What To Know Before Taking Vitamin Supplements

Vitamins are substances that occur naturally in both plants and animals. They are divided into two categories: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fat cells of your body and include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins B and C, are eliminated from your body the same day they are ingested. In this article, you will first read about fat-soluble vitamins. Then, you will turn your attention to water-soluble vitamins.

Although it has long been the topic of much debate, we now know that the type of vitamins you consume does make a difference. Whether or not the substance will work for you depends on factors including its form, purity, bioavailability, and third-party verification. 

Vitamin supplements are divided into four grades or quality categories that take these factors into account. 

The chemical forms of minerals are not elemental forms. For example, a 1,200-milligram tablet of calcium gluconate is only 9-percent elemental: It only contains 108 milligrams of calcium. You would, therefore, need to take eleven tablets a day to consume the recommended amount.

Also, whether the nutrients are in natural or synthetic form makes a difference with certain vitamins. Natural vitamin E, for example, is better absorbed and more active than the synthetic version.

Your herbal supplements should have an adulteration screen, which tests their purity. This examination will tell you if they contain any toxic metals, such as arsenic, lead, mercury, or cadmium. 

Supplements should also be screened for other contaminants, including other pharmaceuticals, and analyzed for pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, and other toxic ingredients. Unfortunately, there are no home tests available. To test a vitamin’s contents and bioavailability, you have to take the vitamin to a laboratory for analysis.

Categories of Vitamin Supplements

Vitamin supplements are divided into the following four quality categories. To fall into one of the better grades, a supplement must be tested by an outside source who can verify its quality. You should only buy supplements of pharmaceutical grade. See page 376 for a list of pharmaceutical-grade companies.

  • Pharmaceutical grade: Supplements of this grade meet the highest regulatory requirements for purity, dissolution (ability to be dissolved), and absorption.
  • Medical grade: These supplements are of a high grade. Prenatal vitamins are usually in this category.
  • Cosmetic, nutritional grade: These supplements are often not tested for purity, dissolution, or absorption. They may not have a high concentration of their listed active ingredient.
  • Feed or agricultural grade: Supplements of this grade are used for veterinary purposes. Do not take supplements of this grade.

I have also reviewed a lot of weight loss supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.

Precautions of Vitamin Supplements 

Many forms of nutrients are not bioavailable—they pass through the body without being absorbed into the bloodstream. For example, magnesium oxide is only one-tenth as bioavailable as magnesium aspartate, and therefore only one-tenth as useful. 

Despite this, manufacturers will frequently use the oxide form, because the aspartate form is more expensive and takes up a lot of room in the capsule. Using magnesium oxide is, therefore, more cost-effective.

Be sure to give careful consideration to the side effects and contraindications as you become familiar with each vitamin. As you read in “Mixing Supplements, Drugs, and Food,” there are various reactions that can occur when different substances are taken together. Similarly, taking too much of a certain vitamin can result in either the deficit of another vitamin or health problems. 

Yet, as you will see, nutritional deficiencies can result in equally serious problems. Visit your healthcare professional if you have any questions as you develop your optimal vitamin regimen.

Every year, over 75 percent of your body is reconstructed from the nutrients you eat and take. This includes the DNA in your cells. The quality of vitamins and nutrients you consume determines the quality of your cells, how well they function, and their ability to prevent disease.

Vitamins are best stored in a refrigerator, and always taken with a full glass of water. You read on page 15 about water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins should be taken once a day. Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, leave the body more quickly, so they should be taken twice daily.

Therefore, if the daily dose of a water-soluble vitamin is 100 milligrams, you should take 50 milligrams twice a day. There will be more specific instructions on taking each type of vitamin as you read through this article.

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be divided into two groups: retinoids (or aldehydes) and carotenoids. Retinoids come from animals and can also be called preformed or active vitamin A because they are already in a form that is usable by the body. 

Retinal and retinoic acid, which are both found in fish, are included in this grouping. Carotenoids, on the other hand, are found in plants and are called provitamins, which means they are stored in the liver and converted into usable vitamins as needed. 

These include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and gama-carotene. Beta-carotene is the most popular and thoroughly studied of the carotenoid varieties. After carotenoids are converted into vitamin A, they react as preformed vitamin A does in the body.

Functions of Active Vitamin A in Your Body

  • Assists immune function (improves white blood cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, and T and B lymphocytes)
  • Needed for the growth and support of the skin
  • Needed to detoxify polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB; any of a group of highly toxic compounds often found in industrial waste) and dioxin
  • Reduces risk for cancer (oesophagal, bladder, stomach, and skin, as well as leukaemia and lymphoma)
  • Required for vision
  • Responsible for healthy mucous membranes
  • Strengthens bones during development

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

  • Decreased steroid synthesis
  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid production)
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Increased susceptibility to vaginal yeast infections
  • Night blindness
  • Poor tooth and bone function
  • Poor wound healing
  • Rough, scaly skin

Causes of Vitamin A Deficiency

  • Antibiotics
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications
  • Diabetes
  • Laxatives
  • Malabsorption
  • Malnutrition
  • Medication/products that decrease fat absorption

Substances that Increase Vitamin A Levels

  • Birth control pills

Symptoms of Vitamin A Toxicity

Recommended Dosage

  • 5,000 to 10,000 international units daily

Side Effects and Contraindications

Excess vitamin A consumption can cause liver damage and even death. If you are taking a high dose, you need to have your doctor measure your calcium and liver enzymes on a regular basis. 

If you have liver disease, are a smoker, are exposed to asbestos, or are pregnant, you should not consume high doses of vitamin A. 

Also, a recent study suggested that a daily intake of even 5,000 international units of vitamin A from dietary sources for more than twenty years may increase hip fractures in women.

Food Sources of Vitamin A

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin A are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin A.

  • Lamb’s liver
  • Beef liver
  • Calf liver
  • Red chilli peppers
  • Dandelion greens
  • Chicken liver
  • Carrots
  • Dried apricots
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens
  • Mustard greens

The Carotenoids 

There are over 700 carotenoids on earth; only 60 are found in food. The typical American diet includes only six of them: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. 

Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and cryptoxanthin are converted into vitamin A inside your body, at which point they act like active vitamin A, described on page 17. Be aware, however, that if you have hypothyroidism, your body may be unable to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. The other three common carotenoids will have the following effects.

Lycopene

The carotenoid lycopene is an antioxidant that may lower the risk of some types of cancers. It is best absorbed when cooked with fat. Pizza, therefore, which contains tomatoes that have been cooked with oil and cheese, is a good source of lycopene. Fresh tomatoes, on the other hand, are not a good source.

Functions of Lycopene in Your Body

  • Decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Helps prevent prostate cancer
  • Lowers blood pressure

Recommended Dosage

  • 5 to 20 milligrams daily

Side Effects and Contraindications

Carotenoids have to be taken carefully. Pharmacologic doses of a single carotenoid may result in inhibiting other carotenoids at your cell receptor sites.

Also, a study called the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) has shown that smokers who take carotenoids may have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. However, high doses of carotenoids are non-toxic, unlike high doses of vitamin A, because excess carotenoids are stored in the liver until needed by the body.

Food Sources of Lycopene

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Guavas
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Lutein and zeaxanthin 

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are contained within the retina of the eye. They help the eye absorb light while also protecting it from various free radicals.

Functions of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Your Body

Recommended Dosage

  • 6 to 12 milligrams daily

Side Effects and Contraindications

Carotenoids have to be taken carefully. Pharmacologic doses of a single carotenoid may result in inhibiting the other carotenoids at your cell receptor sites. 

Also, a study called the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) has shown that smokers who take carotenoids may have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. 

However, high doses of carotenoids are non-toxic, unlike high doses of vitamin A, because excess carotenoids are stored in the liver until needed by the body.

Food Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Of the following foods, egg yolks contain the most bioavailable forms of lutein and zeaxanthin.

  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Egg yolks
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Kale
  • Spinach

Cryptoxanthin

There has been less research with cryptoxanthin than with the carotenoids mentioned previously. However, there is significant evidence that it may effectively reduce the risk of cancer.

Food Sources of Cryptoxanthin

  • Butter
  • Egg yolk
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Peaches

Functions of Cryptoxanthin in Your Body

  • May prevent cataracts and protect against macular degeneration
  • May protect against various types of cancer, particularly cervical cancer

Recommended Dosage

  • 4 milligrams daily

Side Effects and Contraindications

Carotenoids have to be taken carefully. Pharmacologic doses of a single carotenoid may result in inhibiting the other carotenoids at your cell receptor sites. 

Also, a study called the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) has shown that smokers who take carotenoids may have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. However, high doses of carotenoids are non-toxic, unlike high doses of vitamin A, because excess carotenoids are stored in the liver until needed by the body.

Vitamin D 

The fat-soluble vitamin D is actually not a vitamin (which must be consumed through diet) but a hormone (which is produced in the body). The active form is called 1,25 dihydroxycholecalciferol. 

Your body produces it after absorbing the sun’s rays. I recommend getting sun exposure for ten to fifteen minutes, at least three times a week, if you are depending on the sun for your vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from food, albeit in smaller doses. 

Vitamin D3 comes from red meat and fish; vitamin D2 comes from plants. In these forms, vitamin D must be metabolized in the body in order to be used by the body, and boron may be needed for the conversion. 

Vitamin-D receptors are located in your bones, pancreas, intestine, kidneys, brain, spinal cord, reproductive organs, thymus, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and thyroid gland.

Functions of Vitamin D in Your Body

  • Aids in the absorption of calcium from the intestinal tract
  • Helps the body assimilate phosphorus
  • Helps the pancreas release insulin
  • Necessary for blood clotting
  • Necessary for growth and development of bones and teeth
  • Necessary for thyroid function
  • Stimulates bone cell mineralization

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Bone disorders (rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults)
  • Decreased calcium levels
  • Decreased phosphate levels
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Muscle spasms

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Ageing (which causes your body to make less vitamin D from the sun)
  • Decreased fat absorption (as a result of short bowel syndrome, sprue, or certain medications)
  • Fat-blocking medications and over-the-counter fat blockers used for weight loss
  • Medications (such as phenytoin)
  • Prednisone (a steroid that treats cancer and interferes with the conversion of vitamin D to its active form)
  • Sunscreen (which prevents vitamin D absorption)

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with Vitamin D

Food Sources of Vitamin D

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin D are at the top of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin D.

  • Canned sardines
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Butter
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Fortified milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Natural cheese

Recommended Dosage

Consult your medical practitioner, who will conduct lab tests before deciding how much vitamin D you should consume. To get enough vitamin D from the sun’s rays, you should expose your face and arms for ten to fifteen minutes, at least three times a week without sunscreen.

The use of sunscreen significantly decreases the absorption of vitamin D into the skin. If you are very fair and need to wear sunscreen, then you may need to intake more vitamin D. The preferred form of vitamin D with which to supplement is D3.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Vitamin D is stored in the body and can become toxic for some people. At the same time, other people need much higher dosages. Consequently, for dosages above 1,000 international units a day, it is best to consult with your healthcare practitioner. It is necessary to take calcium when taking vitamin D.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E, an antioxidant, is a group of eight fat-soluble compounds—alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocotrienol, beta-tocotrienol, gamma-tocotrienol, and delta-tocotrienol. 

These compounds come in natural and synthetic forms. Natural vitamin E is called d-alpha (or d-beta, d-gamma, or d-delta) and synthetic vitamin E is noted as dl-alpha (or dl-beta, dl-gamma, or dl-delta). In its natural form, vitamin E is better absorbed by your body and better metabolized by your liver.

Tocopherols

Of the vitamin E compounds, alpha-tocopherol is the most biologically active, followed by beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and delta-tocopherol.

Functions of Tocopherols in Your Body

  • Can act as an estrogen substitute and relieve hot flashes
  • Can stop cholesterol-like substances from damaging your blood vessels, which can cause heart disease or strokes
  • Help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
  • Help prevent lung, oesophagal, and colorectal cancer
  • Help relieve atrophic vaginitis
  • Improve the action of insulin
  • Increase your immune system
  • Inhibit platelet adhesion
  • Needed by ovaries to function properly
  • Protect vitamin A and increase its storage

Causes of Tocopherols Deficiency

  • Alcohol
  • Pectin (a natural substance added to thicken jams and jellies)
  • Smoking
  • Vitamin A
  • Wheat bran

Recommended Dosage

  • 100 to 400 international units daily

Side Effects and Contraindications

Ferrous sulfate, a common iron compound, destroys vitamin E and should not be taken with it. Other forms of iron, such as ferrous gluconate or ferrous fumarate, do not have this negative effect. 

Vitamin E is a blood thinner, so if you are taking an anticoagulant (blood thinner), consult your physician as to the amount of vitamin E that is right for you. No toxicity is seen in up to 3,200 international units.

Food Sources of Tocopherols

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most tocopherols are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively fewer tocopherols.

  • Wheat germ
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sunflower seed oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Almonds
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Corn oil
  • Wheat germ
  • Peanuts
  • Olive oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Butter

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with Tocopherols

  • Claudication (leg pain that occurs during exercise)
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Heart disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Hot flashes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Painful menstrual cycles
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Scleroderma and other autoimmune diseases

Tocotrienols

Alpha-tocotrienol, beta-tocotrienol, gamma-tocotrienol, and delta-tocotrienol are active forms of vitamin E. Despite being less active than the tocopherols, tocotrienols perform important functions in your body.

Functions of Tocotrienols In Your Body

  • Fight inflammation
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of cancer
  • Reverse plaque build-up

Recommended Dosage

100 to 400 international units of mixed tocotrienols daily. They should be taken with other antioxidants since they have a synergistic effect—a result that is greater as a mixture than the sum of the results if the substances had worked alone. I recommend UltraTrienols, made by Designs for Health. 

Vitamin K

The fat-soluble vitamin K comes in two forms: K1 and K2. K1 is found in green leafy vegetables. K2 can be derived from K1. It is also made in the gastrointestinal tract by friendly bacteria and is found in egg yolk, butter, and fermented soy foods.

Functions of Vitamin K in Your Body

  • Adequate bone mineralization
  • Decreases calcifications, which lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Decreases the loss of calcium
  • Helps your blood clot
  • Needed for the synthesis of osteocalcin, which is involved in building bones
  • Stimulates new bone growth

Food Sources of Vitamin K

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin K are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin K.

  • Turnip greens
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Beef liver
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Asparagus
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Pork liver
  • Oats

Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency

  • Decrease in the amount of skin collagen (which makes skin look thinner) 
  • Increased breakdown of skin collagen
  • Increased risk of coronary artery calcification
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Decrease in vitamin C levels

Causes of Vitamin K Deficiency

  • Antibiotic use
  • Certain anticoagulants such as warfarin
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • Decreased consumption of green leafy vegetables
  • Excess vitamins A and E
  • Gallstones
  • Hydrogenated food
  • Liver disease
  • Medication/products that decrease fat absorption
  • Synthetic estrogen use
  • Unhealthy intestinal tract

Recommended Dosage

  • 100 to 500 micrograms daily

Side Effects and Contraindications

Synthetic vitamin K may cause toxicity. Also, the amount of vitamin K in your body can alter the effectiveness of any anticoagulants (drugs used to prevent clot formation or clots from enlarging, such as Coumadin) you may be taking.

Discuss your vitamin-K intake with your doctor if you have been prescribed an anticoagulant.

Vitamin B complex

There are eleven vitamins in the vitamin B complex. The entire complex works together to help you achieve optimal health. The different vitamins, which are listed below and described on the following pages, are found in many of the same foods.

They are water-soluble, which means they are eliminated from your body the same day they are ingested. Yet it is important to have an adequate amount of B vitamins in your body, so you should consume them at least twice a day. 

If you are on estrogen replacement therapy or birth control pills, you should take extra B vitamins since hormonal therapy leads to a deficiency. 

Also, high dose supplementation of a single B vitamin can cause imbalances of other B vitamins. Therefore, you should take a multivitamin that contains these vitamins rather than take each B vitamin individually.

Members of the Vitamin B Complex

These vitamins, except for vitamin B10, are all described in detail in the following sections. However, there is no section for vitamin B10 (para-aminobenzoic acid) because there is not much known about it.

  • B1 (Thiamine)
  • B2 (Riboflavin)
  • B3 (Niacin and Niacinamide)
  • B5 (Pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • B7 (Biotin)
  • B9 (Folic acid)
  • B10 (Para-aminobenzoic acid)
  • B12 (Cobalamin)
  • Choline
  • Inositol

Functions of B Vitamins in Your Body

  • Help liver detoxify estrogen
  • Help relieve leg cramps
  • Metabolize glucose
  • Stabilize brain chemistry
  • Used in thyroid function

Symptoms of B-Vitamin Deficiency

Causes of B-Vitamin Deficiency

  • Birth control pills
  • Estrogen replacement therapy

B1 (Thiamine)

The first B vitamin discovered was thiamine (or thiamin). Thiamine is involved with many of the body’s reactions, including the burning of carbohydrates for energy. You can find thiamine in individual supplements as well as supplements that contain all the B vitamins.

Functions of B1 in Your Body

  • Helps the body adapt to stress and avoid adrenal burnout
  • Needed for proper metabolism of thyroid hormones
  • Needed for synthesis of nucleic acids and certain coenzymes
  • Needed for the making of aldosterone, a steroid hormone
  • Required for energy production (Krebs cycle)
  • Required for proper nerve function
  • Used for activation of enzymes in the adrenal glands
  • Used in the synthesis of acetylcholine

Symptoms of B1 Deficiency

  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • General weakness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild depression
  • Nervousness
  • Poor memory
  • Racing heart
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Vision problems

Causes of B1 Deficiency

  • Alcohol
  • Antibiotics
  • Blueberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Coffee
  • Diuretics
  • Horseradish
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Pickled foods
  • Red beet root
  • Seafood such as fish, shrimp, clams, and mussels
  • Sugar
  • Sulfa drugs
  • Sulfites (a food additive)
  • Theophylline (an asthma medication)
  • Tea

Recommended Dosage

10 to 100 milligrams daily. B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 5 to 50 milligrams of B1 twice a day.

Side Effects and Contraindications

High doses of B1 may deplete your body with vitamin B6 or magnesium. 

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with B1

  • Alcoholism
  • Confusion
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Neuropathy
  • Pain

Food Sources of Vitamin B1

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin B1 are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin B1. Note that grains lose up to 100 percent of their thiamine content when processed. Also, marinating your meat in wine, soy sauce, or vinegar depletes its level of thiamine by 50 to 75 percent.

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Wheat germ
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Rice polishings
  • Pine nuts
  • Peanuts (with skins)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pork
  • Pecans
  • Soybean flour
  • Pinto and red beans
  • Split peas
  • Millet
  • Wheat bran
  • Pistachio nuts

B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is very much involved with your body’s energy processes, as well as many other processes. It is vital, for example, for healthy eyes, the production of antibodies, and proper tissue repair.

Functions of B2 in Your Body

  • Catalyzes several reactions that process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Crucial to the cytochrome P450 system, which metabolizes medications and xenobiotics (environmental toxins)
  • Involved in the metabolism of vitamin K
  • Needed for energy metabolism
  • Needed in the regeneration of glutathione (the strongest antioxidant produced by your body)
  • Needed to convert vitamin B6 folic acid, vitamin A, and niacin into their active forms
  • Required for proper thyroid function
  • Used in lipid metabolism
  • Used in the formation of aldosterone (a steroid hormone that balances blood) by the adrenal glands

Food Sources of Vitamin B2

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin B2 are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin B2. Processing food decreases its riboflavin content by up to 80 percent.

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Lamb’s liver
  • Beef liver
  • Calf liver
  • Beef kidneys
  • Chicken liver
  • Lamb’s kidneys
  • Chicken giblets
  • Almonds
  • Wheat germ
  • Wild rice
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks
  • Millet
  • Hot red peppers

Symptoms of B2 in Deficiency

  • Depression
  • Dry, cracking skin
  • Light sensitivity

Substances that Reduce the Bioavailability of B2

  • Adriamycin
  • Alcohol
  • Amitriptyline
  • Antacids
  • Caffeine
  • Copper
  • Imipramine
  • Phenothiazines
  • Phenytoin
  • Saccharin
  • Theophylline
  • Tryptophan
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

Recommended Dosage

10 to 100 milligrams daily. You need more B2 during illness or athletic training. B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 5 to 50 milligrams of B2 twice a day.

Side Effects and Contraindications

None. However, high dose supplementation of a single B vitamin can cause imbalances in other B vitamins. 

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with B2

  • Acne
  • Alcoholism
  • Arthritis
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Baldness
  • Cataracts
  • Depression
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diarrhea
  • Failure to detoxify effectively
  • Hysteria
  • Indigestion
  • Light sensitivity
  • Migraines
  • Nerve damage
  • Reddening of eyes
  • Scrotal skin change
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Skin changes around the mouth
  • Stress
  • Visual changes

B3 (Niacin and Niacinamide)

Vitamin B3 includes both niacin (or nicotinic acid) and its derivative niacinamide. The lists below, however, refer to niacin, a vitamin made from tryptophan, B6, B2, and iron. It is used in at least forty chemical reactions in your body. 

Niacin has been shown to have positive effects on cholesterol levels, particularly when used in conjunction with a statin drug. As stated in “Side Effects and Contraindications”, however, taking niacin by itself may result in increased homocysteine levels.

Functions of Niacin in Your Body

  • Can decrease lipoprotein A (high amounts of which are related to heart disease)
  • Can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Decreases fibrinogen (high amounts of which are related to heart disease)
  • Involved in energy production
  • Lowers triglycerides
  • May improve the health of people with diabetes
  • Needed for the proper function of the adrenal glands
  • Provides energy needed to convert cholesterol to pregnenolone (a hormone that, among other things, is involved with memory)
  • Used in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
  • Used in the metabolism of tryptophan and serotonin

Symptoms of Niacin Deficiency

  • Anorexia
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inability to detoxify
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Skin changes around the mouth

Recommended Dosage

50 to 3,000 milligrams daily. However, see your doctor if you want to consume doses greater than 100 milligrams. If you find yourself needing more niacin, try taking NADH, a reduced form of the vitamin that is also more active. 

B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 25 to 1,500 milligrams of niacin twice a day.

Food Sources of Niacin

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most niacin are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less niacin.

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Rice bran
  • Rice polishings
  • Wheat bran
  • Peanuts with skin
  • Lamb’s liver
  • Pork liver
  • Peanuts without skin
  • Beef liver
  • Calf liver
  • Turkey, light meat
  • Chicken liver
  • Chicken, light meat
  • Trout
  • Halibut

Side Effects and Contraindications

When you are first beginning niacin treatment, it is fairly common to experience skin flushing, sensations of heat, stomach problems, or dry skin. However, these reactions typically subside within several weeks. 

Also, taking an aspirin 30 minutes before supplementing with niacin can help prevent skin flushing. High doses of niacin or extended-release niacin can cause liver damage, peptic ulcers,

high uric acid levels, or glucose intolerance. Do not take niacin without taking the other vitamins in the B complex because doing so can cause your homocysteine levels to elevate, increasing your risk of heart disease and memory loss. 

If statin drugs (which lower cholesterol) and niacin are taken together, rhabdomyolysis (a potentially fatal breakdown of skeletal muscle) may occur.

Therefore, niacin should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor. 

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with Niacin

B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Like the other elements of the vitamin B complex, B5—pantothenic acid—is involved in the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It is named “pantothenic,” which is derived from a Greek word that means “everywhere,” because this vitamin can be found, albeit in small quantities, in many, many different foods.

Functions of B5 in Your Body

  • Aids in the formation of antibodies
  • Aids in wound healing
  • Helps convert food into energy
  • Helps with fatty acid transport
  • Helps your body use other vitamins
  • Needed for synthesis of coenzyme A
  • Needed to make fatty acids
  • Stimulates adrenal gland
  • Used in red cell production
  • Used in the synthesis of several amino acids
  • Used to make vitamin D

Symptoms of B5 Deficiency

  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Burning sensation in your feet
  • Constipation
  • Decreased antibody formation
  • Decreased production of hydrochloric acid in stomach
  • Depression
  • Duodenal ulcers
  • Eczema
  • Enlarged, chunky, furrowed tongue
  • Fatigue
  • Gout
  • Graying hair
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nerve degeneration
  • Restlessness
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Vomiting

Causes of B5 Deficiency

  • Caffeine
  • Estrogen supplementation
  • Sleeping pills

Recommended Dosage

50 to 250 milligrams daily. B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 5 to 125 milligrams of B5 twice a day.

Side Effects and Contraindications

None. However, high dose supplementation of a single B vitamin can cause imbalances of other B vitamins

Food Sources of Vitamin B5

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin B5 are at the top of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin B5.

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Calf liver
  • Chicken liver
  • Beef kidneys
  • Peanuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Soybean flour
  • Split peas
  • Beef tongue
  • Perch
  • Blue cheese
  • Pecans
  • Soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Lobster

Diseases/Disorders that Can be Treated with B5

  • Acne
  • Adrenal dysfunction
  • Allergies
  • Cold sores
  • Detoxification
  • Elevated triglycerides
  • Genital herpes
  • Fatigue
  • Infection
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Shingles
  • Ulcerative colitis

B6 (Pyridoxine)

Pyridoxine acts as a partner for more than one hundred different enzymes. As you get older, the efficiency with which you utilize B6 decreases, so it may be necessary to increase your intake of B6 as you age.

Functions of B6 in Your Body

  • Detoxifies chemicals
  • Involved in strengthening connective tissue
  • Key to the synthesis of several neurotransmitters, including the metabolism of
  • tryptophan to serotonin
  • Needed for REM sleep
  • Needed for the absorption of fats and proteins
  • Needed for the immune system
  • Needed for the production of hydrocholoric acid
  • Needed for the transfer of amino groups
  • Used in the metabolism of amino acids
  • Used in the methylation process, which lowers homocysteine levels (high levels of which can be a risk factor for heart disease and memory loss)

Food Sources of Vitamin B6

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most B6 are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less B6.

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Toasted wheat germ
  • Fresh tuna
  • Beef liver
  • Dry soybeans
  • Chicken liver
  • Walnuts
  • Fresh salmon
  • Fresh trout
  • Calf liver
  • Fresh mackerel
  • Pork liver
  • Soybean flour
  • Dry lentils

​​Symptoms of B6 Deficiency

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Mental confusion
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nervousness
  • Numbness
  • Skin lesions around the mouth
  • Weakness

Causes of B6 Deficiency

  • Aminoglycosides
  • Amphetamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Bumetanide
  • Cephalosporins
  • Chlortetracycline
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cortisone
  • Demeclocycline
  • Diethylstilbestrol
  • Dopamine
  • Doxycycline
  • Estrogen supplementation
  • Ethacrynic acid
  • Excessive exercise
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Food additives (FDC yellow #5)
  • Hydralazine
  • Hydrochlorothiazide
  • Isoniazid
  • Macrolides
  • Minocycline
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Oxytetracycline
  • Penicillamine
  • Penicillins
  • Pesticides
  • Phenelzine
  • Quinestrol
  • Raloxifene
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tetracyclines
  • Theophylline
  • Torsemide
  • Trimethoprim

Recommended Dosage

30 to 500 milligrams daily. B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 15 to 250 milligrams of B6 twice a day.

Side Effects and Contraindications

At too high a dose (more than 500 milligrams a day), pyridoxine can cause neuropathy (nerve disorder). If you are taking levodopa for Parkinson’s disease, do not take B6 without first consulting your doctor. Also, high dose supplementation of a single B vitamin can cause imbalances of other B vitamins.

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with B6

  • Asthma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Autism
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Eczema
  • Epilepsy
  • Infertility
  • Irritability
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) sensitivity or intolerance
  • Nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy
  • Nervous system dysfunction
  • Osteoporosis
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Prevention of calcium oxalate kidney stones
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Sickle cell disease

B7 (Biotin)

Biotin is a B vitamin made by the flora of your gastrointestinal tract. It is involved in the metabolism of fats and proteins. Excessive amounts of biotin synthesize with bacteria and kill it. If you take antibiotics all of the time, the bacteria that synthesizes biotin are killed off and you will not make enough.

Functions of B7 in Your Body

  • Increases insulin sensitivity
  • Needed for fatty acid synthesis
  • Strengthens nails
  • Used in energy metabolism

Symptoms of B7 Deficiency

  • Cradle cap (in newborns)
  • Dandruff
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Localized numbness and tingling
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Scaly dermatitis

Causes of B7 Deficiency

  • Alcohol excess
  • Anticonvulsants (phenytoin, carbamazepine, primidone, phenobarbital)
  • Raw egg whites

Food Sources of Vitamin B7

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin B7 are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin B7.

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Lamb liver
  • Pork liver
  • Beef liver
  • Soy flour
  • Soybeans
  • Rice bran
  • Rice germ
  • Rice polishings 
  • Egg yolk
  • Peanut butter
  • Walnuts
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Barley
  • Pecans

Ways to Increase B7 Level

  • Vegetarian diet

Recommended Dosage

300 to 600 micrograms daily. B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 150 to 300 micrograms of B7 twice a day.

Side Effects and Contraindications

None. However, high dose supplementation of a single B vi cause imbalances of other B vitamins.

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with B7

  • Brittle nails
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Seborrheic dermatitis

B9 (Folic Acid)

Vitamin B9 has many functions in the body but is especially important for energy production and the immune system. Part of the B9 you need is made in your intestine, while the rest can be found in food or supplements. The synthetic form of B9 is folic acid; the natural form found in food is called folate.

Functions of B9 in Your Body

  • Detoxifies hormones (such as estrogen)
  • Detoxifies phenols (by-products of manufacturing) from the environment
  • Essential for central nervous system function
  • Essential for DNA synthesis
  • Involved in methylation (which decreases homocysteine)
  • Metabolic conversion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter
  • Needed for proper health of all tissues, especially mucous membrane tissues of the digestive tract, vagina, and cervix
  • Needed for the synthesis of hemoglobin
  • Produces complex phospholipids for neurological function
  • Produces S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), an important compound found in all living cells
  • Protects baby from neural tube defects, such as spina bifida

Symptoms of B9 Deficiency

  • Birth defects affecting the neural tube
  • Decreased resistance to infection
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Graying hair
  • Indigestion
  • Inflamed and sore tongue with smooth and shiny appearance
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Mental illness
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • Slow, weakened pulse
  • Toxemia
  • Weakness
  • Wound healing, impaired
  • Problems Associated with B9 Deficiency
  • Adrenal dysfunction
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Impaired synthesis of estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries
  • Increased number of ovarian cysts
  • Increased risk of cervical cancer
  • Increased risk of heart disease and memory loss due to high homocysteine levels
  • Low vitamin C levels

Food Sources of Vitamin B9

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Rice germ
  • Soy flour
  • Wheat germ
  • Beef liver
  • Lamb liver
  • Soy beans
  • Pork liver
  • Bran
  • Kidney beans
  • Mung beans
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Garbanzo beans

Causes of B9 Deficiency

  • Alcohol
  • Aspirin
  • Barbituates
  • Birth control pills
  • Carbamazepine
  • Celecoxib
  • Cholestyramine
  • Cimetidine
  • Colestipol
  • Corticosteroids
  • Ethosuximide
  • Famotidine
  • Fosphenytoin
  • Hydrochlorothiazide
  • Indomethacin
  • Methotrexate
  • Methsuximide
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Phenobarbital
  • Phenytoin
  • Primidone
  • Ranitidine
  • Salsalate
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Tobacco
  • Triamterene
  • Trimethoprim
  • Valproic acid

Recommended Dosage

Up to 400 micrograms daily. B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take up to 200 micrograms of B9 twice a day. Higher doses should only be taken under the direction of a physician. 

After taking digestive enzymes, wait at least two hours before taking folic acid or your absorption of the vitamin may be effected.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Dosages should not exceed 400 micrograms per day since folic acid supplementation may mask the symptoms of B12 deficiency. Large doses can cause insomnia, irritability, and gastrointestinal problems. 

If you are taking phenytoin (an anticonvulsant), do not take high doses of folic acid. Folic acid

also interferes with seizure medications such as valproic acid, carbamazepine, and primidone, so consult your doctor before taking this vitamin if you are on any of these medications.

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated by B9

  • Birth defects such as neural tube and cleft palate (prevention)
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cervical dysplasia
  • Depression
  • Gingivitis
  • Gout
  • Lower homocysteine
  • Psoriasis
  • Restless leg syndrome

B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is called either cobalamin or cyanocobalamin, and is synthesized by bacteria. It performs many important functions in the body, and exists in most animal foods. Vegetarians and vegans should take B12 supplements or eat fortified breakfast cereals, which are a valuable source of this vitamin.

Hydrochloric acid releases B12 from food, at which point the vitamin can be absorbed by the body.

Functions of B12 in Your Body

  • Essential for DNA synthesis
  • Facilitates the metabolism of folic acid
  • Functions as a methyl donor, which lowers homocysteine levels (high levels of which can be a risk factor for heart disease and memory loss)
  • Helps synthesize proteins
  • Involved in the production of neurotransmitters
  • Needed for carnitine metabolism (which breaks down fat to provide energy)
  • Needed for nervous system function
  • Needed for red blood cell metabolism
  • Required for proper digestion

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased estrogen in women
  • Decreased progesterone in women
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Elevated levels of homocysteine
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased cortisol levels
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Moodiness
  • Numbness and tingling of extremities
  • Poor appetite
  • Ringing in ears
  • Sore tongue
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness

Causes of B12 Deficiency

  • Antacids (which can decrease absorption from food but not from supplementation)
  • Colchicine (gout medication)
  • Digestive disorders
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Potassium citrate and chloride
  • Some oral hypoglycemic agents (which lower blood sugar)

Food Sources of Vitamin B12

  • Lamb liver
  • Clams
  • Beef liver
  • Lamb kidneys
  • Calf liver
  • Beef kidneys
  • Chicken liver
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Beef heart
  • Egg yolks
  • Lamb heart
  • Trout
  • Fresh salmon
  • Fresh tuna

Drugs that Deplete B12 from Your Body

  • Aminoglycosides
  • Cephalosporins
  • Certain cholesterol-lowering medications
  • Chlorotetracycline
  • Cholestyramine
  • Cimetidine
  • Co-trimoxazole
  • Doxycycline
  • Famotidine
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Histamine blockers
  • Lansoprazole
  • Macrolides
  • Metformin
  • Minocycline
  • Neomycin
  • Nizatidine
  • Omeprazole
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Oxytetracycline
  • Penicillins
  • Phenytoin
  • Ranitidine
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tetracyclines
  • Trimethoprim
  • Zidovudine and other HIV/AIDS medications

Recommended Dosage

400 to 5,000 micrograms daily. B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 200 to 2,500 micrograms of B12 twice a day.

Side Effects and Contraindications

None. However, high dose supplementation of a single B vitamin can cause imbalances of other B vitamins.

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with B12

  • AIDS
  • Anemia
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Ataxia
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Fatigue
  • Hepatitis
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Leg cramps at night
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Numbness
  • Psychosis
  • Retinopathy
  • Sciatica
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Tingling
  • Tinnitus
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Vitiligo
  • Xanthelasma

Choline

Choline is an important nutrient that plays a role in almost every bodily system. The important compounds acetylcholine and lecithin are derived from this B vitamin. Acetylcholine is believed to protect against certain types of age-related dementia.

Functions of Choline in Your Body

  • Aids in metabolism of fats
  • Allows movement and coordination
  • Component of every cell membrane
  • Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Precursor to acetylcholine (the main neuro memory)
  • Required for normal brain function

Food Sources of Choline

  • Beef
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Chicken
  • Egg yolks
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Nuts
  • Oats
  • Peanut butter
  • Soy

Symptoms of Choline Deficiency

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Nervous system disorders

Causes of Choline Deficiency

  • Alcohol
  • Folic acid deficiency
  • High sugar intake
  • Nicotine

Recommended Dosage

400 to 500 milligrams daily. Do not take more than 3 grams a day. Also, B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 200 to 250 milligrams of choline twice a day.

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with Choline

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Hepatitis
  • High cholesterol
  • Liver disease
  • Manic depression (bipolar disease)

Inositol 

Inositol is part of the vitamin B complex. It helps synthesize phospholipids, which are essential to the digestion, absorption, and transportation of fats in the body. Sufficient amounts of inositol are vital for good health—both mental and physical.

Functions of Inositol in Your Body

  • Can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Has a calming effect
  • Helps form lecithin, an important antioxidant
  • Helps keep arteries from hardening
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Involved in augmenting effects of neurotransmitter release
  • Involved with metabolizing fats and cholesterol in the arteries and liver
  • Supports the metabolism of estrogen and progesterone
  • Used to treat depression and panic disorders

Symptoms of Inositol Deficiency

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Fibroid tumors
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms

Causes of Inositol Deficiency

  • Caffeine

Recommended Dosage

200 milligrams to 12 grams daily. However, dosages larger than 200 milligrams should only be taken under physician supervision. Also, B vitamins are water-soluble and leave the body quickly, so they should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take around 100 milligrams of inositol twice a day.

Food Sources of Inositol

  • Beans
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Fruits
  • Grains
  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Raisins

Side Effects and Contraindications

Do not take inositol if you have kidney failure.

Diseases/Disorders that Can Be Treated with Inositol

  • Depression
  • Fibroids
  • Liver disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Panic attacks
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Vitamin C

Vitamin C must be consumed in food or supplements because it cannot be made by our bodies. This water-soluble vitamin is essential for many of your body’s systems to function properly. The immune system, in particular, relies on vitamin C. Rutin, a bioflavonoid, inhibits the oxidation of this vitamin, making it more useful to the body.

If you are diabetic, you need to take vitamin C. This is because vitamin C and glucose enter your cells through the same pathways. Consequently, vitamin C will be competing with glucose to enter your cells—and glucose will win, leaving the cells deficient in vitamin C.

Functions of Vitamin C in Your Body

  • Aids in the healing of wounds
  • Aids in the synthesis of collagen
  • Benefits immune system by increasing number of white blood cells and interferons (proteins that can fight viruses and cancer)
  • Decreases adrenal steroid production
  • Decreases production of leukotrienes (which contribute to symptoms of allergic reactions)
  • Decreases rate of gum disease
  • Decreases rate of stomach cancer
  • Decreases risk of heart disease
  • Helps carnitine synthesis (which breaks down fatty acids and releases energy)
  • Helps in the metabolism of tyrosine (an amino acid that synthesizes proteins)
  • Helps regenerate vitamin E, glutathione, and uric acid
  • Increases fertility
  • Increases HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Increases nitric oxide
  • Inhances the body’s absorption of iron
  • Involved in catecholamine synthesis (which prepares the body for activity or to handle stress)
  • Involved in production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in many important brain functions, including mood and appetite)
  • Is a diuretic
  • Is a powerful antioxidant
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers incidence of cataracts
  • Lowers sorbitol levels, which can prevent cataracts
  • Lowers triglycerides
  • Needed for progesterone production
  • Needed to maintain glutathione levels (which are very important for good health)
  • Prevents formation of nitrosamines (compounds which can cause cancer)
  • Prevents free radical damage of LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Prevents some forms of lung disease
  • Reduces bruising
  • Reduces damage (such as diabetes or stiffening tissues) due to glycation
  • Reserves the energy-producing capacity of the mitochondria

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency

  • Bleeding gums
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Easy bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Joint pain
  • Loose teeth
  • Scurvy
  • Weight loss

Food Sources of Vitamin C

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin C are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin C.

The vitamin C content of foods is easily destroyed by light, heat, and chemicals. Fresh-cut lettuce, for example, loses half of its vitamin C in forty-eight hours unless it is stored in a dark refrigerator.

  • Red chili peppers
  • Guavas
  • Red sweet peppers
  • Kale leaves
  • Parsley
  • Collard leaves
  • Turnip greens
  • Green sweet peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mustard greens
  • Watercress
  • Cauliflower
  • Persimmons
  • Red cabbage
  • Strawberries
  • Papayas
  • Spinach
  • Oranges
  • Orange juice
  • Cabbage
  • Lemon juice
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Elderberries

Causes of Vitamin C Deficiency

  • Aging
  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin
  • Birth control pills
  • Cortisone
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • High fever
  • Painkillers
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Sulfa drugs

Symptoms of Toxicity

Doses of vitamin C higher than 5,000 milligrams can be ingested, but may cause diarrhea. Mineral ascorbates and Ester-C are buffered forms of vitamin C that cause less diarrhea.

Recommended Dosage

1,000 to 5,000 milligrams daily. Vitamin C is water-soluble and leaves the body quickly, so it should be taken twice a day. Therefore, you should take 500 to 2,500 milligrams of C twice a day.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Hemochromatosis occurs when the body accumulates excess iron. Vitamin C can increase this accumulation, so people with hemochromatosis should avoid taking extra vitamin C. If you have a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, do not have vitamin C given to you intravenously.

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