The levels of vitamins in the blood fluctuate and often do not reach the minimum necessary to ensure a good level of health and protection. With age, the body’s ability to absorb the vitamins introduced with the diet is reduced and the increasingly unbalanced diet leads to a reduction in the levels of essential vitamins.
An annual analysis of the levels of vitamins in the blood such as B12, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin D3 are important. C and E for the antioxidant properties of the water-soluble and fat-soluble compartment respectively, vitamin K to ensure correct and not exaggerated coagulation, vitamin D3 for the effects on the immune, antitumor and metabolic regulator systems. Foods that were not previously treated too much and genetically modified guaranteed an intake of these vitamins without problems, now not anymore.
Vitamin B12 is the other vitamin that is often deficient especