as well.

The vitamin B complex and ascorbic acid are also protected against oxidation when vitamin E is present in the digestive tract. Fats and oils containing vitamin E are less susceptible to rancidity than those devoid of vitamin E. Vitamin E has the ability to unite with oxygen and prevent it from being converted into toxic peroxides; this leaves the red blood cells more fully supplied with the pure oxygen that the blood carries to the heart and other organs.

Vitamin E deficiency may result in damage to red blood cells and destruction of nerves. Signs of deficiency can include in­fertility, menstrual problems, neuromuscular impairment, shortened red blood cell life span, uterine degeneration and miscarriage.

The body needs zinc in order to maintain the proper level of vitamin F in the blood.

If you take both vitamin E and iron supplements, take them at different times of the day. Organic iron – ferrous glu­conate or ferrous fumarate leaves vitamin E intact. Inorganic forms of iron (such as ferrous sulphate) destroy vitamin E.

Vitamin E, as are other fat-soluble vitamins, is absorbed in the presence of bile salts and fat. From the intes­tines it is absorbed into the lymph and is transported in the bloodstream as tocopherol to the liver where high concentrations of it are stored. It is also stored in the fatty tissues, heart, muscles, testes, uterus, blood, and adrenal and pituitary glands. Vitamin F in ointment form can be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes. Excessive amounts of vitamin E are excreted in the urine, and all effects of vitamin E disappear within three days.

The first clinical sign of a vitamin E deficiency is the rupture of red blood cells, which results from their increased fragility. A deficiency could also result in a re­duction of membrane stability and shrinkage in collagen, connective tissue. A vitamin E deficiency may result in a tendency toward muscular wasting or abnormal fat deposits in the muscles and an increased demand for oxygen.

Without sufficient amounts of vitamin E in the body, the essential fatty acids are altered so that blood cells break down and haemoglobin formation is impaired. In addition, several amino acids cannot be utilised, and pituitary and adrenal glands reduce their level of functioning. Iron absorption and haemoglobin formation are also impaired. A severe deficiency can cause damage to the kidneys and liver.

Low levels of vitamin E in the body have been linked to both bowel cancer and breast cancer. Epidemiological links have also been identified between the increase in the incidence of heart disease and the increasing lack of vitamin E in the diet due to a dietary reliance on over processed foods.

Vitamin E deficiencies can also result in nephritis, this occurs when kidney tubules plug up with dead cells so that urine is unable to pass; dropsy and progressive degeneration may then occur. Vitamin E deficiency also appears to make red blood cells more susceptible to damage both from medication and environmental stresses.

Vitamin E is found in the following food sources: cold-pressed vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Significant quantities of this vitamin are also found in brown rice, broccoli, cornmeal, eggs, kelp, desiccated liver, milk, oatmeal, organ meats, soybeans, sweet potatoes, vegetable oils, watercress, wheat, and wheat germ.

Herbs that contain vitamin E include alfalfa, bladderwrack, dandelion, dong quai, flaxseed, nettle, oat straw, raspberry leaf, sunflower oil and seeds, and rose hips.

Cautions: If you are taking an anticoagulant medication, do not take more than 1,200 international units of vitamin E daily.

If you suffer from diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, or are hyperthyroid, do not take more than the recommended dose.

If you have hypertension, start with a small amount, such as 200 international units daily, and increase slowly to the desired amount. The female hormone oestrogen is a vitamin E antagonist. Intake of this hormone makes it very difficult to estimate the amount of alpha tocopherol the individual is lacking.

Chlorine in drinking water, ferric chloride, rancid oil or fat, and inorganic iron compounds destroy vitamin E in the body. Mineral oil used as a laxative depletes vitamin E. Vegetable oils dissolve alpha tocopherol and readily release it in the body, whereas mineral oil dissolves it but does not readily release it.

Vitamin E has been successful in treating thrombosis and phlebitis, which are both clots in the veins. In large doses vitamin E prevents clots from spreading, dissolves existing clots, and provides indirect circulation around obstructed veins. It should be used to prevent initial attacks of clotting after operations or childbirth. Other diseases for which supplementing has helped include Abscess, Acne, Allergies, Anaemia, Angina pectoris, Arteriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Arthritis, Athlete’s foot, Backache, Baldness, Bedsores, Bronchitis, Bruising, Burns, Bursitis, Cancer, Carbuncle, Cataracts, Coeliac disease, Colitis, Common cold, Congestive heart failure, Constipation, Coronary thrombosis, Cystic fibrosis, Cystitis, Dandruff, Diabetes, Emphysema, Epilepsy, Eyestrain, Gallstones, Gastritis, Gout, Haemorrhoids, Hay fever, Headache, Hypertension, Hyperthyroidism, Impetigo, Kidney stones, Leg cramp, Measles, Méniêre’s syndrome, Mental illness, Miscarriage, Multiple sclerosis, Muscular dystrophy, Myocardial infarction, Nephritis, Osteoporosis, Overweight and obesity, Parkinson’s disease, Pernicious anaemia, Phlebitis, Prostatitis, Rheumatism, Sciatica, Sinusitis, Sunburn, Thrombophlebitis, Ulcers, Vaginitis, Varicose veins, Warts, and Pregnancy.

Vitamin K – Phylloquinone, Phytonactone or Menoquinone, Menadione

An important fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin K exists in three forms. Vitamin K1 phylloquinone or phytonactone; vitamin K2 is a family of substances called menoquinones that occur naturally; vitamin K3, menadione is a synthetic substance.

Little is stored by the body but healthy gut flora ensures adequate amounts of vitamin K are made. Yoghurt encourages healthy bacterial growth in the intestines and this forms a good natural source of vitamin K and can help to prevent deficiency.

Vitamin K is needed for the production of prothrombin, which is necessary for blood clotting. The main job of this vitamin is to aid blood clotting. It is also essential for bone formation and repair; and for the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein in bone tissue on which calcium crystallizes. Vitamin K plays an important role in the intestines and aids in converting glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver, which in turn promotes a healthy liver function. It may also increase resistance to infection in children and help prevent cancers that target the inner linings of the organs. It aids in promoting longevity.

Vitamin K is found in some foods, including asparagus, black ­strap molasses, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, dark green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, liver, oatmeal, oats, rye, safflower oil and other polyunsaturated oils, soybeans, and wheat.

Herbs that can supply vitamin K include alfalfa, green tea, kelp, nettle, oat straw, and shepherd’s purse. However, the ‘friendly’ bacteria normally present in the intestines synthesise the majority of the body’s supply of this vitamin.

Antibiotics increase the need for dietary or supplemental vitamin K. Because bacteria in the intestines synthesise vitamin K, Taking antibiotics – which kill the bacteria – interferes with this process it also interfere with the absorption of vitamin K. Chronic diarrhoea is both a symptom and a cause of a vitamin K deficiency, since the vitamin is fat soluble and any problems will discourage its absorption.

Vitamin K can be safely used as a preservative to control fermentation in foods. It has no bleaching effect, no unpleasant odour, and when added to naturally coloured fruits, helps maintain a stable and effective condition of the food.

Vitamin K is absorbed in the upper intestinal tract with the aid of bile or bile salts and is transported to the liver, where it is essential for synthesis of prothrombin and several related proteins involved in the clotting of blood. Vitamin K is stored in very small amounts, and considerable quantities are excreted after administration of therapeutic doses.

Deficiencies of vitamin K usually result from inade­quate absorption or the body’s inability to utilise vitamin K in the liver. Vitamin K deficiency is common in diseases such as coeliac disease, sprue, and colitis, which affect the absorbing mucosa of the small intestine and cause a rapid loss of intestinal contents. In such cases, intravenous administration of vitamin K may be needed.

Though made in the body supplementation may be needed in the following diseases:

Alcoholism, Bruising, Cancer, Coeliac disease, Cirrhosis of liver, Cystic fibrosis, Gallstones, Haemorrhage, Hepatitis, Kwashiorkor, Jaundice, Ulcers, Worms and in Ageing.

Bioflavonoids – also known as Vitamin P

Although bioflavonoids are not true vitamins in the strictest sense, they are sometimes referred to as vitamin P. Bioflavonoids are water-soluble and are composed of a group of brightly coloured substances that often appear in fruits and vegetables as companions to vitamin C. The components of the bioflavonoids are citrin, hesperidin, rutin, flavones, and flavonals. The human body cannot produce bioflavonoids, so they must be supplied in the diet.

Bioflavonoids are used extensively in the treatment of ath­letic injuries because they relieve pain, bumps, and bruises. They also reduce pain located in the legs or across the back, and lessen symptoms associated with prolonged bleeding and low serum calcium. The bioflavonoids also chelate copper from the body. They are vital in their ability to increase the strength of the capillaries and to regulate their permeability. C, bioflavonoids also reduce the symptoms of oral herpes. Bioflavonoids act synergistically with vitamin C to protect and preserve the body. In addition, bioflavonoids have an antibacterial effect and promote circulation, stimulate bile production, lower cholesterol levels, and treat and prevent cataracts. When taken with vitamin keeping vitamin C and adrenalin from being oxidised by copper-containing enzymes.

Quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in blue-green algae and available in supplement form, may effectively treat and prevent asthma symptoms. Bromelain and quercetin are synergists, and should be taken in conjunction to enhance absorption.

There is ten times the concentration of bioflavonoids in the edible part of the fruit than there is in the strained juice. The white material just beneath the peel of citrus fruits, peppers, buckwheat, and black currants contain bioflavonoids. Sources of bioflavonoids include apricots, blackberries, black currants, buckwheat, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, oranges, plums, prunes, and rose hips. Herbs that contain bioflavonoids include chervil, elderberries, hawthorn berry, horsetail, rose hips, and shepherd’s purse.

The absorption and storage properties of bioflavonoids are very similar to those of vitamin C. The bioflavo­noids are readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. Excessive amounts are excreted through urination and perspiration.

Symptoms of a bioflavonoid deficiency are closely related to those of a vitamin C deficiency. Especially noted is the increased tendency to bleed or haemorrhage and to bruise easily. A deficiency of vitamins C and P may contribute to rheumatism and rheumatic fever.

Normally taken in conjunction with vitamin C, the same diseases may be treated by supplementation.

Coenzyme Q10 – Ubiquinone

Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance whose actions in the body resemble those of vitamin E. It may be an even more powerful antioxidant and is also called ubiquinone. There are ten common substances designated Coenzyme Q10, but coenzyme Q10 is the only one found in human tissue. This substance plays a critical role in the production of energy in every cell of the body and forms the substance that makes the cell ‘batteries work’, the mitochondria. It aids circulation, stimulates the immune system, increases tissue oxygenation, and has vital anti-ageing effects. Deficiencies of coenzyme Q10 have been linked to periodontal disease, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy.

Research has revealed that supplemental coenzyme Q10 has the ability to counter histamine, and therefore is beneficial for people with allergies, asthma, or respiratory disease. It is used by many health care professionals to treat anomalies of mental function such as those associated with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease and is also beneficial in fighting obesity, candidiasis, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.

In addition to its use in fighting cardiovascular disease, coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be effective in reducing mortality in experimental animals afflicted with tumours and leukaemia. Some doctors give their patients coenzyme Q10 to reduce the side effects of cancer chemotherapy.

The amount of coenzyme Q10 present in the body declines with age, so needs to be supplemented.

Sources include Mackerel, salmon, and sardines, these contain the largest amounts of coenzyme Q10 and it is also found in beef, peanuts, and spinach.


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