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Introduction to Vitamins
by Ronald Steriti, ND, PhD

The History of Vitamins

James Lind in England finds that only fresh fruit and vegetables can cure scurvy.

Marzari in Italy connects maize diets and pellagra.

Eijkman feeds polished rice to chickens and produces paralysis. Casimir Funk in Poland formulates the vitamin theory . Hopkins in England report tiny factions in milk are necessary for growth of rats.

McCollum and Davis simultaneously discover vitamin A by using . Both teams observed that rats developed inflamed, infected eyes when fed diets lacking in natural fats. Bbuttermilk and cod liver oil would quickly remedy the problems.

Mellanby proposes that vitamin D can prevent rickets.

Evans and Bishop discover vitamin E and note that it is necessary for normal reproduction in animals.

Steenbock and Hess discover independantly that UV light can cause certain foods to prevent rickets.Biotin is recognized as a growth factor for microorganisms.

Minot and Murphy find that pernicious anemia, a fatal disease, can be cured by large amounts of raw liver. They are awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934. Vitamin B12 is isolated in 1948.

A yellow pigment of plants, called beta carotene, is found to be the precursor to vitamin A.

Funk and Hopkins receive the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyo isolates vitamin C.

Pantothenic acid, vitamin B5, is identified as an essential substance for the growth of yeast.

Henrik Dam discovers vitamin K, named after the Danish word Koagulation.
Pyridoxine, vitamin B6, is found capable of curing a certain dermatitis in rats.

Riboflavin, Vitamin B2 is synthesized.

R. R. Williams synthesizes thiamin, vitamin B1

Elvehjem demonstrates that nicotinic acid (vitamin B3) cures black tongue in dogs

Folacin is isolated from leafy green vegetables.

Biotin is synthesized and found to cure “egg white injury”. Rats fed raw egg whites developed eczema and alopecia around the eyes.

Vitamin B12, cobalamin, is isolated.

The Vitamins

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid
Humans do not have the enzyme needed to make vitamin C from glucose. Animals that do produce large amounts of vitamin C when under stress. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and raises HDL cholesterol. Vitamin C inhibits platelet aggregation and prevents the agglutination of sperm.

Vitamin B6, pyridoxine
Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme for the production of dopamine, from which the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine are formed. Vitamin B6 is a cofactor for the production of serotonin and niacin from tryptophan, and the reduction of homocysteine into cystathione and cysteine (increased homocysteine levels are associated with heart disease). Vitamin B6 is vital for the formation of sphyngolipids involved in the myelin sheaths that protect nerve fibers. Vitamin B6 is inhibited by tartrazine (yellow dye #5), tobacco smoke and birth control pills.

Vitamin B12, cobalamin
Vitamin B12 is a cofactor for the reduction of homocysteine into methionine, and for the production of hemoglobin. Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis. A deficiency of vitamin B12 causes megaloblastic anemia and progressive peripheral neuropathy.

Vitamin D, cholecalciferol
Vitamin D is involved primarily in bone growth. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium, increases serum calcium levels, and increases the resorption of calcium into bone. Vitamin D helps prevent rickets in children, and osteoporosis in adults. Fortunately vitamin D is now available in pill form, instead of the old-time remedy - cod liver oil.

Vitamin A, retinol
Vitamin A combines with opsin to form rhodopsin, which is used for vision. Retinoic acid is essential in the differentiation of bone cells, and is needed for differentiation of basal cells into mucus epithelial cells. Vitamin A is needed to develop enamel forming cells in teeth. Vitamin A is preferred over beta carotene because only small amounts are converted into vitamin A.

Vitamin B1, thiamin
Vitamin B1 is a cofactor in the production of hemoglobin. Deficiency causes wet and dry BeriBeri and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Vitamin B1 is destroyed by chlorinated water, and chlorogenic acid in coffee.

Vitamin B2, riboflavin
Vitamin B2 activates vitamin B6. Vitamin B2 is involved in the conversion of tryptophan to niacin, the conversion of folate to its coenzymes, and is needed for the production of corticosteroids, erythropoesis, gluconeogenesis, and thyroid enzyme regulation. Vitamin B2 aids in beta oxidation (involved in fat metabolism), and is a coenzyme of dehydrogenases (part of glucose metabolism).

Vitamin B3, niacin
Niacin is formed from tryptophan. Vitamin B3 is a coenzyme for dehydrogenases which are used to detoxify alcohol. Niacin is a precursor of glucose tolerance factor. Niacinamide protects pancreatic islet cells from oxidative damage, and improves joint mobility in osteoarthritis. A deficiency of vitamin B3 causes the tongue to become beefy red.

Vitamin B5, pantothenic acid
Vitamin B5 forms coenzyme A which is is involved in energy production. Vitamin B5 provides acetyl groups to form acetyl choline which is used in nerve impulse transmission. Vitamin B5 is essential for the formation of porphyrin, which is used in hemoglobin synthesis.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cell membranes, fatty acids, nerves and muscle. Vitamin E is anti-inflammatory and decreases vascular fragility. Vitamin E thins the blood and increases HDL cholesterol levels.

Natural vs Synthetic Forms
ome natural philosophies favor natural forms of vitamins and minerals. By natural forms they mean fruits and vegetables. Chemistshave distinguish d and l rotational forms of the molecules. They believe that if the molecule is the same, there is no difference




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