UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF VITAMINS FOR HEALTH

Vitamins are generally defined as substances present in small amounts in food, that are indispensable for sustaining life. The first vitamin to be discovered was B1, an amine that is essential for maintaining vital functions. Hence the term ‘vitamin’ or vital amine.

Vitamins have a wide variety of chemical structures. Your organism needs very small amounts of some (a few micrograms), and large amounts (hundreds of milligrams) of others.

Some are soluble in water (hydrosoluble) while others are soluble only in oil (liposoluble).

Most are assimilated in the small intestine, some in the stomach. Your body can also produce some vitamins, especially B-complex vitamins, which are produced by intestinal flora in the small intestine.

Your body, however, produces very few vitamins, so you must obtain these essential nutrients from the food you eat on a regular basis. If you don’t, you can develop serious deficiencies that will be sure to undermine your health.

Vitamins are essential for the chemical reactions taking place in your body – you cannot do without them.

Vitamins

The list of vitamins is growing, as new substances which can be classed as vitamins are discovered – there are now over 20 known vitamins.

The most commonly known essential vitamins are A, B, C, D, E, F and K. The B complex group is made up of Vitamins B1 to B15. There’s also a B17 if you include laetrile, although some scientists contest its validity as a true vitamin.

Many foods contain vitamins. The simplest way to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins is to eat a varied diet: the more varied your diet is, the less risk you run of developing a deficiency.

If, however, you eat less of a certain kind of food for one reason or another, we strongly recommend making up for a possible deficiency by taking vitamin supplements.

The following will help you identify potential deficiencies, and recommend food sources that contain the vitamins you may be missing. Since vitamins are sometimes referred to by their chemical names, here is a list of vitamins and their corresponding names:

– Vitamin A: retinol

– Pro-Vitamin A: carotene or beta-carotene, the precursor of vegetal Vitamin A

B1: thiamin

B2: riboflavin

B3:PP (anti-pellagra)

B5: pantothenic acid

B6: pyridoxine

B7: choline

B8: biotin (also called Vitamin H)

B9: folic acid (also called Vitamin BC or LI)

BIO: para-amino-benzoic acid (PABA, also called H2)

B12: cyanocobalamine

B15: pangamic acid

C: ascorbic acid

D: calciferol

E: tocopherol

– cheese

– oily fish

– oleaginous fruit (nuts)

– egg yolk

Effects of ingesting too much B2

This vitamin is not known to be toxic, even when taken in very large doses. Any excess is eliminated through your urine, which takes on a bright yellow colour if you have ingested too much.

Potential dangers of a B2 deficiency

The following symptoms are indicative of a B2 deficiency:

– vision problems

– cataracts

– lesions in the mouth or on the lips and tongue

– a bright red, shiny tongue

– excessive seborrhoea

– alterations in skin quality

– abnormal fatigue, especially during periods of stress

Note that this vitamin is destroyed by alcohol and contraceptive pills.

VITAMIN B3

This water-soluble vitamin is also called Vitamin PP, niacin or nicotinic acid. Although stable when exposed to light, it is destroyed by alcohol, contraceptive pills, sleeping pills and sulfonamides.

Recommended daily dosage

– Adults: 15 to 20 milligrams

– Children under 10 years old: 6 to 8 milligrams

Larger doses – in the order of 50 to 100 milligrams per day -can be taken without danger to make up for a deficiency. boiling or pressure cooking than frying, which destroys a third of the vitamin content.

Functions

Your body needs Vitamin A for a variety of important functions:

– it is extremely important for your eyes, and especially for nocturnal vision;

– it plays a role in the growth process, and in the bone structure (along with Vitamin D);

– it promotes rapid healing of cuts and wounds;

– it helps fight infections, especially respiratory infections;

– it is involved in the treatment of skin disorders like acne, impetigo and psoriasis, etc. and helps maintain the skin’s elasticity;

– it helps slow down aging;

– it acts as an anti-carcinogen, especially in the form of carotene.

Medication designed to lower cholesterol levels inhibit the assimilation of Vitamin A. If you are taking this kind of medication, you might consider taking a Vitamin A supplement. In addition, Vitamin A facilitates the synthesis of the hormone progesterone. Women who lack progesterone should take a Vitamin A supplement, especially before and during menopause.

What happens if you ingest too much Vitamin A?

The following symptoms can be caused by an excess of Vitamin A:

– headaches

– nausea

– hair loss

– vision problems

Effects of a Vitamin A deficiency

These symptoms may indicate a lack of Vitamin A:

– severely reduced nocturnal vision or night blindness

– dry eyes

– dry skin and hair

– cheese

– oily fish

– oleaginous fruit (nuts)

– egg yolk

Effects of ingesting too much B2

This vitamin is not known to be toxic, even when taken in very large doses. Any excess is eliminated through your urine, which takes on a bright yellow colour if you have ingested too much.

Potential dangers of a B2 deficiency

The following symptoms are indicative of a B2 deficiency:

– vision problems

– cataracts

– lesions in the mouth or on the lips and tongue

– a bright red, shiny tongue

– excessive seborrhoea

– alterations in skin quality

– abnormal fatigue, especially during periods of stress

Note that this vitamin is destroyed by alcohol and contraceptive pills.

VITAMIN B3

This water-soluble vitamin is also called Vitamin PP, niacin or nicotinic acid. Although stable when exposed to light, it is destroyed by alcohol, contraceptive pills, sleeping pills and sulfonamides.

Recommended daily dosage

– Adults: 15 to 20 milligrams

– Children under 10 years old: 6 to 8 milligrams

Larger doses – in the order of 50 to 100 milligrams per day -can be taken without danger to make up for a deficiency.

Effects of ingesting too much B1

There are no harmful effects: this vitamin is not known to be toxic in any way, and any excess is eliminated through the urine.

Potential dangers of a B1 deficiency

A long-term deficiency causes beriberi, a disease that has been all but eradicated in industrialized countries. Minor deficiencies can cause digestive problems (diarrhoea), nervous problems (depression, fatigue, irritability) and skin problems.

VITAMIN B2

This vitamin, also called riboflavin, is synthesized in small amounts by the bacteria that make up your intestinal flora. Although not enough to meet your daily requirement, the B2 produced in your body is sufficient to prevent a major deficiency.

Recommended daily dosage

– Adults and children: 1.2 to 1.6 milligrams

– Pregnant or breast-feeding women: up to 2 milligrams

Functions

Vitamin B2

– is used to synthesize enzymes that are involved in cellular exchanges and in the proper metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fat;

– plays an important role in keeping the eyes and skin healthy;

– has a curative effect on disorders of the mouth, lips and tongue.

Sources

Vitamin B2, which is altered by exposure to light, can be found in:

– brewer’s yeast

– liver and kidneys

– wheat germ

– cheese

– oily fish

– oleaginous fruit (nuts)

– egg yolk

Effects of ingesting too much B2

This vitamin is not known to be toxic, even when taken in very large doses. Any excess is eliminated through your urine, which takes on a bright yellow colour if you have ingested too much.

Potential dangers of a B2 deficiency

The following symptoms are indicative of a B2 deficiency:

– vision problems

– cataracts

– lesions in the mouth or on the lips and tongue

– a bright red, shiny tongue

– excessive seborrhoea

– alterations in skin quality

– abnormal fatigue, especially during periods of stress

Note that this vitamin is destroyed by alcohol and contraceptive pills.

VITAMIN B3

This water-soluble vitamin is also called Vitamin PP, niacin or nicotinic acid. Although stable when exposed to light, it is destroyed by alcohol, contraceptive pills, sleeping pills and sulfonamides.

Recommended daily dosage

– Adults: 15 to 20 milligrams

– Children under 10 years old: 6 to 8 milligrams

Larger doses – in the order of 50 to 100 milligrams per day -can be taken without danger to make up for a deficiency.

The list of vitamins is growing, as new substances which can be classed as vitamins are discovered – there are now over 20 known vitamins.

The most commonly known essential vitamins are A, B, C, D, E, F and K. The B complex group is made up of Vitamins B1 to B15. There’s also a B17 if you include laetrile, although some scientists contest its validity as a true vitamin.

Many foods contain vitamins. The simplest way to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins is to eat a varied diet: the more varied your diet is, the less risk you run of developing a deficiency.

If, however, you eat less of a certain kind of food for one reason or another, we strongly recommend making up for a possible deficiency by taking vitamin supplements.

The following will help you identify potential deficiencies, and recommend food sources that contain the vitamins you may be missing. Since vitamins are sometimes referred to by their chemical names, here is a list of vitamins and their corresponding names:

B1: thiamin

B2: riboflavin

B3: PP (anti-pellagra)

B5: pantothenic acid

B6: pyridoxine

B7: choline

B8: biotin (also called Vitamin H)

B9: folic acid (also called Vitamin BC or LI)

BIO: para-amino-benzoic acid (PABA, also called H2)

B12: cyanocobalamine

B15: pangamic acid

C: ascorbic acid

D: calciferol

E: tocopherol

– Vitamin A: retinol

– Pro-Vitamin A: carotene or beta-carotene, the precursor of

– Vitamin F: polyunsaturated essential fatty acids

– Vitamin H: biotin

– Vitamin H2: PABA

– Vitamin LI: folic acid

– Vitamin P: bioflavanoids (promoting greater permeability of blood vessels)

Units of measurement

Vitamins that dissolve in oil (A, D, E and F) are measured in International Units (IU). Most other vitamins are measured in milligrams.

VITAMIN A

A liposoluble vitamin that comes in two forms: carotene (or beta-carotene) in vegetal sources, and retinol in animal sources.

Vegetal sources of Vitamin A

– carrots / spinach / tomatoes / lettuce and green leafy vegetables in general / asparagus / corn / melon / apricots / oranges

– note that dried fruit contains more Vitamin A than fresh fruit.

Animal sources of Vitamin A

– the livers of fish and animals

– the fat in dairy products

– egg yolks

Recommended daily dosage:

– adults: 5000 IU

– children: 1500 to 4500 IU (depending on their age)

– women who are pregnant or breast-feeding: slightly more than 5000IU

Cooking

Vitamin A is sensitive to air and light, and can be altered by certain forms of cooking: less alteration occurs during steaming, par-

Functions

– Vitamin B3 is involved in the synthesis of a number of hormones, notably sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, as well as insulin and hormones that regulate thyroid functions.

– Recent studies have shown a significant reduction of niacin in cells affected by cancer.

– B3 helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

– In large doses, B3 can help lower cholesterol levels by affecting agents that transport cholesterol in your organism.

– B3 is used to combat a variety of mental disorders, ranging from emotional instability and insecurity, to persecution complexes and schizophrenia.

– B3 facilitates digestion and prevents various gastrointestinal problems.

Sources

B3 is found in many foods. Main sources include:

– liver (pork, beef, veal)

– wholegrains

– fish

– white meat

– eggs

– dates, figs, almonds

Effects of ingesting too much B3

Niacin can be harmful when taken in very large doses (more than 100 milligrams). Symptoms of an overdose include:

– itching

– burning sensations on the skin

– nausea

Taking too much niacin is not really harmful in itself, although it can aggravate symptoms related to other health problems.

Potential dangers of a B3 deficiency

Your body produces its own B3 using an essential amino acid called tryptophane. You may develop a deficiency if you eat much more fish than meat. Possible effects of a deficiency include cardiovascular problems and memory loss.

This vitamin is the main element in the fight against pellagra, a disease characterized by diarrhoea, dermatitis and signs of dementia. A B3 deficiency can therefore produce symptoms of this nature. Skin that is extremely sensitive to sunlight is also a symptom of a potential B3 deficiency – take a supplement before exposing your skin to the sun for prolonged periods.

VITAMIN B5

Also called pantothenic acid, B5 is another vitamin that is synthesized by your intestinal flora, with a calcium base. It is destroyed by alcohol, caffeine, contraceptive pills, sleeping pills and sulfonamides.

Recommended daily dosage

Most people should get about 10 milligrams of B5 per day. Larger amounts – 10 to 100 milligrams – can be taken without danger to combat a deficiency.

Functions

– B5 plays an essential role in metabolism, transforming fats and sugar into energy, and producing cortico-adrenal hormones.

– B5 helps combat fatigue and stress.

– B5 helps strengthen the immune system by synthesizing antibodies.

– B5 is essential for the treatment of skin disorders (herpes, mycosis) and accelerates healing of cuts and wounds (along with Vitamin A).

– In large doses B5 helps slow down the aging process.

– Combined with biotin, B5 is recommended for the treatment of hair loss and male-pattern baldness (alopecia). It also makes an effective treatment for female hair loss and de-pigmentation, as well as a condition known as pelada in children.

– B5 helps strengthen fragile, brittle nails.

Sources

Main sources include:

– cabbage

– oysters

– honey

– milk

– eggs

– soybean

– tomatoes

– sunflower seeds

– beef

– poultry

– grains and sprouted seeds

– spinach

– royal jelly

– molasses

– rice and wheat bran

– liver, kidney, heart

– brewer’s yeast

VITAMIN B6

Also called pyridoxine, B6 is indispensable for persons who absorb a lot of protein: the more meat you eat, the more B6 you need.

You should also know that B6 is destroyed by alcohol, contraceptive pills and certain cooking methods.

The vitamin is synthesized by your body’s intestinal flora, although not in sufficient amounts to meet your daily requirements.

Recommended daily dosage

Adults: about 2 milligrams

Women who are pregnant or who suffer from PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), as well as all persons who eat large amounts of meat, need more B6. Doses of between 250 and 500 milligrams per day, prescribed to combat a deficiency, are not dangerous.

Functions

– B6 is involved in the metabolism of amino acids and proteins;

– it is essential for the assimilation of magnesium, and the transformation of tryptophane into Vitamin B3;

– it plays an important role in alleviating all symptoms associated with PMS, as well as nausea during pregnancy and symptoms associated with taking birth control pills;

– B6 helps combat certain nervous disorders and some types of skin problems (notably acne);

– B6 helps balance metabolism in cases of diabetes;

– The vitamin also acts as a general stimulant for the immune system.

Sources

Many foods contain Vitamin B6. Main sources include:

– whole grains and sprouted seeds

– whole grain bread

– brewer’s yeast

– egg yolks

– liver (especially beef)

– soybean

Secondary sources include:

– kidney, red meat

– fish

– cabbage, spinach and other green vegetables

– split peas

– fresh fruit

– milk and cheese

– molasses

Breast milk is an important source of B6 for young infants (the vitamin has to be added to cow’s milk and formula).

Effects of ingesting too much B6

Taking very large amounts of B6 (more than 1500 milligrams per day) can cause nervous problems. Otherwise the vitamin is nontoxic.

Potential dangers of a B6 deficiency

Deficiencies are generally caused by improper absorption, or by the destruction of B6 in your organism, rather than by a lack of adequate food sources.

Symptoms of a deficiency include:

– anaemia

– nervous problems

– convulsions

– insomnia

– dermatitis, especially on the face, around the eyes and mouth

– inflammation of the tongue

According to some experts, a B6 deficiency during pregnancy can cause extremely serious toxaemia and result in the death of the fetus.

If you suffer from PMS (symptoms include nervousness, water retention and subsequent weight gain, painful breasts, migraines and fatigue) taking B6 supplements combined with primrose oil for 10 days preceding menstruation can provide effective relief.

VITAMIN B8

Soluble in water, and generally very stable, this vitamin, commonly known as biotin, is essential for maintaining healthy hair and skin, along with Vitamin B6. It also plays an essential role in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Recommended daily dosage 100 to 300 micrograms.

Functions

Principal functions include:

– the prevention of hair loss;

– the prevention of skin disorders like acne, seborrhoea in adults and infants, eczema, boils, inflammation of the tongue (glossitis), coated tongue, and inflammation of the taste-buds;

– the treatment of appetite loss.

Sources

Vitamin B8 is found in brewer’s yeast, along with all other B-complex vitamins. Other good sources include:

– liver and kidney

– egg yolk

– chocolate

– peanuts, split peas

– mushrooms

– small amounts are found in all animal and vegetal tissue

Note that B8, when combined with a substance called avydine (found in egg whites) becomes inactive.

