Lactobacillus acidophilus is a "friendly" type of bacteria used to make yogurt and cheese. We are born without it, acidophilus soon establishes itself in our intestines and helps prevent intestinal infections. Acidophilus also flourishes in the vagina, where it protects women against yeast infections.
Acidophilus is one of several microbes known as probiotics (meaning "pro life") meaning that they are bacteria and yeasts that help our body. Other friendly bacteria include: L. bulgaricus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. casei, B. bifidus, S. salivarius, and S. thermophilus and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. Your digestive tract is like an ecosystem, with billions of bacteria and yeasts rather than plants and animals.
Some of these internal inhabitants are more helpful to your body than others. Acidophilus and related probiotics not only help the digestive tract function, they also reduce the presence of less healthful organisms by competing with them for the limited space available.
Antibiotics can disturb the balance of your body ecosystem by killing friendly bacteria. When this happens, harmful bacteria and yeasts can move in and flourish. This is why women taking antibiotics sometimes develop vaginal infections. Conversely, it appears that the regular use of probiotics can help prevent vaginal infections and generally improve the health of the gastrointestinal system.
Whenever you take antibiotics, you should probably take probiotics as well, and continue them for some time after you are done with the course of treatment. There is reason to believe that regular use of probiotics can reduce your risk of developing infectious diarrhea while traveling especially when going thru other countries. Probiotics may also help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics, as well as help prevent and treat childhood diarrhea.
A number of studies suggest that various probiotics like acidophilus can enhance immune function.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
People suffering with irritable bowel syndrome have digestive pain as well as constipation, diarrhea and other problems. Although the exact cause of Irritable bowel syndrome is unknown, one possibility is a problem with healthy intestinal bacteria. Based upon this idea, probiotics have been tried as a treatment for lBS. In a 4-week double-blind placebo-controlled trial of 30 individuals with lBS, treatment with L. plantarum reduced intestinal gas significantly. The benefits lasted one year after treatment was stopped.
Vaginal Yeast Infections
A review of the many studies on the use of oral and topical acidophilus to prevent vaginal yeast infections concluded that it may be effective, but more study is needed.
There are no known safety problems with the use of acidophilus or other probiotics. Sometimes people notice a temporary increase in digestive gas.
If you are taking antibiotics, it may help to take probiotic/acidophilus supplements at the same time, and to continue them for a couple of weeks after you have finished the drug treatment. This will help restore the balance of natural bacteria in your digestive tract that is killed by the antibiotics.
ACONITE (ACONITUM LYCOTONUM) Making
This perennial herb is from the ACONITUM family, which is related to the Buttercup family. Aconite is also known as Monks Hood, Blue Rocket, Friar’s Cap and Auld Wife’s Huid. In the East Indies it is called Bikh or Nabee. Aconite grows up to three feet high in the lower mountains in the Easter Hemisphere, from the Himalayas to Great Britain.
Aconite has pale colored stems during its early growth, which later turns dark brown at maturity. Aconite has clusters of dark blue flowers, which can take up to 3 years to first appear. . There are at least 24 different varieties of this Aconite, all of which owe its strength to its strong alkaloids properties.
HISTORY: Aconite is believed to have originated in China. It was thought long ago that arrows tipped with the juice of Aconite could kill wolves. For this reason the Ancient Greeks called it Wolves Bane. According to ancient legends, it was a brew of Aconite that Medea prepared for Theseus. Extreme care must be observed with handling Aconite as it can be a deadly poison if handled incorrectly.
INTERNAL USE: Aconite works as a Diuretic, and helps treat aneurysms, cardiac arrest, cardiac problems, fevers, inflammations, laryngitis, neuralgia, pleurisy, pneumonia and tonsillitis.
EXTERNAL USE: A lineament of Aconite or a mix of Aconite with chloroform or belladonna liniment is useful to treat rheumatism or neuralgia.
