WATER SOLUBLE VITAMINS: Additional Research Findings
This review and update of the section of “At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being” in regard to water soluble vitamins has been extensive but can not be considered comprehensive. Research is ongoing and sometimes contradictory. Every effort has been made to give credit to the sources used in this article. Any omission is unintentional and with my apology. The research findings of vitamins and supplements in the years between my first publication and now are exciting as to their importance in maintaining and restoring health.
CAUTION: VITAMIN AND MINERAL REQUIREMENTS VARY FROM ONE INDIVIDUAL TO ANOTHER. INFORMATION REGARDING SUPPLEMENTS IS GENERAL INFORMATION. SUPPLEMENTS MAY NOT BE HELPFUL AND COULD BE HARMFUL FOR YOU. THE USE OF SUPPLEMENTS IS WIDELY DEBATED AMONG HEALTH PROVIDERS AND IS DISCOURAGED BY MANY. SOME PREPARATIONS OF VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS HAVE EXTREMELY HIGH DOSES THAT CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH. YOUR PHYSICIAN AND OTHER HEALTH PROVIDERS NEED TO KNOW WHAT SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY YOU HAVE AND WHAT SUPPLEMENTS YOU ARE TAKING, IF ANY, IN ORDER TO MONITOR YOUR HEALTH AND PLAN YOUR CARE.
The National Institute of Health lists 13 essential vitamins which can be divided into two groups–fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E, and K and the rest which are water soluble, Vitamin C,
and 8 B Vitamins–Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Folate (Folic Acid). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002399.htm
If you think you may be overdosing with multiple vitamins see the following for symptoms: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002596.htm
If you wonder whether a symptom may be related to a vitamin, supplement, or drug, you may be helped by using this website. http://www.ehealthme.com/symptom_checker
In this section we will limit ourselves to a review of the water soluble vitamins. Because older adults often have difficulty absorbing vitamins from the intestines, it is important to eat foods that are “nutrient dense” or highly nutritious, in order not to take in too many calories and become overweight. Also anyone who is needing to reduce calories to lose weight needs to eat low calorie, highly nutritious foods. As you recall from earlier articles, sugar is the empty calorie and should be avoided. That includes corn syrup and most additives that end in “ose,” especially sucrose which is sugar broken down to a simpler form.
If you are concerned about calories, you can find specific foods and recipes at: http://caloriecount.about.com/foods
WATER-SOLUBLE VITAMINS: VITAMIN C AND THE “COMPLEX” OR FAMILY OF B VITAMINS.
VITAMIN C helps prevent infections and their spread in the body by “boosting the immune system” as a physician colleague says. It also helps the body absorb calcium and iron, form collagen (the connective tissue of the body), form the hormones thyroxin and norepinephrine, facilitate protein metabolism, promote health in eyes, bones and teeth, reduce pain of some kinds, fight cancer, and prevent scurvy. Stress increases the amount needed. And according to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/vitaminc.html these people need extra vitamin C: pregnant/breastfeeding women, smokers, people recovering from surgery and burn victims.
Vitamin C is destroyed by oxygen and high temperatures and dissolves in water. Therefore, cutting and grinding the foods, high temperatures, long cooking times, and soaking them in water should be avoided. People who smoke need more Vitamin C because it is used to oxidize the pollutants in the smoke. It would be even better to stop smoking. Presumably other air pollutants also increase the need for Vitamin C.
“Sour” (citric acid) or “citrus” fruits, lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, kiwi and tomato are rich in Vitamin C. Also papaya, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, kale, strawberries, and water used to cook fruits and vegetables. You want to use small amounts of water, if any, when cooking to preserve as much of the vitamins and minerals as possible, and then use the cooking water in a meal, such as in soups, sauces, gravies, or in beverages. Many of the foods are at their best when eaten ripe, raw and fresh from the garden or field. Foods that are frozen immediately after picking are higher in vitamin content than many of those that have been picked and stored for a week.
Much research has been done with Vitamin C. Early signs of Vitamin C deficiency are bleeding gums and pinpoint hemorrhages in the skin. Later signs are: increased plaquing (hardening) of arteries; easy bruising (more hemorrhage); muscle degeneration; tissue swelling; rough, brown, scaly, dry skin; wounds not healing; bones softening, teeth loosening; anemia and infections; and symptoms of hysteria and depression. Vitamin C helps prevent bleeding type strokes in the brain.
Many researchers believe that the RDA for Vitamin C is far too low for good health and recommend that Vitamin C foods and even supplements should have a much larger place in our meals. How much larger is in great debate. During periods of illness from infection, it is not uncommon for physicians to advise supplements of 500 mg. twice a day (1000 mg.), or four times a day (2000 mg., total per day). This amount would be the equivalent of 2 to 4 quarts of fresh orange juice a day with approximately 500 mg. Vitamin C (and lots of calories) in a quart. It is not uncommon to be advised to take one 500 mg. tablet of Vitamin C a day to supplement the daily diet and as a health promoting measure.
Some professionals in the nutritional field would limit supplements of Vitamin C to 1000 mg. a day, citing concerns about kidney stones, sickle cell anemia, upset of acid/base balance, interference with vitamin E, and destruction of vitamin B-12. Linus Pauling, research physician who has specialized in Vitamin C, recommended much more. In treating certain illnesses, Dr. Eades recommended much more. Toxic levels will cause diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps.
B VBB VITAMINS are necessary to handle stress. The more stress, the more “B’s” are needed. They are lost in refining of flour, over-cooking meats, and storing milk in clear or glass containers. Sources rich in B vitamins are milk for riboflavin, and for the other B vitamins, meats, especially liver and organ meats, and whole grains. Do be cautious regarding the source of liver because toxins are trapped in that organ and animals that have been exposed to weed killers and other toxins may have some still in the organ when it is killed.
The B Vitamins are used in all of body metabolism, the nervous system, heart, anti-histamine and diuretic processes, and the immune system. They tend to work together and be found together in foods and in supplements. Because of their dependence upon one another in body processes, excessive increases in one B Vitamin may result in shortages of the others. Therefore, if supplements of one B vitamin is used, the others should be supplemented as well.
Many vitamin supplements provide much, much more than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), even thousands of times more. If you are interested in learning about Recommended Daily Allowances see:
“Mega-doses,” if recommended at all, are for only short periods of time, for severe illness or deficiencies, and as a therapeutic aid to recovery from the physical and mental stresses from illness. If a person stops taking mega-doses abruptly they may have nervous symptoms because the body feels “deficient” from the customary level. Gradual decrease in dosage is recommended unless there is a reaction to the supplementary doses.
Reactions might involve the skin, eyes, gastro-intestinal tract, nervous system, or emotions. A reaction can be related to the “binding” materials in the vitamin-mineral preparation rather than to the vitamins and mineral themselves. In the case of a reaction, you need to stop taking it immediately and notify your health care advisors of the reaction so it can be included in your records as a possible “allergy.”
Vitamin B1, Thiamine is necessary in utilizing carbohydrates in the body.
Persons who have the following conditions require additional thiamine: hyperthyroidism, are pregnancy, lactation, feverish, prolonged diarrhea, a very high carbohydrate diet or a fad diet, overuse alcohol, intestinal disease, gastric bypass surgery, prolonged use of some diuretics, hemodialysis or severe liver disease.
Thiamine deficiency is called beriberi, for more information see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000339.htm
and also Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome, see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000771.htm.
Deficiency can adversely affect the heart and the body’s nervous system.
Richest food sources are pork and wheat germ breakfast cereal.
For more information, see:
Vitamin B2, Riboflavin is used in producing energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins, helps produce Vitamin B3 and B6, and keeps the skin, eyes, blood cells, lining of the gastric tract from mouth to the end, and nervous system healthy. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/957.html#Safety
Sunlight destroys the vitamin, therefore, buy milk that comes in cartons instead of clear glass.
Riboflavin is richest in the following: Tempeh/fermented soy product, cooked 150 g (3/4 cup), Yeast extract spread (marmite or vegemite) 30 mL (2 Tbsp). Milk,(3.3% homo, 2%, 1%, skim), Buttermilk, Cottage Cheese, and Yogurt beverage and Yogurt (plain or fruit) 1 cup (250 mL) and are roughly equal in riboflavin and 50 g or 1 ½ oz. Feta Cheese has nearly as much.
B3, Niacin, besides helping the body produce energy, helps over 200 enzymes (natural chemicals in the body) to function normally in your body by helping it use other B vitamins, make DNA and keep the nervous and digestive systems healthy.
According to Web MD, “It can boost levels of good HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides as well or better than some prescription drugs. Niacin also modestly lowers bad LDL cholesterol. It’s often prescribed in combination with statins, such as Crestor, Lescol, or Lipitor, for cholesterol control. However, niacin is only effective as a cholesterol treatment at fairly high doses. These doses could pose risks, such as liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, or glucose intolerance.” http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-niacin
Excess cholesterol has been associated with high blood pressure and decreased nourishment of some body tissues, including the heart and brain.
The best sources of niacin are light chicken and turkey meat and light tuna.
Physicians sometimes use niacin supplements to help lower blood pressure. Some forms of niacin produce unpleasant hot flushes, particularly in the head, so be sure to check with your doctor as to what form to use in your own case.
The deficiency disease is pellagra. Symptoms are described in Wikipedia and includes, among others, diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, a beefy bright red, sometimes purplish tongue.
Too much niacin (B3) can cause nausea, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, liver malfunction, and low blood pressure with fainting.
The optimum amount of B3 has not been determined. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends that people take a vitamin supplement that contains the daily recommended amount of 20 mg/day. People over the age of 60 tend to be too low in B3 and should take a vitamin-mineral supplement providing that amount. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/niacin/
Vitamin B4. Although I had never heard of Vitamin B4 and it is not one of the eight essential B vitamins listed by the National Institute of Health, I decided to search online to see what it says. You can see a summary at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1080/15216540500078939/pdf.
B4 is given more than one name, most commonly Adenosine and Choline. Web MD reports that adenosine is very short lived and used in hospitals as part of diagnosis and treatment of fast heart rates. Because of its short life I’m assuming it would not be useful as an oral supplement. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/adenosine-for-fast-heart-rates
For choline, considered essential to health, especially the nervous system, and, although made in the body, the amount made is not always adequate, see
Choline deficiency is injurious to the liver and possibly to the heart while supplementation has been helpful to improve performance in strenuous activity.
A rich food source is eggs. Research has shown that eating an egg before exams helps retain study information and improve exam scores. In animal health it has been used to treat urinary incontinence. See http://www.animalwellnessmagazine.com/articles/incontinence/
In the UK site on naming vitamins, additional substances that are like the B vitamins are also given that may or may not have vital functions.
Vitamin B 5, Pantothenic Acid, “in addition to playing a role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy, vitamin B5 is critical to the manufacture of red blood cells, as well as sex and stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands, small glands that sit atop the kidneys. Vitamin B5 is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and it helps the body use other vitamins, particularly B2, riboflavin…It is rare for anyone to be deficient in vitamin B5. Symptoms of a vitamin B5 deficiency may include fatigue, insomnia, depression, irritability, vomiting, stomach pains, burning feet, and upper respiratory infections.”
Source: Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b5-pantothenic-acid#ixzz2sxL9GXD5
Although it is rare to have a deficiency, I think if one is taking supplements of B Vitamin Complex that does not include pantothenic acid, one could have deficiency symptoms because of the lack of balance in B vitamins.
Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine, has been used to decrease symptoms of premenstrual tension, carpal-tunnel syndrome, and pseudo-arthritis from swollen fingers. It acts as a diuretic and decreases the swelling of fingers and the headaches from water retention. The dose is much larger than the RDA for young adults of 1.3 mg/day and is in the range of 25 to 50 mg. a day.
It also helps make antibodies and hemaglobin, regulate blood sugar, maintain normal nerve function, and break down protein. So the more protein one eats the more B6 one needs.
Persons using birth control pills or estrogen require additional amounts of the vitamin. Oddly, it is said that a test of sufficient B6 is being able to recall some of your nightly dreams. If the dreams are too vivid and disturb sleep, you have too much. If you cannot remember any dreams, you are said to need more.
Doses of as high as 200 mg. a day or more have severely damaged the sensory nerves. Water-solubility does not protect you from overdosing with B vitamins. The National Academy of Science recommends a limit of 100 mg/day. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6015&page=150
The University of Maryland website is excellent for information on vitamins, however, it states that Vitamin B6 does not have enough evidence to support use in carpal-tunnel syndrome. In my own case it has stopped pain in the palm due to overuse of the right hand in computer mouse movements. The site gives you information on drugs that decrease B6 levels and some additional uses of B6.
“Vitamin B6 helps the body make several neurotransmitters, chemicals that carry signals from one nerve cell to another. It is needed for normal brain development and function, and helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood, and melatonin, which helps regulate the body clock.” Source: Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b6-pyridoxine#ixzz2sxPJd83i
Foods high in B6 are tuna, chicken and turkey light meat, lean pork, beef rib, prunes
Vitamin B7, Biotin, also called Vitamin H, is considered a part of the B Complex of vitamins and has similar functions in the body. Some websites mention the metabolism of fats for biotin and Vitamin B 12 as well as protein and carbohydrates.
Web MD says Biotin is a coenzyme and a B vitamin, also known as vitamin H. It plays a key role in the body. Read more at:
Dr. Weil’s website has additional information.
It says, among many interesting items, that anti-seizure medications, broad spectrum antibiotics and high doses of pantothenic acid can result in lowered levels of Biotin and “…long-term use of certain anti-seizure medications, prolonged oral antibiotic use, intestinal mal-absorption, intravenous feeding, and eating raw egg whites on a regular basis can lead to biotin deficiency. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include seborrheic dermatitis, dry skin, brittle hair/hair loss, fatigue, intestinal tract issues, muscle pains, and nervous system issues.”
Some websites are advising the use of raw eggs as nutritional enhancement, so be aware of the increased need for Biotin if you are using raw eggs. I avoid raw eggs myself due to the hazards of contamination from cracks or even the shells while cracking the eggs and the danger of salmonella infection. Salmonella infection is not as likely as it was when I was a child gathering the eggs from the hen house, but the concern has stayed with me.
Foods rich in Biotin are liver, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks according to http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/biotin/
I was not aware until now of the importance of Biotin. Thanks to my need to update the original book, At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being, I will review my biotin intake proportion to the other B vitamins I ingest.
Vitamin B9, Folic Acid, is very well explained at University of Maryland Medical Center’s website. It is necessary for proper neural development in the fetus, is crucial in brain function in the growing body, helps make DNA and RNA genetic material, helps make red blood cells and helps iron work properly in the body. Persons who are pregnant women, infants, children and adolescents need more and in contrast to some of the B vitamins, “It’s fairly common to have low levels of folic acid. Alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease can cause folic acid deficiency. Also, certain medications may lower levels of folic acid in the body. Folic acid deficiency can cause poor growth, tongue inflammation, gingivitis, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness, and mental sluggishness.”
Source: Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid#ixzz2sxWANocq
I recommend that you read the following article which further emphasizes the importance of adequate folic acid intake.
Last updated on Thursday 7 November 2013Originally published on Tuesday 22 March 2011
Excerpts from the article:
“The human body does not store folic acid, we have to consume it every day in order to make sure we have adequate amounts.
All women of child-bearing age should take folic acid, not only those who are planning to get pregnant, according to March of Dimes. (emphasis mine) March of Dimes director, Richard Johnston, Jr. M.D., said that in order to be effective in preventing birth defects, women should take folic acid before getting pregnant as well as during the first four weeks after conception.
As almost half of all US pregnancies are unplanned, every woman who is capable of getting pregnant should be taking daily folic acid supplements.
According to the Teratology Society, all women who are capable of having babies should take 0.4mg folic acid, or make sure they consume enough fortified cereal grain products to reach 0.4mg of folic acid per day.
The online journal PLOS Medicine wrote in 2009 that females who take folic acid supplements for at least 12 months before becoming pregnant (emphasis mine) could cut their risk of having a premature baby by about half.”
The Linus Pauling Institute recommendation for people of 50 years old is 400 mcg/day of supplemental folic acid as part of a daily multivitamin-multimineral supplement, in addition to a folate-rich diet, is especially important for older adults because blood homocysteine levels tend to increase with age and folic acid helps reduce homocysteine levels. Homocysteine increase is found in people with Alzheimer’s disease. They report a study that showed a doubling of risk for people low in folic acid or in B12.
Because folic acid can mask symptoms of B12 anemia, adults 19 and older have a recommended upper limit os 1000 mcg=1 mg. For upper limits at different ages, see http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/#h8
Richest food sources for folic acid include: Fortified breakfast cereals, lentils, garbanzo beans, and cooked spinach and asparagus.
Vitamin B12,Cobalamin, long term deficiency causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s Disease, confusion, loss of recent memory, then long-term memory and speech, except that in B12 deficiency the lower legs become weak and “draw up” or “contract” making it hard and eventually impossible for the person to stand upright. Symptoms usually begin in the feet and lower legs before any mental symptoms. The deficiency requires Vitamin B12 by injection which also is necessary to treat pernicious anemia of the blood when the body becomes unable to absorb B12 from the intestines.
Besides anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are: “fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Neurological changes, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur… difficulty maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue. The neurological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can occur without anemia, so early diagnosis and intervention is important to avoid irreversible damage. During infancy, signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include failure to thrive, movement disorders, developmental delays, and megaloblastic anemia. Many of these symptoms are general and can result from a variety of medical conditions other than vitamin B12 deficiency.Exerpt from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional
Web MD http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-vitamin-b12 points out that seniors over 50 are being advised by some physicians to supplement their diets with B12. and that drugs for acid reflux, diabetes, and other conditions may make it harder for your body to absorb vitamin B-12. Vegetarians are also at risk for B12 deficiency. Fortified cereal is recommended and B12 tablets or injections may be indicated. See more about pernicious anemia and nervous system effects of deficiency at http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes
“Vegetarians Strict vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk than lacto-ovo vegetarians and nonvegetarians of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to animal foods . Fortified breakfast cereals are one of the few sources of vitamin B12 from plants and can be used as a dietary source of vitamin B12 for strict vegetarians and vegans. Undetected and untreated vitamin B12 deficiency in infants can result in severe and permanent neurological damage.
The American Dietetic Association recommends supplemental vitamin B12 for vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians during both pregnancy and lactation to ensure that enough vitamin B12 is transferred to the growing infant. Pregnant and lactating women who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets should consult with a pediatrician regarding vitamin B12 supplements for their infants and children.” From http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional
I use the “sub-lingual (dissolve under the tongue)” versions of B12 tablets since it is not well absorbed when swallowed.
Food sources for Vitamin B12 are animal sources. People at risk for deficiency are those who don’t eat animal products, or have pernicious anemia or an absorption problem from poor hydrochloric acid content of the stomach, or some kind of stomach or intestinal surgery.
The World’s Healthiest Foods website lists certain fish as the most rich sources of Vitamin B12, followed by lamb, beef, yogurt, milk and eggs. This site is very interesting due to its comparison of calories per serving, nutrient density and percentage of daily recommended allowances. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=107#foodchart
B Vitamin Summary
B vitamins are water soluble, are not stored well in the body and need to be part of your daily food intake. Foods cooked in water soaks the B vitamins into the liquid which needs to be retained and used in gravies or sauces. Light destroys some B vitamins, so dry food storage should be in dark dry spaces and liquids not in clear glass.
At one time it was thought excess water soluble vitamins were harmless due to excretion through the urine. However, we know now that some B vitamins do have safety upper limits and must be counted from all sources of intake, not just supplements. Especially be careful of Vitamin B3 Niacin which causes flushing and low blood pressure, B6 pyridoxine causes nerve damage, B9 Folic Acid masks an anemia and Vitamin C can cause kidney stones. See also:
Some medications interact with vitamins so it is wise to use the internet of government and other reliable sites to see if and what your medications may require in terms of supplements.
Because the B vitamins often occur together in foods, deficiencies also tend to occur together. Deficiencies are more likely in people who eat raw egg frequently, or have problems with their digestive system, are strict vegetarians, used birth control pills and are pregnant or nursing a baby, or long term use of certain medications.
Fortification of foods was implemented to ward off deficiencies. In general, the person who is deficient in B vitamins may have combinations of any of the following symptoms: mental irritability and confusion which may proceed to psychosis, delirium, or depression; loss of sensation in the lower limbs followed by weakness and loss of motor control of the lower leg and loss of ankle and knee reflexes; edema of feet, ankles, lower body, hands, and enlarged heart; dermatitis (redness, dryness, itchiness and/or scaliness) may occur around the nose, cracking at the corners of the mouth, smooth swollen or cracked tongue which may be either bright red or dark colored; skin rashes and blisters where it is exposed to sun, dry skin and loss of hair. Gastrointestinal symptoms include poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Anemia, fatigue, insomnia, muscle pains, and hypersensitive skin also occur. But some of these symptoms can be caused by other processes also.
Books on therapeutic nutrition describe the symptoms of vitamin and mineral toxicity (too much) and deficiency (too little). A trip to a library where you can copy the charts on vitamins and minerals may be helpful or continue your careful search of the internet. As with many medications, there seems to be an optimum amount of vitamins and minerals to take. This is sometimes called the “therapeutic window.” That is because, at some upper point, more may become toxic; likewise, at a lower point, less is inadequate to maintain health.
This review of water soluble vitamins has been exciting and time consuming due to the numerous new studies and their findings. The next article will discuss minerals necessary to good health. I expect it also will take considerable time due to additional research findings.