Vitamins for Health!

by Steven Carney on July 8, 2013

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I’m sure you’ve heard of vitamins before. Maybe you take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. If so, good for you! For those adults who don’t think they need a daily vitamin supplement, the problems is simple: modern U.S. farming methods focus on higher crop yields (food per acre), not on nutrition or your health!

Many experts agree that the nutritional levels have dropped in recent decades so most adults (and children) need to add these micro-nutrients in supplement form. As you will see below, it’s really hard to get all your micro-nutrient needs met, especially in a good balance, without taking a supplement!

It’s similar with meats and some fish (farm raised). Animals are given hormones, antibiotics and other additives; their diets are designed to add weight and bulk at the expense of nutrition and humane treatment. Taken together, these industrial approaches are leading to less balanced, healthy, wholesome foods.

And there’s more! Consider days of shipping time, handling and exposure to heat/light and our food does not have the same nutrition as the food our parents or grandparents ate. It has less nutritional content and it’s less balanced or healthy! Studies have demonstrated probable declines of up to 50% for a range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients compared to previous generations (see links below).

Although many people have heard of vitamins like vitamin C and D, there are lots of other vitamins, subgroups and details to know. For example, how many vitamins in B-complex, or which vitamins are water or fat soluble? What are common health benefits, sources and deficiencies for each vitamin?

I hope to provide those important answers below, where I list the vitamins alphabetically (I’ll do a separate overview for minerals later because vitamins and minerals work together and deficiencies are more widespread than most people know).

Vitamin A (fat soluble, beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A)

Main functions:

Vitamin A is important for eye/vision health, immune function, mucus membranes/health, skin health, bone/tooth strength, and as an antioxidant source. Many supplements have a higher percentage of beta carotene than actual vitamin A because most adults can convert carotenes to vitamin A as needed. As a fat soluble vitamin, you can store some vitamin A in your fatty tissues. Most supplements have about 2,500 IUs (or more) of vitamin A and carotenes.

Deficiencies:

Because this vitamin is available through its carotenoid forms in a variety of orange, yellow, red and green fruits/veggies, fish, meats and dairy, serious deficiencies are less common in healthy adults (infants can have problems). Then again optimal levels are often missed. A diet with daily fast food, junk food and processed food can leave you with sub-optimum levels of vitamin A/carotenes, so a supplement is a wise choice (as is nourishing yourself with more healthy food choices).

Vitamin B complex (water soluble)

Main functions:

The B-complex is a collection of B vitamins based on 8 main sub-forms and variations. B-complex vitamins are key for health and vitality, including energy production from glucose, fats and proteins, nerve and brain function, mood support (neurotransmitters), immune health, stress management, hormone levels, cholesterol and homocysteine management, red cell production, bone health, gene function and health, etc. B-vitamins work with other vitamins and minerals to accomplish their key tasks throughout the body. Here is a number/name summary:

  • Vitamin B1/thiamine
  • Vitamin B2/riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3/niacin/niacinamide
  • Vitamin B5/pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6/pyridoxine/pyridoxine hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B7/biotin
  • Vitamin B9/folic acid
  • Vitamin B12/cobalamin/cyanocobalamin

You might notice some number gaps (B4, B8, B10-11, etc.), because various vitamin designations have changed over time. B-complex vitamins are water soluble so you need to replace them daily and you should do so in a balanced form, because they work together for many systems. Without a supplement, you won’t know if you are getting enough of each, and without a balanced intake, you won’t get the benefit of them working together with optimum synergy and health!

Deficiencies:

The most common B vitamin deficiency is B12. Vegetarians and Vegans can have a deficiency of this vitamin because it’s often found in eggs, dairy and meats. And people with digestive problems can also be deficient in B12. Some surveys indicate that moderate deficiency can run over 20%, especially in older adults. Plus, refined carbs/fast food like sugar and wheat can use up what B-vitamins you have, causing a deficit. These can build over days and weeks, causing lots of health and mood problems.

And without a relatively balanced intake of B vitamins, it’s easy to have diminished health if you don’t get the right minimum amounts of each daily. My view is that a multi-vitamin with a good diet can be a good start for enjoying optimum health. Because everyone is unique, your needs for B-vitamins might be higher (stress can certainly increase this need), so it’s best to start at a baseline and see how things look in a month or so.

Vitamin C (water soluble)

Main functions:

Many people have heard about vitamin C for preventing colds or flu. But there’s much more to vitamin C! Vitamin C is important for a broad range of health effects, including immune health (infections, allergies, cancer prevention, etc.), collagen and skin health/strength, bones/teeth and gums, artery health and BP, blood sugar, hormones, stress management, as a key antioxidant, and more!

As with the B-complex, you need a daily intake for vitamin C because it’s not stored like fat-soluble vitamins. Did you know? Most animals can make their own vitamin C, but we lack key enzymes to make the conversion. We need to get vitamin C from dietary sources (citrus, strawberries, raspberries, melons, veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, peas and beans, greens, etc.), and supplements!

Deficiencies:

Based on my research, many adults are probably deficient (The RDA is less than 100 mg for most adults), and optimum health will be compromised at such low levels!

I usually recommend at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily (more if called for). You can reach those levels through a combination of a multi-vitamin, vitamin C supplement, and consistent intakes of fruits and veggies high in vitamin C (see above list).

Vitamin D3 (fat soluble/hormonal regulator)

Main functions:

I’m sure you’ve heard about vitamin D lately. Many studies have found important benefits for this unique vitamin, often called, “the sunshine vitamin.” That’s because you can make good amounts when sunlight hits your skin (unless you are wearing sunscreen, which is recommended). Vitamin D3 (the more bioavailable form) is not a vitamin/micro-nutrient like most others. It’s more of a steroid hormone/prohormone and regulator.

Vitamin D is critical for many systems and tissues, including immune health, inflammation/pain, autoimmune problems, bones, joints and teeth, heart and artery health, blood pressure, blood sugar, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s/cognition and mood, allergies and asthma, MS, etc. Some good food sources are eggs, liver and fatty fish but it’s hard to get enough through food alone.

Deficiencies:

Estimates indicate that about 50-75% of adults probably have some vitamin D3 insufficiency or deficiency, especially those in northern latitudes and cloudy climates. Here is a more detailed outline of vitamin D levels and how they are categorized:

  • Deficiency occurs under 20 ng/ml, resulting in more significant health problems and chronic disease
  • Insufficiency is 20-30 ng/ml, resulting in more colds, flu, allergies and infections
  • Sufficiency is 30-40 ng/ml and is a good start at achieving better health with less sickness or disease
  • Optimum is probably 40-50 ng/ml and can help prevent many conditions and diseases from the list above

I often recommend levels in the 40-50 ng/ml range, something you can track through a blood test called a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Most people don’t have levels close to 40, let alone 50 ng/ml and they won’t enjoy optimal health and immune function. Most adults will need a supplement of 1,000 IUs or more daily to reach sufficient or optimal levels.

Vitamin E complex (fat soluble, 2 main subgroups are tocopherols and tocotrienols, each in 4 forms: alpha, beta, delta and gamma for a total of 8)

Main functions:

Vitamin E has been known as an antioxidant for years, but it also plays a role in areas like inflammation, skin health, metabolism, endothelial/artery health, BP and blood clotting, hormones, brain function/memory, vision, DNA health, cancer prevention, etc.

Although most vitamins and supplements focus on the alpha tocopherol form, you can get more nutritionally complete forms if you eat nuts (almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, etc.), dried apricots, avocado, greens, olives, extra virgin olive oil and oily fish. All can be good sources for vitamin E. BTW, the dl-alpha version is less bioavailable so if a multi-vitamin has that form, be sure your diet is rich in dietary sources of vitamin E like those mentioned above.

Deficiencies:

According to several surveys, deficiencies are rather common. That’s probably because the SAD (Standard American Diet) is often lacking in healthy (unsalted/un-flavored) nuts, veggies, fruits and fish. So again, a supplement is a good starting point, then add consistent amounts of healthy, whole foods high in vitamin E like those listed above. Aim for around 50 IUs (or about 40 mg) daily. Those should be a good level for most adults, depending on your individual health needs.

Vitamin K (fat soluble, complex includes K1, K2 and other forms)

Main functions:

Although vitamin K exists in several forms, the most well-known version is vitamin K1. It originally got it’s name for the “Koagulation vitamin” a German word for coagulation, the ability of blood to clot. If you cut yourself, you want the blood to stop flowing fast. Because we all have blood pressure, a small nick or cut can cause significant bleeding. When I’ve nicked myself shaving (only a few times a year), I’ve been amazed by how much blood can flow from a small nick like that!

So vitamin K, especially K1, plays a key role in healthy blood clotting, including less bruising. It can also help with areas like bone health and appears to help prevent lipids/cholesterol from becoming oxidized, contributing to atherosclerosis. K1 is found in lots of veggies, especially leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard), and veggies like broccoli, asparagus, and brussels sprouts.

A newer form of vitamin K which has been researched often in the last 5-10 years is Vitamin K2. This form lies behind something called “the calcium paradox,” so named because research has found that many people with loss of calcium in bones/osteoporosis had extra calcium in their arteries and soft tissue. These seemingly unrelated problems are connected by vitamin K2!

K2, especially the form derived from natto (also called MK 7, or menaquinone) has good bioavailability and helps activate a key protein called osteocalcin. That protein helps calcium bind to bones and teeth, keeping them healthy and strong (along with other minerals like magnesium and vitamin D). Without enough vitamin K2, those proteins can become inactive!

Vitamin K2 also helps keep calcium out of arteries and soft tissues, as it shuttles calcium to bones and teeth. This keeps arteries and soft tissues more healthy and functional. So the same vitamin does 2 critical things for your overall health that seem to be different but are nutritionally connected when people have a deficiency. If you have a deficiency in K2 (many people do), you get weaker bones and more calcified plaque in your arteries. Plus, K2 also appears to offer additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Deficiencies: For the K1 form, deficiencies are less common, but for the K2 form, deficiencies are more widespread, as evidenced by research and all the older adults with bone and tooth loss/problems along with soft-tissue calcifications! Most adults should get around 50-90 mcg (micrograms), along with the right balance of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. But to reach those levels, a supplement is often needed. Some fermented foods like Swiss cheese, yogurt and soy natto, eggs, and some meats have K2, but in smaller amounts.

