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Vitamin K

Naphthoquinone is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is an organic compound that has the formula C10H6O2. It can be viewed as derivatives of naphthalene through the replacement of two hydrogen atoms by two ketone groups. It is a yellow crystalline substance that is related to quinone, procurable by oxidizing naphthalene with chromic acid.

Naphthoquinone has an odor similar to benzoquinone. It is slightly soluble in cold water and petroleum ether. It is soluble in most polar organic solvents. Naphthoquinone derivatives possess anti-bacterial and anti-tumor properties. 1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives occur naturally in the form of vitamin K.

Vitamin K Overview

Vitamin K The “K” in vitamin K comes from the German work “koagulation.” Coagulation refers to the process of blood clotting. Vitamin K is a group of vitamins (K1, K2, and K3) which promote clotting of the blood. They are a class of compounds that contain the naphthoquinone structure. Vitamin K regulates normal blood clotting and prevents hemorrhaging.

The anti-hemorrhagic factor in vitamin K and its synthetic analogues have a specific effect on prothrombin deficiency.

Vitamin K increases the synthesis of prothrombin, which is a blood-clotting protein, by the liver.

It helps prevent calcification in the arteries and it may also help to reduce the risk of bone injuries and fractures.

Types of Vitamin K

There are two types of vitamin K found in nature. Vitamin K1 or phytonadione is found in plants, and vitamin K2 or menaquinone can be synthesized by multiple bacteria. Vitamin K3 or menadione is not considered to be a natural vitamin K.

The group of vitamin K vitamins have a methylated naphthoquinone ring structure. The naphthoquinone is the functional group, which makes the structure of action similar in all K-vitamins. The lipophilicity of the various side chains and the different food matrices in which they occur cause the differences in each of the vitamins.

Vitamin K1

Vitamin K1 is a form of vitamin K. It has the chemical name 2-methyl-3phytyl-1, 4-naphthoquinone. It’s compound formula is C31,H46,O2. It is a clear, yellow to amber, viscous liquid that is odorless or almost odorless. It is one of the oil-soluble vitamins found in green plants and prepared synthetically. It is soluble in chloroform, but insoluble in water. It is used as a prothrombinogenic agent. Vitamin K1 was named phylloquinone because it is an indirect product of photosynthesis in plant leaves.

Vitamin K1 is found in green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, avocado, brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage, cauliflower, kiwi, alfalfa and some vegetable oils, or it can be made synthetically. It can be given orally to treat prothrombin deficiency that may result from anticoagulant drugs.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, has the chemical name 2-methyl-3-difarnesyl-1, 4-naphthoquinone. It’s compound formula is C41H56O2. It is a naturally occurring vitamin that is found in various large intestine bacteria. Vitamin K2 helps activate vitamin K dependent proteins responsible for healthy tissue and bone. It helps to activate the protein, osteocalcin, which is required to bind calcuim to the mineral matix, which strengthens the bones. It is found in sources such as butter, eggs, cow liver, cheese and fermented products.

Vitamin K3

Vitamin K3 is also known as menadione. It has the chemical name 2-methyl-1, 4 naphthoquinone. It’s compound formula is C11H8O2. It is a bright yellow crystalline powder that is soluble in vegetable oils. It is a synthetic analogue that acts as a provitamin. It is used as a vitamin K supplement. Menadione is necessary for the production of prothrombin and other blood clotting factors. It can also help regulate the calcification of bones. Too large a dose of vitamin K3 can cause serious problems, and even death.

Vitamin K Deficiency

Vitamin K and all other liposoluble vitamins are stored in the fat tissue of the human body. A vitamin K deficiency in healthy adults is not common, however, there is an increased risk of a deficiency in newborn infants. Also, infants who are breast-fed are at a higher risk for a vitamin K deficiency.

Adults who take anticoagulant drugs or individuals who have liver damage or disease are at a higher risk of vitamin K deficiency. Individuals who suffer from cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel diseases or have had recent abdominal surgeries may be at a higher risk for deficiency. Individuals who have a problem with intestinal absorption of fats may also be at an increased risk of vitamin K deficiency.

Drugs Causing Deficiencies

Individuals who have strict diets or have eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, may suffer from secondary vitamin K deficiency. Some drugs also interfere with vitamin K deficiency such as salicylates, barbiturates, and cefamandole.

Vitamin A and vitamin E have been shown to interfere with vitamin K if they are taken in large doses. Vitamin A may effect the absorption of vitamin K and vitamin E can inhibit vitamin K dependent carboxylase enzymes.

There are no differences in the causes of deficiency of vitamin K between men and women.

Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency

Some of the symptoms of a vitamin K deficiency in the body include bleeding and bruising easily, gastrointestinal bleeding, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, the presence of blood in the urine, blood in the stool, tarry black stools, and abnormally long or heavy menstruation in women.

Vitamin K deficiency in infants may result in a bleeding disorder, vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), that is life-threatening, but easily preventable. Because VKDB is preventable, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that an injection of vitamin K1 or phylloquinone be given to all newborn babies. Human milk is low in vitamin K, however, baby formula tends to be much higher in the content of vitamin K.

Dosage Recommendations

Because of the occurrences of vitamin K deficiency bleeding in newborn infants, the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that 0.5 to 1.0 mg of vitamin K be administered to newborns once they are born.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dosages for children:

  • Children ages 1-3 years of age should have 30mcg/day
  • Children ages 4-8 years of age should have 55mcg/day
  • Children ages 9-13 years of age should have 60mcg/day
  • Children ages 14-18 years of age should have 75mcg/day

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dosages for adults:

  • Adult males 19 years and older should have 120 mcg/day.
  • Females 19 years and older should have 90 mcg/day.
  • A woman 19 years and older that is pregnant or breastfeeding should have 90 mcg/day.
  • A woman 18 years and younger that is pregnant or breastfeeding should take 75 mcg/day.


There is no known toxicity associated with high doses of vitamin K1 or vitamin K2. However, vitamin K3, a synthetic form of vitamin K, has been proven to be toxic. It can interfere with the function of glutathione, one of the body’s natural antioxidants. The FDA has banned menadione, or vitamin K3, from over-the-counter supplements because large doses can cause allergic reactions, induce liver toxicity, jaundice and hemolytic anemia.

Vitamin K Sources

Vitamin K is found in many food sources. Vitamin K sources include leafy green vegetables such as:

    Benefits of Vitamin K

  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Spinach.

Other sources are:

  • Soybeans
  • Tomatoes
  • Egg yolk
  • Cauliflower
  • Raw watercress
  • Olive, Soybean, & Canola Oil
  • Beans & Olives
  • Cereals
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, & butter
  • Some fruits
  • Liver and Pork

Research and Osteoporisis

Studies of vitamin K suggests that it may play a potential role in bone density changes. In Japan, a form of vitamin K2, called menatetrenone, has been used to treat osteoporosis. However, this type of treatment is controversial. The United States is currently conducting their own studies of the relationship between vitamin K2 and bone health.

The latest studies are showing a positive corrolation between vitamin K intake and osteoporosis. People taking Warfarin, an anticoagulant, may need to take extra vitamin K. Warfarin prevents the recycling of vitamin K, which reduces the levels available to the body. This can contribute to weaker bones and increased fractures.

Research and Cardiovascular Disease

New studies are suggesting that vitamin K may play a crucial role in cardiovascular health. Vitamin K2 is needed for activating the protein matrix Gla-protein, which is an inhibitor of vascular calcification. When enough vitamin K2 is present it can help prevent calcium buildup in blood vessels that assist in vascular disease.

Patients who take Warfarin to prevent blood clots that can trigger heart attacks and strokes, may need to supplement with a low dose of vitamin K.

Research and Alzheimers

Research has also shown that vitamin K may reduce neuronal damage and that giving vitamin K supplements to Alzheimer’s patients may have benefits. However, more research is needed to find out the specifics.

Research and Cancer

Scientific evidence and research do not support the use of vitamin K for the prevention or treatment of cancer. A small clinical trial, however, found that a similar vitamin 2 compound may help reduce the recurrence of liver cancer after surgery.

Some studies have suggested that a low vitamin K intake may increase the risk for certain types of cancers. A 2008 published European study found that men with a low intake of some forms of vitamin K are at a higher risk for prostate cancer. A Japan study suggests that vitamin K may lower the risk of developing liver cancer in women who have cirrhosis of the liver.

Potential Benefits

Some alternative medicine practitioners use vitamin K3 as an anticancer supplement, and others claim that taking high doses of Vitamin K3 and Vitamin C may inhibit tumor growth. However, there is not any scientific evidence to support these claims.

Some studies in mice have shown that vitamin K may slow the growth of cancer cells. More clinical studies will need to be done on humans to determine the role in which vitamin K may have on cancer.

Other Uses for Vitamin K

Vitamin K, if applied topically, may help diminish bruising from postoperative procedures, scarring, redness caused by broken blood vessels, rosacea, skin irritations such as burns and sunburns, dark circles under the eyes and aid in the fading of hyper pigmentation.

References & Resources

Applied Therapeutics for Clinical Pharmacists
Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary
Oregon State University


Dehydroascorbic Acid

Dehydroascorbic acid is an organic compound that occurs when ascorbic acid is oxidized. Oxidization is a process by which compounds are chemically changed after being exposed to air. In the case of dehydroascorbic acid, two hydrogen atoms are removed from the ascorbic acid compound when air is present. The new compound is dehydrogenized and is given the name dehydroscorbic acid, or DHA. Dehydroascorbic acid is a crucially significant compound to human health and development, and while it may not have significant vitamin properties itself, it is transported throughout the body and then converted back to ascorbic acid (through a process called reduction), which is another name for Vitamin C.

Ascorbic Acid (The Reduced Form)

When dehydroascorbic acid is chemically changed through reduction, a process which adds back the two hydrogen atoms previously removed, ascorbic acid is reformed. Ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, is a fundamental vitamin compound found in all animal life forms. Vitamin C is intrinsic in the prevention of many diseases and illnesses.

The very name, in fact, reflects this purpose. Ascorbic acid comes from the Latin words “a” and “scorbus.” The translation of these words means “without scurvy.” Scurvy’s role as a devastating illness caused by deficient amounts of Vitamin C, especially in travel by ship, was described as early as 400 B.C. and was present even into World War I.


Ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, is an essential vitamin that acts as an antioxidant in living creatures. The term antioxidant is given to molecules that are chemically able to prevent their own oxidation or the oxidation of molecules in their proximity. Oxidation is most clearly observed in common processes such as the rusting of a nail left outdoors or an apple turning brown when left on the counter.

The cells of the apple are oxidized by the surrounding air and are destroyed, thus turning the apple brown. Notice, however, that if an apple is covered in lemon or lime juice, the rate of browning is significantly slowed. This illustrates the antioxidation effects of ascorbic acid. While oxidation is a natural event in chemical life, excessive oxidation can produce an abundance of free radicals, chemicals that can begin dangerous chain reactions in cellular structures.

Animals & Humans

In humans, one of few living organisms not capable of producing ascorbic acid internally, a deficiency in Vitamin C may cause excessive oxidation, creating deadly levels of free radicals which will damage or destroy living cells. Animals cannot survive without ascorbic acid. Vitamin C also plays a significant role in enzyme production reactions, acting as a catalyst for at least eight of these reactions.

In animals, Vitamin C’s presence is critical in the formation process of collagen. The development of scurvy is inevitable if these collagen compounds are not efficiently formed. Collagen is needed for tasks such as the healing of wounds and blood clotting. Without Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, these natural life processes could not occur.


Deficient levels of ascorbic acid in the human body are always deadly. There are a variety of ways this deficiency can reveal itself. The most obvious, as mentioned before, is scurvy. In addition to the adverse effects of scurvy, other health risks can occur with a diet that is low in Vitamin C. Lifetime smokers whose diet does not include sufficient levels of ascorbic acid are at a greater risk for various forms of lung cancer.
Vitamin C and Absorbic Acid
In men, healthy levels of Vitamin C have been shown to correlate negatively with the presence of cancer cells: the more consistently high levels of Vitamin C, the lower the cancer risk. Low Vitamin C has also been shown to make one more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and ischaemic heart disease. Additionally, Vitamin C combined with other antioxidant compounds drastically reduces the duration of wound healing.

The Oxidized Form (Dehydrogenization)

While dehydroascorbic acid does not have any vitamin-like properties itself, it, too, is a crucial compound that is directly related to Vitamin C production and absorption. Contrary to popularly held beliefs, Vitamin C is not transported from the blood directly to the human brain. Although the highest concentrations of Vitamin C are found in the brain, ascorbic acid cannot enter the brain through the bloodstream.

Dehydroascorbic acid is absorbed readily into the blood and dispersed throughout the human body, including large deposits into the human brain. This DHA is readily reduced, two hydrogen atoms are added to the compound, and ascorbic acid is formed. The transport of dehydroascorbic acid is much more efficient for the human body than transporting Vitamin C. Vitamin C is not as easily absorbed and requires more energy to mobilize. The body’s obsession with energy efficiency makes the transport of dehydroascorbic acid an acceptable alternative.

Location In The Body

Dehydroascorbic acid is transferred through human blood and concentrated around the mitochondria. A mitochondrion is an organelle responsible for the production of cellular energy throughout the entire body. These organelles are the “power houses” of the human body, supplying cells with the necessary energy required for normal function. The mitochondria are also gathering places for collections of cell-destroying free radicals.

To prevent the free radicals from critically damaging the power-supplying mitochondria, dehydroascorbic acid is pulled from the bloodstream into the mitochondria using glucose transporters. The dehydroascorbic acid is then reduced into ascorbic acid, which protects the membrane of the mitochondria from the damaging free radicals. Without the transport of dehydroascorbic acid into the body’s organelles, mitochondria would be destroyed and rendered useless.

Intake of Dehydrascorbic Acid

Every living creature requires ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, for survival. Most living organisms are able to make ascorbic acid within their own bodies. Reptiles and some birds are able to produce ascorbic acid in a chemical process that occurs within their kidneys. Most mammals produce the compound within their livers. Primates (including humans), however, are not equipped with this natural Vitamin C production process.

