Vitamins D, E & K

Calciferol (Vitamin D)

Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus metabolism. This vitamin can be made in the skin from cholesterol precursor on exposure to sunlight. However, in places where sunlight exposure is inadequate, supplements may be necessary. Dietary sources include fish liver oils, sardines, and herring, salmon, milk and dairy products.

The recommended daily requirement is 200 IU per day up to 50 years, 400 to 600 IU per day for older people. Deficiency causes rickets and osteoporosis. Since this is fat soluble, excessive intake may lead to toxicity which may manifest as unusual thirst, sore eyes, itchy skin, vomiting, abnormal calcium deposits in blood vessel wall, liver, lungs, kidney and stomach.

(Tocopherol) Vitamin E

Within the vitamin E activity, eight organically occurring plant compound processes take place. Alpha tocopherol is the most active. Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant and it inhibits prostaglandin synthesis. Dietary sources include wheat germ, vegetable oils, green vegetables, whole grain cereals and eggs.
Unlike other fat soluble vitamins, our body stores vitamin for a comparatively short time only, much of it being excreted in the feces. Vitamin E helps to supply oxygen to the body and may protect the lungs against air pollution. It prevents and dissolves blood clots, prevents thick scar formation and miscarriages. It may also help leg cramps.

Vitamin E deficiency causes red blood cell destruction, muscle degeneration and reproductive disorders. The recommended daily dose is 8 to l0 IU. Large doses (>800 IU) may lead to spontaneous hemorrhage from inhibition of platelet aggregation. Vitamin E may interfere with anticoagulation and anti-platelet therapy and it contraindicated in patients taking Coumadin.

Vitamin K

There are two natural forms of vitamin K, phylloquinone from vegetables and animal sources and menaquinone which is synthesized by natural bacteria in the intestine. Vitamin K is essential for the formation of prothrombin needed for blood clotting. Thus, vitamin K helps in preventing internal bleeding and reduces menstrual flow. Dietary sources include yoghurt, egg yolk, fish liver oil, kelp, green leafy vegetables. Deficiency may lead to hemorrhage. Vitamin K interferes with Coumadin therapy and should not be taken by patients on this medication.

Apart from clotting, vitamin K is also essential for strong bones and prevention of heart disease. Vitamin K improves bone density and prevents osteoporosis. It may help to keep calcium out of arterial linings and thus prevent heart disease. Vitamin K may also help to fight cancer, including lung cancer. Vitamin K deficiency may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and interfere with insulin release.

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