The Vitamin Criteria MAY 2006 Revised 8/2009
This criteria is to help meet nutritional needs and while not intended for therapeutic concerns, would still provide an important base. Consumers have critical decisions to make between the hundreds of choices in vitamin formulas and brands. This criteria was simply developed to:
Empower Healthy Choices
Current research is supporting these recommendations: (Support information below)
1. CAROTENOIDS: Take only natural source beta carotene in carotenoid complex that includes other carotenoid members. Limit preformed vitamin A as retinol palmitate to 5000 IUs until more research on safety.
2. VITAMIN E: Consume the complete natural family of vitamin E containing all 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols in significant amounts and proportions similar to nature's food sources. Unfortunately, the optimal amounts have not officially been determined yet. The fact that nature often separates them in foods may actually be a protective mechanism to assure absorption of each group as they may compete for absorption space. Take Tocopherols and Tocotrienols separately until knowledge of beneficial ratio is determined that optimizes intake of all. Limit d'alpha tocopherol to 200 IUs unless under professional care. Do not use synthetic vitamin E. ref High levels of E may be antangonistic to vitamin K. (ref see #3) And limit tocotrienol complex to maximum of 100 mg total, as research shows this is most effective quantity. http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/97legacy/christen.html
3. CALCIUM & MAGNESIUM: Take Calcium with meals since need stomach acid to assimilate. Balance calcium with magnesium at 300 to 400 mg each, or at most calcium 600 to magnesium 400 taken in two divided dosages since calcium is fortified in so many foods and it is magnesium that is testing low. Females need slightly more than males. Your total calcium from diet does NOT need to be more that 800 mg unless under professional care. This is the level most other Countries and the World Health Organization have established. This 800 mg number is combined food and supplement sources added together, but may only be applicable if you have a sound diet with adaquate vitamin D and K, and sufficient muscle action. ***See BoneWorks ) *** As calcium is increased by diet and supplements, the calcium / magnesium ratio often gets reduced, not a wise idea. It may very well be that magnesium absorption is hindered by large amounts of calcium, and this is one of the factors in disease and faulty cell functions.
CAUTION: The calcium bone story is only half right. You need to see the whole picture before you can make beneficial supplement choices. This is perhaps one of the most critical issues on this website. Get all the facts pertinent to your situation before you make any supplement decisions or changes. Unfortunately, your Doctor may not yet be aware of recent research results.
4. VITAMIN D: Vitamin D exhibits much greater influence than just to aid calcium absorption and help bone building. Immunity and other disease prevention activities are now known. Best method to get vitamin D is from exposure to sunshine while exercising for about 20 minutes each day. Cholesterol is converted in the skin to the low active storage form as vitamin D3. You might need to limit midday sun if you have sensitive skin. Darker pigmented skin needs increased sun time.
The current recommended level of 400 IUs will probably be increased to 600 or 800. Many multiples have already increased to 1000 IU. Each 8 oz serving of dairy foods is fortified with 100 IUs of vitamin D2, a form which (while still effective) is not recommended. This issue needs more attention as "vitamin" D is not a vitamin, it is a secosteroid hormone. Hormones need complete understanding before amounts can be established. Vitamin D has both low and high level detrimental effects.
The full vitamin D story is not yet known and about to take a shocking twist. Short term studies reveal many positive results, but longer term effects still need to be evaluated, especially looking into how to prevent vitamin D's unintentional participation influencing artery calcification. Until more facts are in, keep supplements within 600 I.U. to 1000 IU per day and include sun exposure. Evidently, adaquate sun exposure by itself is not enough for some people to reach safe health promoting plasma vitamin D pool levels. Plus, 400 IU also only maintains current level without increasing it if needed. The body may have rate limiting factors. Remember, the supplemented amount is added with amounts from sun and food sources, some of which are fortified.
NOTE: A German study found that 500 IU of vitamin D with 500 mg of calcium was enough to maintain bone density over the winter months. CAUTION: While 2000 IUs of vitamin D may not be toxic, it is the action on calcium absorption and ultilization with hormone changes that might create contra-indications. See below.
5. VITAMIN K: Eat more leafy green vegetables and fermented foods to increase vitamin K, a key ingredient for NOT ONLY blood coagulation, but for bone and artery health and it is being studied for anti-cancer properties. ***It is entirely possible that the different forms of Vitamin K, signified by K1 from plants and K2 from bacteria, are slightly different and both are needed by the body. One source for supplemental vitamin K2 is from a fermented soy product called natto (MK-7).
6. Vitamin C should be taken twice a day at about 200 to 350 mg each time. Ideally include complex family factors bioflavonoids, rutin, and hesperitin. The body adjusts to higher intakes by increasing elimination channels. These amounts should maximize tissue saturation without side effects. Do NOT chew vitamin C as very destructive to tooth enamal. See Ref-Nutrients scroll down to Vitamin C Dosage. This study simply and clearly reveals the value of this new criteria, it's in the science.
7. Selenium and Chromium should be limited to 100 mcg each per day until further research settles potential issues. Prefer yeast bound source or amino bound (methylselenocysteine), cultured OK.
But NOT sodium selenite or sodium selenate. Even though some research prefers these inorganic forms, they are toxic at very low dosages. In animal studies they are used to create cataracts in 100% of test animals.
8. Limit synthetic B complex vitamins to no more then 20 mg each at one time for B1, B2, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, and B6 unless under professional care. These levels are determined by absorption factors, body functions, as well as any adverse effects. Synthetic Folic Acid needs to be limited to no more then 200 mcg per MEAL, 300 mcg daily total. Young women have a critical need during child-bearing years, 400 mcg should be ample to meet these needs. Seniors, limit amounts to 200 mcg. Vitamin B12 and Biotin do not have set upper limits at this time.
9. Minerals should be combined with wholesome binding agents. Sulfates and oxides are generally lower quality then gluconates or citrates. The combining acid agent can change the absorption characteristics of the mineral, and the carrier may contribute positive functions of its own, a win-win instead of a win-'get rid of waste' product carrier. Stronger digestive systems can handle calcium carbonate while systems that produce less digestive HCl acids do better with calcium citrate. Lower stomach acid is not desirerable for intestinal health.
10. While IRON plays many important roles, extreme caution should be exercised in supplementing and ONLY menstruating women should consume iron routinely, andonly then if a blood workup reveals THE need. Use only "NO IRON" multiples for everyone. PERIOD, but especially if you consume animal meat. Any female needing iron should take separately with supporting nutrients.
Food sources should be encouraged as the iron in food is buffered which makes it less likely to participate in radical generation. The typical form most doctors recommend, called ferrous sulfate 325 mg yielding just 67 mg of iron, is quite constipating. There are easier forms on the system. Some products are effective even though they contain low iron levels such as a food concentrate called Floradixtm and Liquid liver caps from Enzymatic Therapytm. There are other factors which contribute to their effectiveness. Iron compounds are antagonistic to vitamin E and absorption is decreased by calcium and increased by vitamin C. Try ferrous fumerate or ferrous peptonate forms. It is best to take iron with vitamin B12, folic acid, and copper, all elements that participate with iron to help make red blood cells.
CAUTION: Adverse iron reactions and conditions of iron overload are more common than one might think. Higher iron loads are associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk and resulting increased cadiovascular disease. ref A particular iron build up hereditary condition can take many years to manifest damage in liver and other organs. A routine multiple with iron would contribute to increase the severity of the condition once it is discovered. And it is then too late as the damage is almost impossible to reverse. ONLY USE "no iron" MULTIPLE VITAMIN MINERAL formulas.
11. ZINC has a very narrow range of effectiveness. 15 to 20 mg is adequate because the diet supplies 8-10 mg. average. Because it competes with copper for absorption sites, copper should be added at 1 mg. for every 10 mg of zinc. Forms; zinc gluconate, zinc citrate, zinc amino acid chelate or zinc monomethionine, "OptiZinc". The concern with zinc and copper (& managanese) is to avoid excess since adverse effects quickly manifest. With age, intake need slightly increases.
12. POTASSIUM in supplement form is NOT recommended. Potassium supplements are limited to just 99 mg in tablet or capsule form since potassium is an irritate to the intestinal tract lining. 99 mg is just 3% of the 4700 mg daily requirement, hardly worth the effort to include it. You have to get potassium from foods; bananas, avocados, potatoes, especially the skin, apricots, dairy products and meats. Potassium is contraindicated in kidney disease, due to the diminished capacity of the kidneys to eliminate potassium and the resulting build up.
SIDEBAR: You will not find many multiples in the marketplace today that have formulas close to these recommendations. Why? Formulas simply are not keeping up with new science. Unfortunately, it often takes many years for new study results to initiate change. You can stay with the status quo and hope the body can correct later, or you can go "precautionary" and with some ingenuity, put together formulas that are close now.
To see what this label would look like, go to reading labels
To build this criterion, these are the factors that were considered.
- Nutrients needing supplementation.
- Human digestive physiology
- Dosage and excretion patterns for each nutrient.
- Absorption of delivery methods.
- Assimilation of different nutrient forms.
- Evaluation of nutrient established requirements.
- Contraindications of nutrient forms.
- Food nutritional analysis.
- Dietary patterns.
- Scientific research on nutrients and health.
The building of this criterion is really just a natural progression of scientific research. Very few multiple supplements on the market today have incorporated these research findings. While these recommendations seem quite obvious from current study results, very few professionals are taking notice. One reality that is not being addressed is that current antioxidant vitamin studies only show limited benefits in a few areas compared to the significant benefits that earlier studies measuring vitamin intake from foods achieved. Some obvious deductions that should spring from these research results:
1. Foods contain other nutrients that also influenced the results.
2. The synthetic forms of vitamins often used may not exhibit the total range of vitamin functions.
3. Isolated natural or synthetic vitamins may be missing synergistic parts, and when taken in high amounts, could interfere with the aborption of other family members arriving from foods, such as by overwhelming the receptor cites.
4. The wrong dosage may have been used, either too low or too high. Vitamins have unique and different dosage excretion patterns.
5. The vitamins and nutrients chosen for the studies may not be the active ingredient(s) in the foods that influenced the past observed benefits.
Until future reaearch settles these questions, this Vitamin Criteria appears to handle these possible situations better than the current vitamin formulas.
GOAL of Supplementation
To optimize nutrient function levels when added with amounts ingested from food in as safe a vehicle of form and dosage as possible.
For most vitamins and minerals, there is a dosage range of maximum effectiveness. The common sense verison would be to discover this range for each nutrient and create formulas with this information. A graph of these ranges often looks like a bell, with adverse events at both low and high nutrient levels.
Government health agencies have long set minimum levels but only recently established upper safe limits. The unfortunate fact is that these levels are often influenced by economics tied with other industry factors and not just health criteria. A change in the minimum of a vitamin would increase the cost and required serving size for mandatory school meals.
This range needs to be tied with any related synergisms to other nutrients for optimal health. As an example, Vitamin D research found that blood plasma levels between 24 and 32 ng/ml of the low active D format is the optimal range for greatest bone density. While taking more vitamin D than is necessary to reach this level may not be toxic, there is little advantage gained and at some point density actually starts reducing. Plus, vitamin D has other functions that have to be considered. A report out of Duke U. using MRI's to measure brain lesions, revealed greater size associated with just two nutrients, calcium and vitamin D. Most likely, vitamin D just increased calcium absorption and so calcium synergisms need to be evaluated as to why it is ending up in brain arteries and tissues.
First, here are some of the supportative facts for the fat soluble vitamin (A, D, E, K).
- USE only NATURAL SOURCE Beta Carotene Complex.
Beta Carotene 5000 IU's Synthetic
Beta Carotene (D. Salina) 5000 IU's Natural Marine Algae Source
Natural sources not only contain beta carotene but also other members of the carotenoid family that most likely exhibit synergistic actions. Other important carotenoids include alpha carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin. It is alphacarotene that showed the most protection against breast cancer in the Harvard Nurses' Study. The source used in most supplements for natural beta carotene is Dunaliella Salina algae. NATURAL SOURCE beta carotene is currently available in less than 10% of multiple supplements. The other 90% use synthetic beta carotene.
SIDEBAR: Algaes play an important part in nutrition. Fish produce omega 3 fats from eating algaes.
- How is natural different than synthetic?
Natural beta carotene is a combination of these different structural forms, 9-cis-, 13-cis-, and all-trans-beta carotene, while the synthetic form is only all-trans. Science has recently discovered that the different forms have different functions. The fact used to justify supplementing just the synthetic all-trans form is that once inside the body, the cis- forms rapidly disappear or are converted to the all-trans form, so the assumption was drawn that you didn't need to take them. A research study showed that the cis-forms may in fact disappear quickly because they are protecting the all-trans form from oxidation. Their unique structure lends credence to this antioxidant action. Taking a natural source beta carotene complex appears to currently be the most prudent course. Research has been opening up many preventative roles for the carotenoid family, such as for Lycopene from tomatoes. ref
NOTE: Beta carotene is included in supplements because the body can convert it to vitamin A in the liver. When Vitamin A as retinol palmitate is taken in high dosages, it has shown some negative effects on bone development and fracture rates. Beta carotene as a source of vitamin A has not shown this negative effect. Limit vitamin A as retinol palmitate to 4000 IU's for now. New research shows that you may need to limit synthetic beta carotene as well. Watch for current health news on this new development. This needs further research.
The synthetic form of beta carotene actually increased the cancer rate of smokers in a Finnish study. It seems large amounts of this form can under certain conditions become a pro-oxidant instead of an anti-oxidant. This would increase any disease potential. Research has not yet shown that the natural beta carotene complex would cause the same negative response. It could, but quite often it doesn't due to natural synergies with other elements in the natural sources. Research studies usually only test the all-trans synthetic produced form which might explain the rather lackluster results arrived at so far.ref Preceding reference has good history of beta carotene research. ref ref The following review sums it up too:
"The three [Beta]-carotene intervention trials: the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET), Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study (ATBC), and Physician's Health Study (PHS) have all pointed to a lack of effect of synthetic [Beta]-carotene in decreasing cardiovascular disease or cancer risk in well-nourished populations. The potential contribution of [Beta]-carotene supplementation to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers has been raised as a significant concern. The safety of synthetic [Beta]-carotene supplements and the role of isomeric forms of [Beta]-carotene (synthetic all-trans versus "natural" cis - trans isomeric mixtures), in addition to the importance of the protective role of other carotenoids like lycopene and lutein, have become topics of debate in the scientific and medical communities. This review addresses the biochemistry and physiology of the cis versus trans isomers of [Beta]-carotene as well as relevant studies comparing the absorption and storage of the synthetic versus natural forms of [Beta]-carotene. In addition, the risk of potential pro-oxidant effects of synthetic [Beta]-carotene supplementation in intervention trials is evaluated." (Altern Med Rev 2000;5(6):530-545)
Authors note: While the all trans- form is created synthetically, it is the same structure as the natural, just without the cis- forms. The all trans- form is more stable and has greater ability to convert into vitamin A. Maybe acting as a provitamin A is not the only function of the carotenes but just the only one science currently recognizes.
- Use only NATURE'S BALANCED NATURAL VITAMIN E Complex
Use only NATURE'S BALANCED NATURAL VITAMIN E Complex
The Vitamin E story is perhaps one of the most revealing sagas about the mis-information syndrome of the vitamin industry. Nature's whole vitamin E contains at least 8 different parts, only one of which (alpha tocopherol) is currently allowed to be given vitamin E units by government regulations. When you think of the state of Hawaii, do you just picture the big island, or all the islands? True vitamin E is a family of eight similar structured elements. Divided into two kinds, tocopherols and tocotrienols, each having four similar related subparts, d'alpha, d'beta, d'delta, and d'gamma. So to say that only d'alpha tocopherol represents the whole family of vitamin E is leaving out many related vital functions of the other members. ref Vitamin E complex supplements should always be taken at a meal with fatty foods such as nuts, seeds, or vegetable oils to facilitate fat absorption. There are other related factors in these foods that function synergistic with vitamin E members, too.
NOTE: Don't be fooled by products that list mixed tocopherols into thinking that this represents nature's whole vitamin E balance. There needs to be size amounts listed for each E member to be sure of significance. It may be wise to separate tocopherols from tocotrienols to limit cross interference during absorption. Further studies need to verify this issue.
After vitamin E is concentrated out of soy oil, gamma tocopherol makes up about 70% and alpha makes up only about 20% of this total. The concentrate is then sent to the lab where all the gamma and most of the delta is converted into alpha by an enzyme process since only the amount of alpha can be labeled as vitamin E units. A very small amount of mixed tocopherols are sometimes added back, but nowhere near the natural proportions that exist in nature. Sometime in the near future, vitamin E's definition should change to give all the members a vitamin E unit amount. You do not have to wait to take advantage of this knowledge. (Studies list natural E d'alpha as RRR- and synthetic dl'alpha as all-rac.) Ref 3 Ref 4
LABEL EXAMPLE** for all eight E members
(as d-alpha tocopherol and mixed tocopherols)
Natural Mixed tocopherols
Tocotrienols (Tocomin® Palm Tocotrienol Complex)
| 35 mg
**Optimal Ratios are not exactly know yet, so food averages give some guidance until research verifies. The point is that the body likes to keep certain proportions between vitamin forms to best handle the many differentl types of oxidative stresses. A variety of natural foods usually helps maintain these ratios. Gamma holds more protection than alpha for bone health, while alpha has other vital function areas where gamma is not effective. It depends upon the type of oxidation process involved, if oxygen or nitrogen.
Tocotrienol complex should be no higher than 100 mg total. Ideal might be 60 to 90 mg. They help control HMG-CoA which limits cholesterol production while alpha tocopherol may increase. At high doses, tocotrienols can convert to tocopherols. This is another reason vitamin E as alpha tocopherol is limited in this new criteria. ***To limit possible interference during absorption, it may be wise to take the four tococherols separate from the four tocotrienols.
VITAMIN E FAMILY FUNCTIONS
Read the following research which shows that it is gamma tocopherol and NOT alpha tocopherol that is beneficial for reducing prostate cancer risk. Remember over 90% of current supplements do NOT have any gamma tocopherol. This report shows that no association was found for alpha tocopherol and prostate cancer, but as gamma tocopherol increased, prostate cancer risk decreased. NOTE: Gamma and delta tocopherol with alpha are also more effective for breast health. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/16/6/1128
Author's Notes: This result reveals an important aspect that formed a large part of the support for this vitamin criteria. Your grasp of this concept will reveal volumes about the relationship of these early studies to the current supplement research results, which have not been as favorable.
1. Science exhibits large gaps in nutritional knowledge
2. The wrong form of some vitamins is being supplemented
In the 1970's, studies measured blood levels of vitamin E, alpha tocopherol, and found a positive effect influence on disease. So the scientists were quite optimistic about the outcome for the vitamin E supplement (alpha tocopherol, whether natural or synthetic) studies in the 1990's. But the results have been largely disappointing by not living up to the early food studies.
The point they missed is that the early studies measured the blood levels of alpha tocopherol arrived at just from consuming foods, would also would have greater amounts of the whole vitamin E family that includes gamma, delta, and beta tocopherol. The supplement studies just use alpha without any other tocopherols and this could be one of the factors for the lower beneficial results. This concept applies to many of the other antioxidant nutrients that research has shown the same pattern of conflicting results. WHY do scientists refuse to acknowledge or look at this possible factor?
- DO NOT USE SYNTHETIC VITAMIN E
As if the natural aspect wasn't enough to consider, along comes synthetic vitamin E. When synthetic E is formed in the lab, a strange twist happens. Nature only builds molecules to the right. But synthetic E has half forming to the right and half forming to the left. These left forming mirror image molecules are quite unnatural. Thus synthetic E is always listed with a "L" after the "d" as dl' alpha tocopheryl to indicate that it is half natural "d" right forming and half synthetic "L" left forming. But it doesn't stop there. During the synthetic production, seven other forms of alpha are also created that do not exist in nature. Only one of the eight forms of dl'alpha tocopherols is similar to nature's. Because of these differences, scientists had to figure out the amount of synthetic material needed to equal the same activity level as the natural form. From animal studies, it was set at 1.36 synthetic E milligrams to equal 1 milligram of natural. This adjusted activity level is what professionals are talking about when they say natural and synthetic vitamin E are the same. They are not talking about the structures, which are definitely quite different, and they each have unique and different behaviors in the body. Thus, natural and synthetic vitamin E are NOT the same. Recent human research out of Italy has discovered that this 1.36 is too low and the real number should be about 2 synthetic to one natural to match blood levels. Evidently the left forming half simply doesn't support all vitamin E activities. In light of these facts and the results of research, synthetic vitamin E simply should not be used. Ref 1, Ref 2.
NOTE: Research has discovered certain types of cancers where a synthetic form of vitamin E as well as some of the ester forms of natural Vitamin E have greater ability to stop cancers than the isolated natural D'alpha tocopherol. There could be a stability factor in the different forms involved here. These should obviously only be used under medical supervision in treatment programs and the above described criteria is the preferred nutritional model.
VITAMIN D, a Sunhine Paradox
The most important issue today concerns the proper dosage for supplements?
Dosages have recently exploded by a factor of 25. Top amount of 400 IU has now been replaced by doses up to 10,000 IU. Reality: The method used to determine this safety amount is flawed. Most vitamin D "Experts" know this yet remain silent.
Natural sunshine produced vitamin D has brakes built into the system to limit the passive D pool size. This limit is absent when consuming vitamin D supplements. Plus, here is the second error in this determination, a tanning bed light was used at 1 MED until sunburning started. The passive D level was measured that this exposure generated. Supplements of D2 were given until they reached this same level. It took 10,000 IU of D2. Thus 10,000 was considered safe and equal to sun production of about 20 minutes. It is now known that D2 is less than half as effective as the natural D3 form, with some research showing only 10-30%. Therefore, the 10,000 talked about level may in reality be only 1000 to 3000, and not over 5000 IU of vitamin D3.This could depend upon the conversion rate in different people.
Caution: The real issue with vitamin D supplementation is not if toxic reactions occur, the issue almost all research is looking to find. The vital issue is what are these new high doses doing to how calcium behaves in the body, not if the levels are getting higher, and perhaps more importantly, how does a larger storage form vitamin D level affect the activation of the hormone form and if it interferes with this active D form since both forms can compete for the same VDR, vitamin D receptor sites. This issue is not being addressed by vitamin D experts at this time. The conditions this would influence such as cancer are not going to show up in the mostly short term research completed so far. The longest, 5 years, is still too short to reveal cancers and possibly even cardiovascular artery diseases.--
Now, back to the rest of the story.
The skin cancer scare has dramatically reduced the sun exposure time for natural vitamin D production. Cholseterol is converted into the low activity vitamin D3 form. Low fat foods also have limited the amount of vitamin D as have warnings on the contamination of fatty fish limited this source. Is there a connection here to the fact that vitamin D intake recommendations have just been increased from 400 IU's to 600 with some conditions up to 800 IU's per day? Current research is showing some dramatic results for Vitamin D in not only activating calcium for bone building but also for immune functions, protecting prostate and breast tissues, as well as colon health.
High calcium intake might suppresses the conversion of passive D into active vitamin D. This could present problems if not enough active D is available to cover all of its functions. It is now known that there are vitamin D receptors on many cells in the body. When vitamin D attaches to these sites, it directs the production of many necessary proteins by DNA/RNA sequence programs. These actions of Vitamin D are more like a steroid hormone than a vitamin.
Vitamin D exists in two forms in the body. Well, actually three if you include one as storage in fat for future use. There is a large pool of low-active passive vitamin D that circulates in the blood until conditions arise such as low blood calcium levels that prompts the liver and kidneys, acting from parathyroid hormone messengers, to convert a small amount of this low activity form into the hormone D form. This pulls calcium out of bones plus increases absorption during food digestion until a normal blood claicum level is reached. Possible problems can develop when the low-activity level gets too high as from increased food fortification plus supplementation. This low activity form might also bind to the vitamin D receptor sites on cells and might block out the higher activity form when it's actions are needed. There is an optimal range for the amounts of low activity or the passive vitamin D form.
NOTE: It is also now known that this passive form can convert into the hormone form in about 9 different tissues, i.e, prostate, breast, and colon, with the help of a certain enzyme. This is a rather new discovery and only just recently has this "made in tissue" hormone D been discovered leaking into the plasma where hormone D levels are controlled by the kidneys.
Scientists are currently debating what the proper level for this low active vitamin D pool should be. There is an optimal level. Regardless of this level, only a controlled amount is converted by the liver and kidneys to the active form as need arises. This conversion action does not appear to vary with age. To some degree, calcium intake and blood levels dictate vitamin D activation which is one reason why continually consuming higher calcium amounts might have limitations, although results so far show only minor impact. While there is a reduction, it falls within the normal ranges. The full impact and range of body influences from vitamin D cell receptor actrivation is still unknown.
How much from sun?
Sun produced vitamin D levels appear to be non-toxic while supplements can reach adverse effect levels. The body has built in wisdom to control the size of the sun made low-activity vitamin D pool. Supplements do not. There is a theory being mentioned as fact that a short sun exposure time generates 10,000 IU of vitamin D production. If this is indeed a fact, this level does not have the same influence effect on the size of the low activity pool as a 10,000 IU supplement would have. There is a piece of the puzzle missing. From sunshine, another mechanism is also in place that limits the amount of sun-made D that reaches the nonactive pool. Using the sun producted 10,000 fact to support higher dosages of supplemental vitamin D is unwise. New research has shown an assocation of more brain lesions with higher calcium and vitamin D dietary levels. http://bacteriality.com/2007/10/24/brain_lesions/ Plus, higher vitamin D levels were associated with double the risk for pancreatic cancer.
Vitamin D3 is preferred over vitamin D2, which unfortunately is widely used in supplements and in milk. ref 1 Vitamin D does of course still provide activity and is the form used for vegetarian formulas. Half life of Vitamin D3, about 15 days, is longer than vitamin D2.
CAUTION: While higher levels of vitamin D show remarkable influence and protection in certain diseases, (SUCH AS CANCERS AND INFECTIONS), there is also the factor of where calcium ends up in the body. Does it go into soft tissues such as arteries increasing cardiovascular risk and brain deterioration, or mostly go into bone building? You might recall another scenario where scientists recommended Hormone Replacement Therapy hormones and ended up increasing heart attacks. Could vitamin D recommendations turn out to be another hormone diasaster? Vitamin D is really not a vitamin, it is a steroid hormone. And its avenues of influence are not just for bone health, but on every cell in the body that has vitamin D receptors. Unfortunately, research is still discovering new actions for vitamin D, one of which is as an immunomodulator. Thus, the prudent course is "precautionary". Research is still searching for the correct balance between D and minerals. There may be ranges and ratios where body processes function best. The lowest mortality rates fall between 25 ng/ml and 40 ng/ml. The first following reference link is a must read. Read all these references to get an idea of the situation.
Vitamin D levels in serum
|25 (OH) D Level
(used in USA)
||less than 8
||less than 20
||greater than 90
||greater than 225
NOTE: Generally, 100 IUs vitamin D increases ng/ml by 1.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15798098 < This is an eye opener.
**That last site is one of the reasons vitamin K has increased in significance. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11410932?dopt=Abstract
You should be getting the picture that overall body synergisms play vital roles in determining vitamin and mineral balances. Scientific tunnel vision can be counterproductive to proper nutrient levels and ratios. The proper amount of vitamin D to supplement would be that level that gets the non active pool level to about 30 ng/ml, and then the level that maintains it there. These two amounts can be quite different, or a 800 to 1000 IU might get you up to that level eventually.
VITAMIN K, Powers beyond its size
The new research for vitamin K has opened up many new avenues of vitamin K actions. No longer is vitamin K known just for producing proteins to stop bleeding by clotting blood, the new knowledge shows it is a vital participant in bone building, in preventing artery calcification, also osteoarthritis, varicose veins, and the synthetic form has been tested showing cancer control. To build healthy bones, vitamins K and D work together. Without enough of either, bone building may be compromised. ref
There are many different forms collectively called Vitamin K. The form from plants is called K1, phylloquinone (the synthetic version is phytonadine), and the form from bacterial fermentations of either our friendly gut bacteria, from some foods such as dairy and meats, or from fermented foods comes the K2 family of menaquinones with 13 different configurations labeled as MK-#, such as MK-4 from the gut bacteria and MK-7 from fermented soy Natto.
With the gut bacteria producing vitamin K2, scientists didn't think it needed to be supplemented and a required daily amount was not established. It has only recently been discovered that not as much is being produced by our bacteria as was previously assumed. Perhaps the reason natural production was downgraded is that not as many fermented foods are consumed and the typical American diet is counterproductive to supporting friendly bacteria colony growth. They like fiber foods.
The blood clotting function is so important that it can be maintained at very low levels of vitamin K. Unfortunately, the other newly discovered functions are not so lucky and bone building and artery protection suffer. Research on cancers is ongoing. In 1990 after these facts came out, the recommendations for vitamin K intake were increased by 50%. But to this day very little of this information is being given to the public even while the scientific community is reporting study after study showing benefits from increased vitamin K levels. ref Although not every study shows benefits, the general pattern is higher blood levels equal less fracture risk, but not necessarily higher bone densities.
CAUTION: Vitamin K functions as a blood coagulant and might interfere with blood thinners. Please see consumer alert for important new research in this area. Do not take vitamin K if on blood thinners before talking with your doctor.
While the blood coagulation functions appear to be more or less common to all vitamin K forms, the ability to protect bones or arteries seems to have various activity levels between the forms. The various K forms also are active in the body for different lengths of time, with half lives for K1 of about 8 hours and K2 as MK-4 for 3 hours and as MK-7 for up to 3 days. The synthetic form K3 menadione is only active for a few hours so much higher levels have to be used, creating more avenues for toxcities. No toxicities have yet been shown for the other forms of vitamin K.
It may very well be in the future sceince will find that the body needs both natural forms, K1 from plants and K2 from bacteria. Some of the new associations with some cancers (breast, ovary, prostate, colon, stomach, kidney, and lung) are also showing that the forms exhibit different activity levels. K2 appears to process the greater variety of functions. K1's ability to participate in some of these others vitamin K functions may depend upon how much of it gets converted by the gut bacteria or by certain cells into K2.
Supplements up to now included alfalfa tabs and K1 tabs and K2 as MK-4, many of which are manmade forms. Recently, MK-7 has become available from a fermented soy product called natto. The vitamin K2 as MK-4 produced inside some body cells from K1 has a very short life of just a few hours. Numerous other MK-7 forms such as MK-8 and MK-9 arrive from fermented cheeses and meats, with the ones from dairy sources showing higher activity. Future research will most likely discover that vitamin K functions help regulate many of today's observable disease characteristics. ref 1 ref
Before leaving vitamin K, an interesting association needs to be presented. It appears that when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, the vitamin K1 as phylloquinone turns into a form called dihydrophylloquinone. Studies have now shown that this form is associated with LOWER BONE DENSITY. ref Since it does not possess any vitamin K activity, if it attaches to cell receptor sites before the natural form, it would block out K activity. The fifty years of partially hydrogenated trans fat use, especially found in margarines and many baked goods, might be a factor in limiting vitamin K benefits. Could this be partly responsible for higher incidences of bone fractures and calcification of soft tissues leading to cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, wrinkles, some cancers, and dementia?
Results from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer (EPIC) study showed that higher K2 reducted the risk of advanced prostate cancer by 63 percent. No association was found for K1. This association could also apply for breast cancer, but so far no studies have reported an association. On the flip side, someone is saying high vitamin K could be linked to breast cancer since one of the results of high K is increased bone density, a factor that has been linked to 2.7 times higher breast cancer risk in one study. Estrogen is probably the guilty party here and vitamin K is simply guilty by hanging with the wrong crowd. Research needs to explore this. Watch for further updates on this critical topic.
VITAMIN B COMPLEX
First, it is generally assumed that since B vitamins are water soluble, any excess would sumply be flushed from the system. From this assumption have spawned products with mega dosage levels. But, research just uncovered reveals that this may not be wise. A red-flag caution is in place against taking mega dosages over 100 mg of B6 and over 400 mcg of folic acid. Yes, this is flying in the face of many nutritionists and even some doctors who recommend higher dosages of folic acid to stop cancer and lower homocysteine levels. Read on!
Here are two of the current issues. High Vitamin B6 has the potential to increase neurological disturbances. Since such high dosages are available, there will always be a few individuals that assume they are completely safe and if any warnings are listed on the bottles, they do not read them. Neurologists have only uncovered a few cases from B6, but this condition can often go unrecognized for many years. Yes, this takes a rather high dosage. Most people have a safe 200 mg limit, which has just been lowered to 100 mg. ref ref Vitamin B6 has also recently been found to be associated with increased rectal cancers in women. Very early research, watch for updates.
Next and of far more significance due to how widespread the food fortification program is and the high synthetic folic acid amounts in supplements. For the first time "unmetabolized" folic acid has been detected in the blood stream. Studies have linked this with lower natural killer cell activity, an immune system factor. Body cells would be less protected against DNA damage, the very action area of folic acid's influence. Low folic acid levels also reveal the same lack of DNA protection.
SIDEBAR: Unmetabolised folic acid has recently also been deteched in newborns. Possible effects are unknown at this time.
The question of folic acid supplementation beneficial effects has now been thrown into turmoil. It was thought that higher levels protected against heart disease and cancers, but a recent 10 year study revealed a 163% increase in prostate cancer risk at 1,000 mcg of folic acid, and colon tumor risks have now surfaced. Thus, it might be that once tumors are present, high folic levels act to stimulate faster growth of the tumors. The right amount of folic acid will methylate homocysteine into methionine into SAM-e which safeguards cellular DNA. Many high dose studies have been ending early after DNA damage trends were discovered. The newly discovered facts do not look good for mega dosages. 400 mcg appears to be enough to limit fetal damage as neurotubular defects and safe guard cellular DNA.
In Seniors with low B12 status, a common occurrence, high folic acid intake was associated with higher anemia and dementia risk in some studies. It is important to note that in Seniors with normal B12 levels, high folic acid did not show this effect. However, since folic acid seems to exhibit a tumor promotional influence, it is unwise for seniors to supplement over 200 mcg a day unless under MD supervision. These important areas of increasing significance need to be resolved before this red-flag alert can be lifted. ref ref
One way to reduce supplemental folic acid to 200 mcg level, since most supplements have 400 mcg, is to find a multiple with daily serving size of 2 to 4 capsules and just take half that number.
Vitamin B12 for nutritional amounts are very low. The levels in this criteria of 25 to 100 may be low for those individuals with compromised digestion, or intrinsic factors. They might need to use oral at over 500 mcg. The body is only capable of absorbing small amounts. At 5 mcg or less, absorption percent is about 60%, while at 500 mcg or more it is about 1% and can be as low as .5%. Seniors with compromised digestion or low intrinsic factor might benefit from oral at 1000+ mcg occiasionally.
SIDEBAR: Even though the government has set the safe upper limit for folic acid at 1000 mcg, this new research may cause a reconsideration downward to 600 mcg total intake from combined enriched foods and supplements. Supplemental enriched folic acid is synthetic, even most of the "whole food" vitamin brands are too.
NOTE: A new process has been developed to chemically turn synthetic folic acid into the natural folate form similar to what happens naturally in the liver. This form will bypass the "unmetabolized" state and may not be associated with increasing these undesirable synthetic folic acid events. It may now only be available as a prescription pharmaceutical.
Food sources include green leafy vegetables, kale, spinach, chard, beet tops, legumes, broccoli, cabbage, oranges, root vegetables, and whole grains. Supplements are slightly better absorbed than food sources. White flour is enriched with 140 mcg of folic acid per 100 grams of flour or about 4 oz.
Early research on Folic acid linked higher levels to prevention of breast cancer. Many of these studies were pre-food fortification. A recent study found just the opposite, at higher supplemental amounts folic acid was found to increase breast cancer rates. It is possible there is a window or optimal levels with both low and high exhibiting negative events. The high reached only by adding supplements or a few servings of fortified flour products. The story is not finished yet. Precaution is the order of the day.
Other Dosage Considerations
Vitamin B1 at 20 mg is 13 times the RDA. To get 20 mg of B1, you would have to eat 20 pounds of almonds, or 50 pounds of hamburger meat, or 20 pounds of egg yolks, or over 8 pounds of oatmeal. 20 mg is more than ample to cover nutritional needs.
A researcher actually found that body tolerances for vitamin B1, thiamine, peak at about 2.5 mg. Any more than this amount shows very little extra absorption, with an absolute increase at 20 mg. Since from 2.5 to 20 only nets an extra .2 mg absorbed, it really is a waste. Taking 5 mg twice a day yields the same urine elimination as 100 mg once a day. The difference eliminated in urine between 5 mg and 100 mg was only 1.45 mg, indicating that only about 1% is absorbed over 5 mg. Mega dosages of vitamin B1 have no scientific rational. This is not new information. It is from 1963 with some studies dating back to 1939. Ask your vitamin company why they have 50 or 100 mg doses? Do they have proof of absorption over 2.5 mg for B1?
SIDEBAR: This does not mean that 100% of the 2.5 mg is absorbed. It appears to be about 25% or .53 mg. At 5 mg it was only 9% in one study, .43 mg, actually less absorbed than from the 2.5 mg. Another study had 5 mg showing 30%, or 1.45 mg. A few different factors can influence this rate.
Now, another B vitamin, riboflavin B2, shows a continued increase in absorption percentage up to about 20 mg, passive diffusion, but falls off rapidly from there. Thus this is why 20 mg represents the top amount for these vitamins in this vitamin criiteria.
NOTE: Some nutrients continue to have the same absorption percentages even up to very high levels. Vitamin C is one. 750 mg taken daily will show urine increases for five days before starting to diminish. This reveals another point. When saturation points are reached, or when the body has enough set aside for a rainy day, mechanisms start up to eliminate the extra and absorption is inhibited. It is all a matter of physiology, especially how and where the vitamins are absorbed out of the intestinal tract. Thiamine is only absorbed in the first third of the intestinal tract while riboflavin and vitamin C appear to get absorbed the whole length.
SIDEBAR: Do NOT take "time release" or sustained release tablets. There is simply no extra value and possible some of the dosage will be lost if it does not breakdown by the proper absorption sites. In fact, use only quick release or fast dissolving tablets. Some nutrients need to find their carrier enzymes for absorption.
Government recommended levels too high and too low.
There are those who say it is OK to set a level where only a few people will show symptoms, BUT if that level is so much higher then nutritional levels from foods, why not take a conservative role and avoid unnecessary risks? Vitamins B6, B12 with folic acid have been used in high dosages to lower homocysteine levels, a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A large study found no differences in event outcomes from taking high levels when the disease was already present. So it may well be that prevention offers the greatest benefit, and the level of these vitamins needed for prevention has not yet been established by research. Whole grains would help here and the conservative levels of this new vitamin criteria could prove to be more then sufficient to meet this requirement. The government recommends 3 servings of whole grains a day, partly for the fiber and also for the B vitamins.
CAUTION: One last note on the B vitamin Niacin, mega doses are being used to lower cholesterol. BUT, these levels also increase homocysteine levels which might not be such a wise action. Long term eye capillary health and liver function need constant monitoring as well.
Vitamin C represents quite an enigma for setting dosages. The government choose to use neutrophil (a type of blood cell) saturation to determine levels, around 100 mg twice a day. There are other parameters that could have been used. Other tissues and organs have higher C demands. Humans, monkeys, and guinea pigs are the only mammals that cannot make vitamin C in their bodies. Using stress as a model for testing the amount other mammals produce, it has been observed that they can make what would equal many grams for humans. Vitamin C clearance out of the body is subject to many factors. See Ref-Nutrients
From food sources only, elimination from the body is rather slow. Beginning at tissue saturation, it would take a month to lower levels to cause scury. While most of the lost would be in the first 6 days, the body then adapts and the loss rate slows to try and maintain some vitamin C. Taking a moderate dose vitamin C at this time would reach satruation in about 5 days.
When supplementing higher doses, clearance is very rapid. In fact, sometimes only hours. The body speeds up Vitamin C breakdown to help eliminate the excess. After supplementing high doses, it is a good idea to slowly lower dosages, such as taking every other day and then every third day or switching to lower dosages. The body takes time to lower the breakdown pathways it put in place to handle the excess and a "rebound scury" is possible. Over about 200mg., the body passes out the excess vitamin C in the urine at amounts nearing 60+% within 3 to 4 hours, depending upon saturation levels and body needs at the time.
Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables. In the lab, vitamin C as ascorbic acid is produced by converting a sugar, usually from corn starch, using enzymatic processes. While the process is somewhat similar to how the body converts glucose into vitamin C, there are some differences. The end result is an identical molecule, BUT there is also a form produced that is not normally found in nature.
This is one aspect that many synthetic vitamins share. Nature tends to always form molecules to the right, WHILE synthetic vitamins produced in the lab have at least two forms, one IDENTICAL to nature's right forming and the other forming to the LEFT, a mirror image. Often these forms are listed with a D- or L- in front of the vitamin or amino acid.
NOTE: Thus, the real issue is HOW DOES THE BODY DEAL WITH THE LEFT FORMING MOLECULES? Do they simple innocently pass out of the body, do they share some level of vitamin activity, or could they interfere with the activity of the natural form. As for vitamin E, the authorities simply gave the synthetic form only half the activity units of the natural when they observed this chiral effect of different forming molecules with lower total activity. Why is this aspect missing from most vitamin research discussions?
Why the different results in Vitamin C studies? The answer is very simple. The comparisons are between an isolated lab produced ascorbic acid C versus fruits and vegetables containing many other nutrients that also influence the results. If you could isolate out just the vitamin C from the food, the results would probably be similar.
Thus, the prudent course for healthy individuals at this time is get plenty of fruits and vegetables, 5 to 9 daily servings, and to supplement around 250 to 300 mg of vitamin C once or twice a day. Make sure to include the vitamin C family of bioflavonoids, rutin, and hesperitin for their symbiotic beneficial activities.
Why so low an amount? While the vitamin industry has surged into the mega dosages for vitamin C thanks to Linus Pauling to the point that it is difficult to find a 250 mg vitamin C today, research indicates that some people will exhibit gastrointestinal complaints approaching 1000 mg. Better to stay around the 600 to 800 mg supplemental range.
SIDEBAR: When the government sets a recommended level for a vitamin, it is just the amount that would prevent 97% of healthy people from exhibiting inadequacy symptoms. The amount is right on the edge. The more prudent course may be to increase up to about half the way to the upper safe limit. For vitamin C, the RDI is about 120 mg and the upper limit is 2000 mg using bowel tolerance (diarrhea) as a reference. Thus, 600 to 800 mg divided into two daily dosages is really still conservative and yet more then adequate to cover all the disease preventions looked at in studies. Anything above this level would be getting into therapeutic applications and should be under the guidance of a health practitioner who can monitor for any interactions with iron, oxalates, metabolic acidosis, changes in prothrombin activity, etc While these are very rare, there is that possibility that you are that one in a thousand.
NOTE: It is interesting to observe that bowel tolerances for vitamin C increase dramatically during stress or disease states. The body must need and use more vitamin C. This parallels levels found by testing animals that produce their own vitamin C from glucose by a pathway using an enzyme which humans no longer make.
Vitamin C increases BMD
A study lasting over 12 years showed that the group taking supplemental vitamin C at an average of 745 mg per day tested about 3% higher in BMD (bone mineral density) in the hip, femoral neck, and midpoint of the arm radius bones. Since vitamin C participates in collagen formation, and collagen is a big part of the bone's protein matrix structure, this is a logical association.
NOTE: This article has some good info. Remember it is by a sports nutritionist ref 17 tips for taking vitamins.
Vitamin B1 and B12 show enhanced absorption percentages from divided doses over the day, sometimes as much as 50% over just one higher daily dose. While B2 and vitamin C do not show value from divided doses. This is most likely explained by the active transport assistance needed versus just simple passive absorption through intestinal wall cells.
This information has existed for many years. Obviously, it would not help sell vitamins if everyone knew this before making supplement choices. You now have some insight into the process used to establish this new vitamin criteria. It was developed so that you would not have to learn or think about all these facts. They are simply already incorporated into the vitamin criteria program.
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