5 Vital Vitamins and Minerals: A, B9, B12, Calcium, D3

January 23, 2017
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

From now on, I want you to think in Latin whenever you see the word vitamin. That’s where the root vita, meaning life, comes from. So think of vitamins as vital and be sure, especially during winter, that you’re not vitamin deficient in any of them—as some 93 percent of Americans are.

Vitamins and the domino effect

The unfortunate reality is that you, dear reader, are probably deficient in one or more of the 14 major vitamins. Some 93 percent of Americans are.

It’s important to note that being deficient in just one vitamin can have serious health consequences. Every vitamin molecule interacts countless times with its chemical partners to help run our amazing bodies.

No vitamins? No interactions.

Lacking “just one” vitamin is like playing football with one less player than your opponent. You can still play—but chances are good that you’ll lose.

We can’t cover every vitamin in this space, but here are several of utmost importance.

I hope that you will keep a fully stocked store of every vitamin.

They’re, well…vital.

But, of course, it’s always smart to make sure you and your doctor(s) agree on any changes you make in your diet.

Vitamin D3

It’s estimated that more than 70 percent of US seniors are D3-deficient.

This is serious. Every cell in your body requires D3, which, among its other vital duties, helps us digest and absorb calcium and deliver it to our bones.

When you’re D-deficient, you have an increased risk of:

  • Bone loss
  • Bone fractures
  • Muscle weakness

In addition to risks to your bones and muscles, D-deficiency weakens your immune system—laying down a welcome mat for every health threat in the book. That likely helps explain why an alarming 2014 study found that people with vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to die prematurely—from all causes.

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can’t produce it without exposure to direct sunlight—at least 15 minutes per day, and up to 30 if your skies are polluted.

So if cold weather keeps you indoors, you need outside help from your diet or a good vitamin D3 supplement (don’t bother with D2…it’s a cheaper, less effective form of this important vitamin).

That way, we can be sure we’re well supplied with this super-vital vitamin, which can:

  • Help boost your immune system
  • Reduce your risk of high blood pressure
  • Lower your blood pressure if it’s high
  • Reduce your risk of depression
  • Reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and several kinds of cancer
  • Help delay, even prevent, cognitive decline, generally, and Alzheimer’s, specifically

I recommend tests for D3 for all my patients. The result should ideally show a blood serum level between 50-70 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter).

For those within the ideal range, I recommend that every man, woman, and child take a daily supplement dose of 1,500 IUs per day.

If the result is less than 50 ng/ml, I recommend up to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily and up to 30 minutes of direct sunlight

And you’ll be extra sure you’re “Doing D Right” if you eat D-rich foods like:

  • Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks

Vitamin B12

As we age, our digestive systems gradually lose efficiency. One outcome is that we don’t fully absorb and use all the nutrients, including vitamins, from our foods.

B12 is an essential player in blood formation, as well as brain and nerve function. If a B12 deficiency goes uncorrected, there’s a higher risk of compromised cognitive function.

B12 is a special case. Unlike some other vitamins, we can’t make vitamin B12 in the body. We need a fix by way of diet or supplements.

Here are a few of the known B12 superstars:

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  • Cooked clams and oysters deliver more than 1,000 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
  • Organ and muscle meats—a six-ounce serving of beef steak hits 150 percent of the RDI
  • Each whole egg provides about 6 percent of the RDI
  • One cup of whole milk provides about 18 percent of the RDI

To ensure adequate B12, I recommend a supplement providing 6 mcg daily. The methylated form of B12 is best. It’s not always easy to find in your average grocery store—visit your local health food store or shop a reputable online supplement retailer.

Oh, and don’t worry about that 1,000 percent stat about clams and oysters, you can’t overdose on vitamin B12. Since it’s a water soluble vitamin, your body will use what it needs and eliminate the rest.

The same is not true of vitamins A, E and K.

Folic Acid

The B9 vitamin called called folate or folic acid is found in many foods—that the over-processed, over-sugared and -salted Standard American Diet (SAD) doesn’t include nearly enough of.

That explains in part why many seniors have a folate deficiency—not enough fresh produce and whole grains. The deficiency can pretty easily become sufficiency, just by adding foods such as asparagus, broccoli, beets, lentils, and peas to the diet.

To be extra sure you’re getting enough folate, I recommend 400 mcg of a methylated formulation daily. There are multi-B vitamin supplements that likely combine folate and other vital B vitamins. Be sure to read the labels.

Calcium

Though it’s technically a mineral, not a vitamin, calcium is vital, playing essential roles in bone and dental health, and as a messenger molecule that interacts with every cell in our bodies.

One survey found that in the US, fewer than 15 percent of teenage girls and fewer than 10 percent of women over 50 met the recommended calcium RDI.

In the same survey, fewer than 22 percent of teenage boys and men over 50 met the RDI from diet alone.

That’s very worrying, because without adequate calcium, our heart, muscles, and nervous system are seriously compromised.

I recommend adult men and women up to age 50 should consume 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. After age 50, women need 1,200 mg daily, while men remain at 1,000 mg. After age 71, both men and women should aim for 1,200 mg each day.

Dietary sources of calcium include fish; milk; and dark green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, bok choy, and broccoli

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, bones, and cell membranes.

It also produces our eye pigmentation, which is necessary for vision. That’s why vitamin A deficiency can cause both temporary and permanent eye damage, and may even lead to blindness. In developing countries, in fact, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness.

That’s truly tragic, as there are many common, long-storing foods that are rich in the vitamin:

  • Just one medium, 6-ounce boiled sweet potato contains 150 percent of the RDI
  • Just one large carrot provides 75% of the RDI

Other sources include organ meat, fish liver oil, and dark, leafy green vegetables. I recommend a daily intake of 10000 IU. Limit yourself to a maximum of 25000 IU from food and supplements combined daily.

Get to really know yourself

As Americans, we’re blessed with choices. Thanks to Big Food and their buddies Big Pharma, too many of them are very bad.

So we’ll choose the good ones, yes? Local, fresh, and organic.

But first, we need to know ourselves.

I’ve written before about the extraordinary diagnostic tools that can help your doctor(s) detect all sorts of slow-moving threats that have long been invisible.

We now have tests that can tell you your vitamin, mineral, and micronutrient status, like NutrEval with Genomics, and your cardiovascular health, metabolic risk, inflammation, genetic predisposition, hormone health, and more, like The SpectraCell Solution.

I have all of my patents take them, and urge you to do the same. Have your doctor(s) arrange them for you.

There’s no better way to learn how to take control of your health.

References

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