Potential dangers of a B8 deficiency

A B8 deficiency can cause:

– hair loss

– neuromuscular problems

– various types of skin lesions

– seborrhoea

– atrophied taste buds

– dry skin

Note that deficiencies of this vitamin are extremely rare.

VITAMIN B9

Commonly known as folic acid (also called Vitamin BC or LI), Vitamin B9, like other B-complex vitamins, is water-soluble and sensitive to cooking and light. It is destroyed by contact with

Vitmins certain metals (iron, copper and manganese), as well as by sulfonamides and contraceptive pills.

B9 plays an essential role in important biological functions like the synthesis of DNA and the formation of red blood cells. Its therapeutic uses, listed below, are based on these two essential functions.

Recommended daily dosage

– Adults: 400 micrograms (minimum)

– Pregnant women: 800 micrograms

Note: Do not take more than 1000 micrograms (1 milligram) of Vitamin B9 per day.

Functions

Vitamin B9:

– plays a role in the prevention and cure of all forms of anaemia (combined with Vitamin B12);

– protects the body against intestinal parasites and toxins;

– retards the apparition of gray hair (combined with B5);

– possesses anti-carcinogenic properties (contested by some experts).

A folic acid (B9) deficiency is the main nutritional deficiency among pregnant women. If you are pregnant it is very important to eat foods rich in folic acid, and supplement your diet with brewer’s yeast.

Persons suffering from psoriasis may find an effective treatment in Vitamin B9, combined with Vitamins B12 and C.

Sources

Many foods contain folic acid. Primary sources include:

– spinach

– broccoli

– endive

– brewer’s yeast, wheat germ

– peanuts and almonds

– liver

B9 can also be ingested in the form of polyglutamates. Sources include:

– sweetbread, kidney, red meat, poultry

– cheese and legumes (peas, beans, etc.)

Potential dangers of a B9 deficiency

A deficiency usually causes intestinal problems and anaemia.

VITAMIN B12

B12 differs from other B-complex vitamins in that your body requires only tiny amounts (a few millionths of a gram) for it to be effective.

Like other B vitamins, B12 is water-soluble, sensitive to cooking and light, and destroyed by alcohol, oral contraceptives and sleeping pills.

Recommended daily dosage

Adults: 3 to 6 micrograms

Pregnant women – up to 50 micrograms

Functions

– B12’s main function is to help produce red blood cells, which makes it an effective treatment for anaemia and neuralgia.

– B12 is also essential for the metabolism of iron. Pregnant women who suffer from constant fatigue should consider testing their red blood cell count to make sure it’s normal.

Sources

Main sources include:

– liver

– brewer’s yeast

– red meat

– milk and cheese

– egg yolk

– kidney

– oysters

Vegetables contain no B12, which is why being a strict vegetarian can be dangerous. If you’re a strict vegetarian you should add a daily B12 supplement, in the form of brewer’s yeast, to your diet.

Potential dangers of a B12 deficiency

A B12 deficiency causes Biermer’s anaemia (also called pernicious anaemia), characterized by three main symptoms:

– anaemia and related problems

– digestive problems (often accompanied by diarrhoea and anorexia)

– parasthesia (nocturnal leg spasms)

VITAMIN B15

This vitamin is essential for physically active persons, notably athletes, and also for persons who tend to become fatigued during the course of a normal day.

Functions

– B15 helps oxygenate tissues;

– combats various types of intoxication;

– increases resistance to fatigue;

– reduces the time needed to recuperate from intense physical effort by saving glycogen, one of the fuels used by your body to produce energy;

– protects the body against external sources of pollution;

– helps rid the body of toxins.

If you live in a polluted environment (large city, proximity to industry, etc.) you should take regular B15 supplements to rid your body of toxins and revitalize your organism.

Sources

B15 was first discovered in apricot pits. Edible sources include:

– whole grain rice and other whole grains

– sesame seeds

– liver (beef and horse) and red meat (not overcooked)

VITAMIN C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is involved in a great number of bodily functions, some of which have yet to be understood. This essential, water-soluble vitamin is easily destroyed by cooking, tobacco (a single cigarette destroys about 25 milligrams of Vitamin C), and by certain medicines .

Recommended daily dosage

Adults: about 60 milligrams, although some experts claim this is not nearly enough. During periods of stress or while recovering from a cold or flu, 500 to 1000 milligrams per day is closer to the ideal.

Because your body cannot store Vitamin C, and because it is relatively fragile, you should make sure you are getting enough on a daily basis, either from food sources or supplements. Persons who eat very little fruit run the risk of developing a deficiency.

Functions

Vitamin C:

– strengthens your immune system, and helps prevent and heal bacterial and viral infections (colds, flu, etc.);

– accelerates the healing of cuts and wounds, acting as an anti-infectious agent and playing a role in the formation of collagen;

– helps protect the body against the harmful effects of tobacco and environmental pollution;

– acts as a powerful antioxidant – it is often prescribed, along with other antioxidants like selenium and Vitamin E, to slow down the aging process;

– helps combat certain forms of male sterility;

– helps prevent and cure cancer (this effect was researched by the Nobel Prize laureate Linus Pauling, who took very large doses of Vitamin C – over 10 grams per day).

Sources

Main sources include:

– fresh fruit like gooseberries and kiwis; citrus fruit (lemons, oranges, grapefruit)

– fresh vegetables, especially parsley, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green peppers and potatoes.

Potential dangers of a Vitamin C deficiency

As you probably know, a lack of Vitamin C causes scurvy, a fatal disease that is very rare in this day and age. The disease was fairly common as recently as a century ago, especially among sailors who spent long months at sea without access to fresh fruit or vegetables.

Vitamin C deficiencies still occur:

– among poorer classes of people, who often suffer from other nutritional deficiencies as well;

– among bottle-fed infants who are not given juice;

– under certain physiological conditions (during pregnancy or while breast-feeding;

– associated with various pathologies (thyrotoxicosis or hyperactivity of the thyroid gland) when the body needs more Vitamin C.

A minor deficiency can cause the following symptoms:

– fatigue

– weight loss

– general discomfort

– headaches

– pain in bones

– lowered resistance to various infections

– swelling of lower limbs

– purpura spots

– bleeding gums

– frequent nosebleed

Effects of ingesting too much Vitamin C

Taking a Vitamin C supplement at night may disturb your sleep, and synthetic Vitamin C can act as a mild stimulant. Apart from that, there is no danger in taking large amounts: doses of 1 or 2 grams a day are sometimes recommended for the treatment of various disorders.

VITAMIN D

Sources

Very few foods contain Vitamin D. Main food sources include:

– fish oil

– some fish (sardines, salmon, herring)

– eggs and milk (in very small amounts)

The best natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight, which activates pro-vitamins in the skin to produce Vitamin D.

Recommended daily dosage

Adults, children and pregnant or breast-feeding women: 200 to 400IU.

Some people need more Vitamin D:

– children during periods of growth;

– persons who live in areas that receive very little sunlight;

– persons who work at night;

– pregnant women who tend to suffer from spasms should ingest Vitamin D in its natural form, starting from the third month of pregnancy.

Functions

The essential function of Vitamin D is its role in the formation of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps your body assimilate Vitamin

A, and prevents colds and other infections when combined with Vitamins A and C.

Potential dangers of a Vitamin D deficiency

Children with a Vitamin D deficiency can develop:

– rickets

– various bone diseases

– fragile teeth

– arthritis

– general fatigue

However, these symptoms occur most frequently among elderly persons.

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E, or tocopherol, is a viscous pale yellow oil that is sensitive to heat, light (especially ultraviolet light), air and low temperatures, all of which alter its composition. It is destroyed by chlorine (the kind added to your tap water) and mineral oils.

Vitamin E is stored in your liver: reserves are estimated to be a few grams. Fairly large amounts are also stored in fatty tissue, in the pituitary and adrenal glands, in the testicles and in the uterus.

Recommended daily dosage

Daily dosages are difficult to establish. Expert opinions vary from between 20 to 200IU for adults. Women who take the pill, or who are pregnant or breast-feeding, should increase their daily intake. Persons who consume a lot of polyunsaturated vegetable oil (wheat germ oil, corn oil, sunflower seed oil, peanut oil, etc.) should also take more Vitamin E.

Sources

Main food sources include:

– wheat germ

– hazelnuts and almonds

– leafy green vegetables, notably lettuce and spinach

– tomatoes

– wholegrains

– cod liver oil

– vegetable oils

Functions

– Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that protects cells and tissues;

– it is one of the main anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic nutrients, along with selenium and Vitamins A and C;

– it has a beneficial effect on the heart and helps cure circulation problems, acting as a vasodilator;

– Vitamin E also has a beneficial effect on the genital organs, although its success as a cure for female sterility has been contested;

– because of its antioxidant and anti-aging properties, women approaching or experiencing menopause, and persons entering old age, should take more Vitamin E;

– Vitamin E also helps combat the harmful effects of stress.

Potential dangers of a Vitamin E deficiency

A lack of Vitamin E can cause the following symptoms:

– circulation problems

– muscular fatigue

– anaemia

– skin problems

VITAMIN F

Vitamin F is the term used by nutritionists to designate essential polyunsaturated fatty acids: linoleic acid, linolenic acid, gamma-linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, eicosapentanoic acid, etc.

It is a liposoluble vitamin that can be stored by your organism in the same way as Vitamin E.

Vitamins

The composition of vitamin F can be altered by exposure to heat and air. Its beneficial effects are inhibited by the presence of saturated fats in your food. The more fat food you eat (especially animal fat) the more Vitamin F you need to absorb.

Sources

Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in:

– vegetable oils: wheat germ, sunflower seed, soybean and peanut oils, on condition that they are first cold-pressed, since heating and refining processes destroy essential fatty acids;

– peanuts, walnuts, almonds, avocados (linoleic acid);

– primrose and borage oil (gammalinoleic acid);

– oily fish and fish oil (linolenic acid).

Functions

Vitamin F:

– is involved in the synthesis of prostaglandines, very important substances which have a number of vital functions in the body;

– plays a role in the formation of cellular membranes;

– prevents cholesterol deposits from forming in arteries, and thus protects the body against cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure;

– helps regulate hormonal secretions;

– helps keep the skin and hair healthy;

– promotes weight loss by burning saturated fats;

– helps alleviate symptoms of PMS, arthritis, eczema, dry skin, ocular fatigue, etc. (due to its gamma-linoleic acid content).

Potential dangers of a Vitamin F deficiency

A lack of Vitamin F can cause:

– arthritis

– eczema

– brittle hair and nails

– excess cholesterol

VITAMIN K

Specialists use the term Vitamin K (also called the coagulation vitamin) to refer to a group of natural derivatives of naphta-quinone, all of which possess anti-haemorrhaging properties, and are used to increase levels of prothrombine in the blood.

Vitamin K was initially extracted from alfalfa leaves and the flesh of fish. It can now be chemically synthesized, and is also produced in the body by intestinal bacteria (except in newborn infants, whose intestines contain no bacteria). It is hardly affected by cooking.

Recommended daily dosage

About 1 milligram per day for the general population.

Sources

Vitamin K is found in:

– leafy green vegetables: cabbage, lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, watercress

– liver

– fish meal

– fruit (in smaller amounts)

Functions

Vitamin K:

– plays an essential role in the formation of prothrombine, and thus in the process of blood coagulation;

– accelerates the closing of cuts and wounds by rapidly increasing prothrombine levels in the blood;

– acts as a preventive measure prior to surgery giving birth;

– helps healing in all cases where coagulation is difficult for one reason or another;

– added to creams and ointments, Vitamin K helps prevent the bursting of tiny blood vessels under the surface of the skin, and accelerates the healing of bruises.

Potential dangers of a Vitamin K deficiency

There is no danger of not getting enough Vitamin K from the food you eat. Deficiencies occur when persons suffer from severe liver, kidney, gallbladder or intestinal disorders, which prevent the vitamin from being assimilated properly. Anti-coagulant medication or antibiotics which destroy intestinal flora can also cause a Vitamin K deficiency if taken for long periods of time.

The body can tolerate large amounts of Vitamin K without danger of toxicity. Remember, though, that this vitamin is a coagulant – it can cause clots to form in the blood which may block blood vessels. For that reason it should be avoided by persons suffering from high blood pressure or other conditions where more fluid blood flow is beneficial.

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