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August 21, 2014

Vitamins

by Helene van den Berg

ORIGIN:

Natural vitamins are organic compounds found in living plants and animals. They are required in small amounts by the body for normal metabolic functions. Fewer than 20 vitamins have been discovered, but new substances have been discovered that work side by side with vitamins, called carotenoids, polyphenols and phytochemicals. These with vitamins are essential for proper growth, maintenance of health and prevention of disease. The body can’t make it’s own vitamins (therefore they are essential) and must be supplied in the diet or by supplements. The vitamins themselves can’t be converted into energy, but some are required in the process of energy production.

Supplementation with vitamins have become essential for the prevention and treatment of disease, because of the poor nutrient content of the soil, vitamin loss due to processing, storage of food and cooking methods.

ACTIONS:

Biochemical interactions of vitamins in the body stresses their importance: e.g. panthotenic acid (Vit B5) is needed for synthesis of coenzyme A, a crucial component of Krebs cycle energy product; Pyridoxine (Vit B6) is required for the transfer of amino groups, crucial for amino acid metabolism; riboflavin (vit B2) is needed for the activation of enzyme glutathione reductase, regenerating glutathione (antioxidant).

The body does not use vitamins as they occur in food – they must be transformed in their coenzyme/cofactor form to fulfill it’s role in metabolism e.g. niacin is transformed into NAD/NADP; riboflavin is transformed into FMN/FAD.

STRUCTURE:

Vitamins are individual units and not linked together (compared to glucose and amino acids). For example, vitamin B12 has a complex chemical structure that is centered about an atom of cobalt, bound to 4 nitrogen atoms (N) of a corrin ring system, to a nucleotide and to a cyanide group.

Nicotinic acid and nicotinamide are called the vitamin, niacin:

CLASSIFICATION:

Vitamins are classified according to their solubility in fat or water. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. Water-soluble include vitamins B and C.

WATER – SOLUBLE AND FAT-SOLUBLE VITAMINS COMPARED:

 

Water – Soluble vitamins:

Vitamins B and C

Fat– soluble vitamins:

Vitamins A, D, E, K

Absorption

Directly into the blood

First into lymph, then the blood

Transpodrt

Travel freely

Many require transport proteins

Storage

Circulate freely in water-filled parts of the body

Stored in the cells associated with fat and in liver

Excretion

Kidneys detect and remove excess in urine

Not easily excreted – tend to remain in fat-storage sites

Toxicity

Possible to reach toxic levels when consumed from supplements

Likely to reach toxic levels when consumed from supplements

Requirements

Needed in frequent doses

(1-3 days)

Needed in periodic doses

Perhaps weeks or months

 

Vitamins B can be subdivided into those influencing energy release, hematopoiesis (formation of blood) and other metabolic actions:

CLASSIFICATION OF B VITAMINS BY FUNCTION:

ENERGY METABOLISM:

  • (B1) Thiamin
  • (B2) Riboflavin
  • (B3) Niacin
  • (B5) Panthotenic acid
  • (B6) Pyridoxine! Biotin

HEMATOPOIESIS:

  • (B5) Panthotenic acid
  • (B6) Pyridoxine
  • (B12) Cobalamin, Folic acid

OTHER METABOLIC ACTIONS:

  • (B1) Thiamin
  • (B2) Riboflavin
  • (B3) Niacin
  • (B6) Pyridoxine
  • (B12) Cobalamin, Biotin

VITAMIN INSUFFICIENCY, DEFICIENCY AND BIOCHEMICAL INDIVIDUALITY:

Poor nutrition leads to vitamin insufficiency and deficiency symptoms. RDA (recommended daily allowance), RDI (recommended daily intake) and DRV (daily reference value) are community standards of estimated nutrient needs, for the prevention of overt nutritional diseases. They are not designed to optimize health and do not consider unique life circumstances, genetic heritage, personal history and biochemical individuality of the patient. A patient may require specific nutrients at levels well beyond those set forth by government agencies. Therefore a system of healthcare practice has emerged that focuses on the metabolic diversity unique to the individual patient. Therapeutic nutrition (remediation of illnesses) and clinical nutrition (functional medicine approach) focus on determining individual nutrient needs.

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