Vitamins necessary for general health
“A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill if you don’t eat it.” - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Prize winner in 1937, on the effect of vitamins on the body.
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, helps create and maintain mucous membranes and collagen, strengthens blood vessel walls. It is a commonly-known fact that use of vitamin C can decrease the duration and severity of upper airway infections by up to 50%, especially for people performing hard physical work or spending lengthy periods of time at low temperatures. Vitamin C supplements can also help reduce the duration of rhinitis. As it turns out one of the main threats to vitamin C reserves is UV radiation. Therefore, vitamin C supplementation is more important in summer than any other season. Because vitamin C is accumulated in the skin, large amounts of it are destroyed in the fight against the effects of the sun.
- promotes activity of immune cell (neutrophils, lymphocytes, phagocytes) and antibodies;
- supplementation of vitamin C reduces the duration of head colds;
- reduces oxidative stress in the body, which is a cause of heart disease, heart attack, certain types of tumours and cataract;
- large amounts of immune cells are accumulated, thus protecting against free radicals produced by the body itself and guarding against self-destruction”;
- supplementation can decrease the duration and severity of upper airway infections by up to 50%, especially for people performing hard physical work (including marathon runners, skiers) or spending lengthy periods of time at low temperatures;
- increases the level of interferon – an antiviral substance;
- can reduce severity of allergic reactions;
- people living in cities and industrial districts, especially children, as well as smokers are less subject to risk of accumulating lead if the body has high levels of vitamin C as it can block absorption of lead in the intestines and help expel it from the body with urine;
- can ease the course of bronchitis or bronchopneumonia for the elderly;
- reduces constriction of the bronchi following physical exertion, characterised by a cough, pressure in the chest, wheezing, also pronounced exhaustion;
- accelerates degradation of histamine (a substance involved in inflammation development) in the blood.
Vitamin C is necessary for:
- proper metabolism;
- reduces exhaustion and fatigue;
- long-term use improves vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) for people with coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, normalises cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, reduces risk of coronary heart disease for healthy people, as well as diabetics (500 mg per day);
- restores vitamin C levels for people using hormonal birth-control containing oestrogen or aspirin users.
It is also known as the anti-infection vitamin. It is necessary throughout the year for skin and mucous membrane (eyes, airways, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract) health and functioning. Skin and mucous membranes (eyes, airways, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract) are our first line of defence against infection. Vitamin A deficiency leaves the body susceptible to respiratory, eye, gastrointestinal, urinary and genital infections, as well as prolongs their duration and severity, because it delays normal restoration of mucous membranes after illness.
- necessaryfor skin and mucous membrane (eyes, airways, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract) health and functioning;
- necessary for proper functioning of immune cells (killer cells, macrophages, neutrophils, T and B cells) and production of antibodies;
- deficiency reduces the body’s ability to fight off respiratory infections;
- deficiency prolongs duration and severity of infections as it delays restoration of mucous membranes after illness;
- deficiency reduces the body’s ability to fight off parasites;
- long-term use can reduce inflammation in the lungs and bronchi.
Vitamin A is necessary for:
- insufficient amounts of vitamin A in the diet have been linked to reduced bone density in the elderly;
- vitamin A in combination with iron reduced anaemia better than taking iron or vitamin A separately;
- necessary for converting stem cells into red blood cells;
- acute or continuous deficiency leads to xerophthalmia – dryness of the cornea of the eye, ridge formation and scarring in the retina, blindness.
Did you know that mucous membranes in the eyes, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, as well as tears contain chemical substances that fight microbes? For example, saliva and tears contain a-defensin and histatin, so-called antimicrobial peptides, which cannot be created without vitamin D. Vitamin D levels have a serious impact on immunity – most cells in the immune system have vitamin D “receptors”. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased susceptibility to infection. People with low levels of vitamin D (<30 ng/ml) are much more prone to upper respiratory disease. Lowered levels of vitamin D are also related to higher risk of contracting the flu.
- for the functioning of the immune system, because it activates and amplifies functioning of immune cells;
- needed for production of antimicrobial substances (alpha and beta-defensin) in saliva, tears and sweat;
- low levels of vitamin D (<30 ng/ml) are linked to an almost 40% higher risk of upper respiratory disease;
- low levels of vitamin D are linked to higher risk of contracting the flu;
- low levels of vitamin D are linked to increased risk of autoimmune disease (multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis);
- vitamin D helps fight off various infections and inflammation.
Vitamin D is necessary for:
- bone and dental health;
- muscle function.
Vitamins B6, B9 (folic acid)and B12
Vitamin B6 is necessary for biosynthesis and metabolism of amino acids, which are the building blocks of basic proteins in the immune system, such as cytokines and antibodies. Studies have found that in order to achieve the maximum benefit of B6 for the immune system it needs to be moderately supplemented, while mega-doses will have the completely opposite effect. B9 (folic acid) and B12 deficiency also affects the immune function as these vitamins are necessary for DNA and RNA synthesis.
- for the functioning of the immune system– promotes and strengthens the functioning of immune cells;
- deficiency delays production and activity of immune cells;
- effectively fight against respiratory infections;
Vitamin B is necessary for:
- reducing exhaustion and fatigue;
- homocysteine metabolism;
- normal blood production;
- normal psychological function;
- energy producing metabolism;
- normal functioning of the nervous system;
- cell division;
- regulation of hormonal activity.