Vitamins & Minerals are called Essential Because Every day, your body produces skin, muscle, and bone. It churns out rich red blood that carries nutrients and oxygen to remote outposts, and it sends nerve signals skipping along thousands of miles of brain and body pathways. It also formulates chemical messengers that shuttle from one organ to another, issuing the instructions that help sustain your life. But to do all this, your body requires some raw materials. These include at least 30 vitamins, minerals, and dietary components that your body needs "but cannot manufacture on its own in sufficient amounts." Beta-Carotene Deficiencies: Weak immune system, increased cancer risk. Since Beta-Carotene is the dietary precursor of vitamin A. Deficiencies of this nutrient are associated with the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Effects of Depletion: Weaker immune system, which is probably due to increased amounts of free radical damage. The incidence of numerous types of cancer is also associated with low dietary intake of beta-carotene. Beta-Carotene functions as a chain-breaking antioxidant.Dietary sources: Beta-carotene occurs exclusively in plant (fruit and vegetable) foods. Foods containing high amounts of beta-carotene are green leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, and green, yellow, and red peppers. Bifidobacteria Deficiencies: Gas, bloating, diarrhea / constipation, bad breath, chronic vaginal yeast infections. Bifidobacteria is a primary strain of beneficial bacterial that inhabits the large intestine. If the balance between the beneficial and pathological bacteria gets upset a condition known as dysbiosis develops. The use of antibiotics is a frequent cause of dysbiosis. Bifidobacteria produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the colon which create a slight acidic environment that is unfavorable for the growth of pathological bacteria, yeast, and molds. The short chain fatty acids produced by bifidobacteria are the main source of energy for the cells that form the inner surface of the colon. Dietary sources: bifidobacteria do not occur in foods. They are best obtained by purchasing commercial probiotic products. Biotin Deficiencies: Hair loss, loss of hair color, depression, scaly dermatitis, mouth sores, anorexia, nausea, numbness and tingling, muscle pain, cardiac irregularities. Biotin containing enzymes play a vital role in the production of energy from the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Biotin is known as the vitamin that produces healthy hair and helps prevent graying and baldness. In many cases, biotin helps people with dry, splitting fingernails. Dietary sources: Biotin is found abundantly in many plants and animal foods. A considerable amount of biotin is also synthesized by the "friendly" intestinal bacteria. Best food sources include liver, milk, brewer's yeast, bananas, grapefruit, watermelon, strawberries, and peanuts. Boron Deficiencies: Loss of calcium and magnesium, Osteoporosis. Boron has a powerful effect on the metabolism of calcium. Boron also plays a important role in the metabolism of Magnesium. In addition, boron has regulatory effect on the production of estrogens and testosterone. Boron may influence the synthesis of vitamin D, which plays a role in the prevention of bone loss. Effects of depletion include increased urinary loss of calcium and magnesium. Increased rate of bone demineralization, which probably influences the development of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Dietary sources: Boron is readily available and easily absorbable from fruits and vegetables. Calcium Deficiencies: Muscle cramps, heart palpations, high blood pressure, brittle bones, tooth decay, back and leg pains, insomnia, nervous disorders, rickets, osteoporosis. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Approximately 99% of our calcium is present in the bones and teeth, which leaves only about 1% in cells and body fluids. Effects of Depletion: Rickets, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, brittle or soft bones, tooth decay, back and leg pains, insomnia, nervous disorders, osteoporosis, and osteomalacia. Phosphorus intake (soft drinks and animal protein) promote the urinary loss of calcium. Dietary sources: Milk and dairy products are the major sources of dietary calcium for most people. Other good sources are dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Carnitine Deficiencies: Elevated blood cholesterol, abnormal liver function, muscle weakness, reduced energy, impaired glucose control. Carnitine is a nonessential amino acid that exhibits vitamin like properties. Deficiencies are rare because the body produces carnitine relatively easily. Caritine's primary role seems to be the regulation of heart function because it regulates the production of energy in the heart muscle. Symptoms include elevated blood lipids, abnormal liver function, muscle weakness, reduced energy, and impaired glucose control. Dietary sources: Mostly found in foods of animal origin, and to a lesser extent, in foods of plant origin. Chloride Deficiencies: Diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, weakness, poor digestion, loss of appetite, and hair loss. Chloride is one of the bodies, three major electrolytes. Chloride, along with sodium and potassium helps to maintain normal osmotic equilibrium by controlling the distribution and balance of water throughout the body. Chloride deficiency is quite rare due to the wide spread availability and use of salt. Metabolic alkalosis, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, weakness, poor digestion, loss of appetite and hair loss. Dietary sources: The primary dietary sources of chloride is table salt (sodium chloride). Chloride also occurs abundantly in vegetables and animal foods. Choline Deficiencies: in humans has not been established. Choline is a member of the vitamin B-complex. It is involved in a wide range of neurological activities, including movement, coordination, muscle contraction, function of thoughts, memory, and intellect. Choline is the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. One of the main characteristics of Alzheimer's disease is a deficiency of acetylcholine Dietary sources: The richest source of dietary choline is egg yolk. other good sources include organ meats, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, soy beans, peanuts, and legumes. Chromium Deficiencies: Elevated blood sugar, numbness, tingling, nerve disorders, glucose intolerance, cardiovascular disease. Chromium is an essential trace mineral that is very commonly deficient in American diets. One study reported 90% of Americans are deficient. It plays an important role in insulin's effectiveness, regulations of blood sugar levels, and the activation of various enzymes for energy production. High sugar consumption is a major cause of chromium deficiency. Dietary sources: Good chromium food sources include whole grain breads and cereals, lean meats, cheeses, and some condiments, such as black pepper and thyme. CoQ10 Deficiencies: Congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, angina, mitral valve prolapse, stroke, Cardiac arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, lack of energy, gingivitis, weakened immune system. The biosynthesis of CoQ10 is a seventeen step process that requires the following nutrients: riboflavin, niacinamide, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, cobalamin, (B-12), folic acid, Vitamin C, and numerous other trace elements. It is probable that many people with health problems are suffering from CoQ10 deficiency due to inadequate dietary intake and/or ingestion of one or more drugs, like cholesterol lowering drugs, that interrupt the synthesis of CoQ10. CoQ10 is one of the most important nutrients in the human body. It plays a critical role in the production energy within the mitochondria. Dietary sources: Coenzyme Q compounds exist in the cells of all plants and animals, However, the level of coenzyme Q10 that we obtain from the diet is believed to be inadequate to meet the needs for optimal health and wellness. Copper Deficiencies: Loss of color in the hair and skin, anemia, fatigue, kinky hair, low body temperature, break down of connective tissue, cardiovascular problems, nervous system disorders, and reduced resistance to infections. Copper is an essential trace mineral that is a cofactor in many cuproenzyme systems through the body. Cooper is required to build red blood cells. Thus it plays a central role in the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Copper stimulates the synthesis of collagen, strong bone, cartilage, skin, and tendons. Copper stimulates the absorption iron and Zinc interferes with copper absorption. A double-blind study has shown that wearing copper bracelets helps some arthritic individuals. Dietary sources: Copper containing foods include oysters, organ meats, whole grain breads and cereals, shellfish, dark green leafy vegetables, dried legumes, nuts and chocolate. Folic Acid Deficiencies: DNA damage, Birth defects, anemia, headache, fatigue. hair loss, anorexia, insomnia, diarrhea, nausea increased infections, abnormal cellular development especially red blood cells, leukocytes and epithelial cells of the stomach, intestine, vaginal, and cervix. Folic Acid is a member of the B vitamin group, is necessary the the production of red blood cells, helps regulate neural development and the transfer of genetic material to new cells. Folic Acid needs are greater during pregnancy. It is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. It is easily destroyed by heat, light, and oxygen. Substantial losses occur in cooking and storage. Dietary sources: Folic acid occurs in a wide variety of foods. Best sources include dark green leafy vegetables, brewer's yeast, liver, and eggs. Other good sources are beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, orange juice, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, kidney and lima beans, wheat germ, whole grain cereals and breads. *Folic acid is also synthesized by the "friendly" intestinal bacteria.* Glutathione Deficiencies: Decreased liver detoxification, decreased immunity, suppression of macrophage activity, increased free radical damage throughout the body. Glutathione is a part of critical detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes systems. Aids in protecting the liver from toxic damage, strengths the immune system and protects against oxidative damage to tissue. Dietary sources: Asparagus, avocado, walnuts, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, fish, meat. Inositol Deficiencies: No inositol deficiency has been identified in humans. Part of the B vitamin complex. Is an essential component of phospholipids in cellular membranes of animals and humans. Deficiency is not likely because of its widespread occurrence in foods. Dietary sources: Inositol occurs in foods in three different forms; free myo-inositol, phytic acid, and inositol-containing phospholipids. The richest sources of myo-inositol are the seeds of plants such as beans, grains, and nuts. The richest animal sources are organ meats. Iodine Deficiencies: Hypothyroidism, fatigue, weight gain, Goiter, Myxedema. Iodine's only known function is the role it plays in the various thyroid hormones, T3, T4. Iodine effects are all related to the activity and function of the thyroid gland. Dietary sources: Iodized salt is the most common source of iodine in the United States. Iodine-rich foods include seafood, sea vegetables (seaweed), and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil. Iron Deficiencies: Anemia, weakness, fatigue, skin pallor, headache, hair loss, labored breathing, spooning of fingernails, brittle nails, susceptibility to infections. About 80% of iron in the body is in blood, so iron losses are greatest with blood loss. Menstruating women require approximately twice as much iron intake as men to replace their monthly losses. Gastric acid is necessary for iron absorption. The use of antacids inhibit iron absorption. Iron plays an important role in the cytochrome P-450 liver detoxification enzyme. The major function of iron is for oxygen transport by red blood cells. Dietary sources: Liver is by far the richest iron-containing food. Other good sources of iron-rich foods include organ meats, fish and poultry. Dried fruits, nuts, and whole grain bread and cereals. Lactobacillus acidophilus Deficiencies: Gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, bad breath, and chronic vaginal yeast infections. Lactobacillus acidophilus is the primary strain of beneficial bacteria that inhabit the small intestine. The use of antibiotics is a frequent cause Lactobacillus deficiencies or dysbiosis. They act as a barrier against infection by producing natural antibiotics in the GI tract that have been shown to inhibit the growth of over 20 types of harmful bacteria. Their metabolism produces lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which create an environment that is unfavorable for the growth of yeasts and other harmful organisms. They produce enzymes that help digest fats, proteins, and dairy products. *They produce a wide range of B vitamins and vitamin K in the intestinal tract.* They also metabolize cholesterol. Dietary sources: The best food sources of L. acidophilus organisms are yogurt and acidophilus milk. Magnesium Deficiencies: muscle cramps, weakness, insomnia, loss of appetite, GI disorders, kidney stones, osteoporosis, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression. fatigue, and High blood pressure. Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses, muscular activity, temperature regular, detoxification reactions, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth. It also plays critical roles in energy production and the synthesis of DNA and RNA. A U.S. Department of Agriculture survey revealed that many Americans do not ingest the RDA of magnesium, making it one of the most commonly deficient nutrients in our country. Suboptimal magnesium intake compromises all tissues, especially those of the heart, nerves, and kidneys. Magnesium deficiency is associated with increased incidence of atherosclerosis, hypertension, strokes, and heart attacks. Low levels of magnesium can cause stiffness in the vasculature, which elevates blood pressure and contraction or spasm in the heart muscle, which can result in sudden death. Magnesium inhibits platelet aggregation (like aspirin), thins the blood (like Coumadin), blocks calcium uptake (like calcium channel blocking drugs such as Procardia), and relaxes blood vessels (like ACE inhibitors such as Vasotec). Magnesium also increases oxygenation of the heart muscle by improving cardiac contractibility. Magnesium deficiency allows levels of calcium to increase, which can cause cardiac muscle spasm resulting in heart attack and frequently death. Dietary sources: The magnesium content in foods varies widely, as does the soil content of magnesium. Good food sources include nuts, legumes, cereal grains, and dark green leafy vegetables. Manganese Deficiencies: in humans is relatively uncommon. Manganese is a cofactor that aids in the activation of a wide variety of enzymes. Manganese containing enzyme influence many biological activities, including the synthesis of collagen, protein, mucopolysaccharides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. It is also necessary for normal bone growth and the metabolism of amino acids. The average human body contains approximately 20mg of manganese, most of which is stored in the bones. Small amounts concentrate in the pituitary, liver, pancreas, and intestinal mucosa. Absorption occurs throughout the entire small intestine and some competition exists. Although widely involved in biological activities, manganese deficiency in humans is relatively uncommon because the mineral magnesium is capable of substituting for manganese in many of manganese's various enzyme related functions. The most notable symptoms of manganese deficiency are skeletal abnormalities such as loss of muscle coordination, sprains, strains, and weak ligaments. These problems develop due to the reduced synthesis of collagen and mucopolysaccharides. There is some indication that manganese deficiency impairs glucose metabolism and produces abnormalities in the secretion of insulin. Low manganese levels are often found in people with epilepsy, hypoglycemia, schizophrenia, and osteoporosis. Women with osteoporosis have been shown to have low levels of manganese. Manganese is necessary for the biosynthesis of cholesterol. Hypercholesterolemia may be associated with manganese deficiency. Intestinal absorption is hindered by ingestion of calcium, phosphate, iron, and phytate. Dietary Sources: Manganese is widely distributed in foods of plant and animal origin. Best food sources include nuts, whole grain breads and cereals, dried beans and peas, vegetables, raisins, pineapple, and nuts. Molybdenum Deficiencies: Tachycardia, headache, mental disturbances, and coma. Molybdenum is one of the rarest substances on earth, yet small amounts of this mineral are found in all tissues of the human body. Molybdenum is a component of several important metalloinzymes that participate in crucial liver detoxification pathways. Most biochemistry textbooks state that very little is known about this trace mineral beyond its role as a cofactor for several enzymes. Molybdenum is necessary for the function of the following three enzymes: xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase. Molybdenum affects the absorption of iron, copper, and sulfate. Dietary Sources: Whole grains, organ meats, leafy green vegetables, legumes, and beans. Nickel Deficiencies: Nickel is so common in the environment that deficiency is rare. Nickel is present in the blood, various organs, teeth, bone, skin and brain of humans, with the largest concentrations being found in skin and bone marrow. Nickel is part of a protein called "nickeloplasmin" that is synthesized in the liver. Metabolism: It is thought that nickel's biological activities involve hormone, lipid, and cellular membrane metabolism. Stress: Serum concentrations of nickel increase in response to stressful situations, such as heart attack, stroke, and even in women during labor. Enzymes: Nickel concentrations have been shown to influence the levels of a number of mitochondrial and liver enzymes. Dietary Sources: Grains and vegetable foods are the best dietary sources of nickel Phosphorus Deficiencies: Rare in humans. Long term use of aluminum containing antacids leads to depletion. Following calcium, Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the human body. Approximately 80% of phosphorus is present in the skeleton while the other 20% is very active metabolically and plays a role in the metabolism of every cell in the body. In fact, phosphorus participates in more biological processes than any other mineral. Bones and teeth: Phosphorus along with calcium, forms the insoluble calcium phosphate crystals, which provide the strength and rigidity in bones and teeth. Phospholipids: Unlike calcium, phosphorus is also an integral part of the structure of soft tissues. Phospholipids aid in transporting other lipids throughout the body and across cellular membranes. Cellular energy: ATP contains three phosphate groups and thus phosphorus is an essential part of energy storage and production processes in every cell throughout the body. Enzymes: It is part of many coenzymes and takes part in a wide variety of enzymatic reactions. Buffer As phosphoric acid and its salts, phosphorous is part of one of the body's major buffer systems. Cellular reproduction and protein synthesis: It is part of DNA and RNA, and thus is necessary for all cellular reproduction and protein synthesis. Toxicity: Excessive consumption of high phosphorous-containing foods (eggs, animal protein and cola soft drinks) may inhibit calcium absorption and contribute to skeletal problems such as osteoporosis. Excess phosphorous can increase hyperthyroidism, increase bone reabsorption, increase soft tissue calcium deposition, and decrease bone mass. Dietary Sources: Animal protein foods are the highest source of phosphorus for most people. Cola soft drinks contain a large amount of phosphorus. Potassium Deficiencies: Irregular heartbeat, poor reflexes, muscle weakness, fatigue, continuous thirst, edema, constipation, dizziness, mental confusion, and nervous disorders. Potassium is one of the body's three major electrolytes (the other 2 being sodium and chloride). These substances are called electrolytes because they carry an electronic charge in their dissociated (ionic) states. Their ionic strength enables them to influence the solubility of proteins and other substances throughout the body. Hormonal control of potassium and the other electrolytes is mediated through the hormones of the adrenal cortex and the anterior pituitary gland. Potassium is readily absorbed through the intestinal tract, and excess is efficiently excreted in urine via the kidneys. Potassium plays essential roles in many of the body's most important functions including nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and beating of the heart. Potassium is the primary cation in intracellular fluids throughout the body. Approximately 98% of total body potassium resides inside cells. Potassium, along with sodium and chloride, helps maintain normal osmotic equilibrium by controlling the distribution and balance of water through the body. Potassium has been shown to be effective in preventing hypertension and in some studies, potassium has been shown to help lower existing high blood pressure. Potassium levels are inversely associated with the risk of stroke. One study reported that one serving of potassium-rich fruits or vegetables daily provided up to a 40% reduction in the risk of stroke. In addition to drugs, excessive diarrhea, kidney failure, diabetic acidosis, prolonged malnutrition, and vomiting can also cause potassium deficiency. Other factors that contribute to potassium depletion include alcohol, caffeine, excessive use of salt or sugar, and chronic stress. Dietary Sources: Fresh fruits and vegetables, peanuts, meat, and milk. An average banana supplies over 600mg. half a cantaloupe contains 885 mg. 3-4 ounces of raw spinach contain about 775 mg. 2 ounces of peanuts contain about 575mg. and one large raw carrot contains about 330mg. of potassium. SAMe Deficiencies: A specific deficiency syndrome has not been adequately defined. SAMe is formed from the essential amino acid methionine. It is a cofactor in three important biochemical pathways, and is synthesized throughout the body. Due to the nature and scope of biochemical reactions that it regulate, SAMe has been investigated for its effects in conditions such as depression, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and cardio vascular disease. SAMe supplementation promotes the synthesis of glutathione, which improves liver function and detoxification. SAMe protects against neuronal death caused by lack of oxygen (anoxia). It regenerates nerves and provokes re-myelination of nerve fibers. SAMe protects the liver against alcohol, drugs, and cytokines. It protects against cholestasis (file impairment or blockage). It may protect against chronic active hepatitis, It protects against liver damage caused by MAO inhibitors and anticonvulsants. It reverses hyperbilirubinemia. As an essential cofactor in multiple biochemical pathways, a wide variety of symptoms are potentially related to a deficiency of SAMe. Dietary sources: SAMe does not occur in the foods we eat. Selenium Deficiencies: Destructive changes to the heart and pancreas, sore muscles, increased red blood cell fragility, and a weakened immune system. Increased rates of various types of cancer are associated with low dietary intake of selenium. Selenium plays an important role in detoxification and antioxidant defense mechanisms in the body. Recent research has shown that selenium is one of the most powerful anticancer agents ever tested. Selenium's antioxidant activities enable it to protect against heart attacks and strokes. Selenium has antiviral activity, increases T lymphocytes, and enhances natural killer cell activity. Selenium is capable of detoxifying heavy metal toxins such as mercury and cadmium. Selenium greatly reduces the toxicity of the anticancer drug Adriamycin without reducing its antitumor activity. Selenium also has significant anti-inflammatory properties. Selenium converts the thyroid hormone T4 to the active form T3. Selenium potentiates the antioxidant activity of vitamin E. Dietary Sources: Whole grains are the best dietary source of selenium followed by seafood, garlic, liver, eggs, dairy products, and some vegetables including cabbage, celery, cucumbers, and radishes. Silicon Deficiencies: So abundant in nature that outright deficiencies do not occur. Silicon is an essential trace mineral, the largest concentrations are found in the skin and cartilage, but it also occurs in connective tissue, bone, tendons. lymph nodes, trachea, aorta, and lungs. Silicon is an important component of the mucopolysaccharides and collagen of connective tissues, As such, it provides strength, rigidity, and flexibility to bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, cell walls and membranes, nails, and skin. Silicon may help to limit or inhibit the absorption of aluminum. There is some indication that silicon deficiency might be associated with the development of osteoarthritis and some aspects of cardiovascular disease. Dietary source: none known Sodium Deficiencies: Are rare in humans. Sodium is one of the body's three major electrolytes (the other two being potassium and chloride). They exist as fully dissociated ions and are the main particles responsible for osmotic pressure in the body fluids. Most Americans consume enormous amounts of sodium, from 10-35 times more than the recommended daily intake. Sodium has a major role in the regulation of blood pressure. Sodium ions play a critical role in the transmission of electrochemical impulses for nerve function and muscle contraction. Sodium helps regulate the acid/alkaline balance in the blood and lymph. Conditions that could cause sodium deficiency include starvation, vomiting, severe diarrhea, and excess perspiration. Symptoms of sodium deficiency include muscle weakness, poor concentration, memory loss, dehydration. and loss of appetite. Dietary sources: Table salt is the most concentrated source of sodium. The hidden salt often contributes more to an individual's daily diet than does the salt shaker. Protein foods generally contain more sodium than vegetables and grains. Fruits contain almost no sodium. Sulfur Deficiencies: Symptoms related to sulfur depletion are unknown. Sulfur occurs in the body primarily as a component of the four sulfur-containing amino acids; cysteine, cysteine, methionine and taurine. All proteins contain sulfur, but it is most prevalent in the keratin skin and hair, and in insulin. Joints tissues contain high levels of sulfur-containing compound called chondroitin sulfate. Two B vitamins, thiamin and biotin, contain sulfur, as does heparin, an anticoagulant synthesized primarily in the liver. Sulfur plays an important role in determining the shape, structure, and functionality of proteins. Sulfur is necessary for all of the biochemical processes involving thiamin, biotin, and lipoic acid. Dietary sources: Protein-rich foods are good sources of sulfur. Onions and garlic contain significant of sulfur. Tyrosine Deficiencies: Depression and emotional disturbances; underactive thyroid and disturbed metabolism. Tyrosine is classified as a nonessential amino acid because it can be synthesized fro phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, in the body. However, tyrosine is a very important amino acid because it is part of the structure of almost all proteins in the body. Tyrosine plays a very important role in brain nutrition because it serves as a precursor for the synthesis of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters regulate function such as mood, stress response, mental function, and sex drive. Tyrosine is also necessary for the production of melanin, cholecystokinin and the thyroid hormones. Dietary sources: Eggs, wheat, corn, meats, soybeans, milk, poultry. Vanadium Deficiencies: No known cases of deficiency have been recorded. Vanadium is a transition metal and it functions primarily as a cofactor, which enhances or inhibits various enzymes. The most significant research on vanadium to date involves its insulin-like properties and its possible role in diabetes. Vanadium and vanadyl salts stimulate glucose metabolism. When given to patients with Type 2 diabetes, it markedly decreases blood glucose levels. Dietary sources: Fats and vegetable oils are the richest food sources of vanadium. Vanadium also occurs in grains, meat, fish, and nuts. The following foods and spices also contain vanadium; dill seeds, parsley, black pepper, and mushrooms. Vitamin A Deficiencies: Epithelial cell cancers, night blindness, dry skin, scaly skin, rough skin, bone deformities and dental problems. Vitamin A is necessary for vision, the growth and maintenance of epithelia tissue, and growth and development of bones. It also regulates immunity, reproduction, and has anticancer activity. Beta-carotene consists of two molecules of vitamin A linked head to head. Enzymes in the intestinal tract split beta-carotene into two molecules of vitamin A whenever the body needs it. Effects of depletion: Vitamin A deficiency can be caused by inadequate dietary intake or bodily dysfunction that interferes with absorption, storage, or transport of the vitamin. Deficiency of vitamin A is associated with the development and promotion of epithelial call cancers in various glands and organs in the body. Night blindness is the classic vision problem resulting from vitamin A deficiency. Long-term vitamin A deficiency causes the skin to become dry, scaly, and rough. Dietary sources: Good food sources of vitamin A include liver, kidney, butter, egg yolk, whole milk and cream, and fortified skim milk. Good food sources of pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene) include yellow and dark leafy green vegetables (carrots, collards, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash), and yellow fruits (apricots, peaches, cantaloupe). Cod liver oil and halibut fish oil contain high levels of vitamin A and have been used therapeutically. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Deficiencies: Depression, irritability, memory loss, mental confusion, indigestion, weight loss, anorexia, edema, muscular weakness, sore calf muscles, heart palpitations, rapid pulse rate, loss of reflexes in legs, defective muscular coordination, nerve inflammation including "pins and needles" and numbness, and fatigue. Beriberi is the classic deficiency syndrome, resulting from a vitamin B1 deficiency. It is more prevalent in Asian countries where polished rice is the staple diet. In the United States it is most commonly seen in severely malnourished infants or elderly people. In adults, chronic dieting, alcoholism and diets consisting primarily of highly processed, refined foods are causes of vitamin B1 Deficiency. It plays a major role in the conversion of blood sugar into energy. It is necessary for the maintenance of nerve tissues, function, and transmission. Is important in the maintenance of muscular function, especially the heart. It is required for the synthesis of acetylcholine, which is the primary neurotransmitter involved in thought and memory processes. Effects of depletion: Deficiencies of vitamin B1 manifest primarily as disorders of the neuromuscular, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular systems. Thiamine is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. In one U.S. Department of Agriculture study, it was reported that 45% of Americans consume less than the RDA of thiamine. Vitamin B1 is easily destroyed or lost during cooking because it is heat sensitive and water soluble. Dietary sources: All plant and animal foods contain vitamin B1, but only in low concentrations. The richest sources are brewer's yeast and organ meats. Whole cereal grains comprise the most important dietary source of vitamin B1 in human diets. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Deficiencies: cracks in the corner of the mouth, soreness and burning of the lips, mouth, and tongue. Reddening, tearing, burning, and itching of the eyes, eyes that tire easily and are sensitive to light. Dry, itchy, scaly skin, and scaling eczema of the face and genitals. Vitamin B2 is water soluble and like other B vitamins, it is not appreciable stored and, therefore, must be supplied daily. Vitamin B2 is absorbed from the upper part of the small intestines, and better absorbed when taken with food. Only approximately 15% is absorbed if taken alone versus 60% absorption with food. Riboflavin combines with phosphoric acid to become part of two important flavin coenzymes which are known to bind over 100 flavoproteins enzymes, which catalyze oxidation-reduction reactions in cells. Riboflavin facilitates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Riboflavin has important antioxidant activity, both by itself, and as part of the enzyme glutathione reeducates. It is necessary for growth and reproduction, growth of skin, hair, and nails. Effects of depletion: Vitamin B2 deficiencies primarily affect the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes of the GI tract. Deficiencies seldom occur alone, but rather as a component of multiple nutrient deficiencies. Dietary Sources: The best sources of vitamin B2 are liver, milk and dairy products. Moderate sources include meats, dark green vegetables, eggs, avocados, oysters, mushrooms, and fish. Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Deficiencies: Pellagra, (rough skin). Niacin is a water soluble B vitamin that functions metabolically as a component of two important coenzymes; nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) known as the pyridine nucleotides. Niacin containing coenzymes NAD and NADP are involved in more than 200 different reactions in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids, making it critical in supplying energy to, and maintaining the function of, every cell in the body. Niacin is useful in treating elevated blood cholesterol levels. It reduces LDL and triglycerides, and increases HDL. Niacinamide has been shown to have antianxiety activity resembling benzodiazepines. Dietary sources: Both niacin and its precursor (tryptophan) are included when determining the niacin content of foods. Lean meats, poultry, fish, and peanuts are good sources of both niacin and tryptophan. Organ meats, brewer's yeast, milk, legumes, peanuts, and peanut butter are the best sources of niacin. Niacin is also synthesized by intestinal bacteria. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Deficiencies: Problems related to the skin, liver, thymus, and nerves. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is present in all cells. Pantothenic acid plays a number of essential metabolic roles including the production of some hormones and neurotransmitters, and is involved in the metabolism of all carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. As a constituent of coenzyme A pantothenic acid participates in a wide variety of enzymatic reactions transferring two-carbon units within cells throughout the body. CoA is involved in the release of energy from carbohydrates in the Krebs cycle. Pantothenic acid is necessary for the synthesis of steroid hormones and proper functioning of the adrenal glands. CoA also functions in the production of fats, cholesterol, and bile acids. Experimentally induced deficiencies manifest as problems related to the skin, liver, thymus, and nerves. Dietary sources: Pantothenic acid is present in all plants and animal tissues. Best sources of this vitamin include eggs, liver, fish, chicken, whole grain breads and cereals, and legumes. Other good sources are cauliflower, broccoli, lean beef, white bread sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Deficiencies: Depression, sleep disturbances, nerve inflammation, pms, lethargy, decreased alertness, anemia, altered mobility, elevated homocysteine, nausea, vomiting, seborrhea dermatitis. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the proper functioning of over 60 enzymes. Many of its activities are related to the metabolism of amino acids and other protein-related compounds such as hemoglobin, serotonin, various hormones, and the prostaglandins. It is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and the growth of red blood cells. It facilitates conversion of glycogen to glucose for energy production. It is useful in people with depression. Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of serotonin. It is also useful in people suffering from pms who are on oral contraceptives which inhibit absorption of B6. May also be helpful for carpal tunnel syndrome. Deficiencies of vitamin B6 manifest primarily as dermatologic, circulatory, and neurologic changes. Because of its many metabolic roles, there are a wide variety of deficiency. One U.S. Department of Agriculture study reported that approximately 80% of Americans consumed less than the RDA of Vitamin B6. Dietary sources: The best sources of pyridoxine are brewer's yeast, wheat germ, organ meats, peanuts, legumes, potatoes, and bananas. Vitamin B6 is also synthesized by the "friendly" intestinal bacteria. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Deficiencies: Fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, tongue and mouth irregularities, macrocytic anemia, depression, confusion and memory loss, poor blood clotting and easy bruising, dermatitis and skin sensitivity, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting. Cobalamin is the generic name of vitamin B12 because it contains the heavy metal cobalt. B12 is an essential growth factor and plays a vital role in the metabolism of all cells, especially those of the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow, and nervous tissue. B12 plays a central role in the replication of the genetic code, and makes it a critical growth factor in all cells of the body. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the maturation of red blood cells. Effects of depletion: Vitamin B12 deficiencies manifest primarily as anemia and neurologic changes. Vitamin B12 deficiency inhibits DNA synthesis, which affects the growth and repair of all cells. Anemia is the first symptom of B12 deficiency. Pernicious anemia results from either inadequate B12 intake or reduced gastric secretion of intrinsic factor, which inhibits absorption. Deficiencies in the elderly often cause varying degrees of neuropsychiatric symptoms such as moodiness, confusion, abnormal gait, memory loss, agitation, delusions, dizziness, dementia, and hallucinations. Dietary sources: Vitamin B12 is produced by microbial synthesis in the digestive tract of animals, Hence, animal protein products are the source of this nutrient. It does not occur in fruits, vegetables, grain, or legumes. Organ meats are the best source of B12, followed by clams, oysters, beef, eggs, milk, chicken, and cheese. Vitamin C Deficiencies: Capillary fragility, hemorrhage, muscular weakness, bruising, bleeding gums, poor healing, anemia, poor appetite and growth, tender, swollen joints. Vitamin C: is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily absorbed from the small intestine, It is concentrated in many tissues throughout the body, but the adrenal glands contain the highest concentration. Humans are one of the few species who cannot manufacture vitamin C and must depend on our diet, or nutritional supplements, as the primary source. Vitamin C participates in oxidation reduction reactions, energy production, tyrosine metabolism, reduction and storage of iron, and the activation of folic acid. It is essential in the formation or synthesis of collagen, serotonin, norepinephrine, thyroxin, and some of the corticosteroids. Vitamin C plays a major role in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, the major structural components of skin, tendons, bone matrix, tooth dentin, blood vessels, and connective tissues between cells. Collectively, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, comprising 25% to 30% of total body protein. Vitamin C has the ability to donate hydrogen atoms to neutralize free radicals making it one of the body's most powerful and important antioxidants. Being water soluble, it provides protection in all body fluids, within every cell in the body, and is highly concentrated in the brain to protect against brain aging. Vitamin C helps the body handle all types of stress. It is required for the synthesis of the body's main stress response hormones in the adrenal glands, including adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, and histamine. Stresses, such as fever, burns, exposure to cold, physical trauma, fractures, high altitude, and radiation all require larger doses of vitamin C. Vitamin C prevents formation of nitrosamines, and dramatically reduces cervical dysplasia. Vitamin C may prevent the formation of bladder tumors, inhibit hyaluronidase (an enzyme found in malignant tumors), slow down degradation of cellular tissue and decrease invasion of cancerous growth, stimulate production of phagocytic leukocytes which engulf and destroy cancer cells, and prevent free radical damage. Vitamin C increases HDL, decreases LDL, decreases Lp(a) which is now known to form atherosclerotic plaques. Scurvy is rare in the United States, but subclinical deficiencies are common. Stressful situations (both physical and emotional) tend to deplete the body's stores of vitamin C quickly. Some studies have shown that up to 95% of the elderly in institutions, 75% of cancer patients, and 20% of healthy elderly individuals are deficient in vitamin C. Dietary sources: Vitamin C is found in fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, and currants. In addition, fresh vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts, collard greens, lettuce, cabbage, peas, and asparagus, are good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin D Deficiencies: Rickets. Vitamin D: is known as the "sunshine" vitamin. It is formed in the body by the action of the sun's ultraviolet rays on the skin. The body can manufacture 20,000 IU of vitamin D with 20 minutes of full body sun exposure. Vitamin D is actually a hormone precursor. Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient that is stored in body fats, principally the liver. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus for the growth of bones and teeth. There is some indication that vitamin D might be helpful in some cancers. Geographic areas with the least amount of sunlight have the highest rates of colorectal and breast cancer. It has some inhibitory activity against human melanoma, leukemia, breast, lymphoma, and colon cancer cells. Vitamin D may help to prevent osteoporosis since it facilitates the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Vitamin D enhances the immune system by stimulating the activity of macrophages. Effects of depletion: Rickets is the classic childhood vitamin D deficiency disease. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can result in osteomalacia and osteoporosis. In children; knock-knees, bowed legs, spinal curvature, pigeon breast, disfiguration of the skull, tooth decay, and dental problems. In adults; rheumatic pains, muscle weakness, increased incidence of fractures of the hip and pelvis, gradual loss of hearing. Dietary sources: Vitamin D does not occur in significant amounts in many foods. It occurs in small and highly variable amounts in butter, cream, egg yolk, and liver. Milk fortified with vitamin D is the most common source of this nutrient in the United States. Vitamin E Deficiencies: Dry skin, dull dry hair, rupturing of red blood cells resulting in anemia, easy bruising, PMS, fibrocystic breasts, hot flashes, eczema, psoriasis, cataracts, benign prostatic hyperplasia, poor wound healing, muscle weakness, sterility. Vitamin E: is actually a group of eight compounds including four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) and four additional tocotrienol derivatives. Vitamin E is the body's most important fat-soluble antioxidant, As such, it ensures the stability and integrity of cellular tissues and membranes throughout the body by preventing free radical damage. Vitamin E decreases platelet stickiness, protecting blood vessels against developing atherosclerotic lesions, and protecting LDL-cholesterol against oxidation. Low levels of vitamin E are associated with a greater risk for developing various forms of cancer, including lung, oral, colon, rectal, cervical, pancreatic, and liver. Vitamin E protects the eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration through its antioxidant actions. Effects of depletion: Vitamin E is destroyed by heat and oxidation during cooking or food processing. Therefore, reliance on processed foods and/or fast foods can contribute to depletion. Low levels of selenium and high intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids both contribute to vitamin E depletion. Dietary sources: Vitamin E is one of the most widely available nutrients in commonly available foods. Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, wheat germ oil, seeds, nuts, and soy bean. Other adequate sources are leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, whole wheat products, whole grain breads and cereals, avocados, spinach, and asparagus. Vitamin K Deficiencies: Easy bleeding skeletal disorders. Vitamin K: refers to a group of three vitamins called the quinones. Phylloquinone (K1) occurs in green plants, menadione (K2) is synthesized by intestinal bacteria, and menadione (K3) is manufactured synthetically. The vitamin Ks are fat-soluble nutrients. Bile and pancreatic juice are necessary for their absorption from the upper small intestine where they are then carried to the liver. Vitamin K is an enzymatic cofactor that is necessary for the production of a number of blood clotting factors, including prothrombin, and factors VII, IX, and X. Vitamin K is also necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a unique protein in bone, which attracts calcium to bone tissue. Effects of depletion: Vitamin K deficiency is rare except in newborn infants. However, it can cause hemorrhaging and death when it does occur. Dietary sources: The best source of vitamin K are liver, green leafy vegetables, and members of the cabbage family. Zinc Deficiencies: Acne, decreased immunity, frequent infections, depression, photophobia, night blindness, problems with skin, hair, mails, menstrual problems, joint pain, and involuntary movements of the eyeball. Zinc is necessary for the functioning of well over 300 different enzyme and, as such, it plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Zinc deficiencies are thought to be quite common in the United States. Zinc is necessary in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, protein synthesis, cellular division, and gene expression. Zinc protects DNA from damage. Zinc helps regulate a wide variety of immune system activities, including T lymphocytes, CD4s, natural killer cells, interleukin 2, and ZN/CU superoxide dismutase. Zinc facilitates wound healing, especially in burns, surgical incisions, and other types of scars. Zinc enhances immune function in AIDS patients. Zinc lozenges may reduce the length and severity of colds. Zinc is necessary for the maturation of sperm, for ovulation, and for fertilization. Zinc is necessary for normal growth. Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to support individuals with some types of arthritis. Zinc is necessary for a health prostate gland and helps prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Zinc promoted the conversion of T4 to T3. Dietary sources: The best dietary sources of zinc are lean meats, liver, eggs, and seafood. Whole grain breads and cereals are also good sources of zinc.