Monday, July 30, 2007

Benefits of Vitamin B5, Sources and Deficiency

Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid. Its name is derived from the Greek word pantos meaning "from everywhere," as small quantities of pantothenic acid are found in nearly every food.

In its functional form, vitamin B5 gets combined with another small, sulfur-containing molecule to form coenzyme A (or CoA). This conversion allows vitamin B5 to participate in a wide variety of chemical and organic reactions. Coenzyme A is needed to carry out various metabolic functions, and for the generation of energy in the form of ATP from fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Roger J. Williams, the discoverer of pantothenic acid suggested that Vitamin B5 might be helpful in the management of certain medical disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Functions of Vitamin B5

* Vitamin B5 is also known as the anti-stress vitamin at times. It is one of the eight water soluble B complex vitamins.
* Vitamin B5 helps production of the cellular antioxidant glutathione, and is therefore an essential vitamin for all life forms.
* Helps in the break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats for energy - thus a stamina enhancer.
* This vitamin plays an important role in production of adrenal hormones in the adrenal glands.
* Vitamin B5 helps to produce neurotransmitters, cholesterol required for proper nerve and muscle performance.
* It is also responsible for haemoglobin production and metabolism of toxins by the liver.
* It plays an important role in cell division, DNA reproduction and RNA transcription.
* It regulates the formation of stress hormones and hair pigmentation.

Deficiency of Vitamin B5

It is an unlikely that an adult will have a deficiency of vitamin B5 because of the availability of B5 in many foods, plus the fact that it is also produced by our intestinal bacteria.
However, a deficiency of Vitamin B5 causes fatigue, muscle weakness, personality changes, psoriasis, and headache. Vitamin B5 is often used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, edema, swelling, pain, and stiffness in joints.

Pantothenic acid is also recommended to prevent stress and relieve insomnia, arthritis, food intolerance and teeth grinding.

Oral application of pantothenic acid helps relieve many skin problems and cure wounds.

Who are at risk of Vitamin B5 deficiency?

* Women who are on birth control pills are recommended to take extra doses of Vitamin B5.
* Smokers and alcoholics also fall under this category.
* People undergoing stress, prone to allergies or eating too many refined foods might develop a shortage of this vitamin.

Symptoms of Vitamin B5 deficiency

· painful & burning feet
· skin abnormalities
· numbness and poor coordination
· abdominal and muscle cramps
· vomiting
· anaemia
· insomnia and depression
· stunted growth
· restlessness

Most of these symptoms and signs get resolved with external administration of pantothenic acid.
Vitamins B12, folic acid and biotin are required for proper use of vitamin B5 in the body's biochemical activities. In addition, vitamin C somewhat helps prevent B5 deficiency.

Dosage of Vitamin B5

Since deficiency of pantothenic acid is rare, so there is no recommended daily intake for this vitamin. Pantothenic acid is mostly included in B-complex multivitamins. The RDA for men is 10 mg and women is 8 mg.

Normal daily intake of pantothenic acid for adults is 4 to 7 milligrams. Vitamin B5 should be taken with water, preferably after eating.

Pantothenic acid does not usually cause any side effects, but pregnant and lactating mothers should be careful to consume only the normal daily intake.

Vitamin B5 can be found in multivitamins, B complex vitamins, or sold individually under the name of pantothenic acid and calcium pantothenate. It is available in a variety of forms including tablets and capsules, and must be taken under medical supervision.

Dietary sources of Vitamin B5 -

The term pantothenic acid is derived from the Greek word pantos, meaning everywhere. Vitamin B5 is widely distributed in plant and animal food sources, where it occurs in both bound and free forms.
Pantothenic acid is richly found in peanuts, liver, kidney, cauliflower, mushrooms, seeds and other nuts, pumpkin, mushrooms, legumes, sweet potato, milk, soya, cheese, egg yolk, fish, chicken, wholegrain bread and cereals, and bananas. The richest sources of the vitamin are the ovaries of cod and tuna fish.
Breakfast cereals are also a good source if they have been fortified with pantothenic acid.
Do not add soda to the water used for cooking vegetables - it will destroy the pantothenic acid.

Vitamin B5 storage

Vitamin B5 is relatively unstable in food, and significant amounts of this vitamin can be lost through cooking, freezing, and commercial processing.
Vitamins are easily destroyed and washed out during food preparation and storage. Store vitamin supplements at room temperature, in a dry place that is free of moisture.

By: Tom alter

Article Source:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nutritional Supplements: Are They for You?

By: Brue Baker

When deciding whether you need or want to take nutritional supplements, there are a few things you should know first. First of all, you should know what vitamins and minerals can do for you, and what they cannot.

Many people think if they take vitamins, minerals and other forms of nutritional supplements that they can eat anything they want and not have to worry about an otherwise balanced diet.

First, vitamins and minerals in any form can't replace food, so you still have to eat properly to obtain the necessary proteins, carbohydrates and sugars that your body needs for optimal functioning. While vitamins and minerals don't contain calories, they don't provide energy either.

Nutritional supplements should never be substituted for nutrients found in foods either. Many people don't realize that our bodies don't manufacture vitamins or minerals, even though our body systems need them to survive on a molecular level. The only way we get enough of these essential ingredients is through a properly balanced diet, at times enhanced with supplements.

You can compare the necessity of vitamins and minerals to the spark plugs in your car. If they're not firing just right, your car will still run, but not smoothly or to the best of its capacity. Nutritional supplements offer the same benefits to the workings of the human body. You can't see them, but they are a vital component to the workings of everything in your body, from cell structures to organ systems.

For those who eat a properly balanced diet, it may not be necessary to take vitamin and mineral supplements. But let's be honest. These days, who eats properly all the time? Considering that we get a bulk of those vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, and that most people don't eat enough of either, it's important to ingest supplements in order to prevent health problems that begin through poor nutrition.

A vitamin or mineral deficiency in your body can cause all sorts of problems, from acne to disease processes. Those who smoke or drink also need increased vitamins and minerals to counteract the damage caused by alcohol or nicotine. Young children experiencing growth spurts need proper amounts of vitamins and minerals to ensure bone health, muscle growth and organ tissue development. Older people need to replenish stores of vitamins and minerals that their bodies don't process so well any more, and everyone in between needs to maintain proper levels of nutritional components to provide optimal health benefits.

Most vitamin and mineral supplements come in a variety of forms, from capsules to tablets to gel-caps. Some are big, some are small, but to be honest, most of them smell and taste funny. However, most people take them with juice or water, but always read the labels to make sure you are following dosage and dietary instructions, as some should be taken on a full stomach, others on an empty one.

There are a number of popular nutritional supplement brands out there, and when considering any of them, it's a good idea to know and understand what vitamins and minerals are, what they do for your body, and to determine if the brand you choose will deliver the product that you are paying for. Take the time to research national nutritional supplement brands, don't believe everything you read, and above all, when in doubt, ask your primary care provider for advice.

Article Source:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Are You Depressed, Anxious, or Tired? You Might Be Deficient in Vitamin B6

B6 or Pyridoxine is a powerhouse of a vitamin! According to Dr. Ellis from Mount Pleasant, TX, who studied vitamin B6 for more than 30 years, "Vitamin B6 is as important to your body as oxygen and water." Like many other B complex vitamins, Pyridoxine is very important in fat, protein, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism, and hence getting enough of it can help you to have enough energy. It also supports many aspects of nerve health, including nerve problems with those with epilepsy, carpal tunnel syndrome and psychiatric disorders.

B6 is also a major factor in helping red blood cells to regenerate, and seems to be a primary immune system stimulating factor, which has been shown in particular to help defend the body against liver cancer.

Vitamin B6 is vital in helping the body produce various neurotransmitters, and hence is important for memory. It also seems to help avoid or reduce glucose intolerance, which is when your blood sugar spikes abnormally high after eating. Dr. Ellis' research also shows that it may help reduce asthma attacks since it seems to lower the body' histamine levels. It also seems to help protect the body from artheriosclerosis because it reduces a chemical in the bloodstream that damages the walls of the arteries.

It can also help promote healthy skin, reduce acne and morning sickness. B6 inhibits histamine production, and hence may help with allergies and asthma. In addition it seems to be helpful in cases of PMS, acting as a natural diuretic.

