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Coconut MCT Oil for a Healthy and Balanced Diet

Coconut MCT Oil for a Healthy and Balanced Diet

Coconut MCT Oil for a Healthy and Balanced Diet

 

Coconut oil is the talk of health and fitness circles around the world, and for good reason. Coconut oil contains MCT’s or Medium Chain Triglycerides. They are touted for fat loss in Keto diets and used to enhance brain health and metabolism in athletes. But are they really that good?

What is MCT oil

Medium chain triglycerides are a type of fatty acid that is more easily digested and used by the body. Fatty acids are classified by the length of their carbon bonds. Long-chain fatty acids are about 13 to 18 carbons long, while medium fatty acid carbon bonds are 6 to 12 carbons long, and both must be consumed through food. Short chain fatty acids 5 or less and are produced by healthy gut bacteria.

The length of carbon bonds in fatty acids matters, because they determine how easily a fat can be broken down by your system and absorbed into your bloodstream for use. And it turns out the carbon bonds in MCT oil are smaller than in other fatty acids, and with the added benefit of the shorter carbon chains, MCTs easy to digest and quick to absorb.

But the real beauty of medium chain triglycerides is that they require no special enzymes to digest and can travel directly to the liver for use. Because of easy digestion and quick absorption, they are used quickly as energy and not stored as fat. The result is a feeling of satiety after consuming it and a boost of energy as it quickly enters your system.

While MCTs can be found in a number of foods from dairy products to palm oil, coconut is one of the healthiest and tastiest ways to consume this healthy nutrient. But palm oil has proven to be extremely detrimental to the environment while many people avoid dairy products due to allergies and other reasons. Coconut oil is better for the environment, easy to consume in coffee, on salads and can tolerate high heat cooking, making it a delicious addition to many meals.

Health Benefits of Coconut MCTs

Fat Loss – In a double-blind, controlled trial, healthy men and women were given a diet protocol of similar energy, fat and protein intake with the exception that one group was given MCTs and the other LCTs, or long-chain-triglycerides. Both experienced consistent weight loss but by the end of 12 weeks the group consuming MCTs had significantly more weight loss, a decrease in body fat and less subcutaneous fat. (1)

Weight Loss – The healthy fats in coconut oil help keep you feeling full and satiated, and seem to control appetite. It also lowers the rise of glucose and triglycerides which might influence the appetite. Because it is also easy to digest and absorb, it seems that MCTs help ward off excess fat storage and aid in weight control.

Energy Boost – Because it is metabolized very quickly as it is digested, MCT oil quickly fuels the cells in your brain and throughout your body. This energy boost can fuel a workout may help you exercise longer with more intensity.

Brain Health – Your brain uses glucose for energy, and when it runs lows, it uses ketones, instead. This is one reason why many who are on ketogenic diets add coconut MCT oil to their daily food plan, as the added fats are quickly converted to ketones for energy due to the low carbohydrate intake. But MCT oil has more benefits for brain health.

Coconut MCT oil contains caprylic acid, a type of fatty acid found mainly in coconut and palm oil. But what makes caprylic acid stand out is it health promoting properties such as being anti-microbial and it’s a super fuel for brain power. It turns out that caprylic acid can cross the blood brain barrier and help nourish and hydrate the brain. This may be another reason why those who take it experience increased energy and better focus.

Supports Digestion – As mention above, coconut MCT oil contains caprylic acid.  The added benefit for your digestion is that it can help balance your gut microflora for improved digestion. This leads to better absorption of nutrients and improvement of intestinal distress as it that can cause digestive problems.

Ketogenic Diets

Coconut MCT oil is used by many as a way to get the right amount of healthy fat into a ketogenic diet. Because the body must convert fats to ketones for this type of diet to work, carbs must be restricted, and fats have to be increased to 20 to 40 grams per meal. But consuming just any fat can actually add weight and create health problems.

But coconut MCT oil provides all the health benefits listed above and more. Those who use it along with a ketogenic diet find they have more energy and provide benefits for healthy weight management. And it makes a healthy addition to cooked foods, salads and beverages.

How to Fit Coconut MCT Oil into Your Healthy Diet

There are numerous ways to fit coconut MCT oil into a healthy diet. Here are great tips:

  • Add to teas and coffee for a full-bodied morning boost
  • Add to smoothies for a delicious but mild coconut flavor
  • Lightly sauté veggies in a little coconut oil
  • Add to salad dressing and vegetable dips
  • Make delicious desserts using coconut MCT oil instead of unhealthy fats

Including coconut MCT oil into your daily diet will allow you to enjoy the benefits of weight management, improved brain power and more. Begin with a small amount to allow your body to adjust to your new diet addition, then have fun experimenting. Enjoy the delicious versatility of this healthy fat in smoothies, treats and meals as you work your way to a leaner and healthier you.

References:

1 Hiroaki Tsuji, Michio Kasai, Hiroyuki Takeuchi, Masahiro Nakamura, Mitsuko Okazaki, Kazuo Kondo, Dietary Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols Suppress Accumulation of Body Fat in a Double-Blind, Controlled Trial in Healthy Men and Women, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 131, Issue 11, November 2001, Pages 2853–2859, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/131.11.2853

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD),

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD), freelance nutrition and health writer, and wellness blogger. She is the owner/operator of The Freelance RD writing service and blog. Her business provides mainly writing services, but also product development, educational services and brand partnerships.

As an RD, Allison embraces a modern approach to nutrition and wellness. She believes we benefit most from building positive, balanced connections between mind, body, food, and environment. And she is passionate about sharing that philosophy through wellness communication and writing.

Her educational background is through Iowa State University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree and dietetics internship. She is currently studying towards an Masters in Public Health.

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Vitamin C: 6 Benefits of Vitamin C, Sources, and Daily Requirements

Vitamin C: 6 Benefits of Vitamin C, Sources, and Daily Requirements

Vitamin C: 6 Benefits of Vitamin C, Sources, and Daily Requirements

 

Vitamin C is another micronutrient that’s vital for keeping our bodies healthy. Because it is not a nutrient the human body can produce, we must consume Vitamin C every day in our diet or from dietary supplements.

What is Vitamin C

Vitamin C—also known as ascorbic acid—is a water-soluble vitamin found in an abundant number of vegetables and fruits, primarily citrus fruits, but can also be consumed via dietary supplements.

This micronutrient plays an important role in several vital body functions, which is why it needs to be consumed daily. These include supporting a healthy immune system, keeping bones strong, aiding in healing, helps in iron absorption, functioning as an antioxidant, and promoting healthy aging.

 

6 Benefits of Vitamin C

 1. Healthy immune system support

Vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system.

First, vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells (i.e., lymphocytes and phagocytes) and essential antibodies. These cells help protect the body against infections and illnesses (1).

Even further, vitamin C is a key component of the body’s first line of defense to disease and infection—the skin (and mucus membranes), which is discussed further below.

2. Aids in healing and tissue repair

Vitamin C is essential for the growth, skin strengthening and defense, and repair of tissue all over the body due to its contribution to collagen production. Collagen is a key protein for of skin tissue construction.

This way, vitamin C keeps our skin strong, but also helps to heal tissue wounds (2). Research has shown a higher intake of Vitamin C is associated with faster wound healing.

 

3. Keeps bones strong

Like in healing and tissue repair, vitamin C’s role in collagen production is also vital of bone mineralization, maintenance, and repair. However, collagen is also found in not only bone, but also teeth and cartilage (2).

Studies have shown an increased intake of vitamin C is linked to higher bone density (3). Older individuals, who naturally have lower bone density and are at higher risk for breakage and fracture, will want to increase their supplementation of vitamin C to increase density.

 

4. Helps to absorb and store Iron

 

Iron is an important nutrient for several functions in the body, including making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. However, some food sources of iron, like those found in plants, is poorly absorbed by the digestive system. Vitamin C helps convert these certain forms of iron into one that is easily absorbed by the body (1).

5.Functions as an antioxidant

As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help protect your cells against the effects of molecules called free radicals.

Free radicals are produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to harmful tobacco smoke or radiation. (4) This occurs by Vitamin C aids the protection of white blood cells (i.e., lymphocytes and phagocytes) from the damage free radicals can cause (1).

 

It’s antioxidant properties also assist in maintaining skin health. Vitamin C is actively transported to the skin where it help strengthen the skin’s barriers and promote its natural regeneration process (1).

6. Promotes healthy aging

To keep bodily systems running at top shape as we age, it’s important to maintain an adequate intake of vital nutrients that contribute to these systems is essential. Vitamin C being one of those nutrients.

As discussed above, vitamin C is a key component of many body functions including maintaining a healthy immune system, keeping bones strong, aiding in healing and iron absorption, and functioning as an antioxidant, which all promote healthy aging over the lifetime.

Additionally, high vitamin C intake has been linked to a lowered risk of cataracts, blood sugar stabilization for those with diabetes, increase heart health and function, reduced cholesterol levels, and help in preventing gout—all of which are common complications of aging. (5)

 

What is the daily requirement of Vitamin C

The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90mg for adult men and for adult women is 75mg (1).

 

What are the best sources of Vitamin C?

Because Vitamin C is a vital nutrient, it’s important to meet the suggested intake recommendations every day via diet or dietary supplement.

As mentioned, vitamin C found primarily in citrus fruits, but is also in an abundant number of other fruits and vegetables. These include strawberries, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, kale and spinach (1).

However, fruits and vegetables lose vitamin C when heated or stored for long periods of time. To get the most nutrients, you must eat them as soon as possible after shopping and consider steaming or microwaving vegetables for short periods of time to limit nutrient loss. (2)

Consult with a healthcare professional to discuss if you are consuming an adequate amount of vitamin C through your daily diet.

If you are having difficulties meeting your vitamin C daily intake requirements through your diet, supplements are also recommended. Vitamin C can be found in most multivitamins, but is also available alone as a dietary supplement or in combination with other nutrients. The vitamin C in dietary supplements is usually in the form of ascorbic acid, but some supplements have other forms, such as sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, other mineral ascorbates, and ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids. However, no one form has been proven to be more effective than the other (6)

Always insure you are using reputable companies to source your vitamin C supplements.

 

Author: Allison Lansman, RDN, LD

 

References

 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-benefits#section5
  2. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/how-vitamin-c-supports-a-healthy-immune-system
  3. https://americanbonehealth.org/nutrition/vitamins-for-bone-health/
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-c/art-20363932
  5. https://www.sunriseseniorliving.com/blog/april-2019/vitamin-c-and-the-role-it-plays-in-healthy-aging.aspx
  6. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD),

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD), freelance nutrition and health writer, and wellness blogger. She is the owner/operator of The Freelance RD writing service and blog. Her business provides mainly writing services, but also product development, educational services and brand partnerships.

As an RD, Allison embraces a modern approach to nutrition and wellness. She believes we benefit most from building positive, balanced connections between mind, body, food, and environment. And she is passionate about sharing that philosophy through wellness communication and writing.

Her educational background is through Iowa State University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree and dietetics internship. She is currently studying towards an Masters in Public Health.

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Echinacea: 5 Benefits, Forms, and Dosage

Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs used worldwide as a natural remedy.

It has also been linked to its ability to enhance immune health, ability as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and benefit to reducing anxiety.

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea –  also known as purple coneflower – is, in fact, a flower. A group of flowers, to be exact.

Echinacea includes three different daisy species (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida) that are used in herbal supplements (1). These flowers can be found in North American prairies as well as Europe and are an age old remedy for various ailments and are still being used today.

The roots of the flower are dried and used to make tablets, extracts, and teas you can purchase from the store or online (1).  Additionally, the  leaves, flowers and seeds are also used to produce several over-the-counter supplements. These roots, leave, etcetera, contain phytochemicals including caffeic acid, alkamides, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid, polyacetylenes and many more that have the potential to provide several health benefits (1).

 

5 Benefits of Echinacea 

  1. High in antioxidants

Echinacea is high in a phytochemical called alkamides, which has antioxidant properties. In this way, consuming Echinacea as a supplement may enhance your cells (i.e., lymphocytes and phagocytes) ability to protect against the effects and damage from free radicals.

  1. Boosts immune system health

Echinacea is best known for its effect on the immune system.

Numerous research studies have found this plant may help your immune system fight attacks. Further, they’ve been shown to assist in combatting infections and viruses, which may also help in a quicker recovery (1).

  1. May reduce feelings of anxiety

The is potential for Echinacea to aid in reducing anxiety, which is an mental/emotional disorder diagnosed in every 1 in 5 adults in the United States. Phytochemicals in Echinacea  have shown to lessen the stress on certain areas of the brain in order to reduce chemical causes of anxiety (3).

  1. Inflammation prevention and reduction

Though inflammation is a natural body function for healing, there are times inflammation can become uncontrollable. When inflammation increases to an out of control extent, this is when the risk for chronic disease and other health problems increases (1).

Echinacea has been shown to reduce this excessive inflammation linked to increased risk for chronic disease and other ailments. This will help, in particular, those with diseases associated with high rates of chronic pain and swelling caused by inflammation. Including those with osteoarthritis.

  1. May reduce skin concerns

Echinacea has been added to several skin care products and has shown that it has the potential to reduce a scope of skin problems.

As listed above, the herb has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce inflammation and redness of the skin. Additionally, it is also anti-bacterial. In test-tube studies Echinacea suppressed the growth of a bacteria (i.e., Propionibacterium), which is a common cause of acne (1). Some users of Echinacea ointments have also seen reduction of wrinkles and fine lines.

3 Forms of Echinacea supplements

  1. Capsules

The most familiar form to consume supplements is as a capsule or tablet.

These tablets all include phytochemicals from the Echinacea flower (2). Phytochemicals are natural, active compounds produced by plants that provide the benefits of the herb. In this case – the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, and anxiety reduction Echinacea offers.

Phytochemicals in Echinacea include caffeic acid, alkamides, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid, polyacetylenes and many more (1).

  1. Extracts 

You can also find Echinacea in the form of extracts. Extracts are made primarily from the dried root of the flower. They also come in several different varieties (i.e., tinctures).

Extracts are a beneficial way to consume and herb, due to its processing of the phytochemicals into a from that is readily absorbable without the need for digestion.

  1. Teas

Another common way to consume Echinacea is as a tea.

The amount of Echinacea tea you need to drink to see benefits varies depending on the brand of tea itself and how strongly you brew it (4). 

  1. Bonus – Ointments or other skin care products

Although not a consumable supplement, ointments and other skin care products containing Echinacea are available to help treat skin concerns. These creams provide anti-inflammatory aid, for skin redness, and anti-bacterial assistance to stave off acne. Also, don’t forget about their ability to reduce fine lines and of wrinkles.

Dosage recommendations

There is currently no recommendations for Echinacea due to research variability and a few unreliable products labeled to be containing Echinacea, but in fact do not. This shows the importance of finding trusted brands for your preferred Echinacea supplement (1).

That being said, researchers have seen enhanced immunity with the following doses of Echinacea for short-term use:

  • Dry powdered extract: 300–500 mg, three times daily. 
  • Liquid extract: 2.5 ml, three times daily; or up to 10 ml daily.

However, best practices are to follow the instructions for your specific supplement (1).

Potential side effects of Echinacea 

Echinacea has been proven to be safe and effective with short-term use. However, in cases where Echinacea supplements are used against recommendations — such as long-term or excessive use — patients experienced a range of less than optimal side-effects, including (1):

  • Rashes
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

As always, if you are experiencing any of these negative reactions seek out the advice of a medical professional immediately.

Is an Echinacea supplement right for you?

First and foremost, you will need to determine what your need and use of Echinacea is and will be. Afterward, you will need to choose the form of Echinacea supplement you are looking for – whether that be a tea, extract, or tablet.

Whichever you happen to select, ensure you purchase a trustworthy brand and through review usage instructions.

Remember, though there is data on Echinacea, there is still ample research to be done on topics like dosage. So if you are ever in doubt, seek the advice of a medical professional.

 

Author: Allison Lansman, RDN, LD

 

References

 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/echinacea
  2. https://www.herb-pharm.com/pharm-journal/ask-an-herbalist-what-is-an-herbal-extract/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4068831/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/echinacea-tea-benefits

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD),

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD), freelance nutrition and health writer, and wellness blogger. She is the owner/operator of The Freelance RD writing service and blog. Her business provides mainly writing services, but also product development, educational services and brand partnerships.

As an RD, Allison embraces a modern approach to nutrition and wellness. She believes we benefit most from building positive, balanced connections between mind, body, food, and environment. And she is passionate about sharing that philosophy through wellness communication and writing.

Her educational background is through Iowa State University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree and dietetics internship. She is currently studying towards an Masters in Public Health.

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Elderberry: What it is, 5 Benefits, and Side Effects

Elderberry what it is and 5 benefits

Elderberry: What it is, 5 Benefits, and Side Effects

Elderberry is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants grown and used throughout the world.

It has had many medical purposes in the past, aging all the way back to ancient Egypt, but currently it is taken as a supplement to treat symptoms of the flu and common cold.

What is Elderberry?

Elderberry is, in fact, a berry. The Elderberry includes a variety of flowering trees that produce the beneficial berries. While the most common of these trees grows in Europe (Sambucus nigra, AKA: the European elderberry or black elder) different varieties of the tree are found and grown on several continents worldwide (1).

This berry is also bursting with nutrients, which is one of the most notable qualities it has health-wise. Elderberry is high in vitamin C, fiber, and several antioxidants including phenolic acids, flavonols, anthocyanins (1).

When consumed correctly, this versatile berry has many uses and has been used around the world for a variety of medicinal reasons for thousands of years. The benefits may include a boost to the immune system, mood stabilization, ability as an antioxidant, and protection against UV rays.

 

5 Benefits of Elderberry

 

  1. High in a variety of nutrients 

 Elderberries, like most fruits, are low in calories and packed with nutrients. However, this berry provides a unique combination of nutrients that make it exceptionally beneficial when consumed. These include vitamin C, fiber, and several antioxidants.

Vitamin CIf 3.5 ounces of berries (½ cup, approximately) are consumed, around 60% of the daily requirement of vitamin C will be met (i.e., 90mg for men and 75mg for women (2)) (1).

This micronutrient plays an important role in several vital body functions, including immune system health, bones strength, healing and antioxidant function, iron absorption, and healthy aging (2).

 Fiber There are 7 grams of fiber in every 3.5 ounces (½ cup) of berries, which meets ¼ of the recommended daily intake of fiber (i.e., 25 to 30 grams per day) (1).

Fiber plays an important role in keeping the digestive system functioning effectively and keeps us feeling fuller longer. It also effectively reduces blood sugar and cholesterol levels and their linked health risks.

AntioxidantsAntioxidants found in high number in Elderberries. The specific antioxidative compounds in this berry are phenolic acids, flavonols, anthocyanins (1).

Phenolic acids are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body (1).

Flavonols have been shown benefit the circulatory system by aiding in lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain and heart. The flavonols in Elderberries include quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin (1).

Anthocyanins not only do these antioxidant contribute to the anti-inflammatory effects of Elderberry, but this compound is what gives the berry its characteristic dark black-purple color (1).

  1. High in antioxidants

As stated above, Elderberry is high in several key antioxidants that enhance your white blood cells’ ability to protect against the effects of harmful free radicals.

The specific antioxidative compounds in this berry are phenolic acids, flavonols, anthocyanins (1).

 

  1. Boost the immune system

Elderberry is most effective when it comes to its effect on the immune system. The powerful combination of vitamin C and antioxidants has been shown to assist in combatting the symptoms of infections and viruses, which may also help in a quicker recovery from illnesses (1).

It may even reduce your chances of becoming sick in the first place through the boost it provides your immune system.

 

  1. May reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression

In some cases, the phytochemicals in elderberry have been linked to an improved mood. Not only this, but it has also show to relieve some symptoms of mental/emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.

 

  1. Could protect against UV rays

Protecting against UV rays was a main use of elderberries by the Egyptians. Elderberry extract has a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 9.88 (1). However, this is still quite low when considering modern sun defense.

Egyptians also used to use the extract from elderberry to heal burns caused by overexposure to the sun or other scalding substances.

 

  1. Bonus – Using the Elder tree leaves, flowers, and bark

 It’s not all about the berry.

Historically, the leaves, flowers, and bark of the Elder tree have been used as well to provide a variety of benefits.

From the tree, the bark was consumed as a diuretic, laxative, and to induce vomiting when necessary. The leave and flowers have been used for pain relief, swelling, inflammation, and as a diuretic (1).

The elderberry flowers also contain the highest ratio of flavonols; 10 times more than the berries themselves (1). They can also be eaten, raw or cooked.

 

Potential side effects of Elderberry

And while it can provide several health benefits, the berry should be consumed cooked or via approved supplements because consuming the berries raw can be dangerous. The raw berries, or bark and leaves of the tree, are known to be poisonous and can cause stomach problems if eaten (1).

As always, if you are experiencing any of these negative reactions seek out the advice of a medical professional immediately. 

Dosage recommendations for Elderberry

There are currently no recommendations for elderberry supplementation.

Despite these berries being packed with nutrients and antioxidants that may provide various benefits, there is still much research to be done on elderberry and health (3).

Best practices are to use supplements you’ve purchased from a trusted brand, rely on the product for short-term use (between 2 to 5 days), and seek the advice of a medical professional if you are ever in doubt (4).

 

What Elderberry supplement is right for you?

Elderberry supplements come in several forms — gummies, capsules, drops, extracts, and syrup (3).  You just have to determine your need, use, and preference.

Whichever you happen to select, ensure you purchase a trustworthy brand and thoroughly review the usage instructions.

Remember, though there is data on elderberry, there is still ample research to be done on topics like dosage. So if you are ever in doubt, seek the advice of a medical professional.

Author: Allison Lansman, RDN, LD

 

References

 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/elderberry
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-benefits#section5
  3. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0519p8.shtml
  4. https://www.champagnenutrition.com/elderberry-traditional-anti-flu-treatment/

 

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD),

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD), freelance nutrition and health writer, and wellness blogger. She is the owner/operator of The Freelance RD writing service and blog. Her business provides mainly writing services, but also product development, educational services and brand partnerships.

As an RD, Allison embraces a modern approach to nutrition and wellness. She believes we benefit most from building positive, balanced connections between mind, body, food, and environment. And she is passionate about sharing that philosophy through wellness communication and writing.

Her educational background is through Iowa State University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree and dietetics internship. She is currently studying towards an Masters in Public Health.

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Vitamin K: 5 Benefits, classification, and daily requirements

Vitamin K in food concept. Plate in the shape of the letter K with different fresh leafy green vegetables, lettuce, herbs on wooden background. Flat lay or top view.

Vitamin K in food concept. Plate in the shape of the letter K with different fresh leafy green vegetables, lettuce, herbs on wooden background. Flat lay or top view.

Vitamin K: 5 Benefits, classification, and daily requirements

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for the proper functioning of the body, and although it does not provide energy, this vitamin is important because it is involved in numerous metabolic processes.

Classification of Vitamin K

  • Filoquinone or Vitamin K1: It is the most common form of vitamin K, this presents in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and carrots.
  • Menaquinone or Vitamin K2: This type of vitamin K is synthesized by bacterial microorganisms at the intestinal level. The human microbiota is able to synthesize small amounts of vitamin K2; it can also be found in fermented products such as yogurt, and other foods such as meat and eggs.
  • Menadione or Vitamin K3: It is considered a provitamin because it is of synthetic origin; however, once ingested, it acts as a substrate for the synthesis of vitamin K1. (1)

 

5 Benefits of Vitamin K

  1. Control the coagulation system

Vitamin K is an important cofactor for the coagulation system, because it promotes the synthesis of coagulation factors, especially after any tissue injury, helping to avoid bleeding.  The presence of this vitamin is important in the first hours of life, and that is why doses of vitamin K are given in newborn babies because they do not produce it immediately.

  1. A must have for Bone Health

The process of bone synthesis is dependent on vitamin D, and K. Vitamin K is the precursor of osteocalcin, a protein responsible for bone formation.  After menopause, women should pay attention to their vitamin D and K levels to preserve bone health.

  1. Control blood glucose levels

Adequate consumption of vitamin K helps stimulate insulin secretion, controlling blood glucose levels. Low levels of vitamin K have been associated with imbalances in glucose levels, especially during fasting, so if you plan to follow diets such as intermittent fasting or ketogenic diet, you will need to get adequate amounts of vitamin K from food or supplements. (2)

  1. Protects cardiovascular health

Vitamin K favors the elasticity of the coronary arteries and the aorta, preventing its calcification; this allows better blood flow to the entire body organ. Vitamin K is essential to optimal cardiovascular health.

  1. Stimulates the growth of nervous system cells

Vitamin K provides the necessary conditions for the growth of cells of the nervous system. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of sphingolipids, an essential component for the formation of neuronal structures and for the conduction of nerve impulses. Consuming the required daily amounts of vitamin K could help improve neurological performance. (4)

 

What is the daily requirement of vitamin K?

In adults, it is necessary to ingest 75mcg / day of vitamin K from the foods you consume daily. In newborns, the requirements are 2mcg / day.

Are vitamin K supplements necessary?

Requirements in adults may vary depending on the condition, Consult with your health care professional and find out if you should be taking vitamin K today.

References

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002407.htm
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900716000411
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5585988/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648721/
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Vitamin E

Vitamin E liquid vitamins for health and wellness

Vitamin E

Vitamin E comprises a combination of 8 different compounds (4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols) that exhibit vitamin E activity. The tocopherols include isomer alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol and omega-tocopherols. They are all derivatives of tocol or 6-hydroxy chromane ring with phytyl side chain. All the tocopherols are alkaline sensitive, and their vitamin activity is destroyed through oxidation. Of all the tocopherols, alpha-tocopherol is the most potent and widely distributed in nature.  Vitamin E is only found in plant dietary sources such as oils, nuts, grains, wheat and fruits. Therefore, excessive cooking and food processing may destroy vitamin E to some extent. It is fats-soluble hence, stored in the body and used as needed. Each isomer of vitamin E confers unique properties and hence functions and applications especially in the manufacture of food and beverage products.  To begin with, the dietary tocopherols maintain cell integrity by functioning as antioxidants and free radical scavengers. It also prevents the peroxidation of membrane lipids especially polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) of membrane phospholipids.

 Vitamin E supports the immune system.  First, it has the ability to reduce free radical damage and promote healthy inflammation response which confers its immune supportive function. As an antioxidant, vitamin E protects cells from damage. The alpha-tocopherols present in the membrane protect membrane lipids from radical attacks to cause a change in membrane structure.  The damaging of body cells increases susceptibility to invasion by foreign bodies. Vitamin E therefore acts as a chain breaking antioxidant. The antioxidant function is also helpful when exposed to risk factors such as ultra violet light or cigarette smoke. Its antioxidation function also, balances cholesterol preventing its transforming to a toxic form.

Additionally, vitamin E plays a role in the maintenance of muscle tone. Most of the vitamin E is normally stored in the skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. It also has a metabolic role that ensures optimal body functioning. Vitamin E notably   prevents hormonal imbalance especially the nervous and endocrine systems.  In addition, Vitamin E supports spermatogenesis.

Vitamin E is beneficial to the skin as it strengthens the capillary walls and therefore, their moisture and elasticity. Additionally, it enhances the healing process of the skin by speeding up cell regeneration. It is absorbed by the epidermal layer of the skin. As such, vitamin E slows down the aging process and aids in improvement of athletic performance such as running by reducing the oxidative stress on muscles post exercise.  Vitamin E counteracts the formation of free radicals that weaken and break down healthy cells hence promoting longevity.

Other therapeutic uses of vitamin E include the ability to induce apoptosis. This helps in the elimination of damaged cells or DNA thus minimizing errors. Modified Vitamin E is  that proaptotic agent that is  used in the process of   eliminating such cells.

Vitamin E deficiency is rare. The daily requirement for an adult is up to 10mg per day. However, during states of increased physiological needs such as in pregnancy or during lactation the amount increases to about 12-13mg/day.  It entails a deficiency in intake of all the isomers. At times Vitamin E toxicity may occur due to self-medication with large doses of vitamin E.

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Para-Aminobenzoic Acid – PABA

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is an organic compound found in folic acid vitamin. It is therefore considered to be partially a member of the vitamin B-complex.  However, it is not really a vitamin but an amino-acid that is part of folic acid. It has the same chemical structure as sulphonamides .The para-aminobenzoil moiety of PABA renders it a vitamin B complex factor and a component of folacin as well. Other dietary sources that contain PABA include grains, milk, meat and eggs. It can be synthesized in the body hence considered a non-essential nutrient in humans. However, PABA despite being made by the body is not synthesized directly since we do not produce the necessary enzymes required for its formation. Instead intestinal bacteria such as Escherichia Coli in the intestines executes this task by utilizing the enzymes 4-amino-4-deoxychorismate lyase and 4-amino-4-deoxychorismate synthetase on chorismate. Plants also have the ability to synthesize PABA using chloroplasts .Nonetheless, PABA is used in the synthesis of folic acid which is an essential nutrient.

First, PABA is important for healthy hair and skin. It protects the hair follicles reducing the onset of wrinkles and keeping it smooth. Notably, the potassium salt of PABA is beneficial for the maintenance of a healthy skin and hair. It helps maintain a consistent skin tone with a soft texture. It prevents or reverses the accumulation of abnormal   fibrous tissues.  It is also protective against harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. It has the ability to absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun thus minimizing damage to the skin (Cholangitis).

Additionally, PABA together with pantothenic acid maintains the health and pigmentation of hair.  PABA has the ability to restore graying hair to its original color. Its effectiveness is improved when it is used in combination with inositol and pantothenic acid.

PABA influences energy production as it functions in the breakdown and utilization of proteins (PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid): The Vitamin that functions in the breakdown and utilization of proteins and in the formation of blood cells, 2012). PABA is also beneficial in reducing fatigue and reversing the effects of depression. It also exerts anti-inflammatory effects by relieving pain and swelling. PABA also enhances the action and effects of some hormones such as estrogen, cortisone and others by delaying their metabolism in the liver.  This may be responsible for   its role in the maintaining of reproductive glands.

As a precursor of folic acid PABA is necessary for the synthesis of folic acid by gut bacteria that in turn stimulate the synthesis of B-5.  As such, PABA   is necessary in the formation of red blood cells.  The PABA biosynthetic enzymes that take part in the biosynthesis of folate include PabA, PabB and PAbC.

PABA also helps with the digestion process.  It acts as a coenzyme in various metabolic body processes that help support intestinal bacteria that are essential for proper digestion. It functions as a co-enzyme in amino-acid metabolism and red blood cell formation.  Human cells require folate cofactors to act as acceptor or donor one carbon units in the various biosynthetic processes that take place in the body such as the formation of purines and pyrimidine.  This also helps with its immunomodulating function. Since PABA is readily available from dietary sources and intestinal bacteria, nutritional deficiency of PABA is rare.  Nonetheless, PABA does not have a definite set recommended Daily Allowance.

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Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is one of the eight essential B complex vitamins. It is also known as niacin. It encompasses two pyridine derivatives, nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. These are both heat and stable to acid and alkali and can withstand enzymatic hydrolysis. Niacin in humans is synthesized from tryptophan extracted from dietary sources.  As such disruptions in tryptophan metabolism or low consumption can result in niacin deficiency. Additionally, the conversion of tryptophan to niacin is dependent on an enzyme known as kynureninase which is a vitamin B6 dependent enzyme.  Therefore, vitamin B6 deficiency can also cause niacin deficiency. Nicotimide is the active form of niacin.  It participates in various metabolic processes courtesy of its two main substrates NAD and NADP that are involved in oxidation-reduction reactions.  

Niacin is essential   in the maintenance of a healthy cardiovascular system.  It helps balance the blood cholesterol and triacyglyceride levels. Niacin is used to lower the elevated levels of low density cholesterol (LDL) and boost the levels of high density cholesterol (HDL).  This is significant in vascular health as it helps prevent the hardening of arteries. Besides, niacin is involved in the production of histamine that has the ability to dilate blood vessels and hence improve circulation. Unfortunately, niacin has also been shown to increase the levels of homocysteine in blood that may impair with normal cardiac function.

Niacin forms part of coenzymes for instance, nicotinamide is a component of two coenzymes Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide ( NAD) and  Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate(NADP). These two play significant metabolic roles in living cells. Through these coenzymes, niacin is involved in various biological oxidation-reduction reactions   that are essential to electron transport and other cellular respiratory reactions. Specifically, NAD functions as an electron carrier for intracellular respiration to facilitate energy production.

Niacin is also involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins carbohydrates and alcohol as a cofactor to produce energy. On the other hand, NADP functions as a hydrogen donor in processes involving reductive biosynthesis such as fatty acid and steroid synthesis.  Also,  the niacin derived coenzymes NAD and NADP function as soluble electron carriers between proteins. Therefore, niacin is important for the conversion of food to energy.  In addition, NAD molecules are not only essential for energy production and storage but also synthesis of DNA in cells. As such, it enables the normal growth and development especially in growing children.

 Aside energy production niacin plays a significant role in curbing inflammation.  As such, it can be used to reduce inflammatory signs such edema, swelling, redness. Its anti-inflammatory property is also useful in relieving joint pain and swelling. Niacin also enhances muscle strength. Anti-inflammation function also helps niacin maintain a healthy skin. It is responsible for the repair of damaged DNA in exposed areas of the skin that have been damaged by ultra-violet light.  Areas of the skin especially exposed areas develop sunburns which then advance to pigmentation and ulceration. The most affected body parts are the neck, forearms and fingers. Additionally, its function as a vasodilator also helps improve blood flow in the skin.  This is also crucial for proper brain function since it improves blood flow to the brain.

Typically, the intake of niacin is dependent on the levels of tryptophan in the diet. Niacin deficiency affects the skin, gastrointestinal and nervous system. This is characterized by dermatitis, diarrhea and dementia. The diarrhea is as a result of the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal tract. Good dietary sources of niacin include whole grains, legumes, peanuts, liver, fish and meat. Milk and egg although poor sources of niacin are rich in tryptophan.

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Potassium

potassium vitamin and supplement for health and wellness

Potassium

Potassium belongs to one of the seven essential macronutrients that the body requires for optimal functioning. As a mineral, it is required for the maintenance of daily physiological processes. About 100 milligrams of potassium is required daily to support vital processes. It forms part of the various cells of the body. On average the human body contains approximately 250gm of potassium. About 90 % of the body’s potassium is found intracellularly and the rest is in extracellular fluids. Potassium together with sodium and other compounds helps maintain homeostasis by regulating the body fluids. The normal serum potassium levels ranges between 3-5 meq/L. Levels lower than  three  milliequivalents is referred to as hypokaelemia whereas excess levels  of more than five  is referred to as hypokaelemia.

First, potassium acts as the main cation of the intracellular fluid. It helps regulate the blood pressure by regulating the blood volume. Potassium decrease intracellular volume through both decreased sodium absorption and increased urinary sodium excretion.  Studies have shown that potassium intake decreases both systolic and diastolic pressures in both hypertensive and non-hypertensive people.

In addition, potassium helps reinforce bone strength by preventing the loss of bones mass. Typically, bone strength is determined by bone mineral density.  Studies have shown a positive correlation between intake of potassium and the bone mass or bone mineral density. This is due to its action on limiting urinary calcium excretion and thereby facilitating more calcium retention that is essential for bone formation.

Normal levels of potassium also enable the proper nerve-muscle function which plays a key role in muscle function. This function is aided by potassium’s role in nerve signaling helping in the transmission of nerve impulses. Potassium is also facilitates muscle contraction and helps maintain the tone of vasculature in the body. Potassium enables the relaxation of vessels   thus lowering the blood pressure.  This property also enables it to control the electrical activity of the heart thus maintaining cardiovascular health.  Other roles of potassium includes its role in bile salt formation and the growth of tissues

Although nutritional deficiency of potassium is rare, research has shown that Americans of all backgrounds, in both genders consume inadequate amount of potassium recommended to maintain a normal blood pressure.  It is one of the four major shortfall nutrients in the American diet as per the 210 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee. Also, According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, less than 2 % of the U.S adult population meets the recommended adequate intake (AI) of 4700 mg of potassium per day. Additionally, the intake is lower among women compared to men.

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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin   that exists in several cobalt containing forms .These compounds showing vitamin B12 activity are known as cobalamines. It has a complex structure made up of   a tetrayrrole ring system called a corrin ring with a central cobalt atom. An R group is attached to the central cobalt atom which gives the various forms of vitamin B12.  A cyanide R group forms cyanocobalamin, hydroxyl R group forms hydroxyl cobalamin, a methyl R group forms methyl cobalamine, and a deoxyadenosine R group forms deoxyadenosyl cobalamin. All these exhibit vitamin B12 activity. Mammals are unable to synthesize cobalamins and as such are obtained from the diet. Any excess amount is usually excreted in urine hence vitamin B 12 toxicity is rare.

Vitamin B12 functions as a prosthetic group or coenzyme.  Humans and other higher animals require vitamin B 12   for two enzymes; methionine synthase and methymalonyl-coA mutase (MCM).  For instance, methyl cobalamine is involved in the synthesis of purines and pyrimidines by methionine synthase. Another function conferred by methionine synthetase is   the formation of phospholipids and neurotransmitters hence enabling proper functioning of the neurological system. Its role in the formation of myelin also aids in the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system. Therefore, a deficiency in vitamin B12 results in neurological disturbances or paraesthesia or in extreme cases degeneration of the spinal cord.

Vitamin B 12 is also essential for the rapid DNA production during the process of cell division.  This plays a crucial in the synthesis of blood cells in the bone marrow where the cells divide rapidly.  In absence of B12, the synthesis of DNA is interfered with and as a result abnormal cells known as megaloblasts are produced during red blood cell formation. Therefore, vitamin B12 is essential in the formation of healthy blood cells so that they multiply and develop properly.

It also functions to lower the plasma concentration of homocsyteine that is crucial for effective cardiac function.  Vitamin B 12 is crucial coenzyme in the conversion of homocsyteine into methionine.  Elevated levels are a risk factor for improper cardiac function as it promotes atherosclerosis.

Vitamin B 12 plays a role in cellular energy production. It is involved in the metabolism as it is involved in fatty acid synthesis hence enabling the release of energy by the body.  In addition, it is involved the absorption of folic acid that is required for effective neurological function.  Vitamin B 12 also plays a role in the normal structure and functioning of nerves.

Vitamin B 12 deficiency is common due to the limited dietary intake of animal foods. Research in the United States depicts that about 1.5-15% of the population are diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency affects the bone marrow, intestinal tract, and the neurological system.  The deficiency could be as a result of inadequate intake especially in vegetarians or lack of intrinsic factor a substance that aids its absorption. Some drugs such as colchicine, salicylates, and neomycin can also induce vitamin B12 deficiency by interacting with intrinsic factor.  This leads to the development of pernicious anemia.  Above all, prolonged alcohol consumption can also impair the absorption of vitamin B12.  This affects the hematopoietic system, the gastrointestinal system, and nervous system.

The daily requirement  of vitamin B12  in adults is up to 3-4 micrograms per day. Vitamin B12 is mainly extracted from animal sources such as kidney, liver, brain, meat, fish, and eggs. The fact that it is absent from animal sources makes vegetarians vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiency.