Vitamins are those substances which are necessary in small amounts for normal function and must be supplied from outside the human body. These are normally supplied by diet. From an anthroposophic point of view, they are related to the life forces which foods supply.
Whether we consider the life forces in food, or the vitamin content, food quality is the underlying essential. The essential foundation of good health is high quality agriculture. See Biodynamic farming.
‘Biochemical individuality’ is a relatively new concept pointing to the fact that amounts required for normal function vary according to individual make-up. Laboratory testing helps uncover these individual variations.
The discussion of vitamins here relates to the dietary situation at this time, 2013, in the United States of America.
Vitamins in mega-doses function as drugs. They no longer function as vitamins. Mega-dose vitamin therapy can be useful, and must be guided by an experienced healthcare practitioner.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble. They are better absorbed if taken with fats, whether they are in food or taken as a supplement. They are stored in the body.
Vitamins B and C are water soluble. They are not stored in the body. When taken as a supplement, they are often used more than once a day to maintain consistent levels in the blood.
A Vitamin A is important for healthy night vision and is generally sufficient in the standard diet of people in western countries. The beta-carotene in colored vegetables is the precursor which the body turns into active vitamin A. “Eat the rainbow” is good advice so we get greens, yellows, reds, oranges, purples, and blues. If everything on the plate is white and brown, something is wrong. Excess vitamin A can interfere with proper function of vitamin D, so supplements of vitamin A are not recommended for the general population in the USA. However, beta-carotene may be supplemented without this difficulty under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
B Vitamin B complex includes a complex of vitamins which assist in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, proteins and energy production. Some help neurotransmitters to function. The B vitamins are found in whole, unprocessed foods and include methylfolates. When a package label says the contents are ‘enriched’ it means the contents were first processed, removing the B vitamins, and then some of the B vitamins were added back in. Processing generally depletes the vitality in food. For most people, food sources provide sufficient B vitamins. Examples are turkey, tuna, liver, lentils, beans (legumes), whole grains, romaine, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, beets, asparagus, and parsley. B12 is not easily available from plant sources. Alcoholic drinks deplete B vitamins from the body.
There are people whose individual genetic makeup requires different amounts or types of vitamins. MTHFR DNA genetic mutation test is an example of a blood test that shows what type of folate is best handled by an individual. All folates are not equal. Methylfolate is nature’s version, in eggs, meat, leafy greens. Folic acid is synthetic, inexpensive, and frequently used in supplements and processed foods. The people with MTHFR mutations do much better with methylfolate, not folic acid.
Many people take B complex for extra energy, or when they are stressed. This is not harmful unless the self-treatment delays diagnosis of a serious condition and real treatment. Good judgment is required. The effectiveness of B complex relieving many people’s fatigue and stress may signify the need for more nutrients in the basic diet, or that an individual biochemical need is in play.
C Vitamin C is only ascorbic acid when it is made synthetically from corn or tapioca, and when it occurs in nature it is a complex of many substances in association with ascorbic acid, such as rutin and bioflavonoids. Oranges are considered the gold standard for high vitamin C foods. But some commercially raised oranges contain 0 mg of vitamin C. Commercial agriculture is able to produce a food that looks like the archetype we expect, but does not have the nutritional value that is characteristic of that food. High quality agriculture is the foundation of health. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. Raw guava is the fruit with the most vitamin C, and red bell pepper is the vegetable with the most vitamin C. Without vitamin C on long sea voyages, sailors got scurvy and died. Limes kept them alive, so ‘limeys’ they were called. A pregnant woman who is on high doses of vitamin C has created an environment for the baby which is also high in vitamin C. When the baby is born, the sudden drop in vitamin C can create a scurvy-like condition for the baby. It is important for pregnant women to let the doctor/midwife know about all supplements she is using, and what amounts. Persons taking high dose vitamin C for an extended period of time (more than several days) should taper the dose of vitamin C when they decide to stop.
Individuals with personal or family history of kidney stones should limit vitamin C intake to 1000 mg per day if used over a long term, unless guided otherwise by healthcare practitioner.
When vitamin C is used as an immune boost for acute illness, the amount needed may be gauged by increasing the dose to bowel tolerance. This means using 1000 mg frequently, until gurgles and gas or loose stools occur. When the body has sufficient vitamin C for its immediate needs, it will not absorb more, and loose stools result. This amount varies widely among individuals. Some of the highest needs for vitamin C were found among crop dusters. Vitamin C acts as an anti-pollutant, and the more we are exposed to chemicals, the greater may be our need for vitamin C.
D Vitamin D’s pre-vitamin form (7-dehydrocholesterol) is made from cholesterol, and stored in our skin. (Cholesterol is also the precursor for steroid hormones our body makes, such as testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol.) Ultraviolet B rays from the sun activate the pre-vitamin to its first form (D3, cholecalciferol), which then goes to the liver, and is changed slightly (to 25 hydroxy vitamin D). This then goes to the kidney where it becomes the final most active form (1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D). Vitamin D is more accurately a hormone than a vitamin, since it affects tissues far from the site of its production.
Sun exposure is the best way to get vitamin D. Exposure should be for the length of time that is half as long as it takes our skin to turn pink. Ideally we would get sunshine daily. But it is often insufficient as the sole source of vitamin D to obtain adequate amounts for protection against the long list of deficiency diseases.
Deficiency of vitamin D is related to increased occurrence of 17 different cancers, including common cancers such as colon, breast, and prostate. Lack of vitamin D is also related to diabetes, osteoarthritis, congestive heart failure, autoimmune disease, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and the osteoporosis we already knew about. Deficiency of vitamin D is widespread in the western world today. This may be due to lack of sun exposure from indoor work, and is no doubt related to the geographic location in which we live. See Light metabolism. As noted there, excessive protein intake and frequent over-feeding impede the utilization of light.
Supplements of D3, cholecalciferol, are easiest to use by the body. For adults, 2000 IU Vitamin D3 daily is a reasonable amount to take unless there has been direct sun exposure. Check with your healthcare provider about a blood test (for 25 hydroxy vitamin D and/or 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D) to learn what your levels are and use supplementation wisely for prevention.
Because vitamin D is fat soluble, it is sometimes given in once-a-week dosing, instead of daily, namely the dose for approximately one week can be taken all at once.
True Botanica Vitamin D Plus combines D3 2000 IU with trace minerals and lightroot to enhance utilization, for adults one capsule daily orally.
E Vitamin E is a group of approximately eight tocopherols and tocotrienols, whose richest food source is wheat germ and wheat germ oil. Because modern research commonly looks at only one molecule, researching vitamin E is complex. In addition to sub-types, there are dextro- and levo- molecular forms.Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Deficiency is seen when fat absorption is impaired, and can result in abnormal nerve and muscle and vision function. High doses of vitamin E as prevention or treatment (usually alpha tocopherol) have not shown consistent value. Tocotrienols are more powerful antioxidants than tocopherols, and are gaining research attention.
K Vitamin K is a group of vitamins. Some function in blood clotting. Vit K2 assists in the conversion of vitamin D to its active form in the kidney. It also helps move calcium away from arteries and to the bones, a help to improve both arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis. Vitamin K is found in greens, herbs, spices such as chili and curry, and pickles. Persons on prescription blood-thinners (eg warfarin) must generally avoid vitamin K sources in the diet as vitamin K could negate the work of the prescription blood-thinner.
True Botanica Vitamin K2 for adults 1-2 capsules daily orally.
MULTIVITAMIN-MINERAL A multivitamin mineral is often used to make up for the lack of quality food in meals. Two high quality options are:
Natura NutriOne powdered organic greens and reds, for adults one scoop or more daily orally in liquid.
True Botanica MultiAction Mental Clarity Multivitamin-mineral for adults 3 capsules daily orally.
High quality food is the foundation for healing, and is more important than supplements and remedies.
Let your practitioners know what supplements and remedies you are using at each visit.
It is better to not buy supplements, than to buy inferior quality supplements. The CGMP (Certified Good Manufacturing Practices) seal should be on the label to assure quality control in the production of the supplements, or you should know the company’s manufacturing processes.Print This Post