actions of vitamins
(from the book "LE VITAMINE"
3rd ed. PROF. A. FIDANZA, 1997)
Vitaminology has, in the last decade,
had an exceptional period of development and research from all over
the world has shown that vitamins have a new important role: that of
protection. In fact, they protect cells and biological systems from
the harmful effects of chemical, physical, bacterial and viral agents.
The ever increasing use of synthetic
molecules in therapy, the introduction into the environment of toxic
substances and the increasing use of additives, colorants and preservatives
in foods are causes of an increase in internal pollution that is particularly
harmful to cell protoplasm. Furthermore, due to wrong eating habits,
there is an accumulation in the organism of intermediate metabolites
which considerably alter biochemical equilibrium and are one of the
elementary causes for metabolic and degenerative illnesses.
Basically, the protective action of vitamins
consists of either the activation of physiological functions or the
strengthening and preservation of organic defences. This explains their
increasing use both in nutrition and in therapy.
The protective actions of the vitamins
are strictly correlated with the multiple metabolic functions exercised
in the course of transformation into their respective physiologically
active compounds: the coenzymes.
Here follow detailed explanations and
discussion of the protective effects of several vitamins:
Vitamin A and its derivatives
Vitamin A is a growth factor, is important
for tissue differentiation and in maintenance of visual function. It
acts as a cell membrane integrity factor, epithelio-protector and factor
in glycolipid and keratin synthesis. It has anti- neoplastic activity
connected with regulation of the function of epithelial differentiation.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Associated with reduction of plasmatic
cholesterol, prevention of atherosclerotic damage, prevention of cardiovascular
and metabolic illness such as diabetes.
Important in cholesterol esterification
and as a prevention of excessive platelet aggregation. Has antioxidant
properties and protects against chemical carcinogenesis induced from
outside. Has shown protective potential in HIV positive children.
Various pharmaceuticals including contraceptives
interfere with folic acid uptake and intestinal synthesis.
Shows anti tumoral activity and protects
against mucositis as a consequence of administration of cytostatic pharmaceuticals.
Protects against nitrosamine toxicity. Accumulates in central nervous
system tissue where it protects against lipid peroxydation and plays
a role in neurotransmitter synthesis. Anti-stress function.
Pantothenic acid and its derivatives
Is an important constituent of coenzyme
A. Important for adrenal activity, stimulates tissue regeneration, anti
inflammatory action. Normalises motility of intestine and has a protective
function against atherosclerosis.
Antioxidants vitamins C and E and beta
Prevention of free radical damage. C
and E act synergistically.
Has important biological functions such
as chetone body metabolism, myocardiac contractility and branched chain
amino acid metabolism. Spin-traps free radicals, reduces pathological
fatty acid accumulation and modulates immune response. (Aids, septic
shock and chronic fatigue syndrome)
The protective actions of vitamins against
the effects of environmental pollution.
The principal factors that have led to
environmental pollution can be traced back to the phenomenon of urbanisation,
to an increase of industrial and agricultural activity and the evolution
of hygienic conditions and of the way of life of the population.
Atmospheric pollution leads to exposure
to vapours, gasses, fumes and dust particles of a potentially toxic,
irritant and cancer causing nature. The lungs, by reason of their direct
and extensive contact with the atmospheric environment, are unique in
their potential vulnerability to toxic agents and thus require a particularly
efficient defence mechanism.
Epidemiological studies have shown that
related health risks are not limited to the categories of majorly exposed
workers but implicate also the general population which, even if to
a lesser extent, has become susceptible to the onset of pathologies
of respiratory, cardiovascular and cancerous nature. The presence in
the water supply of micro pollutants of both natural and man-made origin
leads to bioaccumulation and persistence with consequent environmental
and health risks. The problem of environmental pollution seems to be
one of the most serious problems of the present and it is necessary
to pursue various strategies of intervention: limitation of the spreading
of pollutants in the environment, information, epidemiological studies,
programs of water sampling.
With regard to neutralising the damaging
effects of the various pollutants, it has been observed that several
micro nutrients have a protective function against the associated cytotoxicity.
Numerous in vitro experiments and nutritional researches have in fact
shown that the vitamins, especially beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin
C and nicotinamide may play a very important protective role.
The strengthening of the defensive mechanisms
of the organism with adequate nutritive supplements may constitute a
valid contribution towards the prevention of damage caused by environmental
Daily quantities of vitamins recommended
in order to obtain protective effects:
Vitamin A mg 1500
Vitamin D mg 20
Vitamin E mg 500
Carotene mg 250
Thiamin mg 50
Riboflavin mg 200
Niacin mg 1000
Pyridoxin mg 200
Folic Acid mg 1000
Vitamin B12 mg 3000
Pantothenic Acid mg 1000
Biotin mg 2500
Vitamin C mg 1000
By Claudio Capozza MBBS (Italy), Naturopathic Doctor (Australia) & www.laleva.cc