AGRIMONY (AGRIMONIA EUPATORIA)
Is a perennial herb from ROSACEAE family. Agrimony is also called Cockleburr, Church Steeples, or Sticklewort. Agrimony which can grow up to three feet high, has numerous yellow flowers which grow all along its stem. The stem and root of Agrimony are used medicinally. Agrimony has vitamins B, K as well as iron, coumarins, flavonoids, malic acid, polysaccharides, tannins, phytosterols, and silica.
HISTORY: Agrimony has been used for centuries by cultures in Europe and around the Mediterranean. The name Agrimony comes from ancient Greeks, which translated means, "Speck in the Eye". It was originally used for eye problems as a wash or rinse. Agrimony has also been used as a yellow dye for clothing and leather by these same cultures.
USE INTERNALLY: Use Agrimony as a tincture, tea or in a capsule form. It is used to help asthma, bladder stones, bowel problems, bronchitis, cancer, colds, coughs, cystis, diarrhea, digestion, dysmenorrhea, incontinence, liver problems, sore throat, spasms. Tea made from Agrimony smells likes it has apricots in it. Due to it’s strong medicinal properties, this herb is not recommended for use during pregnancy.
USE EXTERNALLY-Use a lotion of Agrimony externally. It can help acne, bruises, eczema, eye problems, hemorrhoids, hives, sores, sprains and ulcers. A tea of Agrimony can be used as a gargle for sore throats and mouths. Agrimony taken as a suppository can help hemorrhoids and diarrhea.
Aids in the metabolism of glucose, used for energy
Deficiency could produce the following symptoms: a feeling of burn-out, convulsions, mental deterioration, spastic movements, hyper-muscular contractions; sweats at night - could be caused by an improper diet, and/or insufficient rest
Glands and organs affected - thymus, hypothalamus, eyes, pineal, thyroid, brain
Complementary Vitamins - C, A, B-3, B-Complex, B-12, B-15, B-2, PAPA Pantothenic Acid (B–5)
Complementary Minerals - calcium, selenium magnesium, sulfur.
ALFALFA (MEDICAGO SATIVA)
Is a perennial Herb from the Pea family. Alfalfa is also called Purple Medic, Lucerne, and Buffalo Herb. Alfalfa has small purple flowers and can grow up to three feet high. Alfalfa Sprouts are a very popular way to consume this herb, commonly in salads or sandwiches. The roots of this Alfalfa have been found to extend down up to 20 feet! Alfalfa contains vitamins A, B1, B6, E, D, K, and U. It also has calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus. potassium, sodium, silicon.
Alfalfa has a large quantity of chlorophyll, protein, and fiber in its body. Alfalfa contains 2-3% saponins, which help prevent formation of atherosclerosis (the build up of plaque in the blood vessels) The leaf portions of Alfalfa also contain sterols, isoflavones, flavones and derivatives of coumin. Alfalfa has been found to cause estrogen-like effects in animals. Alfalfa contains 8 enzymes, which are believed to help with digestion and food assimilation in the body.
HISTORY: USED BY: Alfalfa was used by ancient Chinese doctors to treat people with arthritis, and problem related to the digestive system. American Indians used Alfalfa for increasing blood clotting, and to help treat jaundice.
USE INTERNALLY: Use Alfalfa internally to help allergies, arthritis, bad breath, cancer, constipation, hemorrhoids, increase heart strength and some forms of ulcers. Alfalfa is an important source of electrolytes, which give the body muscle strength. It is recommended that Alfalfa is taken during or before meals.
ALOE VERA (ALO BARBADENSIS, AL0 VERA)
Aloe is a plant that resembles a cactus. It has long, thick triangular leaves, and has yellow-orange flowers. There are over 500 species of Aloe found around the world Aloe contains calcium, iron, lecithin, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. Aloe also contains substances, which promote the healing of new skin, and exfoliation of dead skin. Aloe acts like a chelating agent, which causes the removal of poisonous heavy metals from the body. It is recommended that for herbal ingestion of Aloetha, that it be taken in late evenings. To use it externally, it can be used at any time. Aloe has a substance called anthraquinone glycosides in its juice. Bacteria in the intestines use these glycosides to create other compounds that cause laxative actions in the intestines.
HISTORY: The Aloe plant is thought to originally come from Africa, but has been spread all over the world by man due to its great healing properties. It was used in India to treat intestinal infections. The root of the Aloe plant is used to help treat people with colic problems.
USE EXTERNALLY: Use Aloe gel from the inside of the leaves on acne, abscesses, burns, chicken pox, cuts, insect bites, irritated skin and sunburns. It has also been shown to help heal X-ray burns, and to prevent internal scarring after surgery.
USE INTERNALLY: Aloe can be used as a gel capsules, juice or in tablet form to help constipation, diabetes caused ulcers, gastritis, hyperacidity, stomach inflammation and ulcers. It is also thought to help maintain the health of the pancreas, and help heal Cobalt Radiation damage. This kind of damage occurs in people undergoing radiation therapy for some cancers. Aloe is not recommend if you’re pregnant, or have any gastrointestinal conditions. Also, do not take Aloe Capsules for more than 10 days straight. The latex of the Aloe leaf is used as a laxative ingredient, and can cause the body to become addicted to its laxative action.
Alpha lipoic acid is an enzyme found in the mitochondria – the energy producing structures found in our cells. As a dietary supplement, alpha-lipoic acid may act as a powerful antioxidant, where it may work in synergy with other nutritional antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
Although alpha lipoic acid is involved in cellular energy production, its chief role as a dietary supplement may be as a powerful antioxidant.
Internal Uses: The body appears to be able to manufacture enough alpha-lipoic acid for its metabolic functions (as a co-factor for a number of enzymes involved in converting fat and sugar to energy), but the excess levels provided by supplements allow alpha-lipoic acid to circulate in a "free" state. In this state, alpha-lipoic acid has functions as both a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant.
This unique ability of alpha-lipoic acid to be active in water and lipid compartments of the body is important because most antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, are effective in only one area or the other. For instance vitamin C is usually restricted to the interior compartment of cells and the watery portion of blood, while vitamin E embeds itself in the fatty portion of cell membranes.
Specific internal uses for alpha-lipoic acid:
- Diabetes Mellitus: ALA has been used throughout Europe to control blood sugar and prevention and treatment of diabetic complications including retinopathy, neuropathy, renal disease and atherosclerosis. ALA looks like the most potent natural insulin mimicker, even better than Vanadyl sulfate and Chromium.
- Liver diseases, including those caused by toxins, viruses such as hepatitis A, B and C, alcohol and drugs.
- Eye disease, including macular degeneration and cataracts. ALA prevents cataracts and glaucoma. ALA reduces risk of aged related macular degeneration.
- Peripheral neuropathy. ALA reduces diabetic neuropathy and reverse nerve damage.
- Neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis, stroke, and spinal cord injuries. ALA improves memory in older individuals. ALA helps slow progression of Alzheimer's. ALA may protect against Parkinson's.
- Coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. ALA wards off heart disease by protecting against Apolprotein (Lp(a)) oxidative damage of coronary arterial wall. ALA speeds recovery following heart attack and stroke - prevents free radical damage.
- Vascular protective agent -- such as for varicose veins, leg cramps, easy bruising from capillary brittleness and hemorrhoids.
- Reduction of the negative effects of inflammatory disorders such as asthma, allergies, sinusitis, hives, arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn's disease etc.
- Cancer protection - protecting damage from radical agents to DNA, cellular membranes, lipids, proteins etc.
- Inhibiting the replication of HIV and other viruses.
- Removal of heavy metals from the body
- Prevention of radiation damage (Internal and external) such as from the sun or x-rays, etc.
- Protection from premature aging.
- Prevention and relief of dry skin.
- Prevention and relief of erectile dysfunction in some males.
- Improvement of circulation such as experienced by cold hands, cold feet, cold nose, etc.
- Speeds tissue healing and injury repair.
- For general maintenance of ideal antioxidants status in the body, in combination with other antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E and coenzyme Q-10.
Adding to the potential importance of alpha-lipoic acid is its role in the production of glutathione, one of the chief antioxidants produced directly by the body.
Note to diabetics: Taking alpha-lipoic acid may affect your diabetic medications or your body's response to them.
External Uses: Recently, alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to provide substantial value in rejuvenating skin and sub-dermal muscle tone. Though there is little history with regard to this use, some physicians are starting to use transdermal application of alpha-lipoic acid instead of cosmetic surgery.
Additional benefits may be seen in closing up large skin pores, and elimination of puffy skin around the eyes.
AMARANTHS (AMARANTHUS HYPOCHONDRIACUS)
This annual herb is from the AMARANTHACEAE family. It is also known as Love-Lies-Bleeding, Red Cockscomb and Velvet Flower. This herb is found all over the tropics, especially in the tropics of North and South America. Amaranths contain high levels of proteins, mucilage and natural sugars. The Amaranths plant lance shaped leaves with purple undersides. It has densely packed deep red flowers packed onto erect spikes.
HISTORY: In Greece, the Amaranth plant was sacred to the ancient Ephesian Artemis. Amaranths was supposed to have special healing properties. Amaranths was also a symbol of immortality, and for this reason, was used extensively to decorate images of the temples and tombs of Greece. The name Amaranths from the Greek means "unwithering", and was regarded as a sign of longevity and eternal life.
INTERNAL USE: This herb has slight astringent properties, and is also used as a diuretic, and to stop menstrual disorders and spotting.
ANGELICA (ANGELICA ARCHANGELICA)
Angelica is also known as the herb Masterwort. Angelica has tiny clusters of flowers, and grows very well in moist soil, up to 8 feet high! The leaves, roots and seeds of Angelica are used medicinally.
USE INTERNALLY: Use Angelica internally as a tea, tincture, or extract to treat colds, coughs, blood circulation problems, flu symptoms, headaches, insomnia, indigestion, menstrual cramps, poor blood circulation, and tension.
USE EXTERNALLY: Use Angelica externally to help problems with cold sores, lice, sore muscles and skin ulcers.
ANISE (PIMPINELLA ANISUM)
This annual plant is from the UMBELLIFERAE family. Anise is also known as Sweet Cumin. Anise contains vitamin B, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. The Anise plant has a woody root, coarse edged leaves and a round grooved stem. The Anise plant’s upper leaves are delicate and feathery, with flowers that are white to yellowish, and produces brown oval fruit, less than an eighth of an inch long.
HISTORY: Anise was originally a native to the Middle East. The Greek Physician Hypocrites recommended Anise as a treatment for people with coughs. According to ancient records, the Roman Scholar Pliny used Anise as a breath freshener. Today’s modern wedding cakes can trace their ancestry back to spicy Anise cakes that the Roman’s used after feasts.
USE INTERNALLY: The oil of Anise is used to help with halitosis, increase milk flow, indigestion, intestinal gas, and as an expectorant for people with lung congestion or whooping cough.
You may have heard about a new miraculous substance called an Antioxidant. In it, scientists believe they have discovered a sort of 'Fountain of Youth'. Actually, antioxidants have been around for a long time. Many of the vitamins we rely upon are antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene. But there are other less well known antioxidants that are even more potent which are called the Super Antioxidants.
These Super Antioxidants although not called vitamins because they aren't essential to life, are powerful weapons in our war on disease and aging (Yes, AGING) There are literally hundreds of good scientific studies that show that these Super Antioxidants can do everything from preventing heart disease and cancer to improving vision and enhancing brain function.
What is happening?
Oxidation in the body is a process similar to what happens to metal when it rusts, or to an apple when it turns brown after being cut. And, just as a squeeze of lemon juice stops the oxidation of an apple, so do antioxidants stop the rusting inside our bodies by nasty things called Free Radicals.
The word oxidation come from oxygen, an element that is essential to life, but can be harmful in some forms inside our bodies. A good oxygen molecule has its electrons paired up, making it stable. An unstable or bad oxygen molecule has a missing electron, creating what is termed a Free Radical. These are bad because they go around grabbing onto other cells in their attempt to find another electron and become stable. In doing this, they can cause problems with the workings of the cell to which they attach. Scientists now believe this is what accelerates the aging process. Enough about electrons, etc.
Free radicals are all around us; in the air we breath, in the food we eat, and even as a natural product of living. In fact, free radicals are used by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. They have become a problem because of the polluted environment we live in and our poor diets.
It is the excessive free radicals, not balanced properly with antioxidants, that do damage. The ideal body, with ideal nutrition, in an ideal environment, would have the ability to counteract the free radicals it produces, and keep them under control.
Free Radical Sources:
- Auto Exhaust
- Chlorinated Water
- Cigarette Smoke
- Cleaning Products
- Deodorant Sprays
- Food Additives
- Prescription Drugs
- Rancid Oil
- Spray Cans
- Toxic Fumes
Apple Cider Vinegar
For centuries people have known drinking apple cider vinegar makes them feel better. Now scientists know why! Apple Cider Vinegar contains cholesterol reducing pectin and the perfect balance of 19 minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, iron, fluorine and silicon. In fact, apple cider vinegar contains 93 different components that can help you body. It is also often used in colon and intestinal cleansing formulas.
- Regulate blood pressure
- Fight infection
- Relieve Arthritis pain
- Promote Digestion
- Improve Metabolism
- Helps flush out the Gall Bladder
- Control Weight
- Fight Osteoporosis
- Maintain healthy skin
- Relieves sore throats, laryngitis
- Soothes sunburn, shingles and bites
- Helps prevent dandruff, baldness and itching scalp
"Apple Cider Vinegar is the #1 food, I recommend for maintaining the body's vital acid-alkaline balance."
Gabriel Cousens, M.D., author of Conscious Eating
- Slows growth of tumors and cancer by enhancing immune function
- Important for muscle metabolism
- Aids in weight loss because it facilitates an increase in muscle mass and a reduction of body fat
- Causes the release of a growth hormone which is an immune system stimulant
- Promotes wound healing and is involved in the regeneration of the liver
- Promotes the detoxification of ammonia in the body
- Deficiency can cause sterility, intestinal problems, inflammation of the veins, and is also believed to be a cause of cellulite
- Foods sources - carob, chocolate, coconut, dairy products, gelatin, meat, oats, peanuts, soybeans, walnuts, white flour, wheat and wheat germ
- Glands and organs affected - hypothalamus, eyes, pineal, thymus, lymph, tonsils, appendix, peyer’s patches, skin, parathyroid
- Complementary vitamins - A, B-3, C, B Complex B-15, E
- Complementary Minerals - calcium, selenium, magnesium, sulfur
ARNICA (ARNICA MONTANA)
Arnica is also known as Leopard’s Bane. This herb grows up to two feet high, and produces bright yellow flowers, similar to daisies. The leaves of the Arnica plant are oval shaped and hairy looking.
USE INTERNALLY: Arnica can be taken in pill form or in tablets. Arnica can help coughs, soreness and for the relief of swollen body joints. Do not use Arnica if you are pregnant.
USE EXTERNALLY: Use an oil extract of Arnica to soothe irritated skin, muscle spasms, rheumatic joints, and swollen joints. Do not apply Arnica over broken skin.
VITAMIN C, ASCORBIC ACID
RDA – 60 mg
Antioxidant required for tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, healthy gums
Aids in production of anti-stress hormones and interferon
- Protects against harmful effects of pollution
- Helps prevent cancer
- Protect against infection
- Enhance immunity
- Increases absorption of iron
- May reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure
- May prevent atherosclerosis
- Essential in formation of collagen
- Protects against blood clotting and bruising
- Promotes healing of wounds and burns
Scurvy caused by deficiency-poor wound healing, soft and spongy bleeding gums, edema, extreme weakness, "pinpoint’ hemorrhages under the skin. Rare in Western societies; more common deficiency signs are bleeding gums when brushed, increased susceptibility to infection, especially colds and bronchial infections, joint pains, lack of energy, poor digestion, prolonged healing time, tendency to bruise easily, tooth loss
Berries, citrus fruits, green vegetables-asparagus, avocados, beet greens, black currants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe, collards, dandelion greens, dulse, grapefruit, kale, lemons, mangos, mustard greens, onions, oranges, papayas, green peas, sweet peppers, persimmons, pineapple, radishes, rose hips, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnip greens, watercress
Alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, kelp, peppermint, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, pine needle, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hops, skullcap, violet leaves, yarrow, yellow dock
Dark green vegetables, lemon juice, red peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, paprika, mustard, and horseradish Supplement suggestions – divide dose up over the course of the day or use delayed release formulas; build up and taper off dosage; add digestive enzymes to increase effect; mix with minerals ascorbic acid formulas are fine for general health and nutritional support
Should be taken in divided doses each day
Aspirin and Vitamin C taken together in large doses = stomach irritation possibly leading to ulcers; do not take more than 5000 mg if pregnant because infants may develop dependency; avoid chewable supplements can cause damage to tooth enamel
Alcohol, analgesics, antidepressants, anticoagulants, oral contraceptives, steroids may reduce levels of vitamin C in the body; smoking can cause serious depletion of Vitamin C
ASHWAGANDHA (WITHANIA SOMNIFERA)
This herb is from the SOLANACEAE family. Ashwagandha is also known as Indian Ginseng, Winter Cherry, or Withania. This herb is traditionally found in India and in Africa. Primarily the roots of the Ashwagandha plant are used for their medicinal purposes, but the leaves and berries can also be used. Ashwagandha is high in of substances called withanolides, which are similar to steroids. It is these withanolides that are believed to be the reason for Ashwagandha’s strong healing abilities. The withanolides are believed to directly stimulate the body’s immune system, stop inflammation, and even improve memory.
HISTORY: It is a traditional remedy for both Indian and African peoples. It is still used extensively in both countries, in general cooking and to thicken milk. Ashwagandha is known to be a good tonic for pregnant women because it lowers serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical compound that transmits pain signals throughout the body's nervous system.
INTERNAL USE: In capsule or tea form, Ashwagandha helps a wide range of problems, such as: anemia, arthritis, anxiety, bronchitis, cancer, candida, cardiac problems, dyspepsia, graying hair, headaches, high blood pressure, impotence, infertility, loss of sleep, lumbago, rheumatism, fevers, tiredness and certain kinds of tumors.
EXTERNAL USE: Use Ashwagandha as a poultice on abrasions, bruises, cuts, sores and wounds.
- Participates in the metabolic control of the functions of the cells in the brain and the nervous system
- Used in the treatment of the brain and nervous system
- Necessary for the metabolism of toxic ammonia in the body
- Deficiency will cause gall bladder dysfunction and liver trouble.
- Natural source – asparagus juice
- Glands and organs affected - thymus, lymph, liver
- Complementary Vitamins - A, niacin, choline, inositol
- Complementary Minerals - chromium and zinc
- Increases stamina
- Aids cell, RNA, DNA function
- Aids in the disposal of ammonia in the body
- Increases resistance to fatigue by increasing stamina
- Used as a mineral transporter
ASTRALAGUS (ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS)
Astralagus is also known as the Chinese herb Huang Qi. It is the roots of this plant that are used as an herbal remedy.
HISTORY: This herb is a main constituent of Ancient Chinese medicine. The Astralagus herb is native to the northern areas of China. There are over 2000 different recorded types of Astralagus that are used medicinally. This herb grows up to a foot and a half high with white or yellow flowers. The roots of the Astralagus plant are harvested only after it is more than four years old. The top portion of the plant is poisonous, so it is important to ensure that only the root of the Astralagus plant are used. Due to its effects on the body, Astralagus should not be used if you have a fever, or suffer from a skin disorder.
INTERNAL USE: Astralagus can be taken as a tea or taken as a capsule. It can even be taken directly in the form of the dried root. Astralgus is used to help Alzheimer’s disease, chemotherapy effects, diarrhea, fatigue, improve immune system weakness, lower blood pressure and fight internal infections.
Retinol or Reinoic acid
14+ year-old males: 900 µg RAE
14+ year-old females: 700 µg RAE
- Night blindness, cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye problems
- Prostate cancer, leukemia, basal and squamous cell skin cancer and mouth cancer in the case of chewing tobacco users due to antioxidant activity
- Infection by strengthening epithelial tissues (skin lining in eyes, mouth, nose, throat,
lungs, digestive tract, urinary tract)
- Heart disease due to strong antioxidant activity
- Enhances immune function to protect against colds, flus, sinus and respiratory infections
- Needed for healthy reproduction, hormone stability in women, blood sugar balance
- Helps body create new cells
- Keeps skin smooth and aids in wound healing
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS - dry hair and skin; dryness of conjunctiva and cornea; poor growth; night blindness, possibly acne, insomnia, reproductive problems, suppressed immune function, weight loss, reproductive problems, keratin deposits on the skin
DEFICIENCY RISK - persons with liver disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic diarrhea, chronic infections, stress, alcohol abuse, smokers, taking cholesterol lowering medications or birth control pills.
OTHER RISKS - Vitamin A toxicity can occur from animal foods, fortified foods, and/or supplements. Symptoms include loss of hair, headaches, dry skin, vomiting, loss of mineral density in bones, and liver damage. High intakes may increase the risk of birth defects in pregnant women.
Upper safe limit of vitamin A from supplements, animal sources, and/or fortified foods is set at 600 µg daily for children ages 1 to 3 years old and at 900 µg a day for those 4 to 8 years old. For those 9 to 13 years old, it is set at 1,700 µg daily, at 2,800 µg for individuals ages 14-18 years old, and at 3,000 µg for those 19 years of age and older.
Upper safe limit does not apply to individuals who may be receiving vitamin A under the supervision of their medical doctor.
Excess beta-carotene from plant foods is stored in your body, but luckily, is not toxic. However, high intakes for several weeks can give your skin a yellow appearance, most visible on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.
High doses of beta-carotene from supplements, not foods, have been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
SOURCES - animal livers, fish liver oils, green/yellow fruits and vegetables-apricots, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, dandelion greens, dulse, fish liver/oil, garlic, kale, mustard greens, papayas, peaches, pumpkin, red peppers, spirulina, spinach, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnip greens, watercress, yellow squash Herbs - alfalfa, baroage leaves, burdock root, cayenne (capsicum), chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, sage, uva ursi, violet leaves, watercress, yellow dock
TOP 10 VITAMIN A ENRICHED FOODS
• mango, 1 medium (389 µg RAE)
• spinach, 2/3 cup cooked, (494 µg RAE)
• cantaloupe, 1 cup (213 µg RAE)
• squash, acorn, 2/3 cup cooked (244 µg RAE)
• milk, 1 cup (149 µg RAE)
• egg yolk (84 µg RAE)
• mozzarella cheese, part skim, 1 ounce (50 µg RAE)
SUPPLEMENTS - The body converts carotenes into Vitamin A. It is better to get Vitamin A from carotenes in fruits and vegetables because they are lower in fat and calories than animal sources. Supplement only with a doctor's supervision due to toxicity above the RDA.
OTHER - Antibiotics, laxatives and some cholesterol-lowering drugs lower absorption of Vitamin A; do not take more than 10,000 IU of Vitamin A daily if you have liver disease or are pregnant; hyperthyroidism harms Vitamin A absorption