Extra Vitamin B6 Requirements

B6 seems to be especially helpful for the elderly, and those with PMS, menopausal symptoms, and those with heart and blood sugar problems.* It also seems to be needed in higher amounts by smokers, those under a lot of stress, and those exposed to high levels of environmental chemicals (that would be most of us today!). This is one of those vitamins that we seem to need in higher levels in today's modern world, because of all the stress and pollution!

* This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Deficiency Symptoms of Pyridoxine

Depression and anxiety, as well as anemia and lethargy and have been linked to pyridoxine deficiency. Carpal tunnel syndrome and numbness and tingling in the knees, shoulders and hands can also be a sign of a deficiency of vitamin B6. Some additional symptoms include PMS, insomnia and kidney stones.

Food Sources & Supplementation of Vitamin B6

Nutritional yeast, whole grains like whole wheat and brown rice, bananas, eggs, poultry and organ meats, avocados, nuts and legumes like peanuts and walnuts. If you decide to supplement, we recommend only a food-based vitamin B complex, since taking the B vitamins separately has been shown to sometimes cause imbalances in the body that can actually have an adverse effect over the long term.

Note: An excessive intake of B6 has been noted to cause adverse symptoms such as numbness in the hands and feet and other symptoms of nerve damage. Always check with your doctor before taking high levels of B6 supplementation, and even better, in our humble non-medical opinion, don't take synthetic B6, only use natural source B supplementation.

Article Source:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Pill Vitamin Versus Liquid Vitamin

In recent years, a number of companies have introduced liquid vitamin supplements, some of them claiming that these products far outperform the traditional vitamin pill. While some companies took their claims too far (and were charged accordingly), the debate continues as to which type of vitamin is the most effective.

The main advantage of a liquid supplement is the speed and ease of absorption by the body. Since there is no need to break down a solid, the vitamins are absorbed immediately. Liquid fans also claim that the absorption rate is much higher, making the supplements more effective.

There are also those who hate swallowing big vitamin pills or simply can't swallow them due to a medical condition. For instance, people who have had gastric bypass surgery find it hard to keep a pill down. Throat surgery can also make swallowing solids painful. For people like this, liquid vitamins are the only viable option.

But liquid supplements have their drawbacks. One of the main problems is that the vitamins and minerals do not keep their potency as well in liquid form. That means that the liquids have a shorter shelf life than pills.

There are also enzymes contained in some vitamin tablets that aid in the absorption of the nutrients. These enzymes can't be included in liquid vitamins because they only last for a day or so in liquids. While with pills, the enzymes retain their effectiveness for the entire shelf life of the products.

The claim of faster and more complete absorption of liquids is also challenged by some experts. While it's true that we digest liquids more quickly than solids, this does not necessarily lead to a more effective product.

The most effective place for vitamin absorption is at the beginning of the small intestine. There are some claims that much of the contents of liquid vitamins is destroyed by stomach acids before it even gets this far. Pills, meanwhile, are coated to keep them from dissolving completely before they reach the small intestine.

While we live in a world where immediate effects are usually considered a good thing, their relevance for vitamins is questionable. After all, our bodies don't suddenly have vitamin emergencies. If one vitamin supplement is absorbed into our systems an hour sooner than another, it's unlikely to have any noticeable effect on our overall health.

When it comes to our health, nobody likes to guess what is best. But until enough time has passed to show for certain whether there is a difference between the effects of liquid and tablet vitamins, you'll simply have to go with the one that makes the most sense for you. As long as you are focused on a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition, the format of your vitamin supplement shouldn't be a critical decision.

Article Source:

Monday, July 9, 2007

Calcium, What's The Big Deal?

The big question about Calcium, exactly what is Calcium and why is Calcium so important to you and I?

What is Calcium?

Calcium is one of the most abundant micro-nutrient found in our body. 99% of our body’s total calcium is stores in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% of calcium is then found throughout our body in blood, muscles, and the fluid in between cells. Calcium is also needed for muscle contraction and the secretion of hormones and enzymes. There are much more usage of Calcium, but to put simply, Calcium is important for Bone repair/formations and the contraction of muscles. Calcium is also the answer to strong and dense bones.

Different Types of Calcium, Which is Best?

