Vitamins are organic molecules that are vital for the normal functioning of our body. We need them for our growth, vitality and well-being. With a few exceptions, they cannot be produced by the body itself. They must therefore enter our body with our food and are part of the natural food. You cannot be healthy if you do not get all the essential vitamins.
Vitamins bring our metabolism to life like spark plugs bring the engine to life.
A distinction is made between water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. The water-soluble vitamins, e.g. the vitamins of the B group (except B 12) and vitamin C are not stored by the body and must therefore be replaced daily. The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) can be stored in the body – especially in the liver – and released to the cells as needed. Water-soluble vitamins form components of enzymes as coenzymes and thus contribute to the control and regulation of bodily functions and the generation of body energy. As components of cell membranes, B vitamins such as choline and inositol perform certain tasks in the cells.
The fat-soluble vitamins A and D have hormone-like properties and vitamin E protects the fatty acids in the cells from oxidation, which is mainly caused by the attack of free radicals.
Vitamins are sensitive substances. They can easily be destroyed by external influences (light, air, heating). In fact, it has been proven that e.g. canteen and pre-processed food contains only 60% of the original vitamins. A good half of this is lost again during preparation and the small remainder only reaches the cells if the enzymes and mucous membranes in the intestine are working properly and the intestinal flora is intact; all this is rather the exception today.
So it is no wonder that many people get sick just because they take too few vitamins. The well-known nutrition journalist Klaus Oberbeil describes the consequences of vitamin deficiency like this:
“When the organism lacks nutrients, it simply switches to the low flame. In all his control circuits (dynamics, libido, concentration, etc.) he lowers the “energy switch” from 100 to perhaps only 70 or even less in order to protect vital organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys or pancreas and not to waste the body’s last energy stores unnecessarily. Tiredness, lack of strength, forgetfulness or lack of libido are therefore nothing more than nature’s emergency program to maintain the body’s viability.”
Natural vitamin A
For better vision and greater resistance
Vitamin A keeps all body tissues in good condition. It protects the organism from infections, especially the respiratory tract. At the same time vitamin A is necessary for good vision, especially in the dark.
Vitamins A and D together play a major role in healthy growth and ensure strong bones, healthy skin, healthy hair and healthy teeth and gums.
Vitamin A deficiency is alarmingly widespread, especially in developing countries. World Health Organization studies show that better care could save between 1.2 and 2.5 million lives a year, including many children and adolescents.
Deaths from lung diseases would be reduced by 70%, and fatal diarrhoeal diseases by almost 40%, according to the WHO. Many of the more harmless viral infections (e.g. measles or chickenpox) can become life-threatening if vitamin A is deficient.
Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining or restoring the healthy functions of the skin and mucous membranes, e.g. in acne, psoriasis, ulcers and furuncles, but also in age spots.
The protective role of the vitamin has a special effect on the epithelial tissue, which does not only bind on the (visible) skin surface. Epithelial cells also form the surface of lung tissue or the lining of the intestine with mucous membranes. Vitamin A is an important aid in protecting against diseases of the respiratory tract or the gastrointestinal tract that are due to external (e.g. environmental) influences.
Healthy adults should take approx. 5,000 I.U. vitamin A daily. Therapeutic dosages are often much higher, e.g. diseases caused by retinol deficiency require 100,000 IU of vitamin A per day.
To prevent an acute infection, e.g. flu, 50,000 – 100,000 IU of vitamin A per day are taken at short notice.
taken together with vitamin C and zinc.
Pregnant women (or those planning to become pregnant) should not take more than 8,000 IU per day, except on medical advice (they can easily switch to beta-carotene – pro-vitamin A – which is converted into vitamin A by the body).
Vitamin A is usually obtained from fish liver. The synthetic form of vitamin A (palmitate) does not contain any animal raw materials and is therefore mainly suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
Vitamin B and co-factors
The individual vitamins of the “B-family” have very different chemical compositions and they also fulfil different therapeutic tasks. So what makes them members of a “family”? When nutrient scientists in the 20s and 30s of the last century examined the composition of food and its connection with bodily functions, they discovered the similarities of the B vitamins:
- all B-vitamins have to do with the energy supply of the body, i.e. with the production of “fuels” from the carbohydrates, proteins and fats contained in food.
- as a component of food, the B vitamins occur together.
This natural relationship ensures the optimal function of the B vitamins for energy metabolism.
However, a lack of B vitamins always leads to a drop in performance, fatigue and a weakened nervous system. It is a good idea to ensure a sufficient supply of all B vitamins, especially in times of increased performance pressure and nervous strain.
The special tasks of the individual B vitamins are described below.
B 1 Thiamine
The “moral vitamin”
Vitamin B1 fulfils a variety of tasks in the body, from growing children to helping against motion sickness and treating shingles. B 1 supports energy production, carbohydrate metabolism and the healthy functioning of muscles and nerves. Like all B vitamins it is neurotropic, i.e. important for the function of the nervous system.
However, the most outstanding property of the vitamin is its ability to positively influence people’s mental attitude. It has therefore also been called the “moral vitamin”.
For many people, vitamin B1 is an indispensable help in coping with stressful situations such as diseases, anxiety states (exam nerves, phobias), traumatic states e.g. after operations etc. It then promotes a positive basic attitude, which often makes the happy coping with such situations possible in the first place or can make it considerably easier.
Vitamin B 1 helps many children to cope better with learning and concentration difficulties. American school children with thiamine deficiency have been found to improve their learning ability by up to 25% after their vitamin levels have been brought to a healthy level. The children were able to concentrate better, think more clearly and react faster. Typical behavioral disorders disappeared.
One cause of reduced brain function, learning difficulties and nerve damage, not only in children, is gradual lead poisoning.
Thiamine helps to detoxify the organism from this heavy metal.
The normal requirement of a healthy adult is covered with 50 – 100 mg. In the therapeutic area (e.g. in case of mental disorders, Alzheimer’s disease or neurological disorders) up to 400 mg per day are administered. As with all B vitamins, it is best to take them with the other B vitamins.
B 2 Ribolavin
For cracked and brittle skin
Like the other vitamins in the B group, vitamin B2 is not stored in the body, but must be supplied regularly through food or additional supplementation.
Vitamin B2 supports normal energy production and the formation of healthy tissue and red blood cells. It is good for healthy skin and hair and for strong fingernails. Vitamin B2 is also good for vision and provides relief for overstrained or tired eyes. It facilitates adaptation in darkness or bright light.
The vitamin is usually used specifically when there are problems around the mouth, such as a chapped, swollen tongue or when the corners of the mouth or lips are cracked and the mouth is brittle and too dry.
Ribolavin is needed for the formation of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the body. It also accelerates the conversion of vitamin B6 into its active form.
A deficiency can affect the body’s iron utilization and the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland.
Deficiency symptoms (especially brittle and cracked skin on the mouth, lips and genitals) can easily occur in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Also vegetarians and people who have to follow special diets or do not eat dairy products should make sure that they have a sufficient supply of vitamin B 2.
The daily intake of 25 – 50 mg Ribolavin is usually completely sufficient. Therapeutic dosages (in the order of 500 mg or more) require medical supervision.
Vitamin B 3 Niacin
Niacin (vitamin B 3) is found in foods and supplements in three forms: as nicotinic acid, niacinamide and inositol hexanicotinate.
The individual forms have different functions on the human body, but also overlap in their mode of action.
Nicotinic acid in particular lowers the level of various fats in the blood, which are a danger for the development of arteriosclerosis. At the same time nicotinic acid increases the HDL cholesterol level (the healthy, protective cholesterol). It can also dilate the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. This can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. But even simple headaches can relieve this effect.
Niacin is also successfully used for various eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia). The work of Dr. Hoffer and Dr. Osmond, who used niacin in schizophrenia patients, is also well known (this work in the early 1950s marked the beginning of the use of orthomolecular substances in mental illness).
Niacin has a calming effect, which is why it is also used in anxiety states.
When taking nicotinic acid one has to expect a temporary side effect which is harmless in itself: the so-called “niacin-flush”. This is a reddening of the skin that occurs after about 10 minutes with tingling and sometimes slight, harmless swelling. This side effect only occurs at the beginning and disappears with regular use. In order to keep the side effects as low as possible, nicotinic acid should not be taken on an empty stomach.
100-500 mg is sufficient for healthy adults. Up to 1,000 mg for high cholesterol. Higher doses of niacin in the form of nicotinic acid should be medically monitored. To reduce the flush, start with 100 mg and increase the dosage over a few days to the required level.
If blood-thinning and/or blood lipid-lowering drugs are taken, their dosage should be adjusted, because niacin increases the effect of these drugs.
It is advisable – as with all B vitamins – to take it together with the other vitamins of the B family.
B5 Pantothenic acid
Anti-stress vitamin and blood lipid regulator
Vitamin B5 is essential for growth and healthy physical development. B5 helps to cope with stress more easily. It supports the work of the immune system and promotes faster wound healing.
Vitamin B5 is needed for healthy cell structure, for the development of the central nervous system, for the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates, but also for the utilization of PABA (paraaminobenzoic acid) and choline. It helps to alleviate negative effects of antibiotics.
The healing of skin injuries and burns (including sunburn) is accelerated by B5.
Deficiency symptoms such as low blood sugar levels and ulcers of the duodenum can be treated with additional doses of B5.
Vitamin B5 is also used to fight infections (it forms antibodies that destroy the infectious agents), in severe physical exhaustion and shock, e.g. after operations.
B5’s reputation as an anti-stress vitamin is due to the fact that the glands of the adrenal glands only produce enough stress-reducing hormones
(glucocorticoids) if they are sufficiently supplied with pantothenic acid. These hormones also act against inflammation, which can manifest itself in such diverse diseases as arthritis, gout, colitis, Crohn’s disease, allergies, psoriasis and certain autoimmune diseases, and are often treated with drugs that cause severe side effects.
Pantothenic acid, in an intake of 1,000-2,000 mg per day, significantly reduces elevated blood lipid levels.
A typical result describes a decrease in triglycerides by 30%, total cholesterol 19%, LDL cholesterol 21% with an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol of 23%.
For healthy adults the intake of 200-300 mg per day is appropriate. In cases of elevated blood lipids or as an anti-inflammatory nutrient, dosages of 1,000-2,000 mg pantothenic acid are commonly used.
Vitamin B5 in high doses is taken mainly for its ability to form pantethine. Pantethine is transformed in the organism into a remarkable substance called coenzyme A. Klaus Oberbeil writes about this in his
“Fit through Vitamins”:
“Modern physiologists and biochemists are very hot for this stuff. The more astonishing things they learn about it, the more great news he announces. Coenzyme A is the active energy producer in all 70 trillion body cells and is urgently needed for all kinds of muscle activity. Even when you open your eyes in the morning, millions of Coenzyme A molecules are needed for it. Anyone who has been limp and tired so far, but wants to be fit and vital, has to increase the concentration of coenzyme A in their body by 50%. This works wonders. The actual driver in this molecule is pantethine, which is also the core of the vital substance.
Pantethine is derived from the B-vitamin pantothenic acid; its metabolic transformation into the power molecule coenzyme A is very short and takes place at lightning speed. If the heart does not get enough oxygen (because we are just sitting lazily in a TV chair, for example), the pantethine levels in the heart muscle drop to a threatening minimum. Pantethine and coenzyme A do the best job of reducing lipid levels, because the dangerous fat is burned. Coenzyme A lowers cholesterol levels and ruthlessly chases fat for burning in muscles. It is the safest and least toxic of all the so-called lipid-lowering agents, its toxicity is practically zero.”
Pantethine is perhaps the most effective micro-nutrient known for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Pantethine is the bioactive form of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), from which it is also produced in the body (however, about 3,000 mg of vitamin B5 is needed to produce 300 mg of pantethine; therefore, it is a great help that pantethine is now available in its active form).
In the metabolic process, pantethine is the direct precursor for the production of the body’s own coenzyme A and this coenzyme plays a crucial role in the proper utilization of fats and carbohydrates as suppliers of body energy.
Coenzyme A is also needed for the production of adrenal hormones and red blood cells. The hormones of the adrenal gland, in turn, play a key role in regulating cholesterol levels in the body. All the studies that investigated the use of pantethine confirm its blood lipid-lowering properties. There was always a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol.
Dr. Atkins, the New York “Diet Pope” who died in 2003, commented
“I have not read a single publication to date that has not shown these results or that has mentioned side effects.”
B 6 – Pyridoxine
The “woman vitamin”
Vitamin B 6 (pyridoxine), as a component of many enzyme systems, plays a very important role in proper metabolism, especially of protein. It is used therapeutically especially for so-called gynaecological disorders (such as menstrual or menopausal problems), but is also essential for pregnant (nausea!) or breastfeeding women and for women who use oral contraceptives.
It’s amazing that a vitamin that is so vital in regulating a woman’s hormone balance, preventing diabetes and heart disease, treating arthritis and strengthening the body’s defences is still officially considered sufficient at around 2 mg a day.
In contrast, most scientific studies assume 50 mg in healthy adults (for specific disorders 100 – 200 mg, sometimes up to 1500 mg).
Recently, the importance of elevated blood homocysteine levels as a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes has been extensively discussed in the scientific literature. Vitamin B 6 can reduce this risk together with folic acid and vitamin B 12.
A study of 15,000 American doctors conducted by Harvard University showed that participants with the lowest B6 level suffered 50% more heart attacks than their adequately supplied colleagues.
As Dr. Plugbeil reports, vitamin B 6 is also helpful against migraine:
“Taken regularly as a preventive measure, it reduces the frequency of the attacks and alleviates their symptoms if they do occur. This effect is believed to be due to a normalising effect on neurotransmitters in the
nervous system, probably on serotonin,”
writes Dr. Plugbeil in his excellent book:
“Vitalplus, the great programme in orthomolecular medicine.”
Vitamin B 6 is also successfully used in the therapy of the so-called carpal tunnel syndrome. The pinching of a nerve in the wrist, which mainly affects women, causes tingling, prickling, furry fingers, pain and finally stiffness of the hands.
Prof. Ellis from Texas recommends in these cases a vitamin B 6 cure with a dosage of 50 – 300 mg daily for at least 12 weeks.
Vitamin B 6 should be taken together with the other B vitamins to avoid the risk of neuropathic symptoms such as intermittent tingling or numbness in the arms or legs, which can otherwise occur at doses above 500 mg. For general health protection, 50 mg per day is sufficient.
The abbreviation P-5-P stands for pyridoxal 5-phosphate. This is the active coenzyme form of vitamin B 6, which has a decisive advantage:
It no longer needs to be converted by the liver, but can pass directly into the metabolism in this form. The usual form of vitamin B 6 (pyridoxine) always has to be converted into P-5-P before it can be effective.
Clinical studies have shown that P-5-P is up to 10 times more effective than pyridoxine HCl.
About 20% of the population cannot absorb or activate B 6 in its usual form, because B 6 needs e.g. an appropriate zinc and ribolavin status to be able to take action. Others suffer from metabolic disorders and therefore have a poor utilization of nutrients.
All of these are helped by this form of vitamin B 6, but all other users can also benefit from its high availability.
B 12 – Cobalamin
The vitality boost
As vitamin B 12 is not well assimilated by the stomach, preparations with long-term effects (delayed release of the vitamin over a period of 4-6 hours) are recommended.
The delayed release promotes the gradual absorption of the active substances through the small intestine.
Even a slight B12 deficiency can lead to disturbances of well-being, the real cause of which – vitamin B12 deficiency – is often not recognised because the symptoms are unspecific. These are conditions such as general weakness and fatigue, depressive mood, memory disorders, personality changes, muscle slackness and movement disorders.
Where such symptoms occur and other causes are not apparent, taking vitamin B12 can often help.
Vitamin B 12 supports healthy nerve functions and the formation of red blood cells.
Risk groups for a B-12 deicite are smokers, senior citizens, pregnant women, Vegetarians and people who suffer from constant diarrhoea.
More vitamin B 12 is needed by women who regularly use the contraceptive pill, as vitamin B 12 is needed more to break down the estrogen hormones.
Vitamin B 12 is used in pernicious anaemia, which used to be fatal, but now the missing vitamin is injected directly into the bloodstream.
The absorption of B12 in the body depends on the presence of an endogenous substance that is produced in the stomach and is called “intrinsic factor”. This substance enables B 12 to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
With increasing age we produce less intrinsic factor and a lack of B12 becomes more and more likely.
Patients who have to take medication for stomach ulcers usually also have a reduced ability to resorb.
For the above conditions, 1,000-2,000 mcg of B 12 should be part of the vitamin program.
Healthy young adults take 100 mcg, older ones 400-1,000 mcg per day.
Dosages of 10-60 mg are not uncommon in the therapeutic range. The vitamin is also completely non-toxic in these doses, but it is best to use it together with the other B vitamins, especially folic acid.
B 12 Methylcobalamin
The active form of B 12
Methylcobalamin is the active form of vitamin B 12, i.e. the body can supply the vitamin directly to the metabolism without conversion. This ensures maximum availability through easy absorption and B 12 can perform its many and varied tasks in the best possible way, e.g. in the production of red blood cells and for maintaining healthy nerve functions.
Fields of application and effects:
- Symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, especially after muscle activity
- muscle cramps
- Blood circulation
- ruptured veins, cellulite, eczema
- Vitamin B 15 (pangamic acid) stimulates the oxygen turnover in the
tissue cells on
- improves the oxygen supply especially during increased muscle activity and reduces symptoms of fatigue (sore muscles)
- lowers the pH value in the blood
- relaxes the muscles
- supports the liver activity, it helps the liver, better with toxins and to cope with cell damage
This is an important vitamin that strengthens the nails and is therefore often used against brittle and fragile fingernails. However, it also keeps skin and hair beautiful and healthy (effective against hair loss) and should be taken in sufficient quantities, i.e. at least 25 mcg per day, if you have a tendency to eczema and rashes on the face and body, muscle pain and states of exhaustion.
Choline & Inositol
The Nerve Regenerators
Choline and inositol both belong to the group of B vitamins and are components of lecithin. They are involved in the processing of fats and cholesterol. Choline is involved in the formation of nerve cells and plays an important role in the transmission of nerve stimuli.
Choline supports the work of the liver and thus helps to remove toxins and residues of medicines from the organism, but also to regulate cholesterol levels and keep the walls of the arteries smooth and free of deposits.
This substance is one of the few substances that directly enter the brain cells, where choline helps to maintain a good memory. Choline is therefore also used to prevent memory loss in old age (1,000-5,000 mg daily) and to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
Choline combines with inositol to form lecithin. This micronutrient, in addition to the properties common to choline, has a beneficial effect on hair growth and health and prevents hair loss. If there is a tendency to eczema, there is usually a lack of inositol.
Inositol – involved in fat metabolism – helps to distribute body fat and, like choline, has a calming effect. Choline, inositol and methionine are among the fat-burning nutrients, which can be very helpful for overweight people with a sluggish metabolism.
The intake of choline and inositol increases the effect of vitamin E. It is beneficial to take choline and inositol together with vitamin C and calcium.
In the literature, dosages of up to 35 g per day are mentioned, which were also well tolerated in this amount. Usually the daily intake varies between 2-4 g (for the treatment of fatty liver over 6 weeks, as well as for disorders of the estrogen metabolism) and 10 g (to improve short-term memory).
The B vitamin, which is usually missing
Folic acid belongs to the vitamins of the B-complex. It plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and the production of the body’s own nucleic acids (RNA/DNA). It supports healthy growth and the division of body cells.
Almost half of the women who take the contraceptive pill have too little folic acid in their blood. (The estrogen hormones prevent good utilization in the small intestine).
For this reason contraceptive hormones should always be taken together with folic acid. Together with vitamin B 12, folic acid ensures that the ovaries function well. Pregnant women have a requirement that is twice as high. Daily supplementation is therefore strongly recommended.
Folic acid protects against intestinal parasites and food poisoning. Together with the other B vitamins, it increases the appetite and gives new impetus when you are exhausted.
Symptoms of a creeping lack of folic acid are often irritability, forgetfulness and lack of concentration.
Dr. Wright describes therapeutic successes with gout with 3 doses of 5 mg folic acid and 3 x 2 g vitamin C daily. He also uses high doses to lower the uric acid level.
Dr. Robert C. Atkins, the well-known American nutritionist, has been a strong advocate of increasing daily folate intake. He considered the limit of 800 mcg per tablet prescribed by the American regulatory agency F.D.A. to be completely absurd. Ironically, Dr. Atkins wrote, this would limit the vitamin that has been shown to be the most commonly undersupplied and which, if ingested in sufficient quantities, could prevent 10% of all fatal heart attacks and 75% of the neural-tube defect, a feared malformation in young children.
That is why Dr. Atkins advised healthy adults to take a daily intake of 3-8 mg per day. People at heart risk should take 10-20 mg daily. For menopausal women who have poor tolerance for the side effects of estrogen treatment, Dr. Atkins prescribed folic acid in a dosage of 40-60 mg daily instead.
However, this was with one important limitation:
Women who suffer from uterine fibroids, endometriosis or ibrocystic breast disease or who have had breast cancer surgery should keep their daily intake of folic acid below 600 mcg.
Dr. Atkins also used folic acid in conjunction with vitamin B 6, vitamin B 12 and betaine to lower elevated homocysteine levels. A 5 point reduction in blood homocysteine levels reduces the risk of heart attack by 40%.
Elevated homocysteine levels do not only promote heart disease. They are also associated with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.