Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. The “K” is derived from the German word “koagulation.” Coagulation refers to the process of blood clot formation. There are two naturally occurring forms of vitamin K, vitamin K1, and vitamin K2.
Purpose: Experts say vitamin K is crucial for proper blood coagulation (clotting) – it helps make 4 of the 13 proteins required for blood clotting. It is also involved in maintaining good bone health as we age.
Your body needs vitamin K to use calcium to build bone. People who have higher levels of vitamin K have greater bone density, while low levels of vitamin K have been found in those with osteoporosis.
Sources: Good sources of vitamin K1 include spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocado, Kiwifruit, grapes, and parsley. Good sources of vitamin K2 include meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Recommended Daily Allowance: The recommended daily intake of vitamin K for men 19 years and older is 120 mcg. For women 19 years and older it is 90 mcg. My multivitamin has 25 mcg.
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider. Since vitamin K is made in the intestines, antibiotics can reduce the absorption. Also blood thinning drugs might be affected.
Vitamin K deficiency is extremely rare in healthy adults. This is because in addition to foods, the bacteria in your intestines can make vitamin K.
There is controversy over the relationship of vitamin K, vitamin D, and calcium. Dr. Mercola says, “there is new evidence that it is the vitamin K (specifically, vitamin K2) that directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”
The lesson here is that you shouldn’t play with vitamins. If you suspect a deficiency or you want to know more about the relationship between vitamins and minerals, then do some research or ask your healthcare provider.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties.
Purpose: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that prevents premature reaction to oxygen in the body and the breakdown of many substances in the body. It neutralizes free radicals in the body that would otherwise cause damage to cells and tissue, while aiding in circulation, clotting, and healing. Some studies have even shown that vitamin E decreases symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and certain types of breast disease. Other studies have shown that taking large doses of vitamin E has decreased the risk of Coronary Artery Disease.
Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells and it helps the body use vitamin K. It also helps widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting inside them.
Cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and carry out many important functions.
Sources: Most vegetable oils, wheat germ, soybean oil, raw seeds and nuts, egg yolk, whole grain products, beef liver, peanut butter, and unrefined cereal products are good sources of vitamin E.
Ten good sources are mustard greens, Swiss, kale and collard greens, nuts, tropical fruits,red bell peppers, broccoli, oils, and wheat.
Recommended Daily Allowance: Women need 8 mg and men require 10 mg of vitamin E on a daily basis. Though it’s almost impossible to have a vitamin E deficiency, too much can cause nausea and digestive track problems. Prolonged overexposure can lead to toxicity and other health problems. My multivitamin has 22.5 IU’s, which according to my calculations is 16.5 mg.
The highest safe level of vitamin E supplements for adults is 1,500 IU/day for natural forms of vitamin E, and 1,000 IU/day for the man-made (synthetic) form.
Too much vitamin E from supplements can lead to excessive bleeding, or hemorrhaging.
Here are some possible deficiency symptoms of Vitamin E in Adults: mild anemia, nonspecific neurological deficits, disorders related to reproduction and infertility, fragile red blood cells, age spots, cataracts, decline in sex drive, muscle or liver or bone marrow and brain function abnormalities.
It’s best if you discuss the choice of dosing and duration with a licensed healthcare professional.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in many important body functions. Sometimes this vitamin is known as the sunshine vitamin—not vitamin C—as you absorb it through the skin from direct sunlight.
The term “vitamin D” refers to several different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Plants synthesize Vitamin D2. Humans in the skin synthesize Vitamin D3 when they expose it to ultraviolet B rays from sunlight. Foods, which say fortified with vitamin D, will be either D2 or D3. Most recommend D3.
Purpose: Vitamin D is important in helping the body absorb calcium. It is also necessary in the utilization of phosphorous. Also known as Calciferol, it promotes strong bones and teeth, prevents rickets, supports muscle and nerve function, and, some studies have shown, helps prevent osteoporosis.
Larger doses of vitamin D appear to help, allergies, back pain, fibromyalgia, heart disease, mental health, multiple sclerosis, skin cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Sources: Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. Fortified milk and cereals, eggs, tuna, fish-liver oils, and sun exposure all help the body obtain vitamin D. Mushrooms are a non-animal product source of vitamin D. That’s funny because mushrooms are grown in the dark.
Recommended Daily Allowance: Men and women aged 19-50 should consume at least 200 IU of vitamin D on a daily basis. People over the age of 50 should consume at least 400 IU daily, as the body’s ability to convert sunlight to vitamin D decreases with age. My multivitamin has 60 mg, which according to my calculations is 1200 IU’s.
