It is known that many people are deficient in some minerals
and vitamins, and I've included information on such deficiencies
when I'm aware of it. Taking a multivitamin-mineral
supplement was helpful. As far as I know, the following
was based on people who ate typical western diets (USA Weekend
- 10 out of 13 studies showed improvements in children's'
IQ scores. (British studies?)
- Reduced infections (e.g. flu) by 40% in diabetics and 50% in
elderly versus placebo (UNC and Canadian studies).
- Reduced heart attacks 20% (men) to 35% (women) (Swedish study).
- Vitamins containing folic acid reduced colon cancer 50% in women
with family history (Harvard study).
- Taking for more than 10 years reduced cataracts 60% (U. Wisc.
There are four fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E,
and K. They can be stored in fatty tissue, making overdose easier. Removal of the gall
bladder can make absorption of A, D, E, and K difficult. Take them with food
containing oil or in gel cap form.
The remaining vitamins (mainly B and C) are water soluble
and eliminated rather quickly. Thus overdosing is difficult and
the vitamins should be consumed (food and/or supplement) on a nearly
Some National Academy of Sciences intake recommendations.
Avoid high doses.
Beta carotene, a water soluble vitamin A precursor, is a safer
alternative (10,000IU was recommended). Excess
(10,000 IU per day) early in pregnancy led to more birth defects,
but beta carotene did not (SN 10/14/95 p.244). Can block
absorption of vitamin D, but beta carotene does not. Deficiency
rare. Excess can apparently cause problems with vitamin D usage.
most yellow & orange vegetables, apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes,
- B several compounds,
They often play a role in neurological
including treatment of tinnitus and prevention of Alzheimer's
and other mental decline. High blood levels of homocysteine have
been linked to a variety of problems, including heart disease, stroke
and Alzheimer's. Various B vitamins, especially folate, B6 and
B12 reduce levels of homocysteine (SN 3/2/02, p.161).
Absorption of some B vitamins can be impaired,
especially in older people. Sublingual may work, but injections
might be needed. Compounding the problem is that many drugs often
taken by older people deplete folic acid
and/or B12. These include NSAIDS (anti-inflammatories),
anti-diabetic agents and cholesterol medicines (Alt 5/04 p.86).
- folate [folic acid] an antioxidant.
Essential in DNA synthesis and repair (SN 11/6/99 p.295).
Needed during pregnancy to reduce risk of cleft palate, spina bifida,
and childhood leukemia (SN 8/19/95 p.127, 1/5/02 p.8). Folate, B6
& C fight stroke
and heart disease
by reducing homocysteine (SN 2/14/98). May help prevent
heart disease and stroke. May help with depression. At
least 200mg/day reduces risk of colon cancer (SN 4/20/02).
The synthetic form (folic acid) can cause an allergic
reaction (SN 3/30/96 p.198).
avocado, asparagus, oranges, green leaves, broccoli, oats, legumes,
- niacin Nicotinic
acid (B3) is a better source that niacinamide,
so check this if you're taking a supplement. For example,
nicotinic acid helps cholesterol (raises HDL & lowers LDL), but
niacinamide does not. Helps prevent mental decline and Alzheimer's.
lean meats, legumes, milk, coffee, tea, fortified flours and cereals
- B5 May help with constipation.
- B6 May help with depression. Folate,
B6, B12 & C fight stroke
and heart disease by reducing homocysteine (SN 2/14/98; 2/16/02).
fish, bananas, potatoes, avocado, whole grains, meats
- B12 It is
estimated that over 1/4 of the population is deficient, especially
older people and those with digestive tract problems due to reduced
absorption. Laxatives and antacids interfere with
absorption. Since B12 is stored in the liver, deficiency may show up years after diet becomes
deficient. B12 deficiency can
lead to impaired nerve function. Treatments using methyl-B12
helped Lou Gehrig's disease, MS,
and (in mice) muscular dystrophy;
however large doses (25-60 mg daily for a month were required. (The
Doctors' Prescription for Healthy Living 7 (2003) no.8 p.43, citing
Internal Medicine and Neuroscience Letters
articles) I found that Jarrow makes 5,000 mcg (5mg) sublingual
bacteria--not foods. Sources of bacteria: Ruminants have B12
because of bacteria in gut. Some root crops (esp. organic) contain bacteria in
nodules. Unwashed produce often has
bacteria (and B12) on it.
Sublingual B12 supplements are available and one or two per week is
plenty. (HS Jan. 00 p.14)
- C an antioxidant. Folate, B6 & C
fight stroke and heart disease by
reducing homocysteine (SN 2/14/98). Alpha-lipoic helps
regenerate C & E. Generally large doses appear not to be a
problem, but there may be problems in some cases, e.g. for diabetics.
Many fruits and vegetables, e.g., bell peppers citrus, most berries,
pineapple, papaya, cruciferous vegetables, tomato, green leaves, potato
- C-Ester a fat soluble form of vitamin
C. Consequently it can reach areas not accessible to (water
soluble) natural vitamin C, remains in the body longer, and is more
stable. Also, it is milder on the digestive system than
large doses of vitamin C.
- D can be synthesized in
sunlight (frequent bathing reduces synthesis). Deficiency is widespread:
in one study (SN
3/21/98 p.182), 2/3 of the people tested in March and 1/2 of those
tested in September had low levels in
blood---and recommended levels are higher now than in 1998.
Excess vitamin A can block
absorption of D. Needed to absorb calcium, so low levels may be
linked to osteoporosis.
It may indirectly reduce incidence of colon cancer and MS. It
can help with hypertension.
Recommended amount: 800 IU per day (Alt. 4/02 citing Eur. J. Clin.
Nutr. 01; 55(12):1091-7), but elderly (70+) probably need more
(1200 IU?) (SN 10/16/04 p.249). Apparently helps prevent
some cancers (including skin) with strongest evidence for colon cancer.
Two articles of interest: SN 10/9/04 p.232, SN 10/16/04 p.248.
oily fish (e.g. salmon, tuna). Exposure to sunlight, without sunscreen, causes vitamin D
production. Amount of exposure needed depends on time of
year/day, amount of bare skin and skin color; e.g., non-winter, bare
armed, 15 minutes daily is enough for Caucasians. The D2 form is
common in supplements, but the D3 form is more potent.
Magnesium is needed for
vitamin D usage and 70% of people lack adequate
magnesium (HFN 8/98 p.15).
- E an antioxidant. Enhances
the immune system. Helps reduce short-term memory loss in elderly
(World Alzheimer's Conference 7/11/00). 1200 IU of vitamin E
[no mention of lower levels] daily lowered inflammation in both
healthy people and those with adult-onset diabetes (SN 11/11/00 p.311
per Lancet 357 (2001) p.251). Alpha-lipoic and coenzyme Q10 help regenerate
vitamin E usage and 70% of people lack adequate
magnesium (HFN 8/98 p.15). Excess
vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) reduces gamma-tocopherol, which is
an antioxidant that complements vitamin E and fights heart disease and
cancer better than vitamin E (SN 4/5/97 p.207), so, if taking
supplements, take mixed tocopherols. Megadoses inhibit clotting by blocking vitamin K
(SN 9/9/95 p.175).
vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, whole grains
- K a coenzyme for
synthesizing proteins for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
reduce absorption, which is especially bad since most salad dressings
contain a lot of polyunsaturates and so block vitamin K
absorption. Aspirin and sulfa drugs destroy vitamin K. (Alt. 1/01)
green vegetables; intestinal flora provide some