Fat Soluble Vitamins

Facts You May Not Know About Fat Soluble Vitamins

By Pamela Avery M.D.

Vitamins are vital in human nutrition but for the most part cannot be manufactured by your body. Therefore, you have to get vitamins from a healthy diet. Vitamins actually work as essential co-factors for properly regulating your body’s metabolic reactions and biochemical processes.

When your diet is deficient in vitamins, many biological functions are disrupted, resulting in sub-optimal health as well as a wide variety of disease conditions specifically related to nutrient imbalances. Vitamins are classified as fat soluble and water soluble. This means they are dissolved and stored in either the fatty tissues of your body or the water tissues.

Water soluble vitamins, vitamin C and B complexes, are easily excreted by your body through the urine. They cannot be stored in your body for future use and require daily intake for maximal health.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the reserves of fatty body tissues and can therefore be drawn upon when they are not obtained daily from the diet. This makes them very available for a period of time even if your diet becomes extremely deficient. Ultimately, however, the reserve of fat soluble vitamins can be depleted and will need to be replenished from your diet. Because these fat soluble vitamins are not easily excreted by your body, excessive intake of fat soluble vitamins can cause toxicity. The fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A was the first vitamin to be discovered and officially named, hence its letter A. Vitamin A is actually a group of nutrients that include retinol, retinal, and the carotenoids. Retinol and retinal are both known as preformed vitamin A and are found in a variety of animal foods, especially liver. Butter, cream, egg yolk, fish oils, and whole and fortified nonfat milk are all good sources of preformed vitamin A.

Carotenoids refer to over 500 substances which naturally occur in fruits and vegetables. Some 50 carotenoids act as precursors to vitamin A, with beta-carotene being the most well-known and most prevalent in foods. Lycopene is another well-studied carotenoid now known for its important role in healing. It is found in abundant levels in tomatoes.

The best food sources of carotenoids are yellow and dark green vegetables, orange fruits, tomatoes, watermelons, and cherries. Orange fruits and green, leafy, and yellow vegetables are all loaded with various precursor carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Vitamin A is important for a wide variety of functions in your body. It supports eyesight, healthy teeth and skin, bone growth, cell differentiation, and tissue repair. Vitamin A also plays an important role in maintaining proper function of the cornea, lungs, mucus membranes, the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and the bladder and urinary tract. It also acts as an antioxidant which in turn helps prevent inflammation and regulates infectious disease. In addition, it is needed for the production of various anti-tumor compounds in your body, making it a powerful nutrient in the prevention of cancer.

Vitamin A can be depleted in the body by stress and illness as well as alcohol consumption. Alcohol can interfere with vitamin A absorption. A common symptom of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness but can also include sub-optimum bone and tooth formation, eye inflammation, impaired immune response and even weight loss. An unusual condition, keratinosis (hardened pigmented deposits around hair follicles on the body’s upper and lower extremities) is another symptom of vitamin A deficiency.

Carotenoids, those precursor molecules to vitamin A, also act as antioxidants in the body. They are also capable of minimizing the formation of abnormal and precancerous cells, those cells that can over time turn into full-blown cancers. They also prevent age-related vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration. Some researchers also speculate that carotenoids can improve immune function by stimulating antibodies, lymphocytes, and natural killer as well as T-helper cells – all part of the immune system. Symptoms of carotenoid deficiency can include diminished immune function, increased free radical damage, and increased susceptibility to some cancers and cardiovascular illness.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D occurs in your body in ten different forms, D1- D10. The two most vital forms are D2 and D3. While the best food sources of vitamin D are cod liver and fish liver oils, butter, egg yolk, liver, vitamin D-fortified milk, and oily fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, and salmon, your body can also manufacture vitamin D in the skin when it comes in contact with the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, if you live in areas riddled with smog, located in high latitudes with less sunlight year round, are indoors a lot, you may not get adequate exposure to sunlight for optimal vitamin D production. As well, strict vegetarians and vegans may not get adequate vitamin D through the diet. If you fall into any of these categories, you should consider supplementing with at least 2000 IUs of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is intimately intertwined with calcium absorption and regulation in your body. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium from the food you eat as it moves through the GI tract. In addition, it is necessary for the utilization of calcium and phosphorous once it is absorbed, both of which are integral components of healthy bones and teeth. It supports proper function of the nervous system including the regulation of mood. Vitamin D also maintains cardiovascular health as well as normal blood clotting. Of course, it plays a prominent role in childhood growth.