Research shows that as little as 10 minutes of exposure would be enough to prevent deficiencies.
While too little vitamin D can lead to weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures.
Excess vitamin D can cause the body to absorb too much calcium, leading to increased risk of heart attack and kidney stones. Too much vitamin D can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss. Prolonged exposure to too much vitamin D can lead to health problems and toxicity.
If you take, antacids, some cholesterol lowering drugs, some anti-seizure medications, or steroids, know that they all interfere with the absorption of vitamin D.
There is controversy in the medical field on how much is adequate. The main reason most of us lack adequate vitamin D is that we aren’t soaking up enough sun. when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays strike the skin, they stimulate our bodies’ production of vitamin D. Therein lies the problem. People are not outside as much. We drive to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Kids spend a great deal of time indoors. The elderly particularly stay indoors more. Recommendations are for more vitamin D such as 800 IU and for those getting no sunlight.
The ideal approach is to ask your doctor for a vitamin D blood test, which will eliminate the bulk of the guesswork — but not all of it. Because of individual differences in absorption and use, people may need to take differing quantities of vitamin D to achieve a healthy blood level. Make sure your doctor orders a “25-hydroxy vitamin D” test.
If you don’t currently have a significant deficiency and if during the summer, you spend a lot of time in the sun, with at least your arms and legs exposed, and you don’t cover yourself with sunscreen, you probably don’t need to take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, or simply ascorbate is an essential nutrient. Vitamin C works by helping to form and maintain collagen. Collagen is a protein that enhances the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Purpose: Vitamin C helps to heal wounds, prevent cell damage, promote healthy gums and teeth, strengthen the immune system, and absorb iron. It also helps neutralize free radicals in cells that promote aging, fight bacterial infections, and aid in the production of red blood cells.
Historically, vitamin C helped in the prevention and treatment of scurvy. Scurvy is now relatively rare, but it was once common among sailors, pirates, and others who spent long periods of time onboard ships.
Sources: Fresh fruit and berries (especially citrus fruits), green vegetables, onions, tomatoes, radishes, and rose hips are all excellent vitamin C sources.
Some sources with the highest levels of vitamin C are red and green hot chili peppers, Guavas, bell peppers, fresh herbs (thyme and parsley), dark leafy greens (kale, mustard greens), broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Kiwi Fruits, Papayas, oranges and Clementines (Tangerines), and strawberries. Notice the citrus fruits are down on the list.
Recommended Daily Allowances: Men and women should each consume at least 60 mg of vitamin C daily. Many things can increase the need of vitamin C in the body, including stress and smoking. For smokers, recommended intake increases to 110 mg for women and 125 mg for men. While not getting enough vitamin C can lead to scurvy, consuming more than 2000 mg on a daily basis can lead to headaches, increased urination, mild diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take more than the recommended amounts of Vitamin C.
Most excess vitamin C simply leaves the body with the urine, but continuous excessive doses can lead to bladder and kidney stones. Overdose of the vitamin can destroy B12, reduce the effectiveness of blood-thinners, lead to the loss of calcium, and cause diarrhea and nosebleed.
Some symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are fatigue, mood changes, weight loss, joint and muscle ache, bruising, dental conditions, dry hair and skin, and infections.
Vitamin B12 –Cobalamin
Vitamin B12, vitamin B12, or vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. All B vitamins help the body convert carbohydrates into fuel glucose to produce energy.
Purpose: Vitamin B12 works with folic acid to produce healthy red blood cells. In addition, it plays key roles in maintaining health of the nervous system, absorption of foods, protein synthesis, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and normal digestion.
Sources: You can find Vitamin B12 naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and in some fortified foods. Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless fortified. Recommended amounts of vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods including the following: liver, kidneys, muscle meats, fish, dairy products, meat, and eggs are all good sources of B12.
Recommended daily allowance: Both men and women need 2.0 mcg of B12 daily. Because B12 is water-soluble, it is constantly lost in urine when not used. B12 deficiency can lead to a type of anemia, walking and balance problems, sore tongue, weakness, confusion, and in advanced cases, dementia. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take more than 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg of B12, respectively. People over the age of 50 may need B12 supplementation as the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food sources diminishes.
My multivitamin supplies 18 mcg. We also eat lots of meat.
Vegans need to supplement B12 as it comes through animal products only.
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue.
The stomach acids that aid in the natural breakdown of food also breakdown Vitamin B12 pill supplements. The body will only absorb a small amount of the actual B12 from a pill. In addition, as you get older your body’s ability to absorb B12 through digestion continually decreases. In fact, many adults are unable to absorb B12 into their body at all! Injections provide a direct method of supplying your body with the Vitamin B12.
There doesn’t seem to be any toxic results to overdoses of B12.
Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid
Vitamin B9, also called folate, folic acid, or vitamin M is one of eight (8) B vitamins. (And, no you can’t take double the amount and call it M&M). All B vitamins help the body convert carbohydrates into fuel glucose to produce energy.
Purpose: Folic acid is important for proper brain function and plays a significant role in mental and emotional health. It aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material, and is especially important when cells and tissues are growing rapidly, such as in infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy. Folic acid also works closely with vitamin B12 to help make red blood cells and helps iron work properly in the body.
Research shows that folic acid is effective in lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is a form of amino acid that is present in certain meats, and it can cause damage to arterial walls, which will in turn lead to the occurrence of atherosclerosis. This condition causes diseases such as stroke and heart diseases.
Sources: Here are some of the foods in order from highest to lowest to eat to get your folic acid: cereals (fortified), lentils, spinach, asparagus, pasta, rice, almonds, broccoli, cashews, endive lettuce, egg noodles, parsnip, walnuts, avocado, turnip, cheddar cheese, grapefruit, onions, raspberries, sweet potato, banana, and apple.
Recommended daily Allowances: The recommended allowance for 19 years and older is 400 mcg. My multivitamin has 400 mcg.
High levels of folate can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency. Also many medications lower folic acid in the body.
If you take medications, you should not use folic acid supplements without first talking to your health care provider.
Some of the folic acid deficiency symptoms include no appetite, intestinal and stomach problems such as constipation and diarrhea, smooth, red painful tongue, fatigue and tiredness, anemia, insomnia, mental fatigue, poor memory, prematurely graying hair, and cracked lips.
B7 – Biotin
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, and sometimes vitamin H, is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin.
Purpose: B7 helps the body metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also helps the body process glucose. It also contributes towards healthy nails, skin, and hair. Many cosmetic products use it is for the skin and hair. However, it is not absorbed through hair or skin. In fact, vitamin H came from the German word for hair.
It helps in several metabolic reactions, which includes helping to transfer CO2 (carbon dioxide).
Vitamin B7 or Biotin is helpful in reducing surplus fat from human body and maintaining it in a good shape. Doctors often recommend food rich in vitamin B7 in their daily diet plan for people suffering from overweight.
Vitamin B7 is helpful in ensuring proper functioning of heart by relieving it from most crucial problems. It helps in reducing the level of cholesterol from the human body.
Sources: The following foods are sources for B7: egg yolk (raw), liver, peanuts, yeast, bread – whole-wheat, cheddar cheese, pork, salmon, avocado, raspberries, cauliflower (raw)
Recommended Daily Allowances: Adults over the age of 18 and pregnant women need 30 mcg of vitamin B-7 a day to adequately meet the body’s needs. Lactating women need 35 mcg a day. My multivitamin has 30 mcg.
As usual if you are taking medications, check with doctor or pharmacist for possible interactions.
No toxicity has been reported with biotin intake.
Some of the signs of B7 deficiency are hair loss, fatigue and depression, nausea, muscle pains, and anemia.
Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine
Vitamin B6, called pyridoxine, is one of eight (8) B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert food carbohydrates into glucose, producing energy. Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, or pyridoxine hydrochloride
Purpose: The body needs vitamin B6 for more than 100 enzyme reactions involved in metabolism. Vitamin B6 is also involved in brain development during pregnancy and infancy as well as immune function. Other benefits of B6 are to make antibodies. You need antibodies to fight many diseases; maintain normal nerve function; make hemoglobin—hemoglobin carries oxygen in the red blood cells to the tissues. A vitamin B6 deficiency can cause a form of anemia; break down protein. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need; it keeps blood sugar (glucose) in normal ranges.
Sources: Meats, whole grain products, bananas, green leafy vegetables, pecans, eggs, and milk are excellent sources of B6. The following foods have vitamin B6: chickpeas, beef liver, tuna, salmon, chicken breast, cereals fortified, potatoes, turkey, banana, marinara, ground beef, waffles, cottage cheese, squash, nuts, and spinach.
Recommended daily intake: Women require 1.6 mg of B6 daily, while men need 2 mg. Daily intake over 250 mg can lead to nerve damage. Pregnant women should not take more than the recommended amount as it could harm a developing fetus. You must replenish B6 every day since it is a water-soluble vitamin. Any unused B-6 goes into the urine, thus you need new sources every day. My multivitamin has 3 mg pyridoxine hydrochloride.
Low levels of vitamin B6 may be a key factor involved with chronic inflammation in the body. Most people can get enough B6 through a good diet.
As always, check with health care provider if you are taking medications.
B5 – Pantothenic acid
Here is one vitamin with which I wasn’t familiar. Vitamin B5, also called pantothenic acid, is one of eight (8) B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert carbohydrates into glucose and used to produce energy.
Purpose: Along with playing a role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy, vitamin B5 is critical to the manufacture of red blood cells, as well as sex and stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands, Adrenal glands are small glands that sit atop the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress through the synthesis of corticosteroids such as cortisol and catecholamine such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. They also produce androgens. The adrenal glands affect kidney function through the secretion of aldosterone, a hormone involved in regulating the osmolality of blood plasma. Vitamin B5 is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and it helps the body use other vitamins, particularly B2 or riboflavin. Some call it the “anti-stress” vitamin, but there is no real evidence whether it helps the body withstand stress.
Several small, double-blind studies suggest that pantethine may help reduce triglycerides, or fats, in the blood in people who have high cholesterol. In some of these studies, pantethine has also helped lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. In some open studies, pantethine seems to lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in people with diabetes.
Sources: Pantothenic acid gets its name from the Greek root pantos, meaning “everywhere,” because it is available in a wide variety of foods. A lot of vitamin B5 is lost when you process food, however. Fresh meats, vegetables, and whole grains unprocessed have more vitamin B5 than refined, canned, and frozen food. The best sources are brewer’s yeast, corn, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, legumes, lentils, egg yolks, beef (especially organ meats such as liver and kidney), turkey, duck, chicken, milk, split peas, peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, whole-grain breads and cereals, lobster, wheat germ, and salmon.
According to one website, the following are the top 10: liver, bran (rice and wheat), sunflower seeds, whey powder, mushrooms, caviar, cheese, sun-dried Tomatoes, fish, and avocados.
Recommended Daily Allowances: Adult 19 and older recommendation is 5 mg. My multivitamin has 5 mg.
B5 can interfere with medications so you should not use vitamin B5 supplements without first talking to your health care provider.
Consider vitamin B5 safe at doses equal to the daily intake, and at moderately higher doses. Very high doses may cause diarrhea and may increase the risk of bleeding.
B3 – Niacin
Most B vitamins have alternate names that are more common and perhaps easier to remember. B3 is one of eight (8) B vitamins. It is also known as niacin (nicotinic acid) and has 2 other forms, niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate, which have different effects from niacin.
Purpose: Niacin also helps the body make various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Niacin helps improve circulation.
Having enough niacin or vitamin B3, in the body is important for general good health. As a treatment, higher amounts of niacin can improve cholesterol levels and lower cardiovascular risks. I remember taking large doses of niacin as a recommendation on a diet I was doing. It has weird side effects until you get used to it.
A deficiency of niacin leads to pellagra, a condition characterized by diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, inflammation of the mouth, amnesia, delirium, and if left untreated, death. Even a slight deficiency of niacin can lead to irritability, poor concentration, anxiety, fatigue, restlessness, apathy, and depression.
Sources: Niacin occurs naturally in many foods, including greens, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, though in a fraction of the dose shown to achieve changes in cholesterol. Many products fortify with niacin during manufacture. Some foods high in niacin: roasted chicken breast, tuna, salmon, liver, halibut, lamb, deer meat (venison), roasted turkey breast, mushrooms, and beef tenderloin. Non-meat sources are bran, yeast, peanuts, paprika, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Recommended Daily Allowance: The recommended daily dose for men is 16 milligrams daily. For women the recommendation is 14 milligrams daily. The maximum is 35 milligrams daily. My Multivitamin has 16 mg.
Niacin and niacinamide are likely safe for most people when taken by mouth. A common minor side effect of niacin is a flushing reaction. This might cause burning, tingling, itching, and redness of the face, arms, and chest, as well as headaches. Starting with small doses of niacin and taking 325 mg of aspirin before each dose of niacin will help reduce the flushing reaction. Usually, this reaction goes away as the body gets used to the medication. Other minor side effects of niacin and niacinamide are stomach upset, intestinal gas, dizziness, pain in the mouth, and other problems.