Vitamin A (Retinol and Betacarotene)
What it does: Needed for healthy skin, inside and out, protecting against infections, antioxidant and immune system booster, protects against many forms of cancer. Essential for night vision.
Deficiency Signs: Mouth ulcers, poor night vision, acne, frequent colds or infections, dry flaky skin, dandruff, thrush or cystitis, diarrhea.
Best Food Sources: Liver, carrots, watercress, cabbage, squash, sweet potatoes, melon, pumpkin, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli, apricots, papayas.
Optimum Daily Amount: 2500 mcg (1500mcg from a good diet; 1000mcg from a supplement)
What it Does: Essential for energy production, brain function and digestion. Helps the body make use of protein.
Deficiency Signs: Tender muscles, eye pains, irritability, poor concentration, prickly legs, poor memory, stomach pain, constipation, tingling hands, rapid heartbeat.
Best Food Sources: Watercress, squash, courgette, lamb, asparagus, mushrooms, peas, lettuce, peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, beans.
Optimum Daily Amount: 35mg (5mg from a good diet; 30 mg from a supplement.)
What it Does: Helps turn fats, Sugars and protein into energy. Needed to repair and maintain healthy skin, inside and out. Helps to regulate body acidity. Important for hair, nails and eyes.
Deficiency Signs: Burning or gritty eyes, sensitivity to bright lights, sore tongue, cataracts, dull or oily hair, eczema or dermatitis, split nails, cracked lips.
Best Food Sources: mushrooms, watercress, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, pumpkin, beansprouts, mackerel, milk, bamboo shoots, tomatoes, wheat germ.
Optimum Daily Amount: 35 mg (5mg from a good diet; 30 mg from a supplement)
What it Does: Essential for energy production, brain function and the skin. Helps balance blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels. Also involved in inflammation and digestion.
Deficiency Signs: Lack of energy, diarrhea, insomnia, headaches or migraines, poor memory, anxiety or tension, depression, irritability, bleeding or tender gums, acne, eczema/dermatitis.
Best Food Sources: mushrooms, tuna, chicken, salmon, asparagus, cabbage, lamb, mackerel, turkey, tomatoes, courgettes, squash, cauliflower, whole wheat.
Optimum Daily Amount: 100 mg (50mg from a good diet; 50 mg from a supplement).
B5 (Pantothenic acid)
What it Does: Involved in energy production, controls fat metabolism, Essential for brain and nerves. Helps make anti-stress hormones. Maintains healthy skin and hair.
Deficiency signs: Muscle tremors or cramps, apathy, poor concentration, burning feet or tender heels, nausea or vomiting, lack of energy, exhaustion after light exercise, anxiety or tension, teeth grinding.
Best Food Sources: mushrooms, watercress, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, peas, lentils, tomatoes cabbage, celery, strawberries, eggs squash, avocados, whole wheat.
Optimum Daily Amount: 100 mg (20mg from a good diet; 80 mg from a supplement).
What It Does: Essential for protein digestion and utilization. Brain function and hormone production. Helps balance sex hormones, hence use in PMS and the menopause. Natural anti-depressant and diuretic. Helps control allergic reactions.
Deficiency Signs: Infrequent dream recall, water retention, tingling hands, depression or nervousness, irritability, muscle tremors or cramps, lack of energy, flaky skin.
Best Food Sources: Watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, bananas, squash, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, red kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, onions, seeds and nuts.
Optimum Daily Amount: 25 mg (5mg from a good diet; 20 mg from a supplement).
What It Does: Needed for making use of protein. Helps the blood carry oxygen. Hence essential for energy. Needed to make new cells. Essential for nerves.
Deficiency Signs: Poor hair condition, eczema or dermatitis, mouth over-sensitive to heat or cold, irritability, anxiety or tension, lack of energy. Constipation, tender or sore muscles, pale skin.
Best Food Sources: Oysters, sardines, tuna, lamb, eggs, shrimp, cottage cheese, milk, turkey, chicken, cheese.
Optimum Daily Amount: 25mcg (10mcg from a good diet; 15mcg from a supplement).
What It Does: Critical during pregnancy for development of a baby’s brain and nerves. Also essential for brain and nerve function. Needed for utilizing protein and red blood cell formation.
Deficiency Signs: Anemia, eczema, cracked lips, prematurely greying hair, anxiety or tension, poor memory, lack of energy, poor appetite, stomach pains, depression.
Best Food Sources: wheat germ, spinach, peanuts, sprouts, asparagus, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, broccoli, cashew nuts, cauliflower, walnuts avocados.
Optimum Daily Amount: 600 mcg(400mcg from a good diet; 200mcg from a supplement)
What It Does: Particularly important in childhood. Helps your body use essential fats, assisting in promoting healthy skin, hair and nerves.
Deficiency Signs: Dry skin, poor hair condition, prematurely greying hair, tender or sore muscles, poor appetite or nausea, eczema or dermatitis.
Best Food Sources: Cauliflower, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, oysters, grapefruit, watermelon, sweetcorn, cabbage, almonds, cherries herrings, milk, eggs.
Optimum Daily Amount: 150mcg (100mcg from a good diet; 50mcg from a supplement)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
What It Does: Strengthens immune system – fights infections, makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joins firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against cancer and heart disease. Helps make anti-stress hormones, and turns food into energy.
Deficiency Signs: Frequent colds, lack of energy, frequent infections, bleeding or tender gums, easy bruising, nose bleeds, slow wound healing, red pimples on skin.
Best Food Sources: Peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, kiwi fruit, peas, melons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, tomatoes.
Optimum Daily Amount: 2000mg (200mg from a good diet: 1800 mg from a supplement)
Vitamin D (Ergocalciferol, Cholecalciferol)
What It Does: Helps maintain strong and healthy bones by retaining calcium.
Deficiency Signs: Joint pain or stiffness, backache, tooth decay, muscle cramps, hair loss.
Best Food Sources: Herrings, mackerel, salmon, oysters, cottage cheese, eggs.
Optimum Daily Amount: 30 mcg (15mcg from a good diet and daily sunlight exposure, which provides the equivalent of 10mcg; 15 mcg from a supplement and 25mcg in the winter).
Vitamin D: 1 IU is the biological equivalent of 0.025 mcg cholecalciferol or ergocalciferol.
Vitamin D 1000 IU = 25mcg
Vitamin E (D-Alpha tocopherol)
What It Does: Antioxidant, protecting cells from damage, including against cancer. Helps body use oxygen, preventing blood clots, thrombosis, atherosclerosis. Improves wound healing and fertility. Good for the skin.
Deficiency Signs: Lack of sex drive, exhaustion after light exercise, easy bruising. Slow wound healing, varicose veins, loss of muscle tone, infertility.
Best Food Sources: unrefined corn oils, sunflower seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, beans, peas, wheat germ, tuna, sardines, salmon, sweet potatoes.
Optimum Daily Amount: 250mg (50mg from a food diet; 200mg from a supplement)
Vitamin E: 1 IU is the biological equivalent of about 0.67 mg; Vitamin E 400 IU = 268mg.
Vitamin K (Phylloquinone)
What It Does: controls blood clotting.
Best Food Sources; Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, cabbage, beans, broccoli, peas, watercress, asparagus, potatoes, corn oil, tomatoes, milk.
Optimum Daily Amount: None established. Sufficient amounts made by beneficial bacteria in the gut. Not need to supplement.
What It Does: Promotes a healthy heart, clots bold, promotes healthy nerves, contracts muscles, improves skin, bone and teeth health. Relieves aching muscles and bones, maintains the correct acid-alkaline balance, reduces menstrual cramps and tremors.
Deficiency Signs: Muscle cramps or tremors, insomnia or nervousness, join pain or arthritis, tooth decay, high blood pressure.
Best Food Sources: Cheese, almonds, brewer’s yeast, parsley, corn tortillas, globe artichokes, prunes, pumpkin seeds, cooked dried beans, cabbage, winter wheat.
Optimum Daily Amount: 1000 mg (800mg from a good diet; 200 mg from a supplement).
What It Does: Helps balance bleed sugar, normalize hunger and reduce cravings, improves lifespan, helps protect cells, essential for heart function.
Deficiency signs: Excessive or cold sweats, dizziness or irritability after six hours without food. Need for frequent meals, cold hands, need for excessive sleep or drowsiness during the day, excessive thirst, addicted to sweet foods.
Best Food Sources: Brewer’s yeast, whole meal bread, rye bread, oysters, potatoes, wheat germ, green peppers, eggs, chicken, apples, butter, parsnips, cornmeal, lamb, cheese.
Optimum Daily Amount: 100mcg (70mcg from a good diet; 30mcg from a supplement)
What It Does: As a component of red blood cells, iron transport oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from cells. Also vital for energy production.
Deficiency Signs: Anemia – e.g. pale skin, sore tongue, fatigue, listlessness, loss of appetite, nausea, sensitivity to cold.
Best Food Sources: Pumpkin seeds, parsley, almonds, prunes, cashew nuts, raisins, Brazil nuts, walnuts, dates, pork, cooked dried beans, sesame seeds, pecan nuts.
Optimum Daily Amount: 20mg (15mg from a good diet;5mg from a supplement)
What It Does: Strengthens bones and teeth, promotes healthy muscles by helping them to relax, so useful for PMS. Important for heart muscles and nervous system. Essential for energy production.
Deficiency Signs: Muscle tremors or spasms, muscle weakness, insomnia or nervousness, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, constipation, fits or convulsions, hyperactivity, depression, confusion, lack of appetite, calcium deposited in soft tissue – e.g. kidney stones.
Best Food Sources: wheat germ, almonds, cashew nuts, brewer’s yeast, buck wheat flour, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pecan nuts, cooked beans, garlic, raisins, green peas, potato skin, crab.
Optimum daily Amount: 500mg (250mg from a good diet; 150mg from a supplement)
What It Does: Helps to form healthy bones, cartilage, tissues and nerves, stabilizes blood sugar, promotes healthy cells, essential for reproduction and red blood cell synthesis, required for brain function.
Deficiency signs: Muscle twitches, childhood growing pains, dizziness or poor sense of balance, fits , convulsions, core knees, joint pain.
Best Food Sources: Watercress, pineapple, okra, endive, blackberries, raspberries, lettuce, grapes, lima beans, strawberries, oats, beetroot, celery.
Optimum daily Amount: 10mcg (6mcg from a good diet; 4 mcg from a supplement)
What It Does: Helps rid the body of the protein breakdown products, strengthens teeth and may help reduce the risk of tooth decay, detoxifies the body from free radicals, petrochemicals and sulphites.
Deficiency signs: Deficiency signs are not know unless excess copper or sulphate interferes with its utilization. Animals show signs of breathing difficulties and neurological disorders.
Best Food Sources: Tomatoes, wheat germ, pork, lamb, lentils, beans
Optimum Daily Amount: None established. Supplementary range between 10mcg and 1000mcg (1mg) per day.
What It Does: Enables nutrients to move into and waste products to move out of cells, promotes healthy nerves and muscles, maintains fluid balance in the body, relaxes muscles, helps secretion of insulin for blood sugar control to product constant energy, involved in metabolism, maintains heart functioning, stimulates gut movements to encourage proper elimination.
Deficiency Signs: Rapid irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, pins and needles, irritability, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, swollen abdomen, cellulite, low blood pressure resulting from an imbalance of potassium: sodium ratio, confusion, mental apathy.
Best Food Sources: watercress, endive, cabbage, celery, parsley, courgettes, radishes, cauliflower, mushrooms pumpkin, molasses.
Optimum Daily Amount: 2000mg (all supplied by diet – no need to supplement)
What It Does: Antioxidant properties help to protect against free radicals and carcinogens, reduces inflammation, stimulates immune system to fight infections, promotes a healthy heart, required for male reproductive system, needed for metabolism.
Deficiency Signs: family history of cancer, signs of premature ageing, cataracts, high blood pressure, frequent infections.
Best Food sources: Tuna, oysters, molasses, mushrooms, herrings, cottage cheese, cabbage, beef liver, courgette, cod, chicken.
Optimum Daily Amount: 100mcg (50mcg from a good diet; 50mcg from a supplement)
What It Does: component of over 200 enzymes in the body, essential of growth, important for healing, controls hormones, aids ability to cope with stress effectively. Promotes healthy nervous system and brain especially in a growing foetus, aids bones and teeth formation, helps hair to bloom, essential for constant energy.
Deficiency Signs: poor sense of taste or smell, white marks on more than two fingernails, frequent infections, stretch marks, acne or greasy skin, low fertility, pale skin, tendency for depression, loss of appetite.
Best Food Sources: Oysters, ginger root, lamb, pecan nuts, dry split peas, haddock, green peas, shrimps, turnips, brazil nuts, egg yolks, whole wheat grain, rye, oats, peanuts almonds
Optimum Daily Amount: 20 mg (10 mg from a good diet; 10mg from a supplement)
Omega 3 (EPA, DPA, DHA)
What It Does: promotes a healthy heart; thins the blood; reduces inflammation; improves functioning of the nervous system; promotes neurotransmitter balance and reception; relieves depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit, hyperactivity and autism; improves sleep; improves skin condition; helps balance hormones; reduces insulin resistance.
Deficiency Signs: Dry skin, eczema, dry hair or dandruff, excessive thirst, excessive sweating, poor memory or learning difficulties, inflammatory health problems – e.g. arthritis, high blood lipids, depression, PMS or breast pain, water retention.
Best Food Sources: Mackerel, swordfish, marlin, tuna, salmon, sardines, flax seeds, sunflower seeds
Optimum daily Amount: 1000mg combined EPA, DPA and DHA (400mg form a good diet; 500 mg from a supplement)
Omega 6 (GLA)
What It Does: Promotes a healthy heart; thins the blood, reduce inflammation; improves functioning of the nervous system; promotes neuro-transmiitter balance and reception; relives depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit. Hyperactivity and autism; improves skin condition; helps balance hormones; reduces insulin resistance.
Deficiency sign: dry skin, eczema, dry hair or dandruff, excessive thirst, excessive sweating, PMS or breast pain, water retention.
Best Food Sources: Sunflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, wheat germ, sesame seeds.
Source: from The Optimum Nutrition Bible, Patrick Holford.
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