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency were initially noted in children. Children with specific skeletal abnormalities (rickets) were found to respond to increased levels of vitamin D. Adults signs of Vitamin D deficiency often manifest as a softening of the bones (osteomalacia) or osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to inflammatory conditions, some tumors and even mood disorders like depression. Vitamin D levels can now be detected in the blood. Low levels may require large doses to restore the body’s stores. 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day may be necessary to replenish a deficiency.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is not a single substance, but actually refers to a group of substances known as tocopherols. The most active form of vitamin E in your body is d-alpha tocopherol, which is also the form that is most prevalent in nature. We get vitamin E in our diet from seed and vegetable oils, especially saffower oil. Wheat germ, wheat germ oil, nuts, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, butter, and egg yolk all contain natural sources of vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and works in combination with other antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium to minimize the effects of free radical damage as well as an anti-tumor agent. In addition, it is an important nutrient for the nervous, reproductive, and skeletal systems, as well as for muscle tissue and red blood cells and corpuscles. It’s useful for skin health and can be applied topically for treating burns, wounds, abrasions, lesions and dry skin.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K also occurs in different forms: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone), both of which occur naturally, and K3 (menadione), a synthetic version. K3, menadione, is twice as active biologically than the natural forms but is only administered to people who have difficulty utilizing the natural forms. Amazingly, in addition to being available from your diet, approximately half of the body’s vitamin K needs are met by the biosynthesis of various bacteria in the intestines. Antibiotics in our food chain or your medical care can deplete the gut of normal levels of healthy bacteria. The lack of healthy bacteria in turn decreases vitamin K. You can restore these healthy bacteria to your GI tract using probiotics (healthy bacteria) which in turn can help restore vitamin K levels. Food rich in vitamin K include dark green leafy vegetables, kelp, alfalfa, egg yolk, yogurt, fish liver oils, and legumes, as well as safflower oil and blackstrap molasses.

Vitamin K’s principle function in the body is to create normal blood clotting, especially in the formation of various proteins involved in the coagulation process. Vitamin K is the one fat soluble vitamin your body is capable of manufacturing. Since the body is able to manufacture its own supply of vitamin K, deficiencies are rare. However, difficulty in absorption in the GI tract, overuse of antibiotics (which destroy healthy intestinal bacteria), and poor liver function or liver disease can create a deficiency state. This can lead to abnormal bleeding or hemorrhaging.

While vitamin K1 and K3 can interfere with the anti-coagulant effect of blood thinners such as coumadin, one form of vitamin K, vitamin K2, doesn’t. This may be due to the active effect of vitamin K1 and K3 in the liver to impact metabolism of these drugs. K2 on the other hand, has a very specific targeted effect on the bones, directing vitamin D into the bone structure for maximal effect.

Vitamins A,E, D and K, the fat soluble vitamins, as well as the carotenoids are important vitamins for your body’s overall health. Eating a diet rich in green leafy vegetables as well as colorful vegetables of the orange variety (sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, watermelons and cherries)will supply a lot of your body’s needs. Adding smart supplements will make sure that your body gets all it needs to function at its best.

Dr. Pamela Avery, the Natural MD, is a board-certified physician and specialist of over 30 years in the management of chronic disease through natural methods. She offers free articles, weekly newsletters and online chronic disease management lifestyle coaching. She has developed a lifestyle system for chronic pain entitled “Live Pain Free! 6 Steps to a Pain Free Life.” It can be accessed at drpamavery.com.

Vitamin B12 Health Benefits

The numerous vitamin B12 health benefits are based on the various illnesses this unique vitamin prevents.

Vitamin B12 Aids Metabolism

Vitamin B12 is essential to cellular reproduction and repair. It is absolutely vital in the metabolizing of fats and carbohydrates, and is required to the metabolism for each cell in the human body. Vitamin B12 is essential to the creation and maintenance of DNA (the body’s genetic substance). Without it, cellular reproduction cannot occur.

Vitamin B12 And Weight Loss

Vitamin B12 is important to the formation of red blood cells. Red blood cells deliver oxygen for the many trillions of body cells. The improved metabolism as a result of improved oxygen delivery allows the body to function at a better degree of efficiency. This higher operating metabolism means the body burns up those unwanted calories a lot more efficiently. If you have been struggling to lose off those unwelcome pounds after a period of poor dietary habits, you may very well be experiencing deficiencies in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 Promotes Energy

Because vitamin B12 is necessary to the formation of red blood cells as well as the things red blood cells do for your body (providing life-giving oxygen to the body’s trillions of cells), vitamin B12 benefits your body in combating anemia. Those suffering from fatigue would do well to consult a physician and be tested for a possible vitamin B12 insufficiency.

What lots of people don’t realize is the level of damage done to the body with a steady diet of refined, processed food deficient in the naturally occurring nutrition in the foods we’re intended to eat. Lots of people trying to lose unwanted fat report having great difficulty losing body fat. They know that there’s something wrong with their body’s metabolism. A large element of that difficulty might be linked to vitamin B12 levels.

Keep in mind that, in large part, vitamin B12 health benefits are because it is a water soluble vitamin. Because it’s water soluble, the body will accept and store what it needs. If there’s an excess, it’s going to be eliminated with the urine, although not at the rate of other water soluble vitamins. There’s no evidence that there is a danger in getting too much vitamin B12, but it is vital that excess be avoided when taking any supplements.

A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to any number of illnesses such as tiredness, anemia, mental quality, irregularity, appetite loss, eyesight problems, depression, bad memory, soreness of the mouth, asthma and also low sperm count. Nonetheless, severe vitamin B12 deficit is rare as the internal organs store sufficient vitamin B12 to last a few years before significant symptoms develop. Still, the amount of people who have some degree of deficiency to stop the body from functioning at ideal levels is considerably higher.

Vitamin B12 Benefit Summary

  • Vitamin B12 is required to convert carbohydrates to glucose. This leads to increased energy to deal with fatigue and lethargy.
  • Vitamin B12 benefits us in the regulation of the nervous system, helping decrease stress, depression and supporting healthier brain function.
  • Vitamin B12 benefits your body in the prevention of coronary disease and related cardiovascular disorders such as stroke and elevated hypertension.
  • Vitamin B12 is needed to control levels of cholesterol.
  • Vitamin B12 benefits the body’s cell propagation and so is consequently essential to hair and skin in addition to all the other vital organs.
  • Vitamin B12 benefits our bodies in the protection against cancers. Making certain you get enough vitamin B12 (as well as other vitamins) aids the body to battle numerous forms of cancer.

To take benefit of the many benefits of vitamin B12, you will want to make sure you eat from a wide variety of food sources such as meat, dairy, eggs and fowl, as well as vitamin fortified milk and cereal products (particularly if you enjoy a rigid vegetarian lifestyle or if you’ve been plagued with illnesses known to reduce the body’s supplies of B12.

If you have an extra minute or so check out our vitamin B12 smoothie recipe. I think you might enjoy it!

Vitamin B12 Health Benefits

Benefits Of Vitamin E: An Important Anti-Oxidant

The antioxidant properties of vitamin E help it to play an important role in protecting the skin from the damaging effects of the sun, air pollution, as well as other things that produce free radicals that damage skin cells. Vitamin E also has the job of regulating Vitamin A in the body, a vitamin that is important to healthy skin itself. Here we take a look at the health benefits of vitamin E.

Vitamin E for Skin Care

In skin care, using vitamin E in creams and lotions has more benefits than taking the vitamin orally because the skin can easily absorb the vitamin. Some of these topical benefits are:

• Reduce the look of stretch marks
• Will help ward off the appearance of age spots
• Maintains a healthy balance of skin oil

Vitamin E lotions can also give some benefits both to preventing as well as to treating sunburns. They work by protecting the epidermis layer of the skin (the outermost layer) from the UV (ultra violet) radiation in sunlight. When used with a sunscreen, a vitamin E lotion will also boost the effectiveness of the screen. One word of caution though is that these lotions will not work instantly. Up to 30 minutes is required for the vitamin E to be fully absorbed into the epidermis.

Other Benefits of Vitamin E

In addition to skin care, vitamin E has other, very important, health benefits. While research continues, early indications are that vitamin E may well be useful in treating several conditions including:
• Prostate and Breast cancer
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Cataracts
• Alzheimer’s Disease
• Several complications related to Diabetes
• Asthma

As noted above, vitamin E also plays an important role in regulating the amounts of vitamin A in the body and may help boost the immune system in older individuals. When used topically, there are indicators that vitamin E lotions and creams promote circulation and minimizes blood clots.
It is important to realize that many of these claimed benefits of vitamin E have not yet been fully researched and many questions remain. Future research will specifically target how large a role, if any, vitamin E plays in preventing or alleviating many of the conditions mentioned here.
Good food sources of vitamin E:
• Fortified Cereals
• Sunflower Seeds
• Nuts
• Vegetable Oils
• Tomatoes
• Peanut Butter
• Avocado

Benefits Of Vitamin E

Alpha-tocopherol: AKA Vitamin E

Have you ever heard of Alpha-tocopherol? If you have not you should because Alpha-tocopherol is very important to your staying healthy while those around you are suffering from various maladies.

What is Alpha-tocopherol?

In short, you probably know Alpha-Tocopherol as vitamin E. But that really doesn’t tell the whole story.

Alpha-Tocopherol is the most robust of many different types of tocopherol that, together, science identifies as vitamin E. In nature, tocopherols are found in a wide variety of foods. Some of the foods contain the alpha-tocopherol while others have only gamma-tocopherol. This is a weaker cousin of the alpha substance. But, good news! It turns out that our bodies are clever enough to change the gamma stuff enough to derive the same results as from the alpha!

Why is this important?

All the substances that are the vitamin E family are antioxidants. Antioxidants are important to us because they are a big help in combating a number of conditions we would rather not have like heart disease and cancer.

How much do we need?

The Food and Drug Administration types recommend 15 milligrams daily for guys and girls who aren’t breast feeding. For those ladies who are, the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) is 19 milligrams daily. These RDA numbers were increased in 2000 because of studies showing that most diets were deficient in vitamin E. One estimate is that over 90% of our diets need help (and probably with more than vitamin E but that’s another piece).

Where can I get Alpha-tocopherol?

Supplements of course but those are problematic at best. Because the FDA does not regulate the supplement industry (which is already huge and getting bigger) at least on study indicated that you stand a one in five (20%) chance of actually getting what the package says you are buying. If you do insist on going the supplement route buy from a trusted source that is in GMP compliance. Read on about GMP compliance at their home page.

If, on the other hand, you would prefer to get your vitamin E compounds from natural sources you are in luck. As we talked about earlier, vitamin E is found in a number of places including:
• Fortified Cereals
• Nuts (like hazelnuts and peanuts, but watch the calories!)
• Vegetable Oil
• Tomatoes
• Wheat Germ
• Avocado
• Mangoes
• Pumpkin
• Papayas

Certainly many of these are very tasty ingredients in many types of smoothie recipes which provide yet another reason why smoothies deserve to be part of your diet.

As if you needed another reason.

Vitamin K Benefits, Discovery, And Why It’s Called “K”

Vitamin K is not as well known as some of the other vitamin families, in fact, it wasn’t identified until 1929. Since then, we have learned quite a bit about vitamin K benefits. For more of the story, read on!

How Vitamin K got its Name

The story of its discovery is another of those “unintended results” that happen so frequently in scientific research. Danish biochemist and physiologist Henrik Dam was conducting a series of tests to determine the role of cholesterol by feeding chickens a diet without any cholesterol. After the test chickens had been on this cholesterol restricted diet for a few weeks they began to develop hemorrhages and bleeding. When cholesterol was reintroduced to their diet these problems continued which proved that there was another substance that had been removed from their diet. Dam called this the “coagulation vitamin” because of the bleeding.

This newly discovered vitamin ended up with the letter “K” as an identifier because Dam first reported his findings in a German scientific journal where the new substance was identified as “Koagulationsvitamin”. Today, more than 80 years later, vitamin K is still known as the clotting vitamin but we now know it does much more than that.

In addition to its coagulation duties, vitamin K benefits include proper mineralization of bones and healthy and efficient cell growth.

Vitamin K Deficiency

Vitamin K deficiency is extremely rare but it can occur when the body is not able to properly absorb vitamin K from the intestinal tract. There is also evidence that a deficiency can be caused from prolonged antibiotic treatments. Symptoms of a possible deficiency can be being easily bruised and bleeding easily from the nose, or when brushing teeth, or abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding.

Sources of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is found in leafy greens such as Kale, Collards, Spinach, Romaine lettuce, and Parsley. It is also found in certain vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Animal sources include fish, liver, red meat and eggs.

Smoothies offer a good opportunity to add vitamin K to your diet by using Kale and Spinach in mixed veggie and fruit smoothies, or in pure veggie smoothies. We have many recipes using both leafy greens.

Now that you know about vitamin K benefits, there is no reason not to include it in your daily meal plans.

Vitamin K Benefits