Vitamins – Little Wonders

Vitamins are nutrients required by the body in small amounts, for a variety of essential processes.

Most vitamins cannot be made by the body, so need to be provided in the diet.

Vitamin D can be made by the body in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight.

Vitamins are grouped into fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.

Requirements for vitamins change across life stages.

Vitamin A

The total vitamin A content of the diet (from both animal and plant sources) is normally expressed as retinol equivalents (RE).

Vitamin A is essential to the normal structure and function of the skin and mucous membranes such as in the eyes, lungs and digestive system. Therefore, it is vital for vision, embryonic development, growth and cellular differentiation, and the immune system.


Vitamin A deficiency is a serious public health problem worldwide,. It can lead to night blindness (impaired adaptation to low-intensity light) and an eye condition called xerophthalmia (dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea) and eventually total blindness. Marginal deficiency contributes to childhood susceptibility to infection, and therefore morbidity and mortality, in both developing and developed countries. Vitamin A deficiency is common in many developing countries especially among young children.

In the UK, frank deficiency is rare but low intakes are relatively common. For example, depending on age and sex between 6% and 20% of children have intakes that are unlikely to be adequate (below the Lower Reference Nutrient intake, LRNI). In adults, intakes tend to be higher although 16% of men aged 19-24 have intakes below the LRNI. In the UK, supplements containing 233µg of vitamin A are recommended for infants and young children from age 1 to 5 years (from 6 months for infants that receive breast milk as their main drink).


Excess retinol during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. As a precautionary measure, women who are pregnant, or who might become pregnant, are advised not to consume high dose vitamin A supplements (>2800-3300 μg/day). Liver and liver products may contain a large amount of vitamin A, so these should also be avoided in pregnancy.

Large amounts of retinol can also cause liver and bone damage. To prevent adverse effects on bones, intakes above 1500 µgrams of retinol equivalents from food or supplements should be avoided. The Food Standards Agency advises that, as a precaution, regular consumers of liver (once a week or more) should not increase their intake of liver or take supplements containing retinol (for example, cod liver oil).

Food sources

Liver, whole milk, cheese, butter and many reduced fat spreads are dietary sources of retinol. Carrots, dark green leafy vegetables and orange-coloured fruits, e.g. mangoes and apricots are dietary sources of carotenoids. Vitamin A is also often voluntarily added to reduced fat spreads, as is vitamin D.

My Experience With Vitamin A

In my thirties I suffered many ‘cold sores’ on my lips, also I had started wearing reading glasses. I read that when exposed to cold as when swimming in the sea or cold water, the body uses great amounts of vitamin A – also vitamin A, because it is used keeping healthy all of the mucous membranes, which  includes the mouth, the nose, digestive tract, the eyes and the skin, problems in those areas might be due to low intake of vitamin A. While is Australia I learnt that many of the native aborigines living inland suffered eye problems but he aborigines living along the coastline didn’t have eye problems. This was because those living along the coastline ate a lot of fish oils containing vitamin A. Taking fish such as cod liver oil my mouth ulcers and eyesight improved. So that now at 82 I do not need glasses even to read.

My mouth before taking vitamin A. Most links for moth ulcers advertise treatment for symptoms, but vitamin A treats the cause. People do not realise that the diet of processed foods such as all white flour products, white rice and sugary drinks are often the cause of cancer and other diseases.

Vitamins B

Example: I know what I am about to say will be taken as stupidity by people who suffer depression, but it is largely a matter of imprinted habits. Having suffered depression for years and having found a way out of the dark place, I know the route out. It is not a route for people who are in the habit of believing there is no cure, that drugs are the only way to deal with it, or suffer enormous fear about change or meeting new aspects of self. Some people actually believe that depression is normal, and so it is our real nature to be depressed. But having found my way out without antidepressants and am on stable ground – much more so that normal – I know that we are not destined to feel pain and despair. Life is not all about pain as Buddhsim states. It is all about a stable emotional life with so much to offer us. But it takes work and consistency to remove all the rubbish put into us, and to clear all the dark debris that is the cause of depression – debris that block the light of our being. See Opening to Life

Example: Since she was 11, Sara’s life had been a nightmare of mental and physical suffering. Her history included chronic insomnia, episodic loss of reality, attempted suicide by hanging, amnesia, partial seizures, nausea, vomiting and loss of periods. Her knees were so painful (X-rays showed poor cartilages) and her mind so disperceptive that she walked slowly with her feet wide apart like a peasant following a hand plough drawn by tired oxen. Psychiatrists at three different hospitals gave the dubious waste-basket labels of ‘schizophrenia’, ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ and ‘schizophrenia with convulsive disorder’. At times her left side went into spasms with foot clawed and fist doubled up. Both arm and leg had a wild flaying motion. Restraints were needed at these times. Psychotherapy was ineffective. Most tranquillisers accentuated the muscle symptoms. She tested positive for pyroluria and was given B6 and zinc. Urinary kryptopyrrole was at times as high as 1000mcg%, the normal range being less than 15. She was diagnosed as B6 and zinc deficient and treatment was started. Over three months her knees became normal, the depression subsided, as did the seizures, her periods returned, the nausea vanished and so did the abdominal pain. She has had no recurrence of her grave illness, finished college and now works in New York. She takes zinc and B6 daily. When under stress of any kind, she increases her intake of vitamin B6.

Perhaps the most significant discovery in the nutritional treatment of mental illness is that many depressed and mentally ill people are deficient in vitamin B6 and zinc. But this deficiency is no ordinary deficiency that is simply corrected by eating more foods that are rich in zinc and B6. It is connected with the abnormal production of Kryptopyrroles.

People with depression or other mental health disorders often have high levels of Kryptopyrroles in their urine when tested. Kryptopyrroles rob the body of vitamin B6 and zinc, causing these nutrients to be excreted in the urine, this results in a deficiency of B6 and zinc that requires supplementation to correct.

Symptoms of pyroluria – High Kryptopyrroles

  • Disperceptions
  • Depression
  • Intolerance to some protein foods, drugs or alcohol
  • Definite body odour and breath
  • Morning nausea and constipation
  • Difficulty remembering dreams
  • Crowded upper front teeth.
  • White spots on finger nails
  • Pale skin which does not tolerate sunlight
  • Frequent upper abdominal pain
  • Frequent head colds and infections
  • Stretch marks in the skin
  • Irregular cycle or impotency
  • Any of the above when stressed
  • Belong to all-girl family with look-alike sisters
  • A family history of mental illness
  • A history of miscarried boys

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved