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Micronutrient Study Guide Essay

Vitamin C

1. Vitamin C is a required vitamin for the synthesis of collagen, norepinephrine, and carnitine. Collagen is a crucial component in the structure of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter which is critical for proper brain function. Carnitine is a small molecule that is essential for transporting fat into the mitochondria of cells to be later converted into energy. Vitamin C is also used as a highly effective antioxidant to help protect key organs from the effects of free radicals and reactive oxygen.

2. The most severe malady related to a deficiency in vitamin C is scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy are easy bruising/bleeding, hair and tooth loss, and pain and swelling of joints. These symptoms are related to the deficiency of collagen which results in the weakening of blood vessels, connective tissues, and bones.

3. Adequate intake of vitamin C can help to prevent diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, cataracts, gout, and toxicity from lead.

4. For individuals with cardiovascular diseases, treatment that includes daily vitamin C dosages of atleast 500mg per day has been shown to improve vasodilation. It also helps to increase vasodilation in individuals with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Vitamin C has also been shown to be useful in the treatment of cancer in terminal patients when administered intravenously.

5. Vitamin C supplements are available in a wide variety of forms. Supplements can come in the form of natural or synthetic L-ascorbic acid, mineral ascorbates, with or without bioflavonoids, metabolites, and ascorbyl palmitate.

6. Most studies that have been conducted on high vitamin C intake were based on invitro experiments. The outcomes included genetic mutations, birth defects, cancer, atherosclerosis, kidney stones, excess iron absorption, vitamin B12 deficiency, and dental enamal erosion.

Folate/Folic Acid

1. Folates are vitamins that naturally exists in our foods and in metabolically active forms in our body. Folic acid is the more stable form that does not occur frequently in food or our body. However, folic acid is the form that is most often used in supplements and fortififed food. Its functions include the metabolism of one-carbon units, DNA, amino acids, vitamins B12 and B6.

2. Deficiency of folate is usually caused by inadequte dietary consumption. Deficiency can also occur due to alcoholism, pregnancy, or certain medications. Not consuming enough folate can lead to an increase of blood homocysteine levels. Inadequate supply of folate also leads to fewer and larger red blood cells being produced, which causes megaloblastic anemia to occur.

3. Folates can be used to help prevent many things. It helps in the prevention of pregnancy complications, such as neural tube defects, heart defects, limb malformations, premature delivery, low birth weight in infants, miscarriages, and preclampsia. Folates also help in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases caused by elevated homocysteine levels, colorectal and breast cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairment diseases.

4. To help eliminate and prevent diseases and conditions caused by a deficiency in folates and folic acid, it is recommended that adults 19 years old and older consume atleast 400mcg/day of Dietary Folate Equivalent (DFE).

5. Folate can be used in supplemental forms. Folate supplements come in the form of folic acid and are available in single and combination products.

6. There have not been any reported adverse affects of excess folate intake from foods. However, there are concerns with excess levels of synthetic folic acid intake in individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency, which may lead to a condition known as megaloblastic anemia. High intake levels of folic acid in these individuals leads to a correction of the anemia, without correcting the underlying vitamin B12 deficiency. Untreated vitamin B12 deficiency puts those at an increased risk of developing irreversible neurological brain damage.

Fluoride

1. Fluoride is used in our body to harden tooth enamel and stabilize bone mineralization.

2. The biggest condition related to a fluoride deficiency is the increased risk of developing dental cavities and tooth decay.

3. Adequate intake of fluoride is useful in the prevention of dental cavities and tooth decay by enhancing remineralization of tooth enamel and making teeth more resistant to demineralization. It has also been found to be useful in the prevention of osteoporosis when consumed at levels higher than that of recommended levels for tooth decay prevention.

4. Osteoporosis can be eliminated with very-high dosages of fluoride. It has been shown to produce large increases in bone mineral density in the vertebrae of the lumbar spine.

5. Fluoride supplements are only available by prescription. They are only intended for children who reside in areas with low water fluoride concentrations. It is given to them for the purpose of increasing their fluoride intake to about 1mg/day.

6. High fluoride intake (for the treatment of osteoporosis) is associated with the side effects of gastrointestinal irritation, joint pain in lower extremities, and the possible development of calcium deficiency, which leads to stress fractures. Acute fluoride poisoning is especially possible in children when consumed in excess through fluoride fortified products. Skeletal fluorosis, the changing of bone structure, can occur with excessive intake occurring over a long period of years. Dental fluorosis is also possible when given in excess to children who have not yet produced permanent teeth.

Potassium

1. Potassium is the most abundant positively charged ion contained in the fluid inside of cells. It is a part of an electrochemical gradient known as the membrane potential. It works along with sodium to maintain ion pumps within the cell membrane that use ATP to pump out sodium in exchange for potassium. Potassium is also required for a number of enzymes that require it for activation.

2. The biggest disorder related to potassium deficiency is hypokalemia, which results from excessive loss of potassium through occurrences such as prolonged vomiting, diuretic usage, some kidney diseases, or metabolic disturbances. Hypokalemia symptoms include fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, and gastrointestinal problems related to intestinal paralysis.

3. Diseases that may be prevented with adequate potassium intake are stroke, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.

4. Potassium intake has been shown to help in the treatment of high blood pressure when consumed through a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables.

5. Supplements containing potassium contain no more than 99mg per serving. Higher dosages are prescribed for the treatment and prevention of hypokalemia and potassium depletion, and should only be used under the guidance of a medical professional. Potassium supplements are available in many forms, including potassium chloride, gluconate,bicarbonate, and citrate.

6. The most common side effect caused by potassium supplementation is gastrointestinal problems. This reaction includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. These sides effects may be avoided by consuming potassium supplements with a meal. Using potassium chloride tablets coated with enteric has also reportedly lead to intestinal ulceration.


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