For the human body to perform at its maximum potential, it must be fed a vast and complex array of vital nutrients.
Becoming deficient in just one of these essential vitamins or minerals breaks down the metabolic pathway that produces optimum efficiency and performance declines.
Vitamins and Energy
Certain nutrients are called vitamins because they are crucial for vitality. These nutrients are essential to a productive life, the starting point for all life-giving and life-sustaining processes. Because of vitamins crucial role in energy production, many people can perk up their stamina simply by consuming an adequate supply of vitamins in their daily diet. Since many vitamins - especially the ones concerned with energy - must be constantly replenished, a decent diet and the right supplements must be consumed every day.
Be Energetic with B Vitamins Vitamins, especially the B vitamins, play extremely important roles in producing cellular energy. Their effect is felt most profoundly in the energy producing process known as the Krebs cycle. Vitamins B2 and B3, for example, supply the major building blocks for substances called Flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD and FADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD and NADH) which are critical elements of producing energy in the Krebs cycle as well as a process called oxidative phosphorylation. B vitamins also combine with other materials to build coenzymes, chemicals which help form other chemicals necessary for cellular energy.
B vitamins are crucial: miss out on one or more and you may break these metabolic chains necessary for peak energy. Nutritional supplements help stimulate your immune system, glands and digestive tract, promote proper circulation of blood and oxygen, and provide a calming effect.
Aging and Antioxidants
What’s the big deal about trying to live longer? As you grow older you may want to postpone the inevitable. Few wish to hasten “the journey from which no traveler returns.” But as we approach that final bon voyage, chances are we desire clear sailing-aging without disability and with a peaceful easy feeling. According to a theory introduced by Dr. Denham Harman MD, Ph D. The human body is as a cellular battlefield where attackers called free radicals damage our cells and tissues, making them age. In this scenario, a process called oxidation is the chief aging villain. Most of these free radicals contain oxygen molecules. These oxidant by-products can damage DNA, proteins and lipids (fats).
Consequently, toxic by-products of lipid peroxidation may cause cancer, inhibit enzyme activity and produce mutations in genetic material that make you age faster. The free radical theory of aging suggests that taking antioxidants (compounds known to prevent free radical damage) in our food or as supplements may slow aging.
Antioxidants from the diet lower the production of free radicals without impairing essential reactions to maintain body function.” A diet high in fruits and vegetables is naturally high in antioxidant compounds and is believed to help you live longer. A diet low in meats and animal fat and high in vegetables protects against antioxidant damage.
Common dietary antioxidants include: vitamins E and C, carotenes, some B Vitamins, sulphur containing amino acids, co-enzyme Q10 and flavonoids (a group of plant compounds or pigments responsible for the color in fruits and flowers). In addition, melatonin, DHEA, Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD) and the amino acid compound glutathione are potent antioxidant. Selenium and Zinc also possess antioxidant properties. Among herbal nutrients, green tea extract, French maritime pine bark extract, grape seed extract, Ginkgo biloba leaf extract, spirulina, are well known antioxidants.
Vitamin - A Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin with four major functions in the body: (1) It helps cells reproduce normally—a process called differentiation (cells that have not properly differentiated are more likely to undergo pre-cancerous changes). (2) It is required for vision; vitamin A maintains healthy cells in various structures of the eye and is required for the transduction of light into nerve. Signals in the retina. (3) It is required for normal growth and development of the embryo and fetus, influencing genes that determine the sequential development of organs in embryonic development. (4) It may be required for normal reproductive function, with influences on the function and development of sperm, ovaries and placenta.
Vitamin – C Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has a number of biological functions. Acting as an antioxidant, one of vitamin C’s important functions is to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage. (Only when LDL is damaged does cholesterol appear to lead to heart disease, and vitamin C may be one of the most important antioxidant protectors of LDL.) Vitamin C may also protect against heart disease by reducing the stiffness of arteries and the tendency of platelets to clump together. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C are thought to protect smokers, as well as people exposed to secondhand smoke, from the harmful effects of free radicals. Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the “glue” that strengthens many parts of the body, such as muscles and blood vessels. Vitamin C also plays important roles in wound healing and as a natural antihistamine. This vitamin also aids in the formation of liver bile and helps to fight viruses and to detoxify alcohol and other substances. Evidence indicates that vitamin C levels in the eye decrease with age and that supplementing with vitamin C prevents this decrease, possibly leading to a lower risk of developing cataracts.
Vitamin – B1 Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin needed to process carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Every cell of the body requires vitamin B1 to form the fuel the body runs on—adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nerve cells require vitamin B1 in order to function normally. Vitamin – B2 Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin needed to process amino acids and fats activate vitamin B6 and folic acid, and help convert carbohydrates into the fuel the body runs on— adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Under some conditions, vitamin B2 can act as an antioxidant.
Vitamin – B3 The body uses the water-soluble vitamin B3 in the process of releasing energy from carbohydrates. It is needed to form fat from carbohydrates and to process alcohol. The niacin form of vitamin B3 also regulates cholesterol, though niacinamide does not.
Vitamin – B5 Pantothenic acid, also called vitamin B5, is a water-soluble vitamin involved in the Kreb’s cycle of energy production and is needed to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is also essential in producing, transporting, and releasing energy from fats. Synthesis of cholesterol (needed to manufacture vitamin D and steroid hormones) depends on pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid also activates the adrenal glands. Pantethine—a byproduct of pantothenic acid—has been reported to lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Vitamin – B6 Vitamin B6 is the master vitamin for processing amino acids—the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones.
Vitamin B6 helps to make and take apart many amino acids and is also needed to make the hormones, serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Vitamin B6 aids in the formation of several neurotransmitters and is therefore an essential nutrient in the regulation of mental processes and possibly mood. In combination with folic acid and vitamin B12, vitamin B6 lowers homocysteine levels—an amino acid linked to heart disease and stroke, and possibly other diseases as well, such as osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. A rare, but severe, form of childhood epilepsy results from an inborn error in the metabolism of vitamin B6. Children with this form of epilepsy have an abnormal dependence on vitamin B6 and are usually mentally retarded. Seizure activity is reversible with intravenous injections of vitamin B6, which must be administered by a doctor. In some, but not all, studies, vitamin B6 supplements improved glucose tolerance in women with diabetes caused by pregnancy.
Vitamin – B8 (Folic Acid) Folic acid is a B vitamin needed for cell replication and growth. Folic acid helps form building blocks of DNA, the body’s genetic information, and building blocks of RNA, needed for protein synthesis in all cells. Therefore, rapidly growing tissues, such as those of a fetus, and rapidly regenerating cells, like red blood cells and immune cells, have a high need for folic acid. Folic acid deficiency results in a form of anemia that responds quickly to folic acid supplementation.
The requirement for folic acid increases considerably during pregnancy. Deficiencies of folic acid during pregnancy are associated with low birth weight and an increased incidence of neural tube defects in infants. Most doctors, recommend that all women of childbearing age supplement with 400 mcg per day of folic acid. Such supplementation would protect against the formation of neural tube defects during the time between conception and when pregnancy is discovered. If a woman waits until after pregnancy has been discovered to begin taking folic acid supplements, it will probably be too late to prevent a neural tube defect. Other birth defects may be prevented with folic acid supplementation as well.
Women who take folic acid containing multivitamin supplements around the time they conceive may also reduce the risk of other congenital malformations, such as heart defects, defects of the upper lip and mouth, urinary tract defects, and limb-reduction defects. Rates of prevention of cleft lip and cleft palate may be improved by using very large amounts of folic acid (6 mg per day). A doctor should supervise anyone wishing to take this much folic acid. Folic acid is needed to keep homocysteine (an amino acid by-product) levels in blood from rising. A growing body of evidence suggests that an elevated homocysteine level is a risk factor for heart disease and may also be linked to several other diseases. Folic acid and certain other B vitamins function as cofactors for enzymes that can lower homocysteine levels.
A deficiency of folic acid has also been associated with peripheral vascular disease and coronary artery disease even in people with normal homocysteine levels, suggesting that the vitamin may have protective effects that extend beyond its role in maintaining normal homocysteine levels. A diet low in folic acid has been associated with a high incidence of pre-cancerous polyps in the colon, suggesting that folic acid may prevent the development of colon cancer.
Longterm supplementation with folic acid from a multivitamin has been found in one large population study to be associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Current use of a multivitamin supplement with folic acid has also been associated with lower breast cancer risk among women who consume alcoholic beverages, compared with those who never use a multivitamin supplement.
Vitamin – B12 Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin needed for normal nerve cell activity, DNA replication, and production of the mood-affecting substance SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine). Vitamin B12 acts with folic acid and vitamin B6 to control homocysteine levels. An excess of homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and potentially other diseases such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes fatigue. Years ago, a small, double-blind trial reported that even some people who are not deficient in this vitamin had increased energy after vitamin B12 injections, compared with the effect of placebo injections.
Vitamin – D The fat-soluble vitamin D’s most important role is maintaining blood levels of calcium, which it accomplishes by increasing absorption of calcium from food and reducing urinary calcium loss. Both effects keep calcium in the body and therefore spare the calcium that is stored in bones. When necessary, vitamin D transfers calcium from the bone into the bloodstream, which does not benefit bones. Although the overall effect of vitamin D on the bones is complicated, some vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D plays a role in immunity and blood cell formation and also helps cells “differentiate”—a process that may reduce the risk of cancer. From animal and human studies, researchers have hypothesized that vitamin D may protect people from multiple sclerosis, autoimmune arthritis, and juvenile diabetes. Vitamin D is also needed for adequate blood levels of insulin. Vitamin D receptors have been found in the pancreas where insulin is made, and preliminary evidence suggests that supplementation may increase insulin secretion for some people with adult-onset (type 2) diabetes.
Zinc: Immune stimulant; improves muscle strength and endurance. Constituent of many enzymes involved in metabolism and digestion.
Magnesium and Malic Acid Important for the production of ATP, the body’s energy source. Magnesium is also important for women who may develop a deficiency from chronic yeast infections.
Potassium: Enhances energy and vitality; deficiency leads to fatigue and muscle weakness.
Calcium: Combats stress, nervous tension and anxiety.
Iodine: Necessary to prevent fatigue caused by low thyroid function, as it is crucial for the production of the thyroid hormone thyroxin. Herbal Helpers In addition to nutrients to bolster your immunity, herbal remedies can also help suppress viral and candida infections.
Garlic is a powerful, natural antibiotic, while Echinacea and goldenseal have strong anti-infective abilities. Other botanicals help combat tiredness and depression: stimulating herbs such as ginger, ginkgo biloba, licorice root and
Siberian ginseng can improve vitality and energy.
For anxiety, moodiness and insomnia try passionflower or valerian root, which both have a calming effect on the central nervous system.
Bioflavonoids: Help guard against fatigue caused by allergic reactions; their anti-inflammatory properties prevent the production of histamine and leukotrienes that promote inflammation. Bioflavonoids like quercetin are powerfully antiviral.
Get Your Vitamins Every Day
While we rely on our diet to supply many of our vitamins, a B complex supplement and multi-vitamins can ensure you consume sufficient amounts of these crucial nutrients.
Many experts agree that a diet rich in raw fruits, nuts and vegetables that minimizes saturated fat can supply adequate amounts of these nutrients.
Other supplements that may aid energy production. For most cases of decreased vim and vigor, adequate vitamins should help your body recover your get up and go