The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Advises All Adults to Take A Multivitamin Daily to Reduce the Risk of Many Chronic Diseases – Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults: Clinical Applications, JAMA Vol. 287 No. 23, June 19, 2002, pp: 3127-3129.
Antioxidants(Vitamin A, Vitamin C & Vitamin E)
During cellular respiration (the process that creates energy), some oxygen molecules are converted into oxidizing agents (also called “free radicals”), such as superoxides of hydrogen peroxide. These molecules are unstable and react with other compounds in an effort to become stabilized. The human body’s “antioxidant” defense system works to gain this stability.
The environment is a source of free radicals. Such oxidizing agents include: ionizing radiation-(from industry, sun exposure, cosmic rays, and medical x-rays): ozone and nitrous oxide-(primarily from automobile exhaust): heavy metals-(such as mercury, cadmium, and lead): cigarette smoke- (both active and passive): alcohol; unsaturated fat-(may created a strain on the natural antioxidants of the body): and other chemicals and compounds from food, water and air. When these free radials enter the body, they can react with healthy tissue, setting off potentially damaging reactions. Free radicals are believed to play a role in more than sixty different health conditions, including the aging process, cancer, and atherosclerosis. Reducing exposure to free radicals and increasing intake of antioxidant nutrients can reduce the risk of free radical-related health problems. Antioxidants work in several ways: they may reduce the energy of the free radical, stop the free radical from forming in the first place, or interrupt an oxidizing chain reaction to minimize the damage of free radicals1.
There are many ways to supplement the bodies antioxidant defense system. Building block nutrients such as manganese, zinc, copper and selenium for glutathione peroxidase can be taken to augment the bodies supply of free radical-diffusing enzymes. Vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B2, B3 (in the form of niacin), B-6, C, E, beta-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, coenzyme Q10, cysteine (an amino acid) and herbs, such as bilberry, turmeric (curcumin), grape seed or pine bark extracts, and ginkgo biloba can also provide powerful antioxidant protection for the body.
Vitamin A/ Beta Carotene
*”Potent Antioxidant, aids Healthy skin and Vision.”* Beta Carotene, a substance from plants that the body can convert into vitamin A, acts as an antioxidants and immune system boosters. Vitamin A helps cells reproduce normally; this process is called differentiation. Cells that have not properly differentiated are more likely to undergo precancerous changes. Vitamin A, by maintaining healthy cell membranes, helps prevent invasion by disease-causing micro-organisms. Vitamin A also stimulates immunity and is needed for formation of bone, protein, and growth hormone. Other members of the antioxidant carotene family include cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, and lycopene, but most of them do not convert to significant amounts of Vitamin A.
Dark green and orange-yellow vegetables are good sources of beta-carotene. Liver, dairy, and cod liver oil provide vitamin A. Individuals who limit their consumption of liver, dairy foods, and vegetables can develop a vitamin A deficiency. The earliest deficiency signs are poor night vision, dry skin, increased risk of infections, and metaplasia (a precancerous condition). Taking vitamin A and iron together helps overcome iron deficiency more effectively than iron supplements alone.
*”Immunity booster and helps prevent Colds.”* Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that functions as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the “glue” that strengthens many parts of the body, such as muscles and blood vessels. Vitamin C also plays important roles in wound healing and as a natural antihistamine. This vitamin also aids in the formation of liver bile and helps to fight viruses and to detoxify alcohol and other substances.
Vitamin C is found in broccoli, red peppers, currants, Brussels sprouts, parsley, rose hips, acerola berries, citrus fruit, and strawberries are great sources of vitamin C.
Many nutritionally oriented doctors believe that most people consume less than optimal amounts. Easy bruising and bleeding gums are early signs of vitamin C deficiency. Smokers have a lower level of vitamin C and require a higher daily intake. Smokers need about 1-1/2 times the amount of vitamin C as nonsmokers, according to the American Dietetic Association.
*”Potent Antioxidant and Necessary for heart health.”* Vitamin E, (also called alpha-tocopherol) is a powerful antioxidant that protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body, such as LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). Protection of LDL cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. Vitamin E also helps promote normal growth and development, acts as an anti-blood clotting agent, protects tissue against oxidation, and promotes normal red-blood-cell formation.
The names of all types of vitamin E begin with either “d” or “dl,” which refer to differences in chemical structure. The “d” form is natural and “dl” synthetic. The natural form is more active. More synthetic vitamin E is added to supplements to compensate for the low level of activity. After the “d” or “dl” designation, often the Greek letter “alpha” appears, which also describes the structure. Synthetic “dl” vitamin E is found only in the alpha form- as in “dl-alpha tocopherol.” Natural vitamin E can be found either as alpha- as in “d-alpha tocopherol”- or in combination with beta, gamma, and delta- this combination is labeled “mixed” (as in mixed tocopherols).
Vitamin E forms are listed as either “tocopherol” or “tocopheryl” followed by the name of what is attached to is, as in “Tocopheryl acetate.” There is no great difference between the two, but tocopherol may absorb a little better, while tocopheryl forms may have slightly better shelf life. Both forms are active when taken by mouth. However, the skin can not utilize the tocopheryl forms, so for those planning to apply vitamin E to the skin it makes sense to buy tocopherol. In health food stores, the most common forms of vitamin E are d-alpha tocopherol and d-alpha tocopheryl (acetate or succinate). Both of these d (natural) alpha forms are frequently recommended by doctors of natural medicine.
Vitamin E is found in wheat germ oil, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, whole grains, egg yolks, and leafy green vegetables. However, the high levels found in supplements are not obtainable from eating food.
Vitamin B-Complex Up Vitamin B1 (Thiamine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin), Biotin & Folic Acid
The B vitamins function as coenzymes to assist enzymes in implementing the tens of thousands of biochemical reactions and metabolic pathways that make life possible. The current list of B vitamins includes thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacinamide (B3), pantothenate (B5), pyridoxine/pyridoxal (B-6), and cyanocobalamin (B12). In addition, Biotin and Folic Acid are intimately involved in many of the same pathways, so are regarded as quasi-B vitamins. [PABA (p-aminobenzoic acid) contributes to the folate molecule.] Certain B vitamins, particularly B2 and B3, are also important enzyme cofactors for the replenishment of antioxidants. The B vitamins are also involved in regulating tissue turnover, growth and renewal. Being water-soluble, the B vitamins tend to be cleared from the body rather rapidly, so ought to be replenished on a daily basis.
B-Complex maintains the nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, mouth, and muscle tone in stomach and intestines. It also helps activate energy production, and prevents depression and anxiety2.
B-Complex can be found in several dosages: 25mg, 50mg, or 100mg. Most multivitamins contain at least 25mg of B-Complex per serving. Unless there is need for higher intake of B-Complex a multivitamin could be enough. And unless there is a established deficiency of a particular B vitamin, a B-Complex or multivitamin is sufficient.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
*”Important for proper circulation & nervous system.”* Vitamin B3 (Niacin or Niacinamide) is used by the body to release energy from carbohydrates. It is needed to form fat from carbohydrates and to process alcohol. The niacin form of vitamin B3 also regulates cholesterol. Niacin also helps synthesize DNA, and becomes a component of two co-enzymes, (NAD and NADP), which are both necessary for utilization of fats, tissue respiration, and production of sugars.
Niacin can be found in such natural sources as beef liver, brewer’s yeast, white meat, peanuts, tuna, sunflower seeds, veal, halibut, and turkey. Niacin is used for many purposes. These include maintaining normal functions of skin, nerves, and the digestive system, reducing the amount of triglycerides in blood, treating vertigo (dizziness) and ringing in ears, preventing premenstrual headaches, and treating pellagra. Pellagra, a disease caused by vitamin B3 deficiency, is rare in Western societies. Symptoms include loss of appetite, skin rash, diarrhea, mental changes, beefy tongue, and digestive and emotional disturbance.
Vitamin B3 works with Vitamin B1 and B2 to release energy from carbohydrates. Therefore, these vitamins are often taken together in a B-complex or multiple vitamin supplement (although most B3 research uses niacin or niacinamide by itself). Deficiency symptoms of Niacin include muscle weakness, fatigue, a swollen, red tongue, and dermatitis. Side effects may include diarrhea, faintness, headache, and dry skin.
*”Beneficial for nerves and skin.”* Vitamin B-6 is the master vitamin in the processing of amino acids- the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. Vitamin B-6 helps to make and take apart many amino acids and is also needed to make serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Vitamin B-6 also aids in the formation of red blood cells and several neurotransmitters and is therefore an essential nutrient in the regulation of mental processes and possibly mood. Good sources of vitamin B-6 are potatoes, bananas, raisin bran, lentils, liver, turkey, and tuna.
The suggestion that vitamin B-6 plays a role in cardiovascular health is consistent with epidemiological observations. Atherosclerosis is prevalent in developed countries where meat intake is high and diets are typically high in sulfur-containing amino acids and relatively low in vitamin B-6. Since vitamin B-6 increases the bioavailability of magnesium, these nutrients are sometimes taken together.
*”Necessary for Red blood cells & Energy.”* Vitamin B-12, also known as Cobalamin, is needed for normal cell activity, DNA replication, and production of the mood-affecting substance called SAM (S-adenosyl methionine). Vitamin B-12 works with folic acid to control homocysteine levels. An excess of homocysteine, which is an amino acid (protein building block), dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and perhaps osteoporosis.
Vitamin B-12 is found in all foods of animal origin, including dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry. Inconsistent but small amounts occur in seaweed (including spirulina) and tempeh. B-12 supports the action of vitamin C, and is necessary for the proper digestion and absorption of foods, for protein synthesis, and for the normal metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Additionally, vitamin B-12 prevents nerve damage by contributing to the formation of the myelin sheath that insulates nerve cells. People with malabsorption conditions suffer from vitamin B-12 deficiency. Individuals with pernicious anemia require high dosage supplementation of this vitamin. Other group of people likely to become deficient are vegans (vegetarians who also avoid dairy and eggs). It is important to keep present that vitamin B-12 deficiencies often occur without anemia. When supplementing B-12 it must be noted that it cannot be easily stored in the body and must be replaced daily.
*”For Healthy Hair & Metabolism of Fat & Protein.”* Biotin is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and in the synthesis of fatty acids. It also helps incorporate amino acids into protein. It is also essential for cell growth and replication through its role in the manufacture of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, which make up the genetic material of the cell. Biotin is absorbed in the small intestine and any excess is excreted in the urine. Normally, the amount of biotin excreted in the urine and feces is up to six times greater than the amount eaten in food due to the large quantities produced by gut bacteria.
Biotin supplements are used to treat some skin disorders such as seborrheic dermatitis, which in infants appears to be caused by a biotin deficiency. Supplements can be given directly to the infant or to the mother if she is breast-feeding. Biotin supplements may help improve blood glucose control in diabetics by enhancing insulin sensitivity and increasing the activity of enzymes involved in glucose metabolism. Biotin in high doses may also be useful in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Biotin can be used to treat frail, splitting or thin fingernails and to improve hair condition in cases where there is a deficiency.
*”Helps Build Antibodies.”* Folic acid (vitamin B-9) is also called folate, pteroylglutamic acid, and folacin. It is known to promote normal red-blood-cell formation; maintaining the nervous system, intestinal tract, sex organs, white blood cells, normal patterns of growth; regulating embryonic and fetal development of nerve cells; and treating anemias due to folic-acid deficiency occurring from alcoholism, liver disease, hemolytic anemia, sprue, pregnancy, breast-feeding, and oral-contraceptive use.
Folic acid can be found in many natural sources. Barley, beans, liver, green leaf vegetables, oranges, rice, sprouts, and wheat all contain folic acid. Anyone with inadequate caloric or nutritional dietary intake or increased nutritional requirements need additional amounts of folic acid. Additional amounts of folic acid are needed by people over 55 years of age; pregnant or breast-feeding women, women who use oral contraceptives; people who abuse alcohol or other drugs; people with a chronic wasting illness, excess stress for long periods or those who have recently undergone surgery; people with severe burns or injuries, young infants not receiving breast milk or fortified commercial formula; those with a portion of the gastrointestinal tract removed, and extremely ill people who must be fed intravenously or by nasal-gastric tube. Deficiency symptoms of folic acid include irritability, weakness, lack of energy, sleeping difficulties, forgetfulness, and diarrhea.
The requirement for folic acid increases considerably during pregnancy.Deficiencies of folic acid during pregnancy are associated with low birth weight and an increased incidence of neural tube defects in infants.3Most doctors and healthcare professionals recommend that all women of childbearing age supplement with 400 mcg per day of folic acid4. Such supplementation would protect against the formation of neural tube defects during the time between conception and when pregnancy is discovered. If a woman waits until after pregnancy has been discovered to begin taking folic acid supplements, it will probably be too late to prevent a neural tube defect.
*”Maintains Teeth, Bones and Normal Heart action.”* Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Of the two to three pounds of calcium contained in the average body, 99% is located in the bones and teeth. Calcium is needed to form bones and teeth and is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells, and muscle contraction. The importance of calcium for preventing osteoporosis is probably its most well-known role. By reducing absorption of oxalate, a substance found in many foods, calcium may be able to indirectly reduce the risk of kidney stones. Some older research suggests that calcium may help lower cholesterol levels due to its fat-binding abilities in the gastrointestinal tract.
Most dietary calcium comes from dairy. Other good sources include sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables, and tofu. Most, but not all, studies suggest that calcium citrate is better absorbed than calcium carbonate.
Calcium has been used in connection with osteoporosis and rickets (severe deficiency of both calcium and vitamin D in children). Vegans, people with dark skin, those who live in northern climates, and people who stay indoors most of the time are more likely to be vitamin D deficient.
For people ranging from nineteen to fifty, calcium intake is recommended to be 1,000 mg daily; for adults over age fifty-one the recommendation is 1,200 mg daily. Vitamin D is needed for calcium to absorb; therefore, nutritionally oriented doctors recommend taking a daily dose of 400 IU of vitamin D as well.Constipation, bloating, and gas are sometimes reported with the use of calcium supplements.
*”Prevents Muscle Cramps.”* Magnesium is needed for bone, protein, and fatty acid formation, making new cells, activating B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood, and forming ATP- the energy the body runs on. Insulin secretion and function also requires magnesium.
Nuts and grains are good sources of magnesium. Beans, dark green vegetables, fish, and meat also contain significant amounts. Magnesium has been used in connection with congestive heart failure, diabetes, and mitral valve prolapse.
Magnesium deficiency is common in people taking “potassium-depleting” prescription drugs. Taking too many laxatives can also lead to deficiency. Alcoholism, severe burns, diabetes, and heart failure are other potential causes of deficiency. Fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, muscle weakness and spasm, depression, loss of appetite, listlessness, and potassium depletion can all result from a magnesium deficiency. Most adults don’t consume the recommended intake of 250-350 mg of magnesium per day.
Vitamin B-6 increases the amount of magnesium that can enter cells. As a result, these two nutrients are often taken together. Magnesium may compete for absorption with other minerals, particularly calcium. Taking a multi-mineral supplement avoids this potential problem.
*”Resistance to stress and disease. Carries Oxygen.”* Iron is part of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of the blood. Iron-deficient people tire easily, because their bodies are starved for oxygen. Iron is also part of myoglobin, which helps muscle cells store oxygen. Without enough iron, ATP (the fuel the body runs on) cannot be properly synthesized. As a result, some iron-deficient people become fatigued even when their hemoglobin levels are normal. Although iron is part of the antioxidant enzyme catalase, iron is not generally considered an antioxidant, because too much iron can cause oxidative damage.
The most absorbable form of iron, called “heme” iron, is found in oysters, meat, poultry, and fish. Non-heme iron is also found in these foods, as well as in dried fruit, molasses, leafy green vegetables, and wine. Acidic foods (such as tomato sauce) cooked in an iron pan can also be a source of dietary iron.
Iron has been used in connection with Crohn’s disease, depression, iron deficiency anemia, HIV support, and heavy menstruation.
Vegetarians eat less iron than non-vegetarians, and the iron they eat is somewhat less absorbable. As a result, vegetarians are more likely to have reduced iron stores. Pregnant women, marathon runners, people who take aspirin, and those who have parasitic infections, hemorrhoids, ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or other conditions that cause blood loss or malabsorption are likely to become deficient. Huge overdoses of Iron can be fatal. Keep iron-containing supplements out of a child’s reach. Hemochromatosis, hemosiderosis, polycythemia, and iron-loading anemias are conditions involving excessive storage of iron. Supplementing iron can be quite dangerous for people with these diseases. Iron in supplemental dosages can cause constipation. Caffeine, high fiber foods, and calcium supplements reduce iron absorption. Vitamins C increases iron absorption slightly, and vitamin A helps the body use iron stored in the liver.
*”For Skin and normal function of Organs.”* Zinc is a component of more than 300 enzymes that are needed to repair wound, maintain fertility, synthesize protein, help cells reproduce, preserve vision, boost immunity, and protect against free radicals, among other functions. It is required for protein synthesis and collagen formation. Zinc also allows acuity of taste and smell and protects the liver from chemical damage. Sufficient intake and absorption of zinc is needed to maintain the proper concentrations of vitamin E in the blood. Good sources of zinc include oysters, meat, eggs, seafood, black-eyed peas, tofu and wheat germ.
Zinc Picolinate is formed by the bonding of zinc with picolinic acid. This special form of zinc has been used because it is better absorbed than many other forms.
Zinc has been used in connection with the common cold/sore throat, Crohn’s disease, HIV support, male infertility, minor injuries, night blindness, and Wilson’s disease. Pregnant women and teenagers are at risk for marginal zinc deficiencies.
Zinc intake in excess of 300 mg per day may impair immune function. Some people report that taking zinc lozenges leads to mild problems, such as stomach ache, nausea, mouth irritation, and a bad taste. People with Alzheimer’s disease should consult with a nutritionally oriented doctor before taking zinc supplements.
*” These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.”*
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