Vitamins and Healthy Living
A generic term for a group of entities that include retinal compounds,
and the pro-vitamin beta carotene. In its natural state it is found in
foods of animal origin, such as liver and egg yolks. Vitamin A requires
some fat to be present in the digestive tract in order to be absorbed,
and goes into the system better (more readily) than carotenoids. It is
used for growth and maintenance of epithelial tissues which include the
cornea of the eye, all mucous membranes, and the linings of the GI
tract, lungs, vagina, urinary system, and skin. Vitamin A is stored in
the liver, therefore a daily intake is not essential.
Necessary for growth & repair of body tissues; helps maintain smooth,
soft disease-free skin; helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth,
nose , throat & lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infections;
protects against air pollutants; counteracts night-blindness & weak
eyesight; aids in bone and teeth formation. Current medical research
shows that foods rich in Beta Carotene will help reduce the risk of lung
cancer & certain oral cancers. Unlike Vitamin A from fish liver oil,
Beta Carotene is non-toxic. A deficiency may result in night blindness;
increased susceptibility to infections; rough, dry, scaly skin; loss of
smell & appetite; frequents fatigue; lack of tearing; defective teeth &
gums' retarded growth.
A water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and
development. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is found in green peppers, citrus
fruits including kiwis, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens
and other greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe. Most other
fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C; fish and milk contain
small amounts. Vitamin C promotes healthy teeth and gums, helps in the
absorption of iron, aids in the maintenance of normal connective tissue,
and promotes wound healing. It also helps the body's immune system.
A fat-soluble vitamin that is used in the absorption of calcium. It is
found in cheese, butter, margarine, cream, fortified milk (all milk in
the United States is fortified with Vitamin D), fish, oysters, and
fortified cereals. Vitamin D promotes the body’s absorption of calcium,
which is essential for the normal development of healthy teeth and
bones. It also helps maintain adequate blood levels of the minerals
calcium and phosphorus.
A major anti-oxidant nutrient; retards cellular aging due to oxidation;
supplies oxygen to the blood which is then carried to the heart and
other organs; thus alleviating fatigue; aids in bringing nourishment to
cells; strengthens the capillary walls & prevents the red blood cells
from destructive poisons; prevents & dissolves blood clots; has also
been used by doctors in helping prevent sterility, muscular dystrophy,
calcium deposits in blood walls and heart conditions. Deficiency may
lead to a rupture of red blood cells, loss of reproductive powers, lack
of sexual vitality, abnormal fat deposits in muscles, degenerative
changes in the changes in the heart and other muscles; dry skin.
A fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting. It
is found in cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, other green leafy vegetables,
cereals, soybean. It is also made by the bacteria lining the
gastrointestinal tract. Newborn babies have to be given a vitamin K
injection because they lack this bacteria. It is not found in breast
milk. Vitamin K is known as the clotting vitamin, because without it
blood would not clot.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
Plays a key role in the body's metabolic cycle for generating energy;
aids in the digestion of carbohydrates; essential for the normal
functioning of the nervous system, muscles & heart; stabilizes the
appetite; promotes growth & good muscle tone. Deficiency may lead to the
loss of appetite ; weakness & feeling tired; paralysis & nervous
irritability; insomnia; loss of weight; vague aches & pains; mental
depression & constipation; heart & gastrointestinal problems.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
A water-soluble vitamin required by the body for health, growth and
reproduction; one of the B-complex vitamins. Lean meats, eggs, legumes,
nuts, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, and milk provide
riboflavin in the diet. Breads and cereals are often fortified with
riboflavin. Because riboflavin is destroyed by exposure to light, foods
with riboflavin should not be stored in glass containers that are
exposed to light. It works with the other B vitamins. It is important
for body growth and red cell production, and helps in releasing energy
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Improves circulation and reduces the cholesterol level in the blood;
maintains the nervous system; helps metabolize protein, sugar & fat;
reduces high blood pressure; increases energy through proper utilization
of food; prevents pellagra; helps maintain a healthy skin, tongue &
digestive system. Deficiency may result in pellagra, gastrointestinal
disturbance, nervousness, headaches, fatigue, mental depression, vague
aches & pains, irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia, skin disorders,
muscular weakness, indigestion, bad breath, canker sores.
A water-soluble vitamin; part of the vitamin B complex. Vitamin B-6 is
found in beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish, whole grains, and
fortified breads and cereals. It plays a role in the synthesis of
antibodies in the immune system. It helps maintain normal brain
function, and acts in the formation of red blood cells. It is also
required for the chemical reactions of proteins. The higher the protein
intake, the more the need for vitamin B6.
A water-soluble vitamin; part of the vitamin B complex. It is found in
eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, milk, and milk products. Like the other
B vitamins, it is important for metabolism. It helps in the formation of
red blood cells, and in the maintenance of the central nervous system.
Very important in controlling fat & cholesterol buildup in the body;
prevents fat from accumulating in the liver; facilitates the movement of
fats in the cells; helps regulate the kidneys, liver & gallbladder;
important for nerve transmission; helps improve memory. Deficiency may
result in cirrhosis and fatty degeneration of the liver, hardening of
the arteries, heart problems, high blood pressure, hemorrhaging kidneys.
Necessary for DNA & RNA synthesis, which is essential for the growth and
reproduction of all body cells; essential to the formation of red blood
cells by its action on the bone marrow; aids in amino acid metabolism.
Deficiency may result in gastrointestinal disorders, anemia, Vitamin
B-12 deficiency, pre-mature gray hair.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
A water-soluble vitamin that is sometimes called an "anti-stress"
supplement. It is converted to coenzyme A, which is a catalyst of
acetylation reactions, and is involved in the synthesis of the
neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Coenzyme A also plays an important role
in the synthesis of phospholipids, cholesterol, and the numerous
biochemicals that are made from cholesterol (steroid hormones, and
vitamin D). Vitamin B-5 is also involved in the metabolism of
carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
Builds and maintains bones and teeth; regulates heart rhythm; eases
insomnia; helps regulate the passage of nutrients in and out of the cell
walls; assists in normal blood clotting; helps maintain proper nerve and
muscle function; lowers blood pressure; important to normal kidney
function, reduces the incidence of colon cancer, and reduces blood
cholesterol levels. Deficiency may result in arm and leg muscles spasms,
softening of bones, back and leg cramps, brittle bones, rickets, poor
growth, osteoporosis ( a deterioration of the bones), tooth decay,
An essential mineral that is not made by the body and must be obtained
from the diet. The best source of chromium is brewer's yeast, but a
large percentage of individuals do not tolerate brewer's yeast because
it causes abdominal distention (a "bloated" feeling) and nausea. The
other good sources of chromium are beef, liver, eggs, chicken, oysters,
wheat germ, green peppers, apples, bananas, spinach, and butter. Black
pepper and molasses are also good sources of chromium, but they are
normally consumed only in small amounts. Chromium is important in the
metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Chromium stimulates fatty acid and
cholesterol synthesis and is an activator of several enzymes.
Its major function is to combine with protein and copper in making
hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood from the lungs to
the tissues which need oxygen to maintain basic life functions. Iron
builds up the quality of the blood and increases resistance to stress
and disease. It is also necessary for the formation of myoglobin which
is found only in muscle tissue. Myoglobin supplies oxygen to muscle
cells for use in the chemical reaction that results in muscle
contraction. Iron also prevent fatigue and promotes good skin tone.
Deficiency may result in weakness, paleness of skin, constipation,
Plays an important role in regulating the neuromuscular activity of the
heart; maintains normal heart rhythm; necessary for proper calcium &
Vitamin C metabolism; converts blood sugar into energy. Deficiency may
result in calcium depletion, heart spasms, nervousness, muscular
excitability, confusion; kidney stones.
Phosphorus is a mineral that makes up 1% of the total body weight. It is
present in every cell of the body, but 85% of the body’s phosphorus is
found in the bones and teeth. The main food sources are the protein food
groups of meat and milk. A meal plan that provides adequate amounts of
calcium and protein also provides an adequate amount of phosphorus.
Whole-grain breads and cereals contain more phosphorus than refined
cereals and breads made from refined flour. However, the phosphorus in
whole-grain products is in the form of phytin, a storage form of
phosphorus that is not absorbed by humans. Fruits and vegetables contain
only small amounts of phosphorus.
Works with sodium to regulate the body's waste balance and normalize
heart rhythms; aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain;
preserves proper alkalinity of body fluids; stimulates the kidneys to
eliminate poisonous body wastes; assists in reducing high blood
pressure; promotes healthy skin. Deficiency may result in poor reflexes,
nervous disorders, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, muscle damage.
An essential trace element. It is an integral part of enzymes. Fish,
shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, liver, and garlic are all
good sources of selenium. The amount of selenium in vegetables is
dependent on the selenium content of the soil. Brewer's yeast and wheat
germ, both considered "health foods," are also good sources of selenium.
Selenium has a variety of functions. The main one is its role as an
antioxidant in the enzyme selenium-glutathione-peroxidase. Selenium also
seems to stimulate antibody formation in response to vaccines. It also
may provide protection from the toxic effects of heavy metals and other
substances. It may assist in the synthesis of protein, in growth and
development, and in fertility, especially in men. Selenium has been
shown to improve the production of sperm and sperm motility.
An antioxidant nutrient; necessary for protein synthesis; wound healing;
vital for the development of the reproductive organs, prostate functions
and male hormone activity; it governs the contractility of muscles;
important for blood stability; maintains the body's alkaline balance;
helps in normal tissue function; aids in the digestion and metabolism of
phosphorus. Deficiency may result in delayed sexual maturity, prolonged
healing wounds, white spots on finger nails, retarded growth, stretch
marks, fatigue, decreased alertness, susceptibility to infections.