Special Offer!

I hope you read all the above content (feel free to look at the numerous links below as well). You can now see that vitamins are a complex topic, and that these micro-nutrients are critical if you want to reach optimum health and vitality. Vitamins work together with minerals and food to optimize health and combat the diseases of aging.

They are often misunderstood and tested as single entities like drugs are. This approach reflects ignorance and is doomed to fail, generating overly-dramatic headlines that claim vitamins don’t help. Wrong! They do when properly taken together with other nutrients and healthy food.

To help you feel your best, I’m offering a mini-package of 2 calls to review your nutritional needs and provide some recommendations (I don’t sell any supplements or have any financial ties to any supplement companies. In fact, anyone who claims to be a “health coach” and makes money off company products they sell you is most likely being unethical)!

The cost is only $29.00 for 2 calls, the price of a moderate dinner! I’m affordable because I like to see people get healthier. I also guarantee results! Will you decide the meal is a better choice or will you choose life-long health and vitality? The choice is yours! Feel free to contact me at: steve@endsicknessnow.com

Helpful links (in general order of points and vitamins listed):

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/breeding-the-nutrition-out-of-our-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/nutritional-content-zmaz09jjzraw.aspx#axzz2XnrLA3kb

http://www.nwrage.org/content/american-agribusiness-making-food-less-nutritious

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/why-you-need-supplements/

http://www.rowdyradish.com/2013/06/why-homegrown-food-is-more-nutritious.html

http://www.lifeclinic.com/focus/nutrition/vitamin-a.asp

http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/7-health-benefits-of-vitamin-a.html

http://www.antioxidantsdetective.com/benefits-of-vitamin-a.html

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA36660

http://www.livestrong.com/article/22528-benefits-b-vitamins/

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/B-Complex.htm

http://www.drjomd.com/highways/nutrition/sugar/sugar-a-naked-nutrient-and-a-robber/

http://www.healthandgoodness.com/article/vitamin-b-complex-and-health.html

http://www.localhealth.com/article/vitamin-b12-deficiency

http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/7-health-benefits-of-vitamin-c.html

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/vitamin-supplements/vitamin-c-benefits.htm

http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-vitamin-c/

http://www.naturalhealth365.com/vitamin_c/shingles_cure.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/272893-vitamin-c-deficiency/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23747864

http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=4161672

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223103920.htm

http://vitamind3blog.com/2011/01/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-myriad-diseases/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425094310.htm

http://www.womentowomen.com/healthynutrition/vitamind.aspx

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/vitamin-d-and-optimum-health

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/2/491S.full

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

http://www.preventive-health-guide.com/vitamin-E.html

http://www.antioxidants-for-health-and-longevity.com/benefits-of-vitamin-e.html

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Vitamin-E-The-overlooked-nutrient-and-its-brain-health-benefits

http://www.livestrong.com/article/17991-sources-vitamin-e/

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/vitamin-e-deficiency-symptoms.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/983.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=112

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/want-bone-and-heart-health

http://ezinearticles.com/?Vitamin-K-Benefits—Is-K2-Really-Better-Than-K1?&id=3520767

http://nutritionmanufacturer.com/vitamink2.html

http://nutristart.com/more-benefits-of-vitamin-k2-part-2/

Some new info about vitamin K2 deficiency, as well as benefits:

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Markets/Global-vitamin-K2-product-launches-double-just-beginning-the-ride

A new study that shown how vitamins and minerals can help with health, energy and mood issues:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716115713.htm

Also see these posts on Magic Minerals, Part 1 and 2:

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/magic-minerals-part-1

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/magic-minerals-part-2

I saw this study about how supplements can cut hospital stays and save significant money. I decided to add on 9/3/13:

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Use-of-oral-nutritional-supplements-cuts-hospital-stays-Abbott-study 

A new study showing that healthcare could save about 10 billion in chronic disease costs if supplements were given to more adults:

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Markets/Game-changing-economic-report-Supplements-could-save-billions-of-dollars-in-health-care-costs

A new study from 12/3013 shows the importance of vitamin-E complex for mental health and function:

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Are-all-forms-of-vitamin-E-needed-for-better-mental-function

This new video from 12/2013 on Vitamin B12 by Dr. Brogan is short and very helpful:

http://kellybroganmd.com/video/vitamin-b12-deficiency-causes-mental-illness/

A new study showing continuing vitamin deficiencies:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24724766

Good new study on the benefits of vitamin C and artery/endothelial function:

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Meta-analysis-Vitamin-C-supplements-may-boost-endothelial-function

 

© 2013 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

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Yes, I recommend tomatoes/lycopene and EV olive oil all the time! See my post on the Mediterranean diet and other posts about nutrition.

Thanks!

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