• General Information

  • Amino Acids

  • Herbs Used to Alleviate
         Conditions & Symptoms

  • US FDA Reference Values
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  • Other Scientific Facts

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    Health Benefits, Deficiency, and Toxicity of Vitamin Dietary Supplement Product

    Mineral Health Benefit Claims Support for Claims Deficiency Toxicity
    Potassium Major component of our cells; regulates heartbeat; maintains fluid balance; helps muscles contract; role in nerve conduction

    Involved in production of energy, synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins
    Useful in preventing and treating high blood pressure

    Protective against stroke-related death

    Helpful in prevention and treatment of cancer

    Enhances athletic performance
    Diets rich in potassium appear to protect against hypertension (epidemiologic studies indicate);
    as for supplementation lowering hypertension, differs across individuals: more work needs to be done

    One 12-year study did find a link between increased potassium intake and lower risk of stroke-related death, but findings need confirmation

    No evidence

    Not known to improve performance of someone who is not deficient in potassium

    Produces broad physical problems from fatigue, weakness, muscle pains, to death if untreated Unlikely to have adverse effects unless person has kidney failure, in which case it may accumulate to high levels and be fatal
    Selenium Role in immune system, enhances cellular immunity; essential component of a key antioxidant enzyme

    Necessary for normal growth and development

    Enhances immune system

    Protective against heart and circulatory diseases

    Increases male potency and sex drive

    Useful against arthritis, autoimmune diseases (anti-inflammatory)

    Capable of detoxifying heavy metals, various drugs, alcohol, cigarette smoke, peroxidized fats

    Beneficial to skin
    Not well understood; studies have shown it does have anticancer properties

    Has been observed in animal studies

    Some evidence that it may inhibit free-radicals linked to tissue damage related to restricted blood flow or oxygen supply


    Injectable and oral forms used in animals; no scientific work done on humans

    Detoxifies mercury and cadmium; results are mixed on drugs and alcohol and more work needs to be done on protection against damage from smoking

    Shown to reduce skin tumors in mice (oral); not reliably investigated (oral and topical)
    Linked to heart disease

    Supplementation: Useless with concurrent intake of vitamin C -may convert selenium to nonabsorbable form
    Highly toxic even in tiny doses, although we may be able to tolerate in higher doses than previously believed

    May cause changes in hair and nails, slower mental function, and gastrointestinal distress

    Capable of producing harmful mutations in cells (in form of sodium selenite, but at doses much higher than normally consumed)

    Carcinogenic; early studies claimed this, but National Research Council said the studies were faulty


    Mineral Health Benefit Claims Support for Claims Deficiency Toxicity
    Zinc Essential part of more than 200 enzymes involved in digestion, metabolism, reproduction (sperm formation), and wound healing

    Involved in sense of taste

    Role in function and structure of cell membranes

    Major part of the immune system

    Component of insulin
    Treats common cold

    Boosts immunity

    Prevents cancer

    Prevents blindness as people age

    Accelerates wound healing

    Increases male potency and sex drive

    Useful in treatment and prevention of infertility

    Prevents prostate problems

    Useful in treating acne

    Prevents hair loss

    Helpful in diabetics

    Useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis

    Restores taste, smell
    Based on preliminary findings, dissolve in throat; if swallowed, it is ineffective

    Some findings, need more research

    Contradictory findings

    Promising findings in double-blind clinical study

    Conflicting studies, needs more work

    Useful in combating male impotence only when he has moderate to severe zinc deficiency

    Needs more research

    No evidence that it prevents and treats enlarged prostate

    More research needed on oral supplementation; topical use may treat acne effectively

    No evidence

    More research is needed

    Little recent work, needs more research

    No evidence age-related disturbances can be improved with supplementation
    Common among patients fed intravenously, so it is added to the IV solution

    Moderate deficiency symptoms include growth retardation, poor appetite, mental lethargy, delayed wound healing, abnormalities of taste, smell and vision, skin changes

    Mild deficiency leads to low sperm count

    Moderate to severe deficiency in males leads to decreases sexual interest, mental lethargy, emotional problems
    High doses may cause copper deficiency, gastrointestinal distress, and impaired immune function

    Large doses for long periods of time depress "good" HDL cholesterol
    Boron Essentiality in humans has yet to be proven Prevents osteoporosis in postmenopausal women

    Beneficial in treating arthritis

    Builds muscle
    Needs more study re: osteoporosis

    No evidence for arthritis treatment

    No evidence for building muscle
    Essentiality in humans has yet to be proven None reported
    Fluorine Fluorine Yet to be established as nutritionally essential Protects against dental cavities

    Protects against osteoporosis and useful in its treatment
    Evidence that it does protect against cavities

    Need more information about role in osteoporosis (if any)
    Yet to be established if nutritionally essential Supplements must be prescribed by a dentist or doctor

    Is toxic in high doses, can be fatal

    High doses may cause abnormal hardening of bones, leading to arthritic pain, joint stiffness, occasional nerve damage and paralys
    Germanium No evidence has any nutritional, biological or biochemical role in humans Useful in treatment of ARC and AIDS

    Stimulates the immune system

    Useful in treating cancer

    Useful in treating chronic Epstein-Barr virus syndrome
    Effects on AIDS patients being studied, don't know if has beneficial effects

    Further research is needed on effects on immune system

    Human studies for cancer prevention are needed

    Clinical anecdotes on its effects on Epstein-Barr virus
    No known role in humans Appears to be low

    Small percentage reported skin eruptions and stool softening

    Some reports of kidney failure


      Production Method  
    Vitamins Other Designation Occurrence Synthesis Fermentation Extraction Starting Materials for Extraction
    Fat Soluble:
    Vitamin A Retinoids Animal tissue, especially liver. Carotenoids, which are precursors, found in plants. Most is synthetic. Must be stabilized with antioxidants. Commercially possible but not common. Small quantities extracted. Fish oils. Solvent extraction, distillation, and purification
    Vitamin D Calciferols vitamins D1 through D4 Formed in the body with exposure to sunlight. Present in cod liver oil or food oils exposed to UV light. Most is synthetic. No Small quantities extracted. Fish oils
    Vitamin E Tocopherols, tocotrienols Plant oils, especially wheat germ, corn, sunflower seed, rapeseed, soybean Synthetically produced for animal and industrial purposes. No Extracted from natural sources for human consumption. Deodorizer sludges from vegetable oil production
    Vitamin K Phylloquinone, menaquinone, menadione Higher plants, green and blue algae, liver, cheese, bacteria Produced synthetically. No No N/A
    Vitamin B1 Thiamine Whole grains, meat products, vegetables, milk, legumes, fruit Produced synthetically. No No N/A
    Vitamin B2 Riboflavin lactoflavine Milk, eggs, malted barley, liver, kidney, leafy vegetables, yeast Produced synthetically. Produced by fermentation mostly for animal feed. No N/A
    Vitamin B3 Niacin, nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, Vitamin PP Meats and fish Produced synthetically. No No N/A
    Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine hydrochloride Most foods Produced synthetically. No No N/A
    Vitamin B12 Cobalamins Fish, dairy products, red meats, eggs, organ meats No Produced exclusively by fermentation. Was done in the past, but no longer economical. Residues from production of antibiotics
    Pantothenic acid Vitamin B5 Most foods Produced synthetically. No No N/A
    Biotin Vitamin H, coenzyme R Most foods, especially milk and cheese. Synthesized by microorganisms in intestines. Most produced synthetically. Yes-methods are improving. No N/A
    Folic Acid Folates, Vitamin Bc, Vitamin M Green leafy vegetables, liver, kidney, mushrooms, yeast Produced synthetically. No No N/A
    Vitamin C Ascorbic acid Fresh fruits and vegetables, hip berries, fresh tea leaves Produced synthetically from naturally occurring sugars. Fermentation methods are being developed. No N/A


    Mineral Occurrence in Foods Forms Used as Supplements
    Boron Fruits and vegetables Sodium borate
    Calcium Dairy products, salmon, leafy green vegetables, tofu Calcium chloride, carbonate, glubionate, gluconate, lactate, phosphate, and citrate; dolomite; bone meal
    Chromium Whole grains, meats, cheeses, brewer s yeast GTF chromium, chromium trichloride, chromium picolinate
    Copper Liver, shellfish, fruits, nuts, legumes Copper gluconate, copper sulfate
    Flourine Drinking water, seafood, meat, tea Sodium flouride
    Germanium N/A Ge-132
    Iodine Seafood, seaweed, iodized salt Iodide or iodate salts
    Iron Red meats, organ meats Ferrous sulfate, fumarate, and gluconate; carbonyl iron
    Magnesium Meats, seafoods, green vegetables, dairy products Magnesium oxide, carbonate, hydroxide, gluconate, aspartate, orotate, oxide and hydroxide; dolomite
    Manganese Whole grains and nuts, plants grown in manganese-rich soils, organ meats, shellfish, milk Manganese sulfate, manganese gluconate
    Molybdenum Organ meats, grains, legumes, leafy vegetables, milk Sodium molybdate, molybdenum-enriched yeast
    Phosphorus Dairy products Sodium phosphate or potassium phosphate salts
    Potassium Fresh fruits and vegetables Potassium chloride, bicarbonate, aspartate, and orotate
    Selenium Vegetables, brewer's yeast, grains, fish, organ meats (plants must be grown in soils that have selenium) Sodium selenite, organic selenium derived from brewer's yeast
    Silicon Vegetables, whole grains, seafood Magnesium trisilicate, silicon dioxide, symethicone
    Vanadium Black pepper, dill seeds, whole grains, seafoods, meats, dairy products N/A
    Zinc Whole grains, brewer's yeast, seafood, meat Zinc sulfate, acetate, gluconate, citrate, dipicolinate, aspartate, and orotate; amino acid chelates of zinc


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