Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene)
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. Sources of vitamin A include organ meats (such as liver and kidney), egg yolks, butter, carrot juice, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, peaches, fortified dairy products and cod liver oil.
Vitamin A is also part of a family of compounds, including retinol, retinal and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene, also known as pro-vitamin A, can be converted into vitamin A when additional levels are required. Vitamin A supports the normal growth and repair of body tissue, helps to promote normal bone growth, and a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C is found in peppers (sweet, green, red, hot red and green chili), citrus fruits and brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, guava, kiwi fruit, currants and strawberries. Nuts and grains contain small amounts of vitamin C. It is important to note that cooking destroys vitamin C activity.
Vitamin C is integral in supporting a healthy immune system, promoting cardiovascular health, helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and providing an antioxidant defense. The body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. Therefore, vitamin C must be acquired through diet and supplementation.
Regular sunlight exposure is the main way that most humans get their vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D are vitamin D-fortified milk (100 IU per cup), cod liver oil, and fatty fish such as salmon. Small amounts are found in egg yolks and liver. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and supports the production of several proteins involved in calcium absorption and storage.
Vitamin D works with calcium to promote hard, strong bones. It works to promote active transport of calcium out of the osteoblasts into the extra-cellular fluid and in the kidneys, promotes calcium and phosphate uptake by renal tubules. Vitamin D also promotes the normal absorption of dietary calcium and phosphate uptake by the intestinal epithelium. It promotes healthy growth and repair of tissues, and supports overall skin health.
The most valuable sources of dietary vitamin E include vegetable oils, margarine, nuts, seeds, avocados and wheat germ. Safflower oil contains large amounts of vitamin E (about two thirds of the RDA in ¼ cup), and there are trace amounts in corn oil and soybean oil. Vitamin E is actually a family of related compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Vitamin E is available in a natural or synthetic form. In most cases, the natural and synthetic forms are identical except the natural form of vitamin E is better absorbed and retained in the body. The natural form of alpha-tocopherol is known as "d-alpha tocopherol." The synthetic "dl-" form is the most common form found in dietary supplements. For those individuals watching their dietary fat consumption, which is relatively common in the world of dieting, vitamin E intake is likely to be low, due to a reduced intake of foods with high fat content.
The main health benefit of supplemental vitamin E comes from its immune-boosting antioxidant activity. It also supports normal healing and is known to promote cardiovascular health. Vitamin E is one of the most powerful fat-soluble antioxidants in the body. In turn, vitamin E protects cell membranes from free radicals.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Thiamin promotes carbohydrate metabolism and nerve function. Thiamin is required for a healthy nervous system and assists in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It is used in the manufacture of hydrochloric acid and, therefore, supports digestion, increases energy and helps promote mental clarity.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is found in liver, dairy products, dark green vegetables and some types of seafood. Vitamin B2 serves as a co-enzyme, working with other B vitamins. It promotes healthy blood, and supports both the nervous system and normal human growth. It supports healthy growth of skin, nails, and hair. Vitamin B2 plays a crucial role in turning food into energy as a part of the electron transport chain, driving cellular energy on the micro-level.
Vitamin B2 supports the breakdown of fats while functioning as a cofactor or helper to support the activation of B6 and folic acid. Vitamin B2 is water-soluble and cannot be stored by the body except in insignificant amounts; thus, it must be replenished daily. Under some conditions, vitamin B2 can act as an antioxidant. The riboflavin coenzymes are also important for the transformation of vitamin B6 and folic acid into their active forms, and for the conversion of tryptophan into niacin.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is a water-soluble vitamin that supports many aspects of health and growth. Part of the vitamin B complex, niacin supports the functioning of the digestive system, skin and nerves and is important for the conversion of food to energy. Niacin is found in dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts, eggs, legumes, and enriched breads and cereals.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal 5’ phosphate)
Poultry, fish, whole grains and bananas are the main dietary sources of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is a co-factor required for protein and amino acid metabolism and helps maintain proper fluid balance. It also assists in the maintenance of healthy red and white blood cells. Vitamin B6 promotes normal hemoglobin synthesis. It is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in brain and peripheral nerve cells, it has been recommended as a nutrient to support mental function, specifically mood, and it supports normal nerve conduction.
Vitamin B6, when taken with folic acid, has been shown to help maintain normal plasma levels of homocysteine, which promotes optimal cardiovascular health. Vitamin B6 should be administered as a part of a complex of other B-vitamins for best results.
Folic acid is mainly found in fruits and vegetables. Dark, leafy greens, oranges, orange juice, beans and peas are the best sources as well as Brewer’s yeast, which supplies additional B-vitamins. Folic acid plays a key role by boosting the benefits of vitamin B12 supplementation. These two B-vitamins join forces and work together in helping to maintain normal red blood cells.
Folic acid assists in the normal utilization of amino acids and proteins as well as promoting the normal construction of the material for DNA and RNA synthesis. Scientific studies have found that when working in tandem with folic acid, vitamin B12 is capable of promoting healthy cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in meats, liver, beef, pork, eggs, whole milk, cheese, whole wheat bread and fish. Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products, with small amounts derived from fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh, and peanuts. It is essential that vegetarians consume a vitamin B12 supplement to maintain optimal health.
Vitamin B12 itself is responsible for maintaining optimum energy levels, as it plays a vital role in the Krebs energy cycle. It also supports normal concentration.
Biotin can be found in food sources, such as egg yolks, peanuts, beef liver, milk, cereals, almonds and Brewer’s yeast. Biotin promotes healthy cell growth, the production of fatty acids, metabolism of fats and amino acids. It plays a role in the citric acid cycle, which is the process in which biochemical energy is generated during aerobic respiration. Biotin not only assists in various metabolic chemical conversions but also helps to transfer carbon dioxide. Biotin is also helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails.
Pantothenic acid (B5) is the transfer agent for choline to acetylcholine, which promotes proper neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Pantothenic acid is also known as the anti-stress vitamin because it detoxifies brain tissue, helps relieve physical and emotional stress and plsupports the normal secretion of hormones.
Calcium is found in milk, cheese, yogurt, corn tortillas, Chinese cabbage (Napa), kale and broccoli. Calcium is an essential mineral with a wide range of biological roles. The skeleton has an obvious structural requisite for calcium. The skeleton also acts as a storehouse for calcium. Apart from being a major constituent of bones and teeth, calcium promotes normal muscle contraction, nerve conduction, cardiovascular health, the production of energy and helps maintain a healthy immune system.
A sufficient daily calcium intake is necessary for maintaining bone density, and maintaining healthy teeth and bones. When the body does not obtain enough calcium each day, it draws calcium from the bones causing them to thin, leading to osteoporosis.
Iodine is found in most seafood and in iodized salt. It is a necessary component of thyroid hormones and helps regulate and maintain a properly functioning metabolism.
Foods rich in magnesium include unpolished grains, nuts and green vegetables. Green, leafy vegetables are potent sources of magnesium because of their chlorophyll content. Meats, starches and milk are less rich sources of magnesium. Refined and processed foods are generally quite low in magnesium.
Magnesium is a component of the mineralized part of bone, and is necessary for the metabolism of potassium and calcium in adults. It helps maintain normal levels of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, adrenaline and insulin. It is also important for the mobilization of calcium, transporting it inside the cell for further utilization. It plays a key role in the functioning of muscle and nervous tissue. Magnesium promotes the synthesis of all proteins, nucleic acids, nucleotides, cyclic adenosine monophosphate, lipids and carbohydrates.
Magnesium is required for release of energy, and it promotes the normal regulation of body temperature and proper nerve function. It helps the body handle stress, and it promotes a healthy metabolism. Magnesium works together with calcium to promote the normal regulation of the heart and blood pressure. Importantly, magnesium is also required by the body to build healthy bones and teeth, and promotes proper muscle development. It works together with calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones strong. Magnesium also promotes cardiovascular health by supporting normal platelet activity and helping to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Zinc is largely found in fortified cereals, red meats, eggs, poultry and certain seafood, including oysters. It is a component of multiple enzymes and proteins. It is also involved in the regulation of gene expression. Zinc is an essential trace mineral that has functions in approximately 300 different enzyme reactions. Thus, zinc plays a part in almost all biochemical pathways and physiological processes.
More than 90 percent of the body’s zinc is stored in the bones and muscles, but zinc is also found in virtually all body tissues. It has been claimed that zinc supports normal healing and the immune system. Because zinc is involved in such a great number of enzymatic processes, it has been found to support a large range of functions, including digestion, energy production, growth, cellular repair, collagen synthesis, bone strength, cognitive function and carbohydrate metabolism.
The best dietary sources of selenium include nuts, unrefined grains, brown rice, wheat germ and seafood. In the body, selenium functions as part of an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, as well as promoting normal growth and proper usage of iodine in thyroid functioning. Selenium also supports the antioxidant effect of vitamin E and is often added to vitamin E supplements. As part of the antioxidant, glutathione peroxidase, selenium plays a direct role in the body’s ability to protect cells from free radicals.
The richest sources of dietary copper derive from organ meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereal, whole grain products and cocoa products. Copper may have some antioxidant properties and acts as a component of enzymes in iron metabolism. It is an essential trace mineral. Copper is needed in normal infant development, iron transport, bone strength, cholesterol metabolism, myocardial contractility, glucose metabolism, brain development and immune function.
Manganese is a mineral found in large quantities in both plant and animal matter. The most valuable dietary sources of manganese include whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables and teas. Manganese is concentrated in the bran of grains, which is often removed during processing. There are several forms of supplementary manganese, including manganese gluconate, manganese sulfate, manganese ascorbate and manganese amino acid chelates.
Only trace amounts of this element can be found in human tissue. Manganese is predominantly stored in the bones, liver, kidney and pancreas. It supports the normal formation of connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors and sex hormones. It promotes normal fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. Manganese also promotes normal brain and nerve function.
Chromium is found naturally in some cereals, meats, poultry, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, prunes mushrooms, fish and beer. Chromium is an essential trace mineral that helps maintain normal blood glucose levels, and helps the body maintain of healthy blood levels of cholesterol and other fats. Chromium combines to form something in the body called glucose tolerance factor, or GTF, which promotes normal insulin activity in helping to maintian blood sugar levels.
Bioflavonoids are antioxidants found in certain plants that act as light filters, which protect delicate DNA chains and other important macromolecules by absorbing ultraviolet radiation. They have been found to promote cardiovascular health, and help maintain healthy circulation by supporting capillaries, arteries and veins.
Boron is a mineral found at high levels in plant foods, such as dried fruits, nuts, dark green, leafy vegetables, applesauce, grape juice, and cooked dried beans and peas. Boron is found in most tissues, but mainly in the bone, spleen and thyroid. Boron supports normal bone and hormone metabolism.
Boron supports the body’s ability to build and maintain healthy bones. It also helps retain adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium to promote proper bone mineralization. Boron is an essential cofactor for the converting vitamin D to its active form. It enhances the maintenance of healthy cell membranes, proper mental functioning and alertness, and supports normal serum estrogen levels and ionized calcium.
Foods rich in vanadium include black pepper, mushrooms, shellfish, parsley and dill seed. Studies have shown that vanadium helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels.