What You Need To Know About Vitamins? Part I

vitamins for health

 
Do you know that the body produces only vitamin D and K?

Do you know that too much vitamin A prevents vitamin D from being produced in the body?

How much do we really know about vitamins?

How much should we know in order to maintain optimum health?

 

Remember These Quick Facts!

The best sources of vitamins are fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables.

If you do not have enough magnesium in your body, the production of the vitamin D in the body is limited.

Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene are antioxidants.

Vitamin C increases the levels of the most powerful antioxidant and immune booster – glutathione.

 

What You Need To Know About Vitamin A?

As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A is stored in the body (sometimes up to several years) and is used when needed. This does not mean that one should not consume it through food.  Vitamin A plays a significant role in several functions in the body – vision, skin health, immune health, bone metabolism, gene transcription, reproduction, and embryonic development. This vitamin stimulates the production of white blood cells and helps maintain the health of the cells.

Food sources of vitamin A (or beta-carotene) – liver (cod, beef, pork, poultry), carrots, broccoli leaves, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, butter, pumpkin, eggs, apricots, cantaloupe melons, collard greens etc. Recommended daily intake of vitamin A is 900 mcg of retinol for men and 700 mcg of retinol for women. The most common way to get beta-carotene is by juicing carrots.

Primary deficiency occurs among those who do not consume a proper amount of yellow and green vegetables and fruits and liver. Secondary deficiency is associated with impaired bile production, low fat diets, and chronic exposure to oxidants (cigarette smoke). Zinc deficiency can impair absorption and transportation of vitamin A because it is necessary for the synthesis of the vitamin A transport proteins.

Toxicity can manifest itself with nausea, irritability, decreased appetite, vomiting, headaches, muscle and abdominal pain and weaknesses. These toxicities occur only with preformed vitamin A (retinoid) such as from liver or the one found in dairy products and juices.

 

What You Need To Know About Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant. This vitamin lessens oxidative stress and strengthens the immune system. Vitamin C also acts as a substrate for ascorbate peroxidases (enzymes that detoxify peroxides such as hydrogen peroxide). Other important roles include its ability to help make collagen, a tissue that is needed for a healthy bones, skin, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. Studies showed that vitamin C is essential in sperm production.

Recommended dietary intake for vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.

Food sources of vitamin C – black currant, red bell peppers, parsley, kiwi, broccoli, red currant, papaya, strawberry, orange, lemon, cantaloupe melon, cauliflower, garlic, grapefruit, raspberry, tangerine, passion fruit, spinach, raw green cabbage, lime, mango, cranberry, tomato, blueberry, pineapple etc. .

Two great sources of vitamin C are Kakadu plum and Camu Camu, but this food is not always available. Kakadu plum has the highest known vitamin C content, while Camu Camu has the second highest.

If the food rich in vitamin C is not consumed regularly, the deficiency of vitamin C is highly probable. The body can only store a certain amount of this vitamin. The deficiency causes scurvy and makes a person more susceptible to flu and cold.

Vitamin C has a low toxicity level. On the other hand, very high doses may cause indigestion, diarrhea and skin rashes. Iron poisoning can occur because of vitamin C deficiency.

 

What You Need To Know About Vitamin D?

This “sunshine” vitamin is essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus – minerals that are necessary for the development of bones, teeth and muscle structure. The mentioned characteristic of this vitamin is well known; however, another, probably more important, ability of this vitamin is less known. Vitamin D is a key vitamin for nervous system and the immune system. Moreover, vitamin D is essential for normal cell growth and maturation. Studies showed that this vitamin keeps cancer cells from growing and dividing. Scientists also confirmed its role in controlling infections.

Our skin produces most of the vitamin, thus it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The production of vitamin D is blocked by anything that blocks ultraviolet light (sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 8 or more, windows, clothes, smog, fog, and skin pigment also block vitamin D production). Remember that vitamin A (in retinol form) interferes with the synthesis and function of vitamin D. Make sure your daily intake of vitamin A is in beta-carotene form. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that becomes a powerful steroid hormone calsitriol. This hormone turns genes to make proteins essential to fight cancer. This amazing property is limited only by how much we go into the sun, and how much vitamin we take as a supplement.

The recommended daily intake is a minimum of 1,000 IU and it is associated with the lower risk of bone fractures, cancers (breast, colon, prostate) and multiple sclerosis.

Good sources of vitamin D are dairy products, oily fish, and breakfast cereals.

 

What You Need To Know About Vitamin E?

This vitamin is essential for the protection against free radical damage. As an antioxidant, vitamin E plays an important role in protecting fats, cell membranes, DNA, and enzyme synthesis against damage. It also protects the thymus gland and circulating white blood cells, thus the immune system.

Recommended daily intake of vitamin E from foods is 15 mg (the equivalent of 22 IU from natural sources and 33 IU in synthetic form).  Remember that glutathione helps maintain the vitamin and lower the required intake by recycling it.

Rich sources of vitamin E are natural vegetable oils (olive, sunflower, canola, safflower, and cottonseed). Vitamin E is found also in almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, olives, and peanut butter.

If you consume more than 1,000 mg of vitamin E (1,500 IU in natural form and 1,100 IU in synthetic form) it can cause cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and neurological problems.

 

What You Need To Know About Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is necessary for bone building and blood clotting. This vitamin helps make four proteins that are required for blood clotting.

Bacteria in the intestines produce vitamin K and the deficiency is very rare, unless the intestines are unable to absorb the vitamin K molecule. Intestines are also sometimes unable to produce vitamin K due to the antibiotics.

Recommended daily intake of vitamin K is 100 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women.

Foods rich in vitamin K are kiwi, avocado, kale, broccoli, parsley, spinach, and collard greens. Cooked leafy greens have 5 to 10 times more vitamin K than raw vegetables.

Continue reading about vitamins with second part of our vitamins series here What You Need To Know About Vitamins? Part II“.

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