The presence of ascorbic acid in their bloodstream is derived from the diet of these animals. A diet that is rich in Vitamin C is required for healthy living. There is some debate regarding the advised daily intake of ascorbic acid. Most health organizations, however, agree that the average adult should consume between 50 and 100 milligrams of Vitamin C daily.

There is a greater consensus regarding the upper bounds of Vitamin C consumption. Adults should not consume more than two thousand milligrams of the Vitamin daily. Doing so may result in the onset of diarrhea, the body’s natural attempt to flush the unused acid out of its system.


While supplements can be consumed to ensure the proper intake of Vitamin C, there are many common foods that contain sufficient levels of ascorbic acid to promote general health. Plants and animals that efficiently produce their own levels of Vitamin C are the best sources of ascorbic acid. Of course, citrus fruits contain high levels of ascorbic acid; surprisingly, however, there are several vegetables whose Vitamin C content greatly surpasses that of most fruits.

Red bell peppers, parsley, brussels sprouts and broccoli have some of the highest natural ascorbic acid concentrations among edible plants. If vegetables are the bane of a particular picky eater’s existence and a fruit is preferred, the best fruit for ascorbic acid intake is the kiwi. The kiwifruit has one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C when compared to other fruits.

Vitamin C can also be ingested through animal products. In mammals, the Vitamin C production occurs within the liver. Therefore, eating calf, beef, pork or lamb livers can be an excellent source of Vitamin C. Other animal sources of ascorbic acid include fish roe (eggs), chicken livers, lamb brains, and animal milk. For infants, the best source of ascorbic acid is human breast milk. This nutrient-rich liquid provides the most adequate concentration of ascorbic acid.

Dehydroascorbic Acid

Most Vitamin C supplements are listed as only containing ascorbic acid. This is generally not a problem, as the oxidation and reduction of this compound enables it to quickly change forms, becoming dehydroascorbic acid for easy transport and returning to ascorbic acid for mitochondrial protection. However, there have been studies which suggest that ingesting dehydroascorbic acid specifically can speed up the beneficial health effects of this vitamin because DHA is able to be quickly transported to the brain and mitochondria via glucose transporters.

Ascorbic acid cannot be transported in this way. Additionally, it has been suggested that dehydroascorbic acid can be useful following strokes or other neurological disorders. Dehydroascorbic acid can directly enter the brain from the blood, unlike ascorbic acid, and so can deliver healing antioxidant properties to the damaged brain cells, preventing further adverse affects or even death.


While dehydroascorbic acid is, in fact, a decomposition product of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), it poses no intrinisic health hazards and offers positive vitamin activity as it can be transformed easily into ascorbic acid by reduction. There are, however, some small risks associated with consuming too much Vitamin C in a daily diet. Adults who regularly consume more than two thousand milligrams of Vitamin C may experience diarrhea and, in some cases, headaches, nausea or dizziness.

There are a few rare disorders caused by or influenced by high levels of Vitamin C. Because ascorbic acid assists the human body in iron absorption, there is a slight risk for iron poisoning in humans with iron absorption and processing abnormalities. It is widely considered an urban legend that Vitamin C in excess can cause kidney stones. After extensive research, the correlation has been determined to be coincidental. Some physicians advise careful monitoring of ascorbic acid intake during the first trimester of a pregnancy.

It is possible that excessive amounts of Vitamin C may prevent the placenta from successfully attaching to the uterine wall. These findings have not been verified, and pregnant women should consult their physician for proper dietary recommendations. Generally, the risk of overdosing on Vitamin C is very low. To avoid any risk whatsoever, adults should simply consume Vitamin C-rich foods or supplements to ensure that they are getting between 50 and 100 milligrams daily, a healthy amount.



D Vitamins

Vitamin D: How the Body is Affected by its Promotion and Deficiency

Vitamin D is an extraordinarily important vitamin which promotes the overall health of the body. Produced naturally in the human skin or in plant life through the exposure to sunlight, vitamin D, found in various forms in life, is necessary to regulate normal levels of calcium metabolism, which promotes the health of bones and blood and the possible prevention of various diseases.

The metabolism of vitamin D in the body is a complex process that begins with the photochemical process caused by the exposure of ultraviolet B rays in the sunlight on the epidermis of the skin, through the ingestion of foods that are a natural source of or are fortified with vitamin D, and through the ingestion of vitamin D supplements.
Glass of Milk
While there is still a great deal of ongoing research into how Vitamin D affects and prevents deficiencies, one thing is certain is that Vitamin D deficiency can be serious and life-threatening. It can not only affected the way the body functions and grows, but can quite possibly affect an individual’s mental and psychological well-being.

What Is It?

Vitamin D is a class of fat soluble vitamins that are made of secosteroids. Secosteroids are found naturally in the skin of vertebrates, including humans, and in plant life. They are divided into five forms of calciferols

  • Vitamin D1 (a molecular compound of ergocalciferol and lumisterol)
  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, which is produced by 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin)
  • Vitamin D4 (22-dihydroergocalciferol)
  • Vitamin D5 (sitocalciferol, produced by 7-dehydrositosterol)

The two significant forms of calciferols are Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3, once activated by sunlight, will target at least 2000 genes found in the body, making up at least 10% of the human genome.

Sources and Discoveries

Vitamin D2 is synthesized mainly in plants, fungi, and invertebrates through the exposure of UVB light. There are some questions as to how Vitamin D2 functions in nonvertebrates. Vitamin D3 is synthesized in human skin after it has been exposed to UVB light. The process of synthesizing Vitamin D into fat-soluble vitamins first began in 1923, when scientists such as Alfred Fabian Hess, was able to irradiate 7-dehyrdocholesterol to produce the fat-soluble vitamin.

Later, Adolf Windaus of the University of Gottingen in Germany discovered a connection between the constitution of sterols and vitamins. His work won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1928. During the 1930s, the chemical structure of Vitamin D3 was established.

Chemical Structure

The chemical structure of Vitamin D is composed of secosteroids, a form of steroids in which one bond of the ring is broken. Both Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 differ in their chemical compositions. For instance, Vitamin D2, unlike Vitamin D3, has a double bond between carbons 22 and 23, as well as a methyl group of carbon 24 in its side chain. It is also found mainly in invertebrates, fungi, and plants, and responds to UV radiation.

Ergosterol absorbs UV radiation to protect the DNA, RNA, and protein and might possibly act as a protective mechanism for organisms. Choleciferol, or Vitamin D3, becomes synthesized when the chemical compound 7-dehyrdocholesterol is exposed to UVB light. This metabolism occurs in the skin of vertebrates. Humans and other vertebrates produce large quantities of choleciferol in the skin, so therefore the vast quantity of vitamin D metabolism occurs through exposure to the sun.

Activation and Function

Vitamin D generally maintains normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and helps absorb calcium for bone strength. The process vitamin D undergoes after it has been synthesized by UVB light is complex and varied. Generally, vitamin D is inactive until it is metabolized biologically within the system.

This occurs either through the digestion of its food source or its supplemental form or when it is exposed in the epidermis of the skin through sunlight. Once activated, vitamin D circulates in the bloodstream and enters the liver. There, it is hydroxylated or synthesized into a prohormone called calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D). This conversion is made possible through the circulation process within the bloodstream, thus making it more active in the kidneys as vitamin D or in the immune system as a monocyte-macrophages.

Increased exposure to sun or dietary intake also increases the 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum which is composed of calcidiol. The calcidiol is then converted into calcitriol. Once this synthesized process takes place, the calcitriol behaves like a cytokine, operating as a defensive mechanism against localized, invasive microbials. When the synthesized calcitriol reaches the kidneys, it circulates as a hormone and is transported to certain organs with vitamin D-binding protein binders, which in turn regulates calcium and a concentration of phosphate in the bloodstream. The vitamin d-binding protein (VDBP), which is a protein found in the plasma, binds itself to the calcitriol, acting as a transportational agent through the body.


Calcitriol also binds to a vitamin D receptor (VDR), a nuclei of target cells found in such organs as the brain, heart, skin, gonads, prostate, and breast. The vitamin d receptor belongs to a nuclear receptor superfamily of steroid/thyroid hormone receptors. These receptors perform any number of duties such as the promotion of healthy bone mineralization and the prevention of hypercalcemic tenany.

When the vitamin D receptor is activated in the intestines, bone, kidney, and parathyroid gland cells, it maintains levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and promotes bone strength. Vitamin D receptors help proliferate and differentiate cells to prevent the growth and proliferation of cancer. Vitamin D receptors are concentrated in white blood cells, including monocytes and activated T and B cells, as well.

Sun Effect

The sun is the most important factor in the metabolism of vitamin D in human and plant life. The photochemical process begins with the exposure of UVB light, but the length of exposure to sunlight is extremely significant. For instance, 10 to 20 minutes of exposure to the summer sun can produce in the skin at least 10,000 IU. This is 50 times more than the 200 IU the United States government recommends on a daily basis. Some researchers suggest that adequate exposure to UV radiation to synthesize vitamin D should occur twice a week for approximately 5 to 30 minutes between 10 AM to 3 PM, when the sun is at its peak of UV radiation intensity.

Yet factors such as season, geographic latitude, time of day, weather, smog, melanin content, and sunscreen use can all affect whether vitamin D will be properly synthesized in the skin due to UV radiation. For instance, during the winter months between November and February, some areas aligned along the northern border of California to Boston, lack the UV radiation intensity to generate vitamin D synthesis in the epidermis of the skin. In other northern latitudinal areas, this decrease in intensity can stretch up to 6 months.

Areas below latitudes of 34 degrees, found generally in the United States in an alignment between Los Angeles and Columbia, South Carolina, have conditions that allow for adequate vitamin D metabolism throughout the entire calendar year.

Other Weather Factors

Weather factors and indirect exposure to the sun can greatly affect the photochemical synthesis of vitamin D. Overcast skies can decrease UV radiation by 50%, while shade or shadowy cover from the sun can decrease it by 60%. Sunlight filtered through windows does not create the photochemical process to synthesize vitamin D in the skin.

However sun exposure is primarily the means in which vitamin D is synthesized in the skin and provide and maintain health benefits in humans. For instance, ten minutes of sun exposure is sufficient enough to prevent most deficiencies such as rickets or osteomalacia. In order to make up the daily recommendation of sun light exposure, one will have to ingest 50 glasses of milk or digest 10 tablets of multivitamins a day to maintain comparable levels of vitamin D in the system, neither of which is feasible.

A combination of sun exposure, diet, and dietary supplements are recommended to reach the full benefits of vitamin D in the body.

Health and Deficiencies

Vitamin D plays a tremendous role in maintaining health and the possible prevention of certain diseases. Vitamin D deficiencies have been known to cause pathogens for at least 17 types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune disease, diabetes, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects and periodontal disease.

The lack of sun exposure might also explain outbreaks of influenza during the winter season. Researchers are continuously discovering the potential benefits of vitamin D sufficiency in preventing or treating any one of these diseases.


Vitamin D deficiency or a severely limited exposure to the sun can also lead to such deficiencies as rickets in infants and children. Rickets is primarily the failure of bones to mineralize. Its effects are most prominent in rapidly growing bones, which explains why infants and children are the most vulnerable to contracting the deficiency, since their bones are constantly growing at a fast rate.

While rickets does not slow down the expansion rates of bone growth, it does cause the bowing of bones in arms and legs and the disfigurement of the rib cage. In the most severe cases of rickets, infants and children suffer from seizures caused by hypercalcemia.


Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia in adults. Osteomalacia is a condtion that causes the weakening or softening of bones. While bones in adults stop growing, they do continue a process called remodeling, which maintains bone strength.

Osteomalacia causes a progressive loss of bone minerals which can lead to bone pain and the weakening and softening of bones.

Weakness and Pain in the Muscles

A lack of exposure to sunlight and a vitamin D deficiency can lead to weakness and pain in the muscles. This condition is often prevalent in the elderly. In a randomized controlled study, scientists discovered that elderly women who were placed on a three month regimen that included vitamin D supplements at 800 IU per day along with 1,200mg per day of calcium saw an increase in muscle strength and a 50% decreased risk of falling.


The lack of differentiation or specialization and the rapid growth define the characteristic behavior of cancer cells. Epidemiological studies have suggested that vitamin D can aid the growth and differentiation of these cells, though a cautionary note should be added that such studies can’t adequately prove an association between the two. What is known is that vitamin D plays some vital role in preventing at least 17 different forms of cancer.
This is largely because vitamin D receptors are present in malignant tumors, usually prevalent in breast, lung, skin (melanoma), colon and bone cancers. Biologically, once certain forms of vitamin D, such as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and its analogs are activated, it has the possibility to stimulate cell differentiation that are both cancerous and noncancerous in some cell cultures.

The limitation of sun exposure as it applies to geography might also play a role in who is considered to have a high factor risk in contracting cancer. In a 2006 study, using data collected on over 4 million cancer patients spread throughout 13 different countries, scientists have uncovered the possibility that individuals living in countries with a low exposure to the sun are most likely to have high risk factors.

Mental Health

Though the research in how vitamin D affects mental health is still ongoing, there have been some studies which suggest a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and depression and other mental health afflictions. Geographical factors regarding low sun exposure might also play a role in mental health risks.

Aging and Mortality

Researchers, using data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, have uncovered a link between vitamin D and mortality. Following a group of 13,331 Americans over the age of 20 over a 6 year period, the study was able to correlate possible links between vitamin D deficiency and mortality rates through cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin D might play a role in preventing premature aging as well.

This is occurs through the preventative nature of vitamin D in the inflammation of leukocyte telomeres, a gene that marks aging, and through the lengthening of the gene which can slow down aging.

High Risk Factors

People with a high risk for these deficiencies generally tend to be found among the elderly, who have a reduced capability to generate vitamin D through naturalized forms of sunlight exposure. They are also more likely to stay indoors and use sunscreen, which blocks the metabolism of vitamin D.

The obese, infants who are primarily breastfed (mother’s milk only has 25 IU of Vitamin D3 per liter, which is an insufficient amount for infants according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends 400 IU of vitamin D per day); those who have a severely limited exposure to sunlight; and victims of malabsorption syndromes such as cystic fibrosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Chrohn’s Disease are all likely to fall within the risk factors of individuals who suffer from vitamin D deficiency.

Skin Color

Skin color can play a role in vitamin D deficiency as well. Individuals with dark skin are less capable of metabolizing vitamin D through exposure to UVB light. Those who live further away from the equator are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. In a U.S. study, researchers have determined that African American women are 42% more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency, as opposed to white women who only have a 4% risk factor.

Body Coverage

Vitamin D deficiency is also documented among women who cover all areas of their skin due to religious or cultural practices, which conforms to a study performed on Arab and Danish Muslim women in Denmark who have shown a higher propensity toward muscle pain and weakness, two symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Sunscreen can block the metabolism of vitamin D in the skin as well. Sunscreens with a SPF factor of 8 greatly decreases vitamin D by 95%.

Nutritional Value

Vitamin D is produced naturally by sunlight, with different forms (Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3) found in plant life and the skin of vertebrates, including humans. Vitamin D, though, can also be found in food, though this source is rather limited.

Foods that have a natural source of Vitamin D can include fatty fishes (catfish; cooked salmon, mackerel, and eel; sardines cooked in oil and drained; and tuna that has been canned in oil); whole eggs, particularly the yolks, cooked beef liver, 1 Tbs of fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil; and mushrooms, which make up the only vegetable containing vitamin D.

In certain countries such as the United States, other foods are fortified with Vitamin D3. These include milk, yogurt, margarine or oil spreads, breakfast cereals, pastries, and breads.


The general dosage of vitamin D varies between children and adults. For adults, the Adequate Intake (AI) recommendation of vitamin D for adults is 50 IU to 1,000 IU. This differs depending on age. Adults under 50 are generally recommended to take 50mg of vitamin D a day. Adults between the ages of 50 and 70 are recommended to take 10mg daily, while adults over the age of 70 are recommended to take 15mg a day.
Vitamin D Supplements
There are differing opinions on exactly how much Vitamin D adults should take daily based on how much sun a person is exposed to during the day. Some opinions suggest that the AI recommendations might be inadequate for such exceptions. Not all doses, though, are effective for all conditions, such as rickets or osteomalacia. Generally, in such cases, it is recommended that a person takes 400 IU to 800 IU per day, while an oral dose of vitamin D might be necessary to combat and prevent osteoporosis.

Children’s Dosage

It is recommended that children older than 1 year should not exceed 50mg of vitamin D a day, while children 1 year and younger are recommended to take 25mg a day.

Other Forms of Intake

While the more popular form of vitamin D supplements are found in softgels, capsules, and tablets, they can also be taken in liquid form.

Warnings and Side Effects

There are various side effects and warnings associated with vitamin D. Overdosage is possible. The Adequate Intake limit of dosage is set at 2,000 IU. Anything higher is extremely toxic. Anything within the Adequate Intake levels though are tolerable for ingestion. Excessive amounts of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, or excessive bone loss. Hypercalcemia can also cause kidney stones and the hardening of the heart and kidneys if left untreated. Some vitamin D analogues have been known to cause some daytime drowsiness.

Some allergens are also caused by Vitamin D, so it is important to know beforehand if one is allergic to vitamin D. Excessive amounts of orally ingested vitamin D in infants can cause health risks as well in the form of high blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia), which can lead to major bone loss. Individuals with a high risk for hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, histoplasmosis, and chronic hypercalcemia are steered away from taking vitamin D, as this might lead to serious and possibly life threatening health problems.

Pregnant mothers are recommended to take the same daily dosage of vitamin D as nonpregnant women. It is recommended that infants who are exclusively breastfed take vitamin D supplements after the age of 2 months to make up for the insufficient amount of the vitamin found in breast milk.

Interactions with other Medications

Vitamin D supplements can be inhibited or enhanced through the interaction of other drugs. Drugs that increase the metabolism of vitamin D and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels include:

  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • fosphenytoin (Cerebyx); phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • rifampin (Rimactane).

Drugs and other agents that decrease absorption of vitamin D in the intestines and should be avoided when taking the supplement include:

  • Cholestyramine (Questran)
  • Colestipal (colestid)
  • Orlistat (Xenical)
  • Mineral oil
  • Olestra

Otherwise healthy men who take ketoconazole with vitamin D will experience a decrease in seum levels of 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D. The drug also blocks the 25-hydroxyvitamin D3-1-hydroxylase enzyme.




Beta-Carotene: An Overview

β-carotene is a chemical that has been classified as a terpenoid in the plant world. Terpenoids are a sector of organic chemicals. They have structures which include five-carbon isoprene units, but vary significantly in shape and other elements of structure. It is a well known fact that the compound beta-carotene contributes to the pigmentation of many fruits and vegetables. Orange pigmentation in foods like carrots is the best known visual effect of carotene, but the compound also contributes to green, yellow, and red coloring in naturally occurring substances. Colors of fall foliage are influenced by the presence of carotene in the absence of chlorophyll.

A forerunner of vitamin A production, β-Carotene is converted to vitamin A through the activity of β-Carotene enzyme 15, 15′-monoxygenase. β-Carotene can either be isolated from plants or produced synthetically. The plant isolation method of extracting carotene is normally completed through column chromatography. In this process, compound polarity based on a non-polar solvent is used to separate carotenoids from other compounds in fruits rich in β-Carotene. Repelled by lipids and without function groups, the hydrocarbon is easy to find due to both of these factors and the dark pigmentation that marks it. The most common sources for extracting β-carotene are algae, fungi, and crude palm oil. In contrast, the β-Carotene synthetic production method differs greatly. To produce the dually beta-ring capped compound, geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate is biosynthetically altered into β-Carotene, the most commonly occurring carotenoid in nature.
Beta Caronte, What is it?

Absorption of Vitamin A through β-Carotene

Because β-Carotene is a form of pro-vitamin A, it has great nutritional value. The compound uses passive diffusion to gain absorption into the body by means of the small intestine. The absorption efficiency of vitamin A from β-Carotene can vary wildly, and is generally believed to range between nine and twenty-two percent absorption. The enzyme 15, 15′-monoxygenase is used to cleave a single molecule of β-Carotene into a final result of two molecules of vitamin A. After this cleaving of the molecule is complete, vitamin A can be used to complete its benefits. Absorption may actually rely on the method used to prepare β-Carotene.

Whether the vitamin is obtained from a vegetable or a supplement, preparation can alter absorption. Certain studies even point to the idea that the vitamin can only be efficiently absorbed when it starts out in a natural form. However, these reports remain inconclusive. Other factors that affect the absorption of β-Carotene include whether or not lipids are consumed concurrently and how high bodily levels of both vitamin A and β-Carotene are at the point of absorption. Amount of β-Carotene in the food eaten, matrix properties, the linkage between molecules, carotenoid species, and genetics can also play into this complicated matter. A possibility of these factors interacting with each other increases variability of absorption to an even greater degree.

Differences in β-Carotene Cleavage Affect Yield

The chain linking the double cyclohexyls rings can determine differences in the products of a conversion reaction from β-Carotene to vitamin A. This is due to the fact that the chain may cleave in two ways. In the first, known as symmetric cleavage, beta-carotene-15,15′-dioxygenase cleaves the β-Carotene into two retinal molecules that are equal in size. Both of these retinal molecules react to form both vitamin A and retinoic acid. When β-Carotene is cleaved asymmetrically, producing two asymmetrical products. This produces β-apocarotenal (8′,10′,12′) and lessened amounts of retinoic acid.

Using Conversion to Discover the Amount of Vitamin A Produced by Foods

Conversion factors can be incredibly important in determining how much vitamin A is in a given food. Previously, vitamin A activity was measured in international units, also known as IU. Although this scale is still used on most food and supplement labels, calculating in IU is ineffective. As mentioned above, the absorption rate of vitamin A is variable, as is the conversion rate. For this reason, a brand new measure was created by international organization FAO/WHO back in 1967. This unit, retinol equivalent, or RE, shows a much more accurate representation of the amount of vitamin A in a food. In the year 2001, another measure was created to try and accurately express the amount of vitamin A in a food. The US Institute of Medicine set forth a proposal for using this measure, retinol activity equivalents (RAE) for use in determining vitamin A intake. The following conversion factors can aid in determining what the non-interchangeable units of measurements mean in relation to each other.

To convert from IU to RE, one retinol equivalent is equal to 3.33 IU of vitamin A activity. However, this measurement is used for determinations from retinol only. For determinations from beta-carotene, an RE is set equivalent to 10 IU of activity. Canadian calculations differ slightly, claiming that an RE from β-carotene is equal to 6.667 IU.

In retinol equivalents, 1 RE is equal to a microgram of retinol. Six micrograms of β-carotene equals an RE as well. Canada has set their regulations so that an RE equals 2 micrograms of β-carotene.

Retinol Activity Equivalents, or RAEs, are the newest form of measurement. An RAE, like an RE, equals a microgram of retinol. Like the Canadian standard, 2 micrograms of supplement β-carotene amounts to an RAE. However, if an RAE is coming from a food source, it is set equal to 12 micrograms of β-carotene. All other pro vitamin A carotenes have 24 micrograms in an RAE if they are derived from a food matrix.

How to Obtain β-carotene from a Diet

An orange color in a fruit or vegetable is the first hint to finding β-carotene in a food. Among the richest sources of β-carotene are the rare (and difficult to find) Vietnamese gac and crude palm oil. Palm oil processing often removes the nutrient in order to improve clarity of the substance. The gac is unknown to people who do not live in South East Asia. These sources have ten times the amount of β-carotene as carrots, however, and would be great sources if they were more readily available.

More common sources of β-carotene can include fruits, such as mangoes and papayas. Orange root vegetables (think carrots and yams) are another tasty source of β-carotene. Additionally, leafy greens, the go-to veggies for many different vitamins and nutrients also contain β-carotene. These foods include the ever popular kale and spinach (both members of the lucrative Brassica group) and the more obscure sweet gourd and sweet potato leaves. According to a survey of people living in the United States of America, Canada, and several other European countries, most women absorb between two and seven milligrams of β-carotene a day, on average.

The USDA has compiled a top ten list of the foods richest in β-carotene per serving. Nearing the top of the list, carrot juice has 236 grams per a one cup serving. This amounts to 22 mg of carotene per serving, and 9.3 mg per one hundred mg. Oddly enough, unsalted canned pumpkin has closely follows. There are 245 grams in a serving of canned pumpkin. A cup of the mushy food yields seventeen mg of β-carotene.

This is a hefty 6.9 mg of of β-carotene per hundred grams. Cooking method does make a difference, as exemplified by the case study of the sweet potato. Baked with the skin on, one potato that weighs approximately 146 grams yields 16.8 mg per serving, or 11.5 mg per 100 g. If the same potato is boiled without the skin, it weighs in at 156 grams but yields 14.7 mg per serving and 9.4 mg/100 g. In a third case, 255 grams of canned, vacuum packed sweet potato results in a cup of potatoes containing 12.2 mg per serving and 4.8 grams per hundred grams. Carrot preparation holds with this trend as well.

Boiled carrots that are cooked from fresh have 156 grams in a serving. In this cup of carrots, there are 13.0 mg of β-carotene and 7.2 milligrams per hundred grams. Carrots cooked in the same manner from frozen amount to 146 g/per serving. A cup of these carrots contains a slightly lesser amount of β-carotene, at 12.0 milligrams per cup and 8.2 milligrams per hundred grams of the food. The storage method of a food does not always follow by the same rules, however. Frozen and cooked spinach weighing 190 g per cup produces 13.8 milligrams in a serving, and 7.2 per hundred grams. When spinach is canned and drained, a cup weighing 214 grams has 12.6 mg of β-carotene per serving and 5.9 per hundred grams. This is a significant difference that cannot be overlooked. Boiled collards round out the end of the list. One hundred seventy grams per serving makes a cup containing 11.6 mg, which figures out of 6.8 mg per serving.

There are other sources besides vegetables to receive β-carotene and Vitamin A. Foods like grapefruit, fish, apricots, broccoli, milk, and eggs can solve a deficiency of the vitamin. Cilantro, turnip greens, cantaloupe, and romaine lettuce all contain the compound β-carotene. It is easy to find a source of β-carotene for almost everyone.

Uses for Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is an essential supplement in a diet for many reasons. The vitamin A produced has many beneficial effects on the body. Besides protecting cells from dangerous free radicals, carotene can lend a hand in preventing the onset of heart disease and cancer, two of the deadliest diseases known to man. Preventing cancer is done through increasing the effectiveness of communication between cells. This better communication leads to less errors in the replication of DNA, and thus, less occurrences of malignant cells. A requirement for eye health, beta-carotene can fend against debilitating macular degeneration and help to slow cataract onset and progression.

Beta carotene shields dermal tissues from sunburn. Additionally, it can help with controlling and preventing conditions as diverse as asthma and arthritis, psoriasis and Parkinson’s disease, depression and high blood pressure. There are suggested links between alleviation of the symptoms of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and β-carotene. Cervical cancer, chlamydia,and cervical dysplasia might all experience increased prevention rates from the implementation of β-carotene in a diet. From photo-sensitivity to yeast infections, beta carotene has been suggested to offer help. Beta carotene can even help with infertility. A deficiency of the nutrient is dangerous.

Deficiency of β-carotene may be associated with a resulting deficiency in vitamin A. The repercussions of such a deficiency include night blindness, dry eye, inability to heal, white spots on the interior of eyelids, and even corneal issues that can result in blindness. Other symptoms include weight loss, acne, fatigue, insomnia, abscesses in the ear and respiratory infections.

In some cases a rare genetic disorder called erythropoietic protoporphyria can be aided by supplementation of β-carotene. β-carotene is useful in this skin disorder because the pophyrin-heme metabolism in these individuals has been disrupted. This leads to several physical manifestations, including extreme photo-sensitivity. Commercially available synthetic β-carotene has been FDA approved to treat this photo-sensitivity, offering protection from the sun.

Recommended Dosages of β-carotene

Consuming the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables (five apiece) every day should eliminate the need for a supplement for β-carotene. However, if this is not possible, it is recommended that adults consume from 6 to 15 mg of β-carotene daily. Children, on the other hand, should take 3-6 mg per day. Breastfeeding mothers should implement a slight increase in β-carotene. A healthy amount of fat in the diet aids in the absorption of β-carotene. Due to side effects, smokers should watch their intake of β-carotene supplements, capping intake at 20 mg daily to avoid serious health issues. Pregnant women should also make sure not to take in toxic levels of β-carotene, as this has been linked to some birth defects.

Side Effects of β-carotene that Should Be Taken Seriously

Like almost all substances, β-carotene has harmless and serious side effects alike. The most prevalent of the side effects is a result of toxicity. The condition known as carotenodermia is characterized by a shocking orange skin tint. The increased pigmentation can make a person appear a yellowish orange color. This condition results from carotenoid being deposited in the upper layer of the epidermis. While the condition is currently deemed to be harmless, the condition can be embarrassing because of the conspicuous state of an unnatural skin color. Another effect of taking high doses of β-carotene supplements is the occurrence of lung cancer in smokers.

Studies have suggested that, when taken in supplement form, β-carotene can increase the risk of cancer in those people who smoke cigarettes.

There are several theories which attempt to explain the elusive origin of this counter-intuitive phenomenon. One of the most popular explanations concerns the way that retinoic acid ligands to Retinoic Acid Receptor beta, also known as RAR-beta. This complex often binds to Activator Protein 1 (AP1). Downstream events of DNA transcription are affected by this change. Normally, AP1 binds to DNA, promoting the proliferation of cells. However, when retinoic acid enters the equation, RAR-beta inhibits AP1 from binding to DNA. When this happens, AP1 is not present when it becomes time for the cell to begin DNA transcription. Cells cannot proliferate normally in these circumstances.

As mentioned above, β-carotene is sometimes cleaved asymmetrically. This increased asymmetric cleavage, as this article has mentioned, leads to a decreased level of retinoic acid. Smoking cigarettes, it turns out, increases the probability of asymmetrical cleavage of β-carotene.

Increased cell proliferation in smokers leads to a higher probability of the development of malignant cells. This could be a plausible explanation for the number in studies about smoking and β-carotene. The higher degree of lung cancer in smokers who consume large amounts of β-carotene supplements is unmistakable. A secondary theory concerns another substance created from the breakdown of β-carotene: trans-beta-apo-8′-carotenol, known as apocarotenal.

This substance has been proven to not only induce mutations and but also to become genotoxic to cell cultures that do not respond to beta-carotene. Neither of these theories has been tested significantly enough to induce a level of confidence in the cause of the smoking/β-carotene occurrence of lung cancer.

Although the mechanism is unknown, it is known that only supplement forms of β-carotene show this increased risk. No link has been shown between smokers who receive β-carotene from natural food sources. The pharmacological sources of the vitamin, however are dangerous for the lungs of smokers. Smokers also face an increased risk of cardiovascular/total mortality, prostate cancer, and intracerebral hemorrhage. This risk also exists for people who have experienced exposure to asbestos.

Extras: The Good Side Effects of β-carotene

Using fish oil as a supplement can result in many positive effects in heart health and longevity. However, consumption of fish oil also shows oxidative stress. β-carotene can help to lower this stress and even augment the positive plasma triglyceride lowering properties of fish oil.

In babies, iron supplements are essential, but also lower the levels of plasma vitamin A. A β-carotene supplement in infants with marginal vitamin A concentrations can help to improve the production of vitamin A and avoid the devastating effects of vitamin A deficiency.

Other positive side effects of β-carotene include healthier skin, including acne reduction, better formation of teeth and other growth tissues, increased immunodeficiency, maintenance of the urinary and digestive tracts, and even a sharper sense of taste. All of these benefits add up to a good reputation for β-carotene.

The History of β-carotene

β-carotene has a long history. The chemical was first noticed in casual observation of the outside world. Scientists have always held a fascination with what chemicals could cause fruits and vegetables to be bright with such vibrant colors. Studies on β-carotene started springing up in the early 1800s, but have continued up until the present day. β-carotene was successfully isolated in 1831 by a scientist named Wachenroder. Wachenroder named the compound carotene after isolating the compound from roots of carrots. The structure of β-carotene, however, was still a mystery. The chemical formula of β-carotene C40H56 was first discovered in 1907.

β-carotene is interesting in that it was the first pro-vitamin discovered. Scientist Karrer won a Nobel prize for his work on β-carotene. The pro-vitamin was first manufactured commercially in the 1950s. In the nineteen-eighties, the antioxidant properties of β-carotene were discovered, leading to many studies on its effect on cancer. Humanity is still studying the effects of β-carotene and its possible positive and negative effects in our lives.

Fun Facts

A polar bear liver contains, in every 500 grams of weight, contains 9 million IU of β-carotene. Ingesting this amount would be lethal, resulting in headaches, hairloss, diarrhea, spleen and liver enlargement, loss in vision and drowsiness. This can be counted as yet another great reason to avoid eating polar bear liver.

Cooking at high temperatures or with copper and iron utensils can lead to a decrease in β-carotene in food. This can also occur if food is soaked in water for extended periods of time.

The blue green algae that flamingos eat is high in β-carotene. The amount of β-carotene in the algae causes the familiar pink pigmentation of flamingos. If flamingos are fed a diet low in β-carotene, they return to white, their natural color.

Rice can be modified to contain β-carotene, this technique is being used to supplement diets in poverty striken areas to prevent vitamin A deficiency.


Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is a group of secosteroids that are soluble in fat. They are unlike other vitamins in this respect. The D group consists of five natural analogues and several synthetic analogues. One of the most prominent of the natural analogues is Vitamin D3, although some synthetic forms do exist. Vitamin D3 is one of two analogues, along with vitamin D2, to which most people are referring when they talk generally about vitamin D without specifying a subscript for an analogue. The most common form of vitamin D3 is created in the skin of all vertebrate animals, with the exception of the naked mole rat, the only vertebrate in which no vitamin D is detected in the body.


7-dehydrocholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D3. It is found in quantity in the blood serum, milk, and the skin of vertebrate animals. The inner layers of the skin are called the dermis, while the outer layer is the epidermis.

The dermis is primarily composed of connective tissue, and the epidermis has five layers, or strata. The innermost stratum is the stratum basale. Working inward is the stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and the outermost stratum is the stratum corneum. The greatest concentrations of 7-dehydrocholesterol are found in the two innermost strata, the stratum basale, and the stratum spinosum.
Vitamin D-3
When Ultraviolet radiation type B with wavelengths of 270 – 315 nm makes contact with 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin, it undergoes a chemical reaction that changes it into vitamin D3. Ultraviolet radiation is a form of light produced by the sun.

It comes in three forms: type A, B, and C. Type C is the strongest and can be very damaging. Luckily, UVC is blocked by the atmosphere and never reaches the surface of the Earth. UVA light is also known as “tanning rays” because it is mostly responsible for darkening the pigment (melanin) in our skin, creating a tan.

UVB light is responsible for most sunburn. It is more powerful than UVA light, but UVA light has no known benefits. UVB light not only causes the chemical reaction that turns 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D3, it is also responsible for stimulating melanocytes into creating melanin and Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (MSH). While it would seem that everyone would have adequate levels of vitamin D without supplementation, many people suffer from deficiencies because not all sunlight contains UVB rays.

Geography and Climate

Geography, season, time, sky cover, and barriers between the sun and skin are all reasons why people do not produce as much vitamin D3 as they need. The sun’s rays must be at a precise angle for UVB radiation to reach the surface of the planet. Because of this, seasons affect the time the light is available, and the further away from the equator, the smaller the window.

For instance, if you are in the Northern hemisphere, anywhere above the line from the Northern border of California in the west to Boston in the east (42 degrees N), UVB light is only available in sufficient amounts from March to October. In parts of Canada and Alaska, this timeframe can be reduced to April through September. In the U.S., only those people south of the line from Los Angeles to Columbia, SC can receive enough UVB light for year round vitamin D production.

Additionally, the time of day affects how much UVB light is available for production of Vitamin D3. Adequate amounts of UVB light can only be absorbed between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Before or after this, UVA light will cause a burn before enough UVB light is absorbed. Also, cloud cover has a dramatic effect of UVB penetration. Clouds reduce penetration by 50%. Shade reduces UVB availability by another 60%. Finally, UVB light does not go through glass. Direct sun exposure is required for UVB light to get to the skin.

The current recommended times for exposure to sunlight is 10 to 30 minutes on the hands, arms, and face three times per week. Those with light skin need less light. Those with dark skin may require up to 90 minutes three days per week. In this time, 100 to 200 International Units (IU) of Vitamin D3 is produced for each 5% of skin exposed to the UVB radiation. The problem with this exposure is that it is a risk factor for developing skin cancer. Exposure at the recommended level takes this into account.

Previtamin D3

When adequate amounts of UVB light reach the skin, the 7-dehydrocholesterol undergoes a 6-electron conrotatory electrocyclic reaction that converts into an intermediary substance called Previtamin D3. Pre-D3 is an oil that must be absorbed into the skin for the conversion to continue.

Swimming in chlorinated water can leech preD3 from the skin before it converts again. Also, washing or showering within one hour of exposure to UVB light can remove the oils.


After several hours, previtamin D3 goes through a spontaneous transformation. This transformation is scientifically called an antarafacial hydride sigmatropic shift. The result is an early form of vitamin D3 called cholecalciferol. This is the form that is in vitamin D3 supplements. It is extracted from animal products and put into capsule form. Cholecalciferol can also be obtained from natural food sources. Food containing cholecalciferol includes several species of fish, fish liver, chicken eggs, and beef liver.

Cholecalciferol is only the first form of vitamin D3. In this form, it is still not usable for anything by the body. It is either absorbed into the bloodstream from the skin or, if in supplement form, the gastrointestinal tract. Once in the bloodstream, cholecalciferol is absorbed by the liver, where it undergoes its next transformation.


25-hydroxycholecalciferol, also known as 25(OH)D, is created in the liver from cholecalciferol through a process known as hydroxylation. This takes place with the help of the 25-hydroxylase enzyme. This reaction takes place in the endoplasmic reticulum of the liver cells. After it is created it remains stored in the hepatocytes of the liver until the body recognizes it is needed. At this time, the 25(OH)D is released into the blood plasma where is becomes bound to the globulin.

The release of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol is not yet the final stage of usable vitamin D3. The last process takes place in the kidneys.

Even though the body doesn’t make use of 25(OH)D, this is the substance tested for to determine if adequate amounts of vitamin D are in a person’s system. In the U.S. 25(OH)D levels are measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). A person is considered deficient if tests result in 8 ng/ml or lower. 8 – 20 ng/ml is considered insufficient. Optimal is 20 – 60 ng/ml. High levels are 60 – 90 ng/ml. Greater than 90 ng/ml is considered toxic.

25-hydroxycholecalciferol also plays another role. It increases the absorption of calcium through the intestines. Many doctors will recommend taking vitamin D3 supplements when the patient is actually in need of calcium.

Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol)

After 25-hydroxycholecalciferol is released to the blood plasma, it travels to proximal tubules in the kidneys. There it goes through a final hydroxylation process that converts it into the active form of vitamin D3. This active form is known as 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol or 1,25-OHD for short. It is also known as calcitriol. Another inactive form of vitamin D3 is also created in the kidneys. This is 24,25-OHD. 24,25-OHD must react first with parathyroid hormone before it becomes the biologically active calcitriol.
Vitamin D-3 Supplement
Once the calcitriol is created, it is released by the kidney back into the bloodstream where it attaches to a protein called vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP) in the plasma. The circulatory system then carries the calcitriol to the various organs that utilize it.

The biological effects of vitamin D3 begin by the calcitriol bonding to special vitamin D receptors (VDRs) in the nuclei of the organ’s cells. The VDR acts to transcribe the gene expression of proteins. Some of the organs and areas of the body with VDRs are the brain, heart, sex organs, prostate, skin, breasts, bone, intestines, and kidneys.

In the bones, kidneys, intestine, and parathyroid gland, calcitriol is responsible for maintaining calcium levels throughout the body. It also maintains phosphorus levels in the blood. Bone content is also regulated by D3 there.

Vitamin D3 also plays a role in the growth of cells and cellular differentiation, whereby a less specialized cell is “promoted” into a more specialized type of cell. In the blood, Vitamin D3 helps to create a healthy immune system by keeping white blood cell count up and activating T and B cells.

Calcitriol also plays a role in the prevention of several diseases. There is evidence that supports some colon cancer is linked to low levels of vitamin D3. Rickets and other bone diseases are also prevented by maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D3. Other diseases that can be prevented by calcitriol are diabetes, and hypertension.

Calcitroic Acid

Once calcitriol is expended, it metabolizes into calcitroic acid and detaches from the VDR. Calcitroic acid is water-soluble, so once it gets into the bloodstream, it is absorbed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.



Mayo Clinic

Vitamin D Council

Daniel D. Bikle, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor of Medicine, University of California


Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid is a water soluble antioxidant. Ascorbic acid is also referred to as vitamin C. The sugar acid, ascorbic acid, is white or pale yellow. The antioxidant is available in powder form or crystal form.

Scurvy occurs in people from a lack of vitamin C. Vitamin C, the antioxidant, acts as an agent against free radical formation in the body. Free radical build up contributes to the aging process, as well as, cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Smokers are at particularly great risk for vitamin C deficiency because smoke depletes the amount of vitamin C in the body.

Individuals suffering from vitamin C deficiency may develop dry or splitting hair, rough, scaly skin, gingivitis, and nosebleeds. Other individuals may suffer from slow healing wounds, bruises, and prolonged infections. People with severe deficiencies will develop scurvy.
Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C
Other conditions may develop as a result of vitamin C deficiencies, such as high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, atherosclerosis, gallbladder disease, and others. Vitamin C deficiencies may lead to plaque buildup in the blood vessels. Excessive build up may lead to stroke or heart attack. Experts suspect that increasing levels of vitamin C will prevent the risk of developing these conditions. However, the evidence relating to these matters are inconclusive. Experts have also suspected that vitamin C deficiencies could lead to depression and other problems.

History and Origin of Usage

The name ascorbic acid originates from the word “scorbutus,” which means “scurvy” and “a,” which means “no.” The word means literally “no scurvy.” Walter Haworth discovered the ascorbic acid structure in 1937. At that time, ascorbic acid was referred to as hexuronic acid. He also won the Nobel Prize for the discovery. Later, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi was awarded a prize in Medicine for his findings related to the functionality of L-ascorbic acid.

Linus Pauling and Dr. Willis later discovered that vitamin C levels for a long term period may cause atherosclerosis. Linus Pauling is a Noble Prize winning scientist who made these assertions.

In Canada, certain health conditions have shown improvement as a result of vitamin C intake. In 2004, males consumed, on average, 133 mg of vitamin C per day and females consumed 120 mg of vitamin C per day. Each gender had higher than the recommended daily allowance. Incidences of scurvy were also reduced in this area.

Sources of Ascorbic Acid

The essential nutrient, vitamin C, is present primarily in fruits and vegetables. Experts over time have noticed that vitamin C is sensitive to certain elements. Particularly, light, air, and heat are the most commonly cited sensitivities. Individuals who seek to gain their recommended daily allowance of vitamin C through foods should eat the fruits or vegetables raw or cooked al dente. Stir fry and other forms of preparation will preserve the nutrients and vitamin C content in the foods.

Common foods containing vitamin C are as follows:
Finding Ascorbic Acid

  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tangerines
  • Grapefruits
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Strawberries
  • Papayas
  • Mangos
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwis
  • Pineapples
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Cantaloupes
  • Rose Hips
  • Acerola
  • Cherries
  • Asparagus
  • Green Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Green Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Peas
  • Turnip Greens
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Watercress
  • Small amounts of ascorbic acid are present in fish and milk

How Ascorbic Acid is Used

Since vitamin C is water soluble, it must be replenished daily through food sources or a vitamin supplement. Ascorbic acid is responsible for producing a protein in the body called collagen. Collagen helps to maintain healthy teeth, gums, bones, blood vessels, skin, cartilage, and vertebrae. Ascorbic acid aids the body in the healing of wounds, cuts, and abrasions. The liquid form of vitamin C may be applied directly to the skin or ingested internally to aid with the healing process.

The popular antioxidant also assists in regulating cholesterol, heart disease and high blood pressure. Ascorbic acid assists with these diseases by enlarging the blood vessels when consumed. Vitamin C assists the body with warding off infections. Additionally, vitamin C, similar to most antioxidants, fights free radicals associated with pollutants, such as tobacco smoke, smog and other known carcinogens.

Many diseases may develop from a vitamin C deficiency. Some of the diseases or ailments are listed below:

  • Anemia
  • Scurvy
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Cataracts
  • Deterioration of eyes, kidneys, and nerves associated with diabetes
  • Experts speculate that vitamin C decreases the symptoms associated with the common cold
  • Aids in the absorption of iron
  • May prevent the absorption of lead in the blood

Forms of Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid comes in a variety of forms. The popular antioxidant can be purchased in tablets, powder, capsules, and chewable vitamins. Other forms consist of a liquid and effervescent liquid form. The doses range from 25 to 1500 mg. Some individuals suffer from upset stomach after consuming ascorbic acid. For those individuals, an esterified form of ascorbic acid is produced. This form of vitamin C contains a buffer that alleviates the symptoms associated with heart burn.

What Ascorbic Acid is Proven to Do

Ascorbic acid has been speculated to perform several functions in the body. Some of the popular functions are listed below:

  • Prevents gingivitis and promotes healthy gums and teeth
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Helps alleviates symptoms of uveitis, which is the inflammation of the eye. Vitamin C improves vision in these sufferers.
  • Treats eczema, asthma, hay fever or other conditions related to allergies.
  • Improves the healing time of wounds and burns
  • Alleviates pain associated with sunburn or erythma or skin redness
  • Regulates the blood sugar levels of diabetes sufferers
  • Decreases the effects of dry mouth often associated with antidepressant medications

More specifically ascorbic acid plays the role in preventing the following diseases or ailments from developing in the body. The roles ascorbic acid plays in the body are listed in detail below:

Heart Disease

Experts suggest that since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it can lower the risk for heart disease. Since ascorbic acid is speculated to widen arteries and prevent the hardening of arteries or plaque buildup. Some studies show that vitamin C can prevent low density lipoprotein (LDL) or the bad cholesterol in the body. Many individuals who are at risk for strokes, heart disease, or peripheral artery disease should consider taking vitamin C on a regular basis to avoid the untimely events related to these diseases.

The evidence is inconclusive that vitamin C is effective, but individuals who have consumed vitamin C on a regular basis seem to not have difficulty with these particular issues. Consult with a physician prior to consuming vitamin C on a regular basis to determine an appropriate regimen for your diet.

High Blood Pressure

Experts, who have conducted studies of large groups of people, indicate that people who consume foods with high levels of vitamin C have a lower risk of high blood pressure than people who do not include vitamin C in their diets. Physicians recommend that individuals consume foods that are rich in antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables carry a considerable portion of antioxidants and are a great source of vitamin C.

Common Cold

Many individuals speculate that vitamin C can cure a common cold. However, individuals who take vitamin C supplements seem to reduce the duration of the cold symptoms by approximately 1 day. Experts have studied individuals, who exercise in extreme environments, such as the Arctic. Skiers, marathon runners, and soldiers did seem to have fewer symptoms associated with a cold than their counterparts who did not consume vitamin C.


Experts have shown that vitamin C may reduce the occurrence of cancer in individuals. The popular antioxidant is associated with reducing incidences or skin cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer. Foods rich in antioxidants and vitamin C seem to have the greatest effects of protecting against cancerous diseases. Vitamin C supplements appeared to have less of an effect. More studies need to be conducted to prove this finding conclusively.

Once a patient becomes diagnosed with cancer, there is no evidence that indicates vitamin C will reduce the spread of cancer within the body. Some antioxidants, such as ascorbic acid, may interfere with chemotherapy medications. More research should be conducted to determine the benefits of ascorbic acid in cancer therapy. Consult with your physician to determine if vitamin C will enhance or inhibit cancer therapy treatments.


Cartilage within the body consists of collagen along with other essential components. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production. Sufferers of osteoarthritis, experience pain due to the destruction of cartilage. Free radicals are speculated in causing the destruction of cartilage. Vitamin C fights free radicals in the body and attempts to keep them from destroying cartilage and cause other diseases associated with vitamin C deficiencies.

Individuals who adopt diets that are rich in vitamin C are more likely to avoid arthritis related symptoms. However, experts will not state conclusively that vitamin C supplements will prevent or treat individuals diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Those who are taking anti-inflammatory drugs that are non-steroidal may experience lower levels of vitamin C due to the body’s uptake of more vitamin C as a result of the drug. These individuals may want to consider taking a higher dosage of vitamin C through a vitamin supplement.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects the eyes and eventually results in blindness in elderly over the age of 55. Vitamin C when taken in conjunction with zinc, vitamin E and beta-carotene seems to protect the eyes against the development of these types of diseases.

The people who benefit most from this regimen are people with advanced stages of macular degeneration. The effectiveness of this particular regimen in prevention of macular degeneration and less advanced stages of macular degeneration is unknown. More studies are being conducted to determine the efficacy of this particular treatment.
Vitamin C


Pregnant women who are at risk for pre-eclampsia should consider a regimen of vitamin C, along with vitamin E. Women who suffer from pre-eclampsia often have high blood pressure and an excessive amount of protein in the urine. This ailment often leads to pre-term births. Some studies disagree about the role of vitamin C in the prevention of pre-eclampsia.


Individuals who possess low levels of vitamin C are more likely to develop asthma. Some studies also show a lower incidence of asthma related to exercise. Studies are conflicting regarding this development. Further research must be conducted to prove the efficacy of this treatment in asthma.

Typical Dosage and Usage Requirements

Individuals are recommended to take vitamin C supplements 2 to 3 times per day with meals. Some experts may even suggest between 250 and 500 mg twice per day for any benefit. To avoid unpleasant reactions associated with vitamin C, individuals are to take no more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily.

Dosage amounts vary depending upon the age group and the lifestyle habits of the individual. Below the recommended daily allowances are listed for each group of individuals. In order to avoid related problems, individuals should consume the recommended dosage.

  • From birth to 1 year: 30 to 35 mg
  • Babies 1 to 3 years: 40 mg
  • Children 4 to 10 years: 45 mg
  • Pregnant Women: 75 to 90 mg
  • Breastfeeding Women: 75 to 90 mg
  • Smoking Individuals: 100 mg
  • Allergy or Stress Sufferers: 200 mg
  • Diabetics: 200 mg
  • Elderly People: 200 mg
  • Other Adults: 60 mg

Regional Legal Status

Currently, there are no known countries that prohibit the use of vitamin C. The antioxidant is safe and is necessary for a healthy body.

Potential Side Effects

Individuals who consume a considerable amount more of vitamin C than the recommended daily allowance are at risk for nausea, skin irritation, diarrhea, copper depletion in the body, and may experience burning while urinating. Experts have also found that patients may develop kidney stones. Individuals who are also experiencing excessive levels of iron may need to monitor their intake of ascorbic acid.

  • Excessive amounts of vitamin C have been associated with the development of genotoxins. Genotoxins are speculated to prompt genetic mutations. These genetic mutations may lead to the development of cancer.
  • Ascorbic acid may interact with some prescription drugs. Consult with a physician or pharmacist prior to taking the drugs to determine if there is a potential for an adverse side effects. Individuals taking vitamin C supplements are advised to take them with plenty of water because of the diuretic affect of the antioxidant.
  • Individuals who may have an allergic reaction to corn may want to seek an alternative source of vitamin C.
  • Many of the commercial supplements of vitamin C are made from corn. Experts may advise Sago Palm or other sources of vitamin C.
  • Experts have also found that vitamin C may also increase the amount of iron absorbed by food. Therefore, people with hemochromatosis, which is characterized by excessive iron accumulation in the body, should not take vitamin C supplements.
  • Individuals who consume more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C daily may experience diarrhea, gas or upset stomach. Lower the dosage if you experience these symptoms.
  • Consult a physician before taking vitamin C, if you have kidney problems.
  • Pregnant mothers who consume more than 6,000 mg of vitamin C daily may develop scurvy when the vitamin C levels stabilize after birth. Before beginning a regimen, consult with your physician.
  • People who smoke should consider increasing their levels of vitamin C to fight the free radicals produced by the carcinogens in cigarettes.

Potential Drug Interferences

Aspirin and NSAIDs

Aspirin is known to lower levels of vitamin C in the body. This phenomenon occurs because the vitamin is expelled with urine from the body. Vitamin C may also raise levels of aspirin in the blood because ascorbic acid encourages both aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs to remain in the system longer. Experts indicate that vitamin C may also play a role in protecting the stomach from becoming nauseous or upset. Consult with a physician before starting a vitamin C regimen if you take aspirin on a daily basis.


Individuals who consume high doses of vitamin C may experience high levels of acetaminophen in the blood. Vitamin C inhibits acetaminophen from exiting the system through urine.

Antacids containing Aluminum

Experts have indicated that vitamin C may increase the amount of aluminum the body absorbs from antacids, such as Maalox. This may increase any side effects that may be associated with the drug.


Experts have found that barbituarates may have a negative effect on vitamin C.

Chemotherapy Drugs

Many antioxidants may interfere with chemotherapy. Vitamin C may help the efficacy of chemotherapy according to some oncologists. Consult with your oncologist prior to chemotherapy to determine if a vitamin C regimen is recommended for your particular treatment.

Nitrate Medications

Nitrate medications, such as nitroglycerin, isosorbide, and isosorbide dinitrate, if taken in conjunction with vitamin C may become ineffective in the body. Vitamin C increases the body’s ability to develop a tolerance against these medications. Always consult with a physician prior to consuming vitamin C along with nitrates.

Oral Contraceptives

Vitamin C may increase estrogen levels in individuals taking oral contraceptives and even, hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The levels seem to increase more in those individuals who had a deficit in vitamin C prior to taking oral contraceptives. Vitamin C effects may also increase if a person begins to take oral estrogens.

Protease Inhibitors

Individuals taking indinavir or Crixivan for HIV or AIDS may notice decreased levels of the medication in the blood after the consumption of vitamin C. Consult with a physician prior to combining a vitamin C regimen with indinavir or Crixivan.


Individuals taking tetracycline, an antibiotic, may notice increased levels of the medication when taken with vitamin C. Other antibiotics, such as minocycline and doxycycline may also be affected. Consult with a physician prior to beginning a vitamin C regimen.

Warfarin or Coumadin

Warfarin is a blood thinning medication that rarely has interactions with vitamin C. Experts have studied the effects of vitamin C up to 1,000 mg per day. This dosage of vitamin C caused little or no effect on the warfarin medication. As with any medication, consult with a physician prior to beginning a regimen as a safety precaution.

Where to Purchase Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin C can be purchased at any health store, pharmacist, or online health store. Most of the stores will carry the capsules and caplets. The powder and liquid are most often found at stores that specialize in health, such as GNC. Consumers may want to research online before going to a store to purchase the product to determine if the form of ascorbic acid that the consumer desires is in stock.

Some of the more popular stores include the following:

The Cost of Ascorbic Acid

The cost of ascorbic acid ranges depending upon the form that it is purchased. The supplement forms of ascorbic acid will vary in price depending upon the amount of product purchased, the form, the weight of the capsule or pill, and the store in which the item is purchased. Many times online stores will have discounts such as 20 to 50 percent off or Buy One, Get One. Search online to find these types of deals.

Some of the more common costs for vitamin C products include the following:

  • 100 caplets of 500 mg: $4
  • 60 caplets of 1000 mg: $7
  • 200 caplets of 1500 mg: $32
  • 90 chewable caplets of 500 mg: $8
  • Liquid Vitamin C (1 oz.): $10
  • Powder Vitamin C ( 16 oz.): $27

Vitamin C may also be combined with Rose Hips or Quercetin in order to give the consumer the added benefit of another herb or mineral.


National Health Institute


Vitamin B2

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is one of a family of eight B vitamins. It helps the body convert food, or carbohydrates, into fuel, known as glucose, which can be burned to produce energy.

Vitamin B Complex

There are eight separate vitamins within the B complex, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. All eight B vitamins are essential for the proper growth and maintenance of the human body. They provide the essential nutrients for growth and a variety of body functions. Most importantly, they can be found in a wide range of plant and animal sources.

Vitamin B Complex Group

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, and B2, riboflavin, aid the body in the production of energy as well as impacting enzymes that aid in the development of muscles, nerves and the heart.


Niacin, known as B3, promotes energy production in cells and is important for maintaining healthy skin and nervous and digestive systems.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5, called pantothenic acid, aids in the normal growth and development of the body.

Helping the body to break down protein and aiding with the health of the nervous system, red blood cells and parts of the immune system is Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine.

Vitamin B7

Vitamin B7, or biotin, is another one that helps break down protein but it also does the same for carbohydrates and aids in the production of hormones.
Folic acid, known as B9, is important for the production of cells in a body and maintains DNA. It is also crucial for the creation of red blood cells.
B12 is also known as cobalamin. Its job is to help in the growth of the body. B12 also helps in the production of blood cells and functions of the nervous system.

Someone having a deficiency in certain B vitamins is at risk of anemia, appetite loss, depression, abdominal pain, respiratory infections and hair loss.
Vitamin B2, riboflavin

History of Riboflavin

Riboflavin is yellow-orange in color and sometimes used as a food coloring or to fortify certain foods. Vitamin B2 was discovered in the last 1920s and Max Tishler, while working for Merck and Co., invented a way to synthesize the micronutrient. Like all B vitamins, riboflavin is water soluble, meaning the body does not store it so it must be replenished every day. Vitamin B2 is not active in a free form, but does work as a primary component of two coenzymes called flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and mononucleotide (FMN). Coenzymes that come from riboflavin are called flavocoenzymes, and in turn, enzymes that use flavocoenzymes are named flavoproteins.

It was isolated in its pure form in 1933 and the first synthesis of riboflavin occurred two years later.

Riboflavin keeps the body healthy in a number of ways. It aids in the conversion of food into energy, as well as changing an amino acid called tryptophan into niacin, which is another B vitamin. Niacin can be used to help increase lipoprotein, or HDL, which is known as “good cholesterol.”
Riboflavin also interacts with other B vitamins, allowing them to perform their jobs more efficiently. A severe deficiency in riboflavin can lead to problems with various enzyme systems.

Antioxidant Benefits

Vitamin B2 also acts as an antioxidant which can help rid the body of damaging free radicals. These free radicals occur naturally in the body but can cause damage to cells and DNA. Free radicals can also contribute to the aging process and some health problems, including heart disease and cancer. However, riboflavin can seek out these damaging agents, neutralize them and may even help reduce the amount of damage they cause.
Riboflavin can also help improve some health conditions, including:


People with iron deficiency anemia often have low levels of certain antioxidants, including riboflavin. The same is true of children with sickle-cell anemia, which is a blood disorder in which blood cells are misshapen. Studies have suggested taking riboflavin supplements can improve a patient’s response to iron therapy. Being deficient in riboflavin impacts the body’s ability to metabolize iron.

Animal research indicates riboflavin deficiency may impair the ability to absorb iron, increase intestinal loss of iron and impair the use of iron to create hemoglobin. It has been shown in humans that improving riboflavin nutritional values increases circulating hemoglobin levels.


In addition to other nutrients, vitamin B2 is important for a person to maintain normal vision. A cataract is a condition in which damage to the lens of the eye can cause vision to become cloudy. Cataracts related to aging are the leading cause of vision disability in the U.S. The antioxidant effect in riboflavin may help with this situation. Some early results from studies indicate riboflavin might help prevent cataracts. However, too much riboflavin – above 10 milligrams per day – can actually promote eye damage from the sun.

Migraine headaches

Early research indicates riboflavin may also help reduce the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. Some evidence suggests impaired mitochondrial oxygen metabolism in the brain could help cause migraine headaches. Riboflavin has been investigated as a possible solution to this problem due to its relationship to the electron transport chain. One study showed riboflavin to be more successful than a placebo in reducing the number of migraine attacks as well as the number of headache days.

Other uses

More research is needed but Vitamin B2 may also help improve cognitive function and depression. It has also been investigated as a possible performance enhancer for athletes, though supplementation with Vitamin B2 has not been shown to increase exercise tolerance.

Sources of Vitamin B2

Fortunately, riboflavin in its natural form is very easy to find. Most food derived from animals and plants contain at least some level of riboflavin. Since 1943, almost all wheat flour and bread have been enriched with riboflavin, as well as thiamin, niacin and iron. Dietary data indicates the average U.S. male takes in about two milligrams per day of riboflavin, while the average woman takes in about 1.5 milligrams per day. Both these levels are above the recommended daily allowance, and similar to the intake levels for elderly men and women.

Some sources of Vitamin B2 are better than others. Among the best nutritional sources include brewer’s yeast, almonds, whole grains, wheat germ, wild rice, mushrooms, soybeans, milk, yogurt, eggs, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach. While grains are often a good source, those that are refined or milled often have the riboflavin removed by the process. Therefore, whole grain foods, such as oatmeal or whole wheat, are better choices. Also, refined foods that are listed as enriched have had the lost riboflavin added back. Refined, but non-enriched foods provide little riboflavin. Below are some examples of riboflavin content:

  • A cup of fortified cereal contains between 0.59 milligrams and 2.27 milligrams.
  • A cup of nonfat milk has 0.34 milligrams.
  • A large, cooked egg contains 0.27 milligrams.
  • An ounce of almonds has 0.23 milligrams.
  • A half cup of boiled spinach has 0.21 milligrams.

However, riboflavin can be easily destroyed by exposure to sunlight. For example, 50 percent of the riboflavin found in a glass of milk can be destroyed after about two hours of sitting in a glass container in bright sunlight. This is the reason milk is packaged in opaque or cardboard containers. Heat does not destroy riboflavin, but it can be lost in the water when foods are boiled or soaked. To avoid this, roasting and steaming are the preferred cooking methods in order to preserve more of the vitamin.

Recommended amounts

The level of Vitamin B2 someone should be getting on a daily basis changes depending on age and, for women, whether they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Taking Vitamin B

Pediatric recommended amounts are as follows and were set in 1998:

  • Infants from birth to 6 months: 0.3 milligrams are adequate amount.
  • Infants 7-12 months: 0.4 milligrams are adequate.
  • Children 1-3 years: 0.5 milligrams.
  • Children 4-8 years: 0.6 milligrams.
  • Children 9-13 years: 0.9 milligrams.
  • Males 14-18 years: 1.3 milligrams.
  • Females 14-18: 1 milligram.
  • Adult daily recommended amounts are:
  • Males 19 and older: 1.3 milligrams.
  • Females 19 and older: 1.1 milligrams.
  • Pregnant females: 1.4 milligrams.
  • Breastfeeding females: 1.6 milligrams.

Riboflavin Deficiency

While the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B2 should be relatively easy to reach for someone eating a healthy diet, those who do not are at risk of a deficiency, known as ariboflavinosis. This is especially true of alcoholics and the elderly, as well as anorexics. In addition, those who are lactate intolerant may not consume milk or other dairy products, which are good sources of Vitamin B2. A healthy diet is one consisting of at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables as well as portions of grains. However, athletes and those with busy or stressful lives may need to take in more Vitamin B2 than normal.

Some early signs of riboflavin deficiency include trembling, dizziness, poor concentration and memory and blood-shot, red and gritty-feeling eyes. Later symptoms include fatigue; slow growth; problems with the digestive system; sores or cracks around the mouth; a swollen, magenta tongue; tired eyes; sensitivity to light; and a swollen and sore throat. There may also be an inflammation of the skin that appears scaly and greasy.
A study of pregnant women believed to have an increased risk of preeclampsia – which is characterized by elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine and edema (significant swelling) – found those that were riboflavin deficient were four and half times more likely to develop preeclampsia than those who had adequate levels of the vitamin. In about five percent of cases, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which is a leading cause of maternal death.


For those who may not get enough Vitamin B2 in their daily diet, riboflavin supplements are also available, usually in 25-, 50- and 100-milligram tablets. The most common types found in supplements are riboflavin and riboflavin 5’-monophosphate. It is often found in multivitamins and vitamin B-complex supplements.

Riboflavin is best absorbed when taken between meals. When selecting a multivitamin to help provide Vitamin B2, selecting one that provides 100 percent to 300 percent of the daily recommended value for all essential vitamins and minerals is usually a good choice. It is also better to select a supplement that is taken two to four times a day, rather than a one-a-day variety. A health care professional should be consulted before taking any supplement, especially if one is being considered that has doses higher than twice the recommended daily allowance.

While Vitamin B2 supplements are relatively safe, there still can be some interactions with medication. Again, a healthcare professional should be consulted. Drugs treating gastrointestinal spasms, asthma, depression and motion sickness can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin B2. Also, riboflavin can interfere with the body’s ability to use tetracycline, which is an antibiotic. It is recommended the supplement be taken at a different time of day than the antibiotic to avoid this problem. Other medications may lower the amount of riboflavin in the body or inhibit the body from properly absorbing it.

Even at high levels, there is little risk to humans. However, at doses of 10 milligrams or higher per day, the eye may become more sensitive than normal to sunlight. Someone taking this amount of riboflavin each day should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from damage due to ultraviolet light.
Very high doses of Vitamin B2 can cause minor side effects, including itching, numbness, sensations of burning or prickling, yellow or orange urine and sensitivity to light. There have been very rare reports of allergy or anaphylaxis being associated with riboflavin supplementation.
Since Vitamin B2, like all B vitamins, is water-soluble, excess levels are often released through urine.

Essential Ingredient

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is an important part of the human body’s ability to convert food into energy and is necessary for good health and well being. Usually the recommended daily amounts of it can be acquired with a healthy diet or through safe and easy to use supplements. There is also little risk of overdosing on Vitamin B2 since excess levels are usually excreted through urine. Maintaining the proper amount of riboflavin in the body may help prevent or ease complications from many health problems. A physician should be consulted to ensure the correct amount of the vitamin is being absorbed.



Oregon State University



Mayo Clinic


Vitamin K

The ‘K’ in Vitamin K is derived from the German term, koagulation. It is a fat-soluble enzyme that plays an important role in blood coagulation, or clotting. There are five forms of Vitamin K. Vitamin K1 and K2 are the natural forms of Vitamin K. There are also three synthetic forms of Vitamin K, which are Vitamin K3, K4, and K5.

As mentioned above, Vitamin K1 must be present in the body in order for blood to coagulate, or clot. And obviously, if blood is unable to clot, a small cut or injury can cause a person to bleed out. So it is clear that Vitamin K1 is an extremely important enzyme for the body to carry.

Vitamin K2, also known as phylloquinone or phytomenadione, is normally produced by the large intestine. Unless the intestines are extremely damaged, a deficiency of Vitamin K1 in the human body is extremely rare. Occasionally, damaged intestines are unable to absorb Vitamin K2, although it is present in the body. However, under the use of certain broad spectrum antibiotics, the presence of Vitamin K2 can be massively decreased due to the effects of the natural flora contained in the antibiotic in the body.

The three synthetic forms of Vitamin K, vitamins K3, K4 and K5, are used in many things, including the production of pet food.

Functions of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an essential amino acid that plays an important role in blood clotting. It is involved in the formulation of certain proteins, which are found in the liver, that are known as coagulation factors. These coagulation factors, when circulating in our blood, help to form clots and reduce the risk of hemorrhaging. Therefore, it is clear that a deficiency of Vitamin K in the body causes bleeding disorders, such as hemorrhaging.

Hemorrhaging is defined as uncontrolled bleeding. The purpose of blood coagulation is to form a scab on a wound to prevent the veins from continuing to bleed, causing severe blood loss and even death. Without Vitamin K, the smallest cut can cause death. A deficiency of Vitamin K may also cause other hemorrhaging without injury, such as nose bleeds, blood in the urine, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding, among other serious health problems. Furthermore, a Vitamin K deficiency in infants can cause severe hemorrhaging in the skull, often resulting in death.

While a Vitamin K defecate is incredibly uncommon in healthy adults, because the small intestines contain bacteria that synthesize, or create, the vitamin. However, there are certain medicinal antagonists to Vitamin K, which prevent the intestines from synthesizing it as normal. Some of these medicinal antagonists include broad spectrum antibiotics.

Vitamin K In Food

While Vitamin K is synthesized by certain bacterium that are present in the stomach and intestines, it is still necessary for Vitamin K to be obtained through food intake. It is probable that about half of our necessary Vitamin K must be obtained through food.

Infants require 10-20 micrograms of Vitamin K daily, which is present in both breast milk and infant formula. Children and adolescents require 15-100 micrograms of Vitamin K daily, which is synthesized in the body but also available through an intake of certain foods. Healthy adults require 70-140 micrograms of Vitamin K daily. Another way of expressing Vitamin K requirements is to say that 2 micrograms per kilogram of body weight is necessary daily. However, because half of this is produced by the intestines, a healthy person must intake 1 microgram of Vitamin K per kilogram of body weight. This can be achieved through the intake of certain foods.

Benefits of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is present in certain foods. It is most prevalent in foods such as cauliflower, soy beans, cottonseed, canola oil, olives, spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, potatoes, meat such as beef liver, green leafy vegetables such as collard greens or lettuce, and green tea. If you are told that you have a Vitamin K deficiency and are looking for a natural method to increase your supply, you can consume these foods, which contain high amounts of the vitamin. Vitamin K is also present in smaller amounts in many other foods, including but not limited to apples, asparagus, green beans, mincemeat, carrots, cow’s milk, oranges, peas, potatoes, strawberries, wheat bran, and wheat germ. Vitamin K is most prevalent in spinach, at 240 micrograms per 100 grams of food weight.

However, Vitamin K is also available in supplement form. Newborns are often Vitamin K deficit, which as was stated above, is highly dangerous due to a heightened possibility of cranial hemorrhaging, or hemorrhaging within the skull. Vitamin K is available in a supplement, which comes either in pill form or the form of a shot. Taking a supplement shot is most common for infants. The lack of Vitamin K in an infant is very common, because infants do not have the bacteria that are necessary to produce Vitamin K in the intestines upon birth. The decrease of Vitamin K in an infant is even more common when the mother takes anti-seizure medication often prescribed for epilepsy.

Symptoms Linked to Deficiency of Vitamin K

Many of the symptoms of certain common chronic disorders, especially certain connective tissue disorders, are exactly identical to the symptoms of Vitamin K deficiency. This could be a coincidence, but it is thought that Vitamin K deficiency is linked to the presence of these disorders.

Symptoms of Vitamin K deficiency include heavy menstrual bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, hematuria (the presence of blood in the urine), nosebleeds, eye hemorrhages, anemia, gum bleeding, prolonged clotting times, hematomas, hemorrhaging, ovarian hemorrhaging, easy bruising, pupura, osteopenia, osteoporosis, fractures, hypercalciuria, liver cancer, and calcification of soft tissue, especially of heart valves.

If a woman is pregnant and has a Vitamin K deficiency, she may take Vitamin K supplements. However, some birth defects that are linked directly Vitamin K deficiencies are underdevelopment of the nose, mouth, and mid-face, shortened fingers, cupped ears, and flat nasal bridges.

Futhermore, an epileptic woman, or a woman who is prone to seizures, who is also pregnant, will most likely be taking anticonvulsant drugs in order to prevent the seizures. These drugs block Vitamin K absorption. Because of their tendency to block Vitamin K absorption, anticonvulsants have been linked to the following birth defects, which include epicanthal folds, flat nasal bridge, short noses, a variety of craniofacial abnormalities, neural tube defects, mental retardation, learning disabilities, long, thin overlapping fingers, various cardiac abnormalities, and growth deficiencies.

This is a small list of birth defects that are contributed to a use of anticonvulsants. These birth defects are caused because many of these medications cause a failure of Vitamin K absorption. Because of this, it is thought that these birth defects are directly related to a lack of Vitamin K in the body, and could be avoided by giving the mother a Vitamin K supplement while she is pregnant.


While not much is known about Vitamin K, it is thought that it plays an important role in bone development by interacting with Vitamin D. While this has not been researched extensively, it leads to the belief that Vitamin K supplements may lead to a decreased risk of developing age-related osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition which causes decay of the bones, causing bone loss and porous-ness of the skeleton. This is a dangerous condition because it leads to easily breaking and fracturing bones, particularly as a person ages. While it is thought that Vitamin K can slow down or even reverse the effects of osteoporosis, this has not been researched enough to determine whether or not the effects of Vitamin K supplementation are truly effective.

Vitamin K also interacts with other vitamins in a way that may be harmful to a patient. For example, large doses of Vitamin A and Vitamin E have been proven to affect the efficiency of Vitamin K in the body. While Vitamin A has been shown to prevent proper absorption of Vitamin K, Vitamin E has been shown to inhibit the production of Vitamin K in the intestines. Some medicines may also inhibit the production and absorption of Vitamin K in the body, particularly in pregnant women.

The use of these medications while pregnant can cause the fetus to be unable to produce or absorb Vitamin K properly en utero, which can cause a Vitamin K deficiency upon birth of the infant. A lack of Vitamin K in an infant is also contributed to the inability of an infant to absorb fat, and, is also present in people who cannot absorb fat normally. Those with liver disease may also require supplemental Vitamin K because the proteins in the liver are inactive and unable to produce Vitamin K as is usual with a healthy adult.

The Importance of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is commonly referred to as the “forgotten vitamin”. It is not often paid attention to, and little is known about it, scientifically. What we do know, however, is that Vitamin K is vitally important to have. Vitamin K is the enzyme that causes blood clotting, so without it being present in our bodies, it is easy for us to become injured and die from injuries that would not normally be life threatening. This is because without clotting, you will hemorrhage.

Clearly, it is important for you to retain high levels of Vitamin K in order to be healthy. About half of the necessary Vitamin K can be obtained through the foods that we eat, while the rest is synthesized by the bacteria in our intestines.


BBC Health and the Linus Pauling Institute




Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin necessary for biological processes in humans and other animals. It is required for collagen production in blood vessels, cartilage, bones, and muscles. It also is critical for the prevention of bleeding capillaries, and the healing of wounds. It is generally produced internally by most animals, with the exception of humans, many kinds of primates, guinea pigs, and several types of birds and fish. Vitamin C deficiency, called scurvy, is preventable by adequate dietary consumption of the fresh fruits,vegetables and other foods that contain it.

Biological Function

Vitamin C is used in the body for the production of key enzymes, and as an anti-oxidant. It is involved in the development and repair of all tissues in the human body. It is also important for the creation of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which helps to control uses of blood flow and glucose release. Neurotransmitters regulate brain function and mood.

As an electron donor, vitamin C provides essential energy transfer for synthesis of the enzymes it affects. The enzymes it provides elections for include those necessary for making collagen. Skin, blood vessels, scar tissue and ligaments all require collagen to be produced. Collagen is part of the process in the healing of wounds. Vitamin C is also used in the enzyme for carnitine, which transports fatty acids for breakdown into metabolic energy.

Working as an anti-oxidant, vitamin C can protect the critical molecules of DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates against the damage of free-radicals and reactive oxygen species.
Vitamin C Uses
These are the side effects of normal body functions that happen when highly reactive oxidant chemicals result in undesired modifications to molecules and also from the exposure of the body to toxic pollutants.

It is also thought, based on a study of cigarette smokers, that vitamin C can help bring back oxidized forms of other vitamins such as vitamin E to their original state.

The free radicals that vitamin C protects against are responsible for cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

Dietary Requirements

The recommended amount of vitamin C by the Institute of Medicine of the United States National Academy of Sciences is 90 milligrams per day for adults, with an upper limit of 2,000 milligrams per day.

Other organizations, such as the Linus Pauling Institute, recommend 400 milligrams a day. For reference, one cup of orange juice is about 97 milligrams, a cup of cooked broccoli is 74 milligrams, and a cup of tomato juice is 45 milligrams.

Nine servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended daily by the American Dietetic Association, to get the healthy amount of vitamin C as well as other necessary required vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Foods with the highest amount of vitamin C are citrus, green peppers, broccoli, potatoes (white and sweet), strawberries and tomatoes.

Other sources are melons and fruit like cantaloupe, papaya, mango,pineapple and watermelon. Other then strawberries, berries that have vitamin C are blueberries and raspberries. Vegetables such cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, and brussel sprouts also provide vitamin C.

Vitamin C is available as a supplement in many forms – tablets, capsules, drink mix, and powers, as ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate. A supplement can be used to help insure the required daily amount is being consumed. But, it is important to note that many benefits of vitamin C that are gained from fruits and vegetables (beyond the amount required to prevent scurvy) may also be the result of other minerals and nutrients those foods contain, so it is still necessary to maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Deficiency Problems and Side Effects

Vitamin C is water soluble, meaning it dissolves in water and therefore making it necessary to maintain a constant dietary supply since the body cannot store it. Without enough of the vitamin, the body will deficiency problems leading up to scurvy.

Symptoms include increased weight due to a slower metabolism, bruising, dry skin and hair, and swollen joints. Teeth and gums would also be affected – with bleeding gums, gingivitis, and weak tooth enamel. Other signs of too little vitamin C are decreased ability to deal with infections, and slower rate of wound healing. Scurvy is the extreme form of these symptoms and usually only occurs now in rare cases in elderly adults and infants.

2,000 miligrams a day is the advised maximum daily upper limit for vitamin C consumption; all though 90-500 miligrams is the suggested range. Too much vitamin C can cause side effects – starting with indigestion, diarrhea, fatigue and headaches. It may also lead to disrupted sleep patterns, vomiting, flushing in the face, and skin rashes. In people who have iron overload disorders, vitamin C can cause iron poisoning as it increases the amount of iron absorbed.

Health Benefits

Vitamin C is necessary everyday to prevent scurvy, as it is used in required biological processes in the human body – this is an accepted fact. However, there have been many prospective studies conducted to determine potential health benefits of vitamin C beyond this purpose, in relation to the prevention of disease. In these cases, higher amounts then the minimum recommended daily amount (90 milligrams) was taken, and the studies were conducted using large groups of people.

The various tests and studies for different factors are not considered conclusive, and sometimes contradict each other. In most cases, further research is necessary for accurate results.

Common Cold: Vitamin C has not been shown scientifically to prevent getting a cold, however it may lessen the chance of escalating existing symptoms. Additionally, it may actually reduce the chance of a cold developing for people living in extreme environments or conditions such as soldiers in the sub-arctic, or marathon runners by as much as 50 percent. Additional study is required for more results.

Skin Aging: As vitamin C has direct affect on cells including skin, there may be a link between higher vitamin intake and skin aging – with reduced skin dryness and wrinkling.

Urinary infections while pregnant: Vitamin C may reduce the chance of urinary infection in pregnant women, but further research is needed.

Cancer Prevention and Treatment: Studies of populations with diets of a high intake of fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C show reduced risk of cancer -specifically mouth, stomach, lung, colon and esophagus. However, there is no evidence that it was the vitamin C that is directly responsible for this effect when instead it could be a result of a balanced healthy diet with many different vitamin rich foods that contain a variety of minerals and nutrients. There may be a benefit to taking vitamin C when under-going cancer treatment, but there is not enough evidence at this time.

Stress: Nutrients such as vitamin C are depleted in smokers, alcoholics, and the obese. For these individuals, it is important to consume enough vitamin C to protect the immune system. As an anti-oxidant, the vitamin may also help fight damage caused by smoking.

Heart Disease: There is no conclusive evidence that vitamin C helps to prevent heart attacks or lowers cholesterol. It may have an affect on plaque in arteries and artery openings, but there is not enough evidence either way to support this conclusion and it is not recommended for this purpose.


There has been general indirect awareness of vitamin C’s necessity for prevention of health problems since the beginning of human history. People understood that fresh fruits and vegetable helped counter-act certain ailments and symptoms, and was used routinely by various groups in local remedies. Scurvy itself was first described by Hippocrates around 400 BC, but scientific evidence for fresh citrus as its cure was not recorded until the 18th century.

Scurvy was particularly a problem for sailors without fresh food access on extended sea voyages. In 1614 the Surgeon General of the East India Company, John Woodall, published a handbook for general ship’s medicine in which he advocated fresh oranges, lemons, and limes as a cure for scurvy.

However, it was thought that the acidic qualities of fruit were what helped, and therefore he also recommended using Oil of Vitriol, also known as sulfuric acid. In the 17th century explorer Admiral Sir Richard Hawkins had his crew drink orange and lemon juice to prevent health issues during voyages. James Cook and crew circumnavigated the globe using sauerkraut to ward against scurvy in 1771.

In one of the first controlled and recorded scientific experiments, British Royal Navy ship’s surgeon James Lind proved that fresh citrus fruit cured and prevented scurvy. During the course of a voyage, Lind compared the health results of one group of sailors who were provided fresh oranges and lemons to the health of another group who consumed vinegar, cider, seawater, or sulfuric acid.

Lind’s work was slow to catch on as the use of juice instead of fresh fruit was advocated – boiled juice lost too much of the needed vitamin and was not as effective. His results were published in 1753, but it was not until 1795 that it was routine for all ships to stock fresh lemons and limes for the health of their crew. Limes were easy to obtain from the British West Indies, and this led to the slang nickname of “limey” for British sailors.


While it was known that “anti-scorbutic” foods such as oranges, lemons, limes, sauerkraut, cabbage, and raw meats prevented scurvy, there was not yet an understanding of vitamins as necessary nutrients until the the early 20th century. An animal based experiment conducted by Norwegian scientists in 1907 that observed scurvy for the first time in non humans was an important building block of Vitamin C research.

The first concept and the definition of vitamins was put forth by biochemist Casimir Funk in 1912, after his work with pigeons and beriberi, a disorder caused by vitamin B1 deficiency. The anti-scorbutic property of foods (soon to be known as vitamin C) described by the Norwegian research was considered to be one of Funk’s vitamins.

The specific chemical model of vitamin C was isolated and defined in 1932 by Hungarian Albert Szent-Györgyi as hexuronic acid (eventually known as ascorbic acid), for which he was awarded the 1937 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Shortly thereafter, vitamin C was able to be processed and synthesized using a fermentation sequence that is still in use today.


Vitamin C: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia,

The Benefits of Vitamin C – WebMD

Linus Pauling Instiute Micronutrient Inforamation Center, Vitamin C

University of Mayrland Medical Center, Vitamin C,, Vitamin C

The Cambridge World History of Food, Vitamin C



Menatetrenone (also known as Vitamin K2)

The foods we eat contains various nutrients, which are required for the overall growth and maintenance of our body. They regulate various functions of the body and keep it healthy and going. Omitting or skipping any one of the five nutrients could cause imbalances in the body and leave you malnourished. The five nutrients-Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins perform various roles in the human body.

Carbohydrates serve as the major source of energy for the body. Food items that consist of Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) constitute carbohydrates. This nutrient generates glucose in the body and adds energy in calories. Too much Carbohydrates can lead to obesity whereas too little can create fatigue and tiredness. Proteins are responsible for cell and tissue growth. Foods from animal sources such as milk, eggs, cheese, etc. contains proteins in great amount. Food materials consisting of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen form proteins.
Vitamin K Benefits
Fat is also an essential element for growth. However, too much fat can lead to blockages, high cholesterol levels, variations in blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. The role of Minerals is different from other nutrients. They are responsible for the psychological changes and actions. They influence the working of the nervous and the skeletal system to a great extent. Now comes the most essential constituent of all the five nutrients-Vitamins. One should keep a balanced vitamin intake for normal growth of the body and brain. Out of 13 vitamins, Vitamin A, D, E and K are called fat-soluble vitamins whereas the other nine B and C vitamins are water-soluble.

Vitamin K

Since long ago Vitamin K has been associated with blood clotting. The family of Vitamin K includes members such as phylloquinone (Vitamin K1), Menaquinones (Vitamin K2) and Menadionione (Vitamin K3). All these vitamins are accountable for the healthy functioning of the bones, the heart and the liver. Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables like Lettuce, Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli and vegetable oil. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented food and processed items. Vitamin K3 is found in the items, which we include in our regular meals.

Functions of Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays various roles in maintaining the body. These nutrients convert the glutamate deposits of proteins into the gamma-carboxyglutamate group using the enzymatic process of carboxylation. Vitamin D and C along with magnesium and Zinc help in structuring the bones. Vitamin K maintains the plasma level, which in turn supports the functions of the bone. The intake of vitamin K really benefits the vascular system. It prevents the loss of elasticity of the tissues and flushes the calcium deposits within them.

Vitamin K not only acts as an anti coagulator but also helps in blood thinning and clot removal. Due to this quality, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before consuming any medicine that contains Vitamin K2. Although Vitamin K is a lifesaver in many cases, it might prove to be catastrophic if taken in large amounts or overdoses. It has been known to attack the liver causing liver cancer.

Menatetrenone or Vitamin K2

Most of us have heard about Vitamin K but very few of us know what Vitamin K2 is. Vitamin K2, which is also called Menatetrenone, plays an important role in blood clotting and tissue building. It has antineoplastic effects on the cancer cell line that contains hepatocellular carcinoma cells. It is effective in bone growth and development. It is seen that very little Vitamin K2 is present in the regular food we eat. Therefore, for those who require extra doses supplements are the solutions.

Vitamin K2 consists of Menaquinones, which are Vitamin K compounds. These compounds have unsaturated chains, which are usually detected in animals and bacteria. Menatetrenone is generally produced by certain bacteria, which is found in egg yolks, cheese, Natto-a soy product, butter and cow liver. Though the dietary value of K2 is less than that of Vitamin K1, its deficiency causes prolonged effects on the body.

Importance of Menatetrenone

Vitamin K2 or menatetrenone enables carboxylation of a constituent in a protein called Glutamate. During this process, the protein combines with calcium and helps in blood clotting. Due to the presence of carboxyglutamates calcium is transported from one place to another within the body easily. When compared to Vitamin K1, Menatetrenone is more effective in the osteoclastogenesis process and hypocholesterolemic effects. This vitamin can also slow atherosclerotic progression.

Until 1974, Vitamin K remained undiscovered. Studies have been done on this aspect for the last thirty years. Menatetrenone is otherwise an alternative form of Vitamin K1. It not only boosts bone health but also keeps any blood disorders at bay. K2 prevents osteoporosis and maintains the bone density in brittle structures. The nutrient that is derived out of Vitamin K2 stimulates apoptosis in Leukamia cells and increases the upshot of retinoic acid.

Vitamin K2 acts as an anti-inflammatory medication. IL- 6 is a substance, which keeps inflammatory actions in the body under control. The level of this constituent is high in those suffering from arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and atherosclerosis. High levels of IL-6 also create disabilities related to mobility.
The pancreas contains the second highest deposits of vitamin K. This organ regulates and controls the production of sugar and insulin. As per a few studies, a deficiency of Vitamin K leads to Type II diabetes in many cases. Vitamin K is a rich antioxidant that shields the liver from calcium deposits. Extensive calcium deposits and scratches in the blood vessels cause Alzheimer’s disease. This can be prevented by proper doses of vitamin K.

Role of Menatetrenone/ K2 in Bone development

Menatetrenone (vitamin K2) reduces the risk of fractures and bone related diseases in women who experience menopause. Osteoporosis is a bone related disease in which the bones start loosing their efficiency and become brittle. Any minor blow can cause fractures in such cases. Menopause is a stage where women stop having their menses. Very few are lucky enough to experience a menopause without side effects. Most women face one or more problems during this phase. Fractures are usually caused due to variations in the bone mineral density. Various treatments are available for this condition where Menatetrenone is given along with Bisphosphonates for effective results. K2 works on the bone construction and strength during the osteoporosis treatment.
While Vitamin K2 is called Menatetrenone, Phylloquinone is the common name for Vitamin K1. Studies that involved the functions of both the vitamins tell of the great differences in their roles. They perform various tasks on the metabolism of bones.

Functions of Menatetrenone (Vitamin K2) vs Phylloquinone (Vitamin K1)

  • Regular intake of Menatetrenone or Vitamin K2 in any form reduces the chances of bone fractures and damage.
  • Vitamin K2 reduces the formation of Osteoclasts, the cells responsible for destroying bone tissue. Although phylloquinone has more or less the same qualities of K2 it is much less preferred for clinical and pharmacological purposes. Phylloquinone cannot prevent the tearing of bone tissue and is useless in treating bone related problems.
  • K2 plays the main role of backing osteoblasts, the cells that are involved in the creation of new bone. Menatetrenone helps in increasing the cells and enhancing their functioning smoothly.
  • When compared, Menatetrenone augments Apoptosis- cell death of osteoclasts whereas phylloquinone remains inactive in this matter.

Dietary forms (Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2)

An ideal daily diet includes all nutrients in a balanced manner. In that diet, about 80% of Vitamin K1 comes from vegetables, especially green vegetables. There is no specific source of Vitamin K2. It is acquired through the good bacteria found in our digestive tracks. A few fermented and yeast based food also consist of Vitamin K2. However, both K1 and K2 work for bile secretion in the liver. That is the reason why the liver is the first point of attack when the vitamin becomes deficient in the body.

History of Vitamin K

A Danish scientist named Henrik Dam experimented with the effects of cholesterol using chickens from his backyard. He kept a few of them on a cholesterol free diet and the others on a normal diet. After a few weeks, the ones on a cholesterol free diet started bleeding due to hemorrhage. When he tried to feed them food with cholesterol it did not work. He found that it was not only cholesterol that was missing from the food but another compound as well. This was a coagulation vitamin, which he later named K. It meant Koagulations vitamin. The coagulation was later reinstated when the chicks were fed Vitamin K rich food.

For many years, this chicken experiment was used as a model to calculate the vitamin K content in food. A jaundice patient with severe hemorrhage was treated with doses of vitamin K in 1938. This was the first success of Vitamin K in treatment of humans. Later various universities and research organizations took these experiments forward to present diverse utilities of Menatetrenone and other forms of vitamin K.

East vs West

Lets us use a few cases of people living in Eastern countries and western parts of the world in studying the consumption of Vitamin K2. The diet followed by the people of the US includes much less menatetrenone when compared to the diets of those in eastern countries. Even if they try to get the best possible sources of K2 by eating egg yolks, cheese, butter, cooked Broccoli and goose liver, they do not get more than 2.1 micrograms of K2. On the other hand, the diet of the average Japanese person includes grilled fish, rice, seaweed, Natto-a fermented soy substitute and pickle. Natto is considered the richest source of Menatetrenone.
Vitamin K Side Effects
This speaks a lot about the fittest lifestyle of the Japanese and the impact of Menatetrenone/ K2 in their regular lives. While items such as soy bean curd, soymilk, tofu and soy sauce are all derived from Soybeans they are not considered rich sources of Menatetrenone. It is just the Natto, which fights brittle bones and prevents fractures.

How does Menatetrenone effect the bone mineral Density?

Bone Mineral Density is the measurement of calcium and other minerals present in the bones. It determines the firmness and the strength of the bones. When you look at the cross section of a bone you will find a network of hard tissues running all over in a criss cross manner. The more the density is the denser is the network inside the bones. When there is a drop in the density the network becomes thinner and fragile. Such bones are prone to frequent fractures.

How Vitamin K deficiency occurs?

Vitamin K deficiency occurs due to various reasons. Leafy vegetables that are rich in Vitamin K are Brocolli, Collard greens and Lettuce. These are the ones, which most people do not eat enough abundantly. Medications such as painkillers, especially Aspirin, antibiotics and antithrombotic drugs lead to serious bleeding and blood clots. Asprin is a blood thinner, if taken too often it can obstruct Vitamin K and lead to health issues. Salicylates are another constituent, which are found in spices, nuts and mint.

This is also a blood thinner, which can lead to Vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K is produced by the bacteria present in the intestines. Excessive intake of Aspirin and antibiotics can kill that bacteria causing a severe deficiency of Vitamin K. Usually doctors recommend that you have yogurt after a heavy dose of antibiotics. This induces probiotic elements, which contain acidophilus bacteria that encourage the production of Vitamin K and promote better digestive action. Supplements are available at major stores. They are stored in refrigerators to increase their life span.

Vitamin K and anticoagulants block each other’s function when taken without proper medical supervision. Too much intake of other vitamins can also block the benefits of Vitamin K. A common sign of an overdose or deficiency is nosebleeds.

Other factors that influence the deficiency of Vitamin K are yeast infections, excess consumption of antacids, alcoholism and any prolonged illness. A few chemicals that are used as preservatives can also disturb the functions of Vitamin K in the body.

Who is prone to a Vitamin K2 deficiency?

Not all of us are deficient of nutrients. There are some who are deficient of certain nutrients due to their lifestyle and eating habits. Those who suffer malnourishment for a long period or those suffering from cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, alcohol abuse, liver dysfunction or chronic intestinal resection are prone to Vitamin K2 deficiency. Under the advice of doctors, these people need to take regular doses of Vitamin K2 supplement for their body to function properly.

Birth defects due to deficiency of Vitamin K2

The symptoms of deficiency of Vitamin K includes nosebleeds, blood in the urine, eye hemorrhage, heavy bleeding during menstruation, fractures, bleeding gums, anemia, hemorrhaging, calcium deposits in the heart’s walls, delayed clotting, osteoporosis, hypercalciuria, hematomas, and gastrointestinal bleeding. A deficiency of Vitamin K2 in pregnant mothers will cause the yet to be born infant a few abnormalities and defects such as a flat nose, cupped ears, short fingers and an undersized nose and face.

If the deficiency occurs due to over dosage of convulsant drugs, the following defects are possible:

  • Microcephaly
  • Hypertelorism
  • Overlapping fingers
  • Neural tube defects
  • A short nose
  • Growth defects
  • Cardiac problems
  • Mental retardation
  • Epicanthal folds
  • Learning disabilities

A healthy person requires about 200 to 500 mcg of Vitamin K every day to remain healthy and fit. When supplements containing Vitamins K, D and minerals are consumed together, the best results can be achieved. Very few side effects have been reported after the consumption of vitamin K1 at 1 mg per day and the consumption of vitamin K2 at 45 mg per day in adults.

Menatetrenone Supplements

For those with any level of vitamin K deficiency there are supplements available which could cover up the requirements of the body. Butter oil is a rich source of Vitamin K. It not only works on the whole body but also creates exclusive impacts on the skin. Just apply some oil on your skin and leave it overnight. See the change and glow on your skin the next day. Vitamin K2 is present in the food we eat. Therefore, supplements are not generally required. However, if you feel you lack that nutrient you may take supplements, which are available in the market.

Medicines such as Coumadin and Warfarin are rivals of Vitamin K. If you are undergoing oral anticoagulant therapy, you should not take Vitamin K supplements. If the dose is 150mcg or less per day, a parallel intake of a Vitamin K2 supplement does not create any problems. However, consult your doctor before you take the supplements.

It is said that cows perform multi tasks in their stomach. They chew cud and in this process ferment Vitamin K2. When we eat K2 rich food it is converted into bile and this process leads to less Vitamin production. The bile in the gall bladder absorbs the fermented food, which keeps the LXR and FXR bound in the nucleus. These are responsible for the cholesterol and inflammatory actions in the body.

GCGA Proteins (Gamma Carboxyglutamic Acid)

The vitamin does not act on the cells of the body directly; it acts as a support in carboxylation process through an enzyme contained in Glutamic acid to create amino acid (Gamma Carboxyglutamic Acid) in plasma proteins. Plasma proteins control the calcium deposits in the tissues. GCGA proteins include OC (osteocalcin), an important constituent of human bones. Matrix GCGA is a protein that is manufactured in the cartilage and arteries.

The required amount of Vitamin K varies from person to person based on his age and health condition. Infants require about 5 micrograms of Vitamin K whereas an adult male requires 80 mcg. A grown up female requires around 65 mcg of Vitamin K.

The four main body parts that are influenced by menatetrenone are the liver, bones, arteries and cartilage. When vitamin K is deficient, the proteins are formed without GCGA, which hinders the normal functioning of these parts. Along with the other functions, the four main organs extract vitamin K from the blood and distribute it to other parts. Vitamin K as a whole is regarded as a life saving nutrient both in human beings and animals.

An adequate supply of Vitamin K to all four parts has to be maintained. The human liver takes the most Vitamin K so the cartilage, bones and arteries may be deprived of the nutrient and GCGA at times. If this happens, blood clotting, maintenance of the cardiovascular system and other functions will not take place as usual.
The recent discoveries and production of supplements of vitamins in various forms has benefited people in many ways. However, most of the FDA approved supplements are made for the liver.

Clinical Conclusions

Studies were conducted on a few postmenopausal women ages 50-60 who were treated with daily supplements continuously for 3 years. They were divided into 3 groups. The first group received only maltodextrin; the second group was given 150mg of Magnesium, 500 mg of calcium, 320 IU of vitamin D3 and 10 mg of zinc as daily supplements. The women in the third group received all the minerals and an extra dose of 1mg of Vitamin K and D3 per day. The results taken after 3 years showed that the groups who did not receive Vitamin K did not have the advantages of the ones who received a balanced amount of all nutrients including an extra dose of Vitamin K.

The latter group thrived with no bone problems or other health issues for a long period of 10 years.
Before taking any supplement consult your doctor and take the advised tests. Purchase the supplements only from an authorized dealer. Check if the product suits your health conditions and requirements. Pregnant women and lactating mothers have to take special precautions while taking any supplement. See the label and instructions provided on the packet. The FDA is the agency that approves the supplements in foods and artificial supplements. Supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules and drops. What will suit you best will be decided by your doctor.

Health is wealth and it does not take too much to maintain good health. A balanced diet, regular care and proper medication are the secrets to a long and healthy life.