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„BEST-Pharma’s Star Wars ™ vitamin product line is the source of vitamins”

“A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill if you don’t eat it.”

                                                                                              Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi

Information:
Dietary supplements are considered to be foodstuffs and, although they may have a beneficial physiological effect that could differ for everyone, their labeling, presentation and advertising shall not mention or suggest any preventive or curative effect of the products.

Attention should be paid to adequate vitamin intake. Our bodies cannot function properly without the adequate amount of vitamins.   What are these vitamins, and in what amount should we take them? These questions are answered in the collection of the Nutritional Academy’s newsletters.

Newsletter, Volume 5, Issue 3

Did you know…
…that vitamin B6 is one of the most hardworking vitamins, it performs at least a hundred different tasks, and its deficiency causes fatigue, depression and neurosis?
…that vitamin B12 is the only type of vitamin B that is stored in the body in large amounts, so its deficiency is rare?
…that a small curly kale contains more vitamin K than 4-5 pieces of a 100 mcg vitamin K tablet?
…that vitamin C supports iron absorption? That’s why we should not forget adequate vitamin C intake when taking iron supplements.
…that the recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 200 IU, but during a 10-minute sunbathing session in summer more than 10,000 IU vitamin D is produced in our skin?
…that pantothenic acid found in, among others, meats, whole grains, and legumes also affects the color and growth of our hair?

When can we talk about vitamin deficiency?

When good weather arrives, spring fatigue is usually explained by vitamin deficiency. But do we know the symptoms of the deficiency of each vitamin? Which vitamin’s lower level causes spring fatigue exactly? Among other things, the adequate vitamin level contributes to the proper functioning of our bodies and our well-being. Vitamins are responsible for essential functions in our bodies, they are (also) responsible for the functioning of our immune system, the health of our eyes, the regeneration of our cells, blood clotting, and the strength of our bones and teeth.

Certain vitamins perform more than a hundred of tasks. Therefore, if we do not get the adequate amount, we can experience deficiency symptoms. If these are recognized in time, we can avoid serious consequences by consuming the right food and vitamin supplements. Inadequate nutrition can lead to vitamin deficiency, but certain liver and intestinal diseases can also cause vitamin deficiency, especially malabsorption and indigestion. However, some vitamins are stored in the body in large amounts, and their inadequate intake only leads to deficiency symptoms after a long time.

Vitamin deficiency

Vitamin deficiency occurs when the body persistently absorbs an inadequate amount of vitamins, thus the function associated with the given vitamin is disrupted, and deficiency symptoms start to develop. What determines how quickly a vitamin is eliminated from the body? Vitamins are organic compounds essential for the body to function. Our bodies can only produce a few of them (vitamin D, and vitamin K with the help of bacteria living in the intestine), so most vitamins or their precursors need to be consumed with food.

Type of vitamins

Vitamins have two groups. One of them contains the water-soluble vitamins: vitamin C and types of vitamin B (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12), and the other contains fat-soluble vitamins: vitamin A, D, E and K. Our bodies are able to store fat-soluble vitamins for a long time, thus their deficiency is relatively rare. In contrast, water-soluble vitamins are eliminated with urine, so we need to take enough amount of them daily to avoid unpleasant symptoms of their deficiency.

What are the symptoms of certain vitamin deficiencies?

Symptoms depend on the vitamin level that is lower than required. We take only one-third of our vitamin A need as pure vitamin A (retinol) – from liver, eggs, butter, etc. – and the other two-thirds enter our bodies as provitamins, mainly beta-carotene. Vitamin A is stored in the liver. Retinol protects the epithelial tissues, and it also “works” in order to provide good eyesight. If its amount is deficient in the body, corneal hyperkeratosis and night blindness occur, and the body’s resilience to infections is reduced. Vitamin A deficiency is more common among the elderly, usually because their diet lacks enough vitamins. Infections – such as pneumonia – increase the body’s vitamin use, so particular attention should be paid to the adequate intake of vitamin A in case of the elderly. Vitamin A overdose is also dangerous. The daily recommended intake is 0.8 mg (2,670 IU, international unit) for women, and 1.0 mg (3,340 IU) for men. More than the recommended amount shall only be taken for therapeutic purposes, under medical supervision. Taking more vitamin A than recommended is not suggested for pregnant women, because it may be toxic for the fetus. With basic nutrition, its overdose is almost impossible since the body converts only as much of the food’s carotene content into vitamin A as is required for daily functioning.

Vitamin D is also a fat-soluble vitamin. This hormonal vitamin is formed when our skin is exposed to UVB rays. Therefore, staying outdoors for at least 10 minutes a day – with uncovered head and arms – provides enough vitamin D for our bodies, but depending on the weather, from late October, early November until the arrival of sunny spring, our skin does not get enough UVB radiation, so we need vitamin D supplementation. The body’s ability to produce vitamin D decreases over time, so it is especially important for the elderly to supplement vitamin D, since it is necessary for maintaining the health of our bones. Vitamin deficiency has been detected in the majority of women who suffer from polycystic ovary disorder. The temporary decrease of vitamin levels may also occur among healthy people. Vitamin D’s primary task is to regulate the blood’s calcium and phosphorus levels, and to maintain the health of bones and teeth. Its deficiency lowers the mineral content of bones, thus they break more easily, and deformities, osteoporosis and rachitis (rickets) may develop. The recommended daily intake is 200 IU that equals 5 micrograms. For pregnant women and the elderly, the RDI is 400 IU. Healthy adults may also increase their vitamin D intake during winter, so they will not suffer from a minor but lasting deficiency. Recently, a daily intake of 15-20 mcg, i.e. 600-800 IU is considered necessary.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with one of the most significant antioxidant properties. It affects the cellular level, so it delays the ageing process and its first signs. In healthy humans who have a sufficiently mixed diet and consume vegetable oils, nutritional deficiency of vitamin E should not occur. Vitamin E deficiency could occur if one has fat malabsorption, and in this case, the vitamin should be supplemented. In such case, the lifespan of red blood cells is also reduced. Vitamin E not only delays the ageing process, but also efficiently protects the immune system from toxins coming from harmful substances, such as cigarette smoke. It is suitable for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and also affects the course of Alzheimer’s disease. The recommended daily intake is 12 mg for women and 14 mg for men, these equal 18-21 IU. However, a larger amount is necessary for vitamin E to reach its absolute antioxidant properties.

In relation to the above three “more popular” vitamins, much less information is generally known by people about                      vitamin K, even though it also has quite important tasks in our bodies. Among other things, it is necessary for the formation of proteins triggering blood clotting (coagulation factors). Bacteria in the intestinal tract are able to produce this vitamin, in fact, 80% of the daily necessary vitamin K amount is synthesized by them. We consume the other 20% with food. Danish researchers discovered in 1930 that chicks fed a diet that contained no fat developed hemophilia. Its name is also related to this condition, coagulation, i.e. clotting became the eponymous initial. Developing vitamin K deficiency is almost impossible if one has a healthy intestinal tract. People with bowel and liver diseases are more often affected by this deficiency. People with fat digestion disease and fat malabsorption shall pay particular attention to adequate vitamin K intake, because their normal blood clotting can easily become damaged. If one has vitamin K deficiency, they require strict medical supervision, since suffering a serious injury can cause the person to bleed to death. It helps prevent osteoporosis together with vitamin D. It is important to meet the daily requirements of water-soluble vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin (B3), folate (B9), pantothenic acid (B5), and biotin (B7) because these vitamins are emptied from the body faster. Vitamins B1, B2 and niacin help sufficient energy use, and are also responsible for the health of eyes, skin and nervous system. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, plays a role in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. Its deficiency results from starvation, a restrictive diet or an unbalanced diet. Also, some foods – such as yeast, mushrooms or blackcurrants – contain anti-thiamine compounds, but their effects do not cause vitamin B1 deficiency if the person’s diet is balanced.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is an enzyme component of oxidation mechanism, its deficiency causes symptoms in the skin and the mucous membrane. Many foods contain riboflavin, so its isolated deficiency does not occur. Niacin is also an enzyme component, and its best known deficiency disease is pellagra. Mainly people who consume a lot of corn have it, since corn contains niacin-antagonists. Vitamin B6 has an important task, among others, in the metabolism of amino acids and essential fatty acids. According to a survey, 50% of women do not get the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. This rate is even higher in case of women taking birth control pills. Even a minor vitamin B6 deficiency increases the level of homocysteine in the body, which increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Severe vitamin B6 deficiency causes skin disease symptoms, typically dermatitis and acne. It also affects the nervous system, so insomnia, depression and occasional seizures can also be observed before the symptoms on the skin. Even a daily amount of 1.5-2 mg vitamin B is enough to avoid the symptoms, but there are recommendations with a significantly larger amount thereof.

The only vitamin B that our body can store for a long time is vitamin B12. This vitamin is mainly stored in the liver. Sufficient amount of stomach acid is required to release the vitamin from the dietary proteins consumed with food, so decreased stomach acid production can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, and numbness and tingling in the limbs due to nerve damage. The vitamin is absorbed in the final part of the small intestine, but first it has to attach itself to a special protein produced in the stomach (intrinsic factor). If any one of them is permanently deficient, pernicious anemia is developed, and mental functions can deteriorate. Its absorption may be hindered by inflammatory bowel diseases – such as Chron’s disease and colitis –, gout or alcoholism. 2-3 micrograms a day is considered an adequate intake, but 1000 mcg/day is sufficient to treat pernicious anemia. Good results can also be achieved with its use in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin B12 works together with vitamins B6 and B9 to reduce the homocysteine level.

Biotin (vitamin H, vitamin B7) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) take part in the use and conversion of fats and carbohydrates. Symptoms of biotin deficiency are loss of appetite, skin lesions, anemia, sensory disorders and elevated cholesterol levels. Pantothenic acid affects, among other things, the colour and growth of our hair. Its deficiency can cause abdominal pain, nausea, insomnia, weakness and sensory disorders. Biotin’s necessary daily intake is 30-60 mcg/day, pantothenic acid’s is 6-8 mg/day.

And last but not least, let’s talk about the well-known vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency is rare nowadays, and it is not used to treat or prevent scurvy that used to be a common disease. The versatile vitamin C is rightly one of best known vitamins. It affects the whole body. It strengthens the walls of capillaries, it is essential for the formation of collagen, and it keeps muscles, ligaments, and the gum healthy. It is a water-soluble antioxidant that provides protection against free radical damage. Less than 10 mg vitamin C a day increases the risk of scurvy development, and less than 50 mg of it a day increases the risk of heart disease and cataract development. 100-150 mg of vitamin C a day is recommended on average, for example three deciliters of freshly squeezed orange juice contains this amount. Taking more than 500 mg is not recommended, not even if you have kidney stones. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron, so iron is always supplemented with vitamin C if one suffers from iron deficiency. It also helps the function of vitamin E, taken together they will increase the concentration of vitamin E in the blood, so the antioxidant becomes reusable.

TABLE OF VITAMINS
The table below shows the minimum and maximum amount of the vitamins’ daily intake:
(mcg=microgram, IU=International Unit, N/A=no data)

Vitamin Women Women Men Men
Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum
Vitamin A 800 mkg 3.000 mkg 1.000 mkg 3.000 mkg
Vitamin A NE 2,670 NE 10,000 NE 3,340 NE 10,000 NE
Vitamin B1 Tiamin 1,1 mg NK 1,2 mg NK
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin 1,2 mg NK 1,3 mg NK
Vitamin B3 Niacin 14 mg 35 mg 16 mg 35 mg
Vitamin B6 1,3 mg 25-100 mg 1,5 mg 25-100 mg
Vitamin B6 above age 51  1,5 mg 1,7 mg
Vitamin B12 3 mkg NK 3 mkg NK
Folsav 400 mkg 1,000 mkg 400 mkg 1,000 mkg
Pantoténsav 8 mg NK 8 mg NK
Biotin 30 mkg NK 30 mkg NK
Biotin 14-18 (age group) 25 mkg 25 mkg
Vitamin C 100 mg 2,000 mg 100 mg 2,000 mg
Vitamin D 5 mkg 50 mkg 5 mkg 50 mkg
Vitamin D 51-70 (age group) 10 mkg 10 mkg
Vitamin D age 71  15 mkg 15 mkg
Vitamin E 12 mg 300-1,000 mg 14 mg 300-1,000 mg
Vitamin K 65 mkg NK 70 mkg NK
Vitamin K 14-18 (age group) 50 mkg 50 mkg

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What are the best natural vitamin sources?

Fat soluble vitamins are mainly found in milk and dairy products, eggs, fish and vegetable oils. Cod liver is extremely rich in vitamin D, its 1 gram already covers our daily need of vitamin D. Soy is rich in vitamin K, and dark green leafy vegetables’ vitamin K and carotene content is also high. Wheat germ, whole grains, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamins E and B6. Products from animals are high in vitamins B12, B6 and biotin. Not only citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. Kiwi, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, sorrel and tomato are rich in vitamin C as well. However, this vitamin is degraded by heat or strong light, which is why it is recommended to eat raw vegetables and fruits as many times as possible. If we do not take care of the additional intake of vitamins C and D during the gloomy winter, their reduced levels can cause spring fatigue. A varied diet can provide the adequate amount of vitamins to our bodies, so actual vitamin deficiency can be avoided. Besides the vitamin content of vegetables and fruits, their impressive colours and tastes can also “treat” spring fatigue.

Literature and Reference List:
1. Mária Barna, Táplálkozás-Diéta (Nutrition-Diet), Medicina könyvkiadó, 1996 Budapest
2. Reader’s Digest, Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements, 2000 London
3. Tolerable upper intake levels for vitamins and minerals, EFSA 2006
4. www.supplementquality.com

IMPRINT:
TÁPLÁLKOZÁSI AKADÉMIA hírlevél
(NUTRITION ACADEMY newsletter)
Issued by: Hungarian Dietetic Association
Editorial Committee: Prof. Dr. György Biró, Emese Antal (MDOSZ chairperson), Fanny Dusa (dietitian)
Reviewed by: Prof. Dr. György Biró, Emese Antal (MDOSZ chairperson)

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