Monday, June 26, 2017

Introduction to Multivitamin Supplements and Understanding Megavitamin therapy.



A vitamin is one of a group of organic substances, present in minute amounts in natural foodstuffs that are essential for normal body metabolism.

There are 13 vitamins that a human  body needs. They are
  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
Each vitamin has specific function in the body and if there is a low levels of certain vitamins, there may be certain health problems and illness. 

Fat soluble and Water soluble Vitamins
Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fatty tissues of the body and the liver. Fat-soluble vitamins are easier to store than water-soluble ones and can stay in the body as reserves for days, some of them for months.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of fats (lipids).

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins do not get stored in the body for long - they soon get excreted in urine. Because of this, water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often than fat-soluble ones.

Vitamins C and all the B vitamins are water-soluble.

The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, you may need to take vitamin supplements.

Vitamin Supplements; The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, however vitamin supplements are indicated in some people in order to prevent or treat deficiencies.

Multivitamin and mineral supplements are easily available in different pharmacies so it is important to understand the need and indications for these supplements and to avoid dangerous overdoses. 

Indications For Vitamin Supplements: In otherwise healthy people, most scientific evidence indicates that multivitamin supplements do not prevent cancer, heart disease, or other ailments, and regular supplementation is not necessary. 
However, there may be specific groups of people who may benefit from multivitamin supplements for example,:
  • people with poor nutrition
  • couples planning for pregnancy 
  • During pregnancy & breast feeding
  • elderly individual
  • people living in sun deprived areas need vitamin D supplements. 
  • vegetarians etc
Vitamin A
Chemical names - retinol, retinal, and four carotenoids (including beta carotene)
  • Fat soluble
  • Deficiency may cause night-blindness and keratomalacia (an eye disorder that results in a dry cornea)
  • Good sources include: liver, cod liver oil, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, butter, kale, spinach, pumpkin, collard greens, some cheeses, egg, apricot, cantaloupe melon, and milk
Uses Of Vitamin A Supplements: 
  • Vitamin A is used for treating vitamin A deficiency.
  •  It is also used to reduce complications of diseases such as malaria, HIV, measles, and diarrhea in children with vitamin A deficiency.
  • Vitamin A sometimes help women for heavy menstrual periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and vaginal infections, 
  • Vitamin A may help some men to raise their sperm count.
  • Vitamin A is used for improving vision and treating eye disorders including age-related macular degeneration 
  • Vitamin A is also used for skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, and rapid healing of wounds and burns.
Vitamin B1 (Chemical name - thiamine)
  • Water soluble
  • Deficiency may cause beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoffsyndrome
  • Good sources include: yeast, pork, cereal grains, sunflower seeds, brown rice, whole-grain rye, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, oranges, liver, and eggs
Vitamin B2 (Chemical name - riboflavin)
  • Water soluble
  • Deficiency may cause ariboflavinosis
  • Good sources include: asparagus, bananas, persimmons, okra, chard, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, meat, eggs, fish, and green beans
Vitamin B3. (Chemical names - niacin, niacinamide)
  • Water soluble
  • Deficiency may cause pellagra (characterized by diarrhea, dermatitis, and mental disturbance)
  • Good sources include: liver, heart, kidney, chicken, beef, fish (tuna, salmon), milk, eggs, avocados, dates, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, nuts, whole-grains, legumes, mushrooms, and brewer's yeast
Vitamin B5 (Chemical name - pantothenic acid)
  • Water soluble
  • Deficiency may cause paresthesia ("pins and needles")
  • Good sources include: meats, whole-grains (milling may remove it), broccoli, avocados, royal jelly, and fish ovaries
Vitamin B6 (Chemical names - pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, pyridoxal.)
  • Water soluble.
  • Deficiency may cause anemia, peripheral neuropathy (damage to parts of the nervous system other than the brain and spinal cord).
  • Good sources include: meats, bananas, whole-grains, vegetables, and nuts. When milk is dried, it loses about half of its B6. Freezing and canning can also reduce content.
Vitamin B7  (Chemical name - biotin)
  • Water soluble
  • Deficiency may cause dermatitis or enteritis (inflammation of the intestine)
  • Good sources include: egg yolk, liver, some vegetables
Vitamin B9 (Chemical names - folic acid, folinic acid.)
  • Water soluble.
  • Deficiency during pregnancy is linked to birth defects. Pregnant women are encouraged to supplement folic acid for the entire year before they get pregnant.
  • Good sources include: leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, baker's yeast, some fortified grain products, and sunflower seeds. 
Uses Of Folic Acid Supplements:
  • Folic acid is used for preventing and treating low blood levels of folate (folate deficiency), as well as its complications, including megaloblastic anemia and the inability of the bowel to absorb nutrients properly. 
  • Folic acid is also used for other conditions commonly associated with folate deficiency, including ulcerative colitis, liver disease, alcoholism, and kidney dialysis.
  • Women who are pregnant or plan to get become pregnant should take folic acid to prevent miscarriage and “neural tube defects,” in the baby.
  • Folic acid is also used for memory loss and in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Folic acid helps in gum diseases and in rapid healing of aphtous oral ulcers. 
Vitamin B12 (Chemical names - cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin)
  • Water soluble
  • Deficiency may cause megaloblastic anemia (a condition where bone marrow produces unusually large, abnormal, immature red blood cells)
  • Good sources include: fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy products, some fortified cereals and soy products, as well as fortified nutritional yeast
  • Vegans are advised to take B12 supplements
Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid  is a water-soluble vitamin.
  • Vitamin C supplements are recommended for the prevention and treatment of scurvy.
  • Also used in patients with iron deficiency anemia along with iron supplements to help increases absorption of iron . 
  • Used in patients with bleeding gums and loose teeth. 
  • Helps in wounds and fracture healing.
Vitamin D (Chemical names - ergocalciferol, cholecalciferol.)
  • Fat soluble.
  • Deficiency may cause rickets and osteomalacia (softening of the bones).
  • Good sources: produced in the skin after exposure to UV (ultraviolet) B light from the sun or artificial sources. Also found in fatty fish, eggs, beef liver, and mushrooms.
Uses of Vitamin D Supplements:
  • Vitamin D is used for preventing and treating rickets, a disease that is caused by not having enough vitamin D (vitamin D deficiency). 
  • Vitamin D is also used for treating weak bones (osteoporosis), bone pain (osteomalacia), bone loss in people with a condition called hyperparathyroidism, and an inherited disease (osteogenesis imperfecta) in which the bones are especially brittle and easily broken. 
  • It is also used for preventing falls and fractures in people at risk for osteoporosis
  • Vitamin D is helpful for patients with tooth and gum disease.
  • It is also used for boosting the immune system,and thus preventing infections.
  • Helps in improving fertility. 
Vitamin E (Chemical names - tocopherols, tocotrienols.)
  • Fat soluble.
  • Deficiency is uncommon. Deficiency may cause hemolytic anemia in newborns (a condition where blood cells are destroyed and removed from the blood too early).
  • Good sources include: kiwi fruit, almonds, avocado, eggs, milk, nuts, leafy green vegetables, unheated vegetable oils, wheat germ, and whole-grains.
Vitamin K (Chemical names - phylloquinone, menaquinones.)
  • Fat soluble.
  • Deficiency may cause bleeding diathesis (an unusual susceptibility to bleeding).
  • Good sources include: leafy green vegetables, avocado, kiwi fruit. Parsley contains a lot of vitamin K.
What is Megavitamin therapy
Megavitamin therapy is the use of large doses of vitamins, often many times greater than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) in the attempt to prevent or treat diseases. 

Megavitamin therapy is typically used in alternative medicine by practitioners who call their approach "orthomolecular medicine", but also used in mainstream medicine for "exceedingly rare"vgenetic conditions that respond to megadoses of vitamins. 

The theory behind Megavitamin therapy: The rationale behind megavitamin therapy is that providing substantially more vitamin will increase the amount that is available for the body to utilize, in order for it to be healthy. Thus, even if an individual lacks or has a defect in a component (enzyme) necessary to break down vitamins, he/she could benefit from having more of the substrate (vitamin) around for the body to use. 

Multivitamin vs Megavitamin
Megavitamin therapy must be distinguished from the usual 'vitamin supplementation' approach of traditional multivitamin pills. Megavitamin doses are far higher than the levels of vitamins ordinarily available through usual over the counter vitamin supplements. 

The megavitamin therapy is still under research but has been found beneficial in certain conditions like: 
  • ADHD and other learning disorders
  • Prevention and management of common cold using high doses of vitamin C
  • Vitamin A in certain types of acne
  • Treatment and prevention of certain cancers. etc
Since high doses of vitamins can lead to dangerous side effects this still under study therapy should only be taken if advised by experienced physicians 

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