Calcium is an element and it comes in various forms. There’s Calcium citrate, Calcium phosphate, Calcium Gluconate, Calcium Carbonate, and e.t.c. The list can go on and on, but which is the most common one that is best absorbed by the body?

There is something called the elemental weight. Calcium phosphate has an elemental weight of 31-38% whilst Calcium carbonate has an elemental weight of 40%. Let’s use Calcium Carbonate (Most common form of Calcium found in the market) as an example, if you take 500mg of Calcium carbonate, only 200mg of elemental Calcium is available for absorption. I’ll make things simpler by giving you an analogy; let’s presume that you’re now going down to the fuel station to pump some petrol for your car. There are 2 types of Petrol and both are mixed with water. For every liter of petrol, Petrol X contains 20% petrol whilst Petrol Y contains 40% petrol. We do know that cars require petrol to move and not water. So the obvious choice will be Petrol Y. The same goes to us, our body can only utilize elemental Calcium, and therefore, Calcium Carbonate is one of the better choices of Calcium supplements to take.

Vitamin D & Calcium Absorption
Taking Calcium alone is not as effective taking calcium with a good dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps improve Calcium absorption. To put things simply, let’s imagine things this way. Before calcium is absorbed by our body, it needs go through a door which is locked and requires a key to open it. Vitamin D is the key to opening this door to allow calcium into your body and from there allows the body to utilize the Calcium.

What NOT to Consume Calcium With
We should not be consuming Calcium with Zinc and Iron. This is so as our body prioritizes Calcium over the other two minerals. I advise you to take Zinc and Iron at a time when your body has little Calcium, preferably 30mins-60mins after drinking your milk. When purchasing multivitamins, do also look at the Nutrition fact sheet to see if any of this minerals are stashed together.

How much Calcium is Needed?
If you’re just an average adult, I would recommend taking anything from 800mg – 1200mg of Calcium a day. However, if you’re an athlete or bodybuilder, you should be taking up to 2000mg – 2300mg of Calcium a day. Good sources of protein include Milk, yoghurt, cheese. Taking more than 2500mg of Calcium may cause you to get wet stools.

Calcium will help you maintain a healthy bone mass, delay the onset of osteoporosis and recent research articles have also shown that Calcium aids weight loss.

By Darcy Dal

Article Source:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

How To Know If You Need Vitamin Supplements

Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is perhaps one of the most controversial issues regarding healthy living. The lack of vitamins in your diet can be unhealthy, but too many vitamins can also put your health in danger. So, how do you know if taking vitamin and mineral supplements is necessary for you? Ask yourself the following questions in order to determine if you may need vitamin supplementation for a healthier lifestyle:

Am I Stressed? If you are constantly stressed-out due to work, relationships, family or any other situation, your adrenal glands may be working overtime. This can potentially cause fatigue and headaches.

Treatment: Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin E and Vitamin C supplements can help with this problem.

Is My Immune System Up to Par? Do you constantly find yourself catching colds and the flu more frequently than others? You may need to boost your immune system with vitamins and minerals which provide the nutrients needed to fight these viruses.

Treatment: Vitamin C supplement, Zinc and Manganese will do the trick.

Do I smoke? I’m sure you’re aware that this habit is unhealthy but smoking uses up vitamin C and puts you at higher risk of osteoporosis.

Treatment: Vitamin C supplements and calcium supplements will help reduce your chances of osteoporosis and provide you with the adequate amount of vitamin C.

Am I Pregnant? Pregnant and hormonal women often lack in vitamin B-6. If you do not receive enough of this vitamin it can be harmful to you and your baby.

Treatment: Take a vitamin B-6 supplement, but make sure not to take doses of more than 500mg per day without a Doctor’s recommendation.

Am I on a Diet? If you are on a low-carb, low-fat or any form of diet you are probably not receiving the vitamins necessary for healthy living. Individuals on diets very rarely eat foods from all the major food groups and if they do, they usually do not eat the required amounts.

Treatment: Depending on the type of diet and the foods you eat, you may require a multi-vitamin supplement or specific supplements of Vitamin A, B, C, D, E or K.

Answering yes to any of the questions above does not necessarily mean that vitamin or mineral supplements are crucial to healthy living. The situations listed above are merely a guideline to help individuals who already feel as though they are lacking the vitamins and minerals in their diets. It is important to remember that vitamin supplements are meant to accompany food and are in no way meant as a replacement for a healthy diet.

Health-related information changes frequently, and while every attempt has been made to ensure the content in this article is up to date and accurate, you should always check with a doctor or nutritional expert before undertaking any substantial change in diet or lifestyle.

By: Jeff Matson

Article Source:

Monday, July 2, 2007

Vitamin E: Why There’s No Need To Fear Nature’s Great Protector

It would be a great pity if recent media scare stories highlighting the supposed risks of vitamin E supplementation prevented people, particularly the elderly, from ensuring that their diets include adequate supplies of this vital nutrient.

These stories all centred on a single study, which was not new research but a meta-analysis of 19 previous reports focussed on subjects already identified as suffering from chronic diseases. The applicability of its findings to the usefulness or otherwise of vitamin E in helping to prevent disease and maintain optimum health in the well population must therefore be open to serious doubt. And this one study must also be considered alongside the many which have reported the different health benefits of vitamin E since its discovery in 1922.

Numerous of these studies have demonstrated the benefits of vitamin E to cardiovascular health in terms of protecting against the onset of heart disease, in restricting the advance of the disease, and in reducing the risk of second and further heart attacks in those already affected. In common with other anti-oxidants, vitamin E also appears to protects against atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries which is the common precursor of serious heart problems. In fact vitamin E appears to have a general blood thinning and anti-coagulant effect similar to but much gentler and more natural than drugs such as warfarin. Vitamin E thereby helps to protect against highly dangerous clots forming in the arteries serving the brain and heart; clots which can lead to stroke – still one of the main causes of premature death and disability in the western world.

But the benefits of vitamin E reach far beyond the heart and circulatory system. Being fat-soluble, vitamin E is also needed in large quantities by the brain, the trillions of cells of which are particularly rich in fat. Brain function is highly dependent on the efficient functioning of cell membranes, largely formed of fatty tissue, to allow transmission of messages between cells. Free radical damage to cell membranes, worsening rapidly with age, is therefore regarded as one of the principal causes of impaired cognitive function and may even be implicated as a contributory factor in Alzheimer's disease. As an anti-oxidant, vitamin E is an important protector against free radical damage and it's not surprising, therefore, that numerous studies have reported superior cognitive function and memory as consequences of vitamin E supplementation.

As cancer is well known as predominantly a disease of degeneration, it is not surprising that powerful anti-oxidants such as vitamin E should offer a degree of protection against it. And indeed, numerous studies have clearly linked enhanced levels of vitamin E in the body with a reduced incidence of common cancers, particularly that of the prostate. As a powerful anti-oxidant vitamin E may also protect against the damage to healthy cells that is an inevitable accompaniment of necessarily aggressive chemo and radio cancer therapies.

And as if all of this wasn't enough, vitamin E has also demonstrated possible benefits in the treatment of diabetes, in combatting the pain of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis and in maintaining good vision, particularly in old age. Vitamin E is also regarded as a general immune system booster.

But for all these identified benefits, concerns persist in some quarters about the potential dangers of vitamin E, and are generally focussed on the possible toxicity of very high intakes. And it's true that being fat-soluble, vitamin E can be stored in the body, giving rise to a potential for toxicity if ingested in excessive quantities over time. But there are good grounds for thinking that these concerns are probably misplaced.

Rich dietary sources of vitamin E are foods such as leafy green vegetables, certain types of nuts, vegetable oils and whole grains. The typical modern, highly processed, Western diet, high in fat and refined carbohydrate, and produced from intensively farmed, poor quality soils, is unlikely to provide even an adequate, let alone an excessive supply of the vitamin.

Moreover, both the Institute of Medicine and US Dietary Guidelines have identified a regular daily intake of 1,500 IU as the maximum at which no risk should arise to the health of healthy individuals. To put this in context: most commercially available supplements will provide only between 200 and 400 IU.

So with the ever increasing danger of free radical damage as the body ages, and the difficulty of obtaining adequate supplies from diet alone, it appears that any problems arising from vitamin E are far more likely to be those of deficiency rather than excess.

Article Directory: