Vitamins – briefly
This article is about the therapeutic usefulness of vitamins and not about their detailed biochemistry. Vitamins can be used to prevent and treat illness, according to various medical doctors who are referenced. On the other hand, if you look elsewhere, there are thousands of details of the biochemistry of vitamins and minerals, including detailed illustrations of the many metabolic processes which use them. However, of more interest for health is the history of the safe, effective, therapeutic use of vitamins and minerals and the fact that what is optimum is individual. As Dr. Roger Willliams put it, “Nutrition is for real people; statistical humans are of little interest.”
In general, a vitamin is an organic (carbon-containing) substance that is essential for health, but cannot be internally produced by the human being, and so it must be found in food. Vitamins were first discovered in 1912 by a Polish biochemist, Casimir Funk. The history of the discovery of vitamins is the history of their deficiency disorders. Various diseases were later recognized as specific acute vitamin deficiencies, and not as infectious dieases, including:
- scurvy (vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid), as described by Dr. James Lind in 1752,
- pellagra (vitamin B3, niacin, described by Funk),
- beriberi (vitamin B1, thiamine), as described by Dr. Christiaan Eijkman,
- rickets (vitamin D, 25-hydroxy vitamin D), and
- xerophthalmia (vitamin A, retinol).
These discoveries were contrary to the “germ theory” of Louis Pasteur, another biochemist, but consistent with the work of Professor Antoine Béchamp and the “terrain theory”.
You require vitamins for digestion and for many other processes in the body. The original word “vitamin” is a contraction of “vital” and “amine”. Not all vitamins have amines, which contain nitrogen. Funk was an excellent biochemist, but he made a mistake to assume that all of the co-factors or enzymes that we call vitamins contain nitrogen. The research into vitamins has continued since then.
Optimal for many healthy people is a mix of vitamins from a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, protein, teas, herbs, and spices. Dr. Abram Hoffer MD, an early advocate or vitamins, explains how vitamins maintain health. According to Dr. Peter D’Adamo ND and blood type eating, depending on your blood type, you may need certain specific vitamins more than others, or you may be more susceptible to deficiencies. Dr. Michael Janson MD explains his view of why you need vitamins.
This site is about health via food. It does not promote supplements. At the same time, this article is about vitamins, so it includes details about vitamins used by some medical doctors who treat people, using vitamins. If you look for them, you can find thousands of published studies about the use of vitamins, such as vitamin C, B3, and D. Vitamins are more effective in their natural whole-food state than in an isolated, synthesized state. If you do supplement, then I suggest using high-quality supplements from natural (vegetable or whole animal) sources, not synthetic nor substitute sources. There are many low-quality supplements on the market, such as vitamin B made from bacteria in an industrial process (not derived from plants) and vitamin D extracted from the hair of sheep and not from clean cod liver oil. Do your own research, and get to know your supplier.
It makes no sense to take vitamin supplements without first asking yourself: can modify your eating habits and absorb more from what you eat or do not eat? Are you deficient in one or another vitamin? What is the evidence to you of your deficiency? Can you get this vitamin from eating more of certain foods or less of others? Be aware that you could be deficient, but your friend, neighbor, or family member is not deficient and vice versa. It is also possible that too much of a vitamin, particularly of an oil-soluble vitamin in supplement form, can be unhealthy or even toxic for you. The key to understanding vitamins is to realize that we are each biochemically individual regarding requirements for vitamins. Your requirements can also vary with the season of the year, your activities, and your general health. It is a vast subject, and this article is merely a summary.
Individuals defy statistics, but in total the most common vitamin deficiencies may be:
- vitamin B, which is a set of related vitamins, including B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5, pantothenic acid, B6 (pyrodoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin),
- vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate,
- vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, which you make from sunlight, and which is necessary to fix calcium in your bones,
- vitamin E, which is a mix of eight molecules known as tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Physically, there are two types of vitamins – water-soluble and oil-soluble. You can easily take too much of an oil-soluble vitamin. If you take too much of a water-soluble vitamin, you pee it out, or it may cause diarrhea, which is unpleasant, but a natural “safety valve”. Where are they found? What are they used for?
Andrew Saul PhD reviews overlooked research about the therapeutic use of vitamins.
The best supplements can be herbs to make tea and spices to flavor food.
The significance of water-soluble vitamins is that you tend to excrete them though your urine. In other words, if you take too much for you, you pass them in your urine. This reduces the risk of an excess and possibly increases the risk of a deficiency. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble.
Vitamin B includes a set of specific vitamins that are usually desirable as a set. They are necessary for healthy digestion and for a healthy nervous system. An excess of one specific vitamin B can cause a lack of another. Most all, vitamin B is necessary to convert carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, and starch), lipids (nuts and oils), and protein (eggs, fish, meat, beans, and legumes) to energy. You can find vitamin B in various foods and also in brewer’s and nutritional (heat-treated) yeast. Not all sources of vitamin B are optimal for everybody.
Foods high in vitamin B1 (thiamine) include asparagus, cauliflower, oats, eggs, and sunflower seeds, among others. Dr. Robert Klenner MD reported using thiamine to offset and even reverse multiple sclerosis, among other uses.
Vitamin B3 (niacin) has been used by various medical doctors to treat their patients with depression and other neurological disorders. It may be an alternative or substitute for benzodiazepines, antipsychotic, and antidepressent medications, according to alternativestomeds.com and Dr. Samuel Lee, MD. Consult your doctor, if you are thinking of making this substitution.
Dr. Abram Hoffer, MD, described his therapeutic use of vitamin B3 (niacin) against schizophrenia, learning disorders, alcoholism, dementia, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. He also noted the side effects of vitamin B3, the most common of which is a tingling or flushing of the skin. This is known as the “niacin flush”. To avoid the flush, Dr.Andrew Saul PhD describes how to determine the saturation level of niacin. For more details, read the article by Andrew Saul PhD, “Be informed about B vitamins“.
Dr. Hoffer often started his patients with one hundred milligrams of niacin three times a day. Hoffer also used a combination of vitamin C and niacin to prompt heroin addicts to kick the habit. In this six-minute video, Dr. Hoffer describes using niacin and observing ninety percent recovery from schizophrenia.
Dr. William Kaufman MD reported using niacin to treat his patients with arthritis. Dr. William Parsons MD described using niacin to control any unhealthy cholesterol deposits. In this ten-minute video, Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Andrew Saul discuss research into niacin and mental illness. In this ninety-minute video, Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Dr. Andrew Saul in detail about niacin. Dr. Saul describes the combined use of niacin and vitamin C.
Niacin may be useul to reduce or even reverse memory loss. In general, vitamin B is necessary for a healthy nervous system. None of this is personal advice. I am summarizing what these doctors said, did, and observed. Do your own research and verify. If you have a medical condition, see a doctor.
You can make small amounts of vitamin B3 (niacin) yourself from the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in bananas, spinach, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, and turkey, among other foods.
Folate is the form of folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, found in green, leafy vegetables. Folic acid is found in supplements. Vitamin B9 in one form or another is required for reproduction and fertility.
Good-quality rosemary is an excellent source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). Too much vitamin B6 can cause a lack of essential vitamin B9 (folate), which is found in dark green vegetables, such as spinach.
Vegans run the risk of becoming deficient in vitamin B12 (cobalamin), which is found mostly in animals. Some vegans may be well advised to supplement with small amounts (micrograms) of vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin (not cyanocobalamin). Nutritional yeast can be a vegan source of vitamin B12. Choose your B12 supplier carefully.
Vitamin B complex can speed up your metabolism. To lose weight, some people start with a low dose of vitamin B complex. They take it with water before a meal. Do not take too much, or else you can give yourself diarrhea. I suggest that you choose to modify your eating habits first for your health, before you even begin to think of supplements. You cannot offset unhealthy eating habits with supplements, it seems to me. Vitamins B and C are synergistic.
An acute deficiency of vitamin C is known as scurvy, which caused the loss of many sailors at sea until Dr. James Lind discovered in 1747 that citrus fruits, such as limes, could cure scurvy. Albert Szent-Györgyi was a Hungarian biochemist who won a Nobel Prize in 1937 for his isolation and analysis of vitamin C. Since then, various other doctors have described the therapeutic use of vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C has the formula C6H8O6. Vitamin C is available in three forms:
- fresh fruits and vegetables, most of all citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and grapefruit,
- powder or tablets of various sorts, such as sodium ascorbate or magnesium citrate, and
- intravenous (IV) liquid, administered by trained medical doctors.
On the other hand, if you were told that “there are no studies”, you have been similarly misinformed. Indeed, many published studies reported no results or no effects of vitamin C, but these studies did not use high doses. According to various doctors, effective doses are ten or tens of grams or as much as one and a half grams per kilogram of body weight per person per day or more than a hundred grams per person per day. Many of these doses are administered by needle. Note that only people who were seriously ill could tolerate such high doses. For more than eighty years, high doses of vitamin C, including intravenous administration, have been used and studied by:
- Dr. William J. McCormick MD,
- Dr. Frederick Klenner MD,
- Irwin Stone PhD,
- Dr. Hugh Desaix Riordan MD,
- Albert von Szent-Györgyi PhD,
- Dr. Robert Cathcart III MD,
- Dr. Ronald E. Hunninghake MD, and
- Dr. Thomas E. Levy MD, JD, among others.
Read between the lines of this summary of high-dose vitamin C from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA.
If you search for them, you can find more than fifty thousand published scientific studies about the use of vitamin C, according to Dr. Tom Levy MD JD. Two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling also collected much knowledge and many observations about the use of vitamin C for health. Again, contrary to popular belief, high doses of vitamin C do not cause kidney stones. Oxalate, calcium, and acid-forming foods may be the cause kidney stones. Such doses can be therapeutic, at least for some people, according to the aforementioned doctors. A person who ordinarily develops diarrhea from, say, a twelve-gram dose of vitamin C, might be able to tolerate more than one hundred grams when ill with a cold or flu.
Dr. Paul Marik MD has observed that vitamin C can cure sepsis, an infection that is found in hospitals and that cannot be controlled. Dr. Henning Saupe, MD, with the Arcadia Praxisklink in Germany, describes how intravenous vitamin C acts on malignant cells (its mechanism of action) in this one-minute video. Dr. Ron Hunninghake, MD, with the Riordan Clinic in the US, also administers intravenous vitamin C therapeutically. The clinic further describes how it works in this seventy-five minute video. Dr. Eric Madrid, MD, describes the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency and the benefits of vitamin C against anemia, colds, gum disease, clogged arteries, cataracts, and other illness.
In Europe, the authorities in certain countries appear to be restricting the availability of powdered vitamin C in bulk. It is still available in GMO-free form via AliMed in France (website in French), Classikool in the UK, and Vitalundfitmit100 in Germany. In the US, vitamin C in bulk is available from Pure Bulk and NOW Foods. This is not an endorsement of these suppliers. Do your own research, and think for yourself.
The human being is one of the few animals, besides the guinea pig, fruit bat, and certain primates who do not produce their own vitamin C. Dogs, cats, mice, rats, horses, cows, elephants, and many others produce their own vitamin C. According to Irwin Stone in “Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease“, they produce the human equivalent of two to twenty grams per person per day.
Nota bene. It is possible to take too much vitamin C. If you take too much, it has a laxative effect. Dr. Fred Klenner, MD, wrote a clinical guide to using vitamin C. Briefly, he advises that if it causes diarrhea, then simply reduce the dose. A laxative effect is also common to vitamin B. Both vitamin B and C are water-soluble, so you tend to excrete them through your urine, if you take too much. Based on their experience with their patients, these doctors recommend to start with a small amount, such as half a teaspoon or less in a smoothie, and then gradually increase the dose until you reach bowel tolerance, if required. Read the references to verify the details. What does “bowel tolerance” mean? It means exactly what you think it means. Again, I recommend first considering a change in your eating habits before taking vitamins or any other supplements.
The significance of oil-soluble vitamins is that you do not excrete them as easily as you excrete water-soluble vitamins. You store them in your liver for a longer time than water-soluble vitamins. This increases the risk of taking an excess of oil-soluble vitamins (in supplements) but may reduce the risk of deficiencies. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are oil-soluble. They can all be found in certain foods.
If you do not have enough vitamin A, you can go blind. To prevent this, eat foods that have vitamin A, including good-quality beef liver, cod liver oil, mackerel, salmon, or eggs. Vitamin A is more available in meat and fish, but you can also make it from vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, squash, spinach, and kale. Since it is fat-soluble, vitamin A is better absorbed into your bloodstream if you eat it with fat, such as nuts, olive oil, or hempseed oil. There is much research into therapeutic uses of vitamin A, which is found in a healthy balance with vitamin D. Together with iron, magnesium, and copper, vitamin A is needed to produce new blood cells. Some people may require more vitamin A than others, who may require more vitamin D.
You need vitamin D to absorb minerals into your bones, including iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. It also stimulates your immune system to resist infection. The recommended daily intake may be set too low for many people.
Deficiency in vitamin D is common. There are many signs of this deficiency. If you live in a sunny climate, you can often obtain enough vitamin D by sitting in the sun as little as ten to twenty minutes per day without burning. This depends on the person, the exposure, and the duration. The darker the skin, the less it can absorb sunlight and convert it to vitamin D.
Foods that can contain much vitamin D include mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet radiation, sardines, herring, wild-caught salmon, eggs, and cod liver oil. It is possible but rare to consume too much vitamin D. Be aware that the origin of the vitamin D in some supplements is the hair of sheep (lanolin in wool), while lichens are the source of vitamin D in others.
Dr. Michael Holick MD advocates sensible sun exposure and two thousands international units of vitamin D per day (2000 IU/day) for adults and one thousand international units of vitamin D per day (1000 IU/day) for children. Dr. Holick also has his skeptics too.
Phillip Day describes vitamin D and it uses in his book, “The Essential Guide to Vitamin D“. In this sixty-five minute video, Day further describes vitamin D and his view of how you can use it for your health.
Are you vitamin D deficient? You could be without knowing it. The Vitamin D Council educates the general public and health professionals on vitamin D, sun exposure, and the vitamin D deficiency pandemic.
Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting. With vitamin D, it is also a factor to fix calcium and magnesium to your bones. It is found in kale. broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, fermented foods, and other foods.
Doctors, Doses, and Diseases
healthviafood is to focus on health and how to maintain it. Nevertheless, the following medical doctors have used the following doses of vitamins to treat their patients with the following conditions:
|Medical Doctor||Vitamin||Dose per day||Conditions relieved|
|Claus Jungeblut MD||C||polio (further, review), tetanus, diptheria, staph, hepatitis|
|William McCormick MD||C||four to ten grams||tuberculosis, infections,|
|Frederick Klenner MD||
twenty to forty
|Robert Cathcart MD||C||“bowel tolerance”||infections|
|Hugh Riordan MD||C||fifteen to one hundred and fifteen grams, intravenously||cancer, antitumor, safety notes,
|Ron Hunninghake MD||C||eighteen grams plus||cancer|
|Thomas Levy MD||C||cancer, viral infections, flu, shingles, detox|
|William Kaufman MD||B3 (+ B1 / B2 + C)||one half to five grams divided over the day||arthritis, references|
|Abram Hoffer MD||B3||three to nine grams divided over the day||mental illness, schizophrenia, alcoholism, psychosis, drug addiction, insomnia; multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s|
|Evan & Wilfred Shute MDs||E||heart disease|
Note that when they are used in such higher doses, they are no longer food supplements, but therapeutic agents. You cannot eat enough citrus fruit to obtain the therapeutic doses of vitamin C. Be aware of the controversy about the Codex Alimentarius, an agency of the United Nations that sets standards about food and nutrition, including vitamins.
Vitamins are co-factors in metabolic processes. Many people are deficient in one or more vitamins. You can take too much of an oil-soluble vitamin (A, D, E, or K) for your health. There is a limit on how quickly your liver can process oil-soluble vitamins.
If you take too much of a water-soluble vitamin (B or C), then you tend to urinate the excess through your kidneys, if your kidneys are healthy. Many medical doctors have used vitamins for many years to treat their patients with severe chronic illnesses. Thousands of studies have been published about the therapeutic use of vitamins. If you look for them, you find them.
Note that medical doctors debate among themselves about vitamins and supplements in general. Some believe that they simply “make your urine more expensive” or are “dangerous”. Other claim that they are useless and the work of charlatans, citing certain studies that show vitamins have no effect. What doses were used in these studies? If you read the details, you find that very small doses were used, compared with other studies that used higher or much higher doses and recorded therapeutic effects. Dr. Michael Janson MD responds to critics of supplements.
Myself, I take very few supplements, though I do occasionally experiment. For my health, good-quality vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, animal proteins, teas, herbs, and spices are ideal sources of minerals and vitamins. Some supplements, particularly synthetic supplements, are not as well absorbed as fresh, local, organic vegetables and fruits. In this controversial article on GreenMedInfo, Dr. Alex Vazquez describes vitamins against viruses.
In this podcast on the People’s Pharmacy, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog MD describes natural ways to keep your immune system strong. This article is intended to present information only.
If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, see a medical doctor.
Funk, Casmir, “The Vitamines“, Williams and Wilkins, 2022, pdf
Smith MD, Lendon, “Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C Abbreviated“, Life Sciences, 1991, pdf, biography
Levy MD, Thomas, “Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins“, Livon Books, 2002, introduction, book review
Levy MD, JD, Thomas, “Primal Panacea“, Medfox, 2011, interview
Jonsson MD, Bo, and Saul PhD, Andrew, “The Vitamin Cure for Depression“, Basic Health, 2012, series
Kaufman MD, William, “The Common Form of Joint Dysfunction“, Hildreth, 1949
Hoffer, MD, Abram, and Saul PhD, Andrew, “Niacin: The Real Story“, Basic Health, 2015, overview, review
Hoffer MD, Abram, “Feel Better, Live Longer with Vitamin B-3: Nutrient Deficiency and Dependency“, Ccnm Press, 2007
Hoffer, MD, Abram, and Saul PhD, Andrew, “The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism“, Basic Health, 2009, review, series
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Stone PhD, Irwin, and Pauling PhD, Linus, “Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease“, Penguin, 1974, tribute
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Day, Phillip, “The Essential Guide to Vitamin D“, Credence, 2010
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Dowden, Angela, The Pocket Guide to Vitamins, Pan Macmillan Books, 2013
Supplements Exposed – What if what you thought you knew about supplements were wrong?
Orthomolecular.org – Vitamins, sources, and functions
GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute – “moving research into practice”
Doctor Yourself – “world’s largest health homesteading website”, Andrew Saul
Jungeblut CW. Inactivation of poliomyelitis virus in vitro by crystalline vitamin C (ascorbic acid). J Exper Med, 1935. October; 62:517-521
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Vitamin Master Class – for a fee, practical, accurate information about use by doctors of vitamins as therapy