Health & Wellbeing
Scientific Paper Abstracts on Vitamins
Vitamins are essential organic nutrients. Minute amounts of vitamins participate in three general functions of the body: growth, protection and energy regulation. There are a total of 16 vitamins. Four are fat-soluble: vitamins A, D, E and K. The rest are water-soluble. Eight vitamins are in the B complex: RIBOFLAVIN (B1), THIAMIN (B2), NIACIN (B3), VITAMIN B6, vitamin B12, FOLIC ACID, PANTOTHENIC ACID and BIOTIN. VITAMIN C is also water-soluble but is not considered a B vitamin, which function as enzyme helpers (coenzymes). Two additional substances that have vitamin functions are known as CHOLINE and INOSITOL.
Vitamins either cannot be synthesized by the body or they cannot be made in adequate amounts, so they must be supplied by the diet. As examples of the latter, vitamin D can be made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, while some niacin can be made from the amino acid tryptophan. The intestine is a source of BIOTIN, pantothenic acid and VITAMIN K; these are supplied by “friendly” intestinal bacteria, though the exact amounts supplied are difficult to assess.
The term ‘”vitamin” dates from 1912, and the first vitamin to be isolated was vitamin A in 1913. Thiamin was discovered in 1926, vitamin K in 1929, and vitamin C in 1932. Vitamin B12 was the most recent vitamin to be discovered (1948). Before a compound can be classified as a vitamin, it must be proven that animals must obtain the compound from their diet. Typically, scientists test lab animals such as mice with a diet free of the test substance, together with a dose of antibiotics to eliminate intestinal bacteria.
Vitamins originate chiefly from plant sources. Except for vitamin D and vitamin C, vitamins are present in animal tissue only if the animal consumes foods containing them or harbors microorganisms capable of synthesizing them. B vitamins are universally distributed; fat-soluble vitamins may be absent from some types of organisms. Each of the vitamins plays a specific role in the body; a deficiency of one vitamin cannot be eliminated by consuming an excess of another.
There are two classes of vitamins: Fat-soluble and Water-soluble
- Fat-Soluble VitaminsVITAMIN A, VITAMIN D, VITAMIN E and VITAMIN K are oil-soluble materials that dissolve in fats and oils, not in water. Unlike the B complex, these vitamins generally do not serve as enzyme helpers, nor are they involved in energy production; each has an entirely different function, ranging from acting as an ANTIOXIDANT (E), to producing a visual pigment for night vision (Vit. A), to blood clotting (Vit. K) and to bone formation (Vit. D).Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed best when they are eaten with fats and oils. These vitamins are stored in the body, so they do not need to be consumed daily. Because they are stored, excessive consumption can lead to high tissue levels resulting in toxic side effects, especially for vitamins A and D. For example, 50,000 international units of vitamin A over several months can cause toxic symptoms in adults. Symptoms of toxicity, such as achy joints, fatigue, headaches and nausea, disappear when the high intake stops. What represents an excessive intake depends on many factors, including the type of vitamin, individual tolerance, which varies with age, and the length of time for which the supplement is taken.NOTE: Absorption is the key. For optimum absorption, the fat-soluble vitamins should be “emulsified”, that is, processed so that the vitamins are in a form which can be transported across the intestinal wall. As much as 90% of an oil-soluble vitamin can be non-absorbed and lost to the body via the stool.
- Water-Soluble VitaminsB complex vitamins help convert food into energy; they include THIAMIN (B1), RIBOFLAVIN (B2), NIACIN (B3), PYRIDOXINE (B6), PANTOTHENIC ACID (B5) and BIOTIN. FOLIC ACID AND vitamin B12 are involved in building new cells, while vitamin C serves as an antioxidant and helps build healthy capillaries, gums and joints. Except for vitamin B12, water-soluble vitamins are not stored well in the body and must be replenished daily. Excesses are generally excreted in the urine.Vitamin DeficienciesLong-term vitamin deficiencies often lead to serious illness. Deficiencies can be due to an inadequate diet (MALNUTRITION); inability to digest food (MALDIGESTION); inability to absorb vitamins due to damage to the intestine or to competition with another material such as a drug (MALABSORPTION); increased physiological need as during pregnancy; growth, injury, choice of life-style or other environmental factors.Physicians may use lab tests to diagnose vitamin deficiencies. Most tests involve blood analyses, even though these are not always reliable. For example, a common antibody test for serum vitamin B12 detects both vitamin B12 together with inactive derivatives. Measurement of enzyme levels or levels of metabolic products can provide useful information. Dietary analysis can reveal levels of nutrients in the diet and guide a nutritional evaluation and assessment of individual needs complementing the physical examination and health history.
Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins
Natural vitamins are those occurring in food. All substances classified as vitamins have been isolated from animal or plant sources, and most have been chemically synthesized in the lab to establish their structures. In other words, synthetic vitamins are usually identical to the product in cells. As an example, vitamin C in cells is defined chemically as L-ascorbic acid, identical to synthetic L-ascorbic acid. Most vitamins found in supplements are chemically synthesized, because there simply is not enough of most vitamins extracted from plant materials to meet world demand. Most vitamin C comes from a few major commercial sources worldwide and is usually derived from natural sources such as glucose.
A few synthetic vitamins differ from the natural forms. Synthetic vitamin E, called d,l-alpha-tocopherol, is a mixture of both left- and right-handed molecules, while the natural alpha tocopherol is a single form called d-tocopherol. The synthetic product is adjusted to provide the same biological activity as the natural form. Certain vitamins like vitamin B12 possess structures that are too complex for a convenient lab synthesis. Microbial sources have been selected to produce large amounts of this vitamin.
Long-term vitamin deficiencies often lead to serious illness. Deficiencies can be due to an inadequate diet (MALNUTRITION); inability to digest food (MALDIGESTION); inability to absorb vitamins due to damage to the intestine or to competition with another material such as a drug (MALABSORPTION); increased physiological need as during pregnancy; growth, injury, choice of life-style or other environmental factors.
Physicians may use lab tests to diagnose vitamin deficiencies. Most tests involve blood analyses, even though these are not always reliable. For example, a common antibody test for serum vitamin B12 detects both vitamin B12 together with inactive derivatives. Measurement of enzyme levels or levels of metabolic products can provide useful information. Dietary analysis can reveal levels of nutrients in the diet and guide a nutritional evaluation and assessment of individual needs complementing the physical examination and health history.
The company I prefer to use is located in the Houston, Texas area in Rosenberg. I have known this company and the fine people who own and operate it for 20 years. The company’s name is BIOTICS RESEARCH CORP.
There are several reasons that I prefer using this company. First, they are local and I go out to their lab once weekly. Second, by going out to the lab weekly and the fact that I have known these people for 20 years provides me info on how they formulate their products. I go into the manufacturing and tableting areas and see their operations. I have seen the materials room where they check and certify every raw nutrient product that comes into their lab before it is allowed into final production. Third is the way they formulate their products. The final emphasis is put on the quality of absorbability. If you cannot absorb and assimilate the nutrient, the product is worthless and possibly even deleterious to your health.
A case in point is this: Do not give your 1-year-old child a Centrum vitamin or any other commercially available supplement with minerals in it. It will give the child a tummy ache and could make them very sick. Is this the type of supplement you yourself want to take? Think long and hard about it. I can tell you that I have used Bio Multi Plus (a general multivitamin/mineral product) from Biotics Research Corp. with my daughters since they were 1 year of age. They NEVER had an upset stomach, and they are rarely ever ill.
Fourth, they also obtain almost 100% absorption and assimilation of the FAT-SOLUBLE vitamins and other nutrients like CoEnzyme Q because they take the extra step to mechanically emulsify these nutrients. If these nutrients are not emulsified in such manner, research has showed that you lose 90% of the nutrient in the stool, ABSORBING ONLY 10%. For example, if you take a 400IU Vitamin E capsule you only absorb 40 IU’s of the vitamin.
Fifth, since this company manufactures almost all of its own products, they have the ability to be on the cutting of technology. I am proud to say that I asked Biotics if they could produce a pure CHONDROITIN SULFATE extract since there was none available at that time. This was 1982. They have been producing pure Chondroitin Sulfate for almost 20 years now and the rest of the world has only recently caught up. They have been producing CoEnzyme Q for over 20 years — years before Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw made it popular in their Life Extension books in the 1980’s.
So I guess you can see that I am quite partial to these fine people –– my patients and I owe them much thanks.
If you have any questions concerning any of their products please feel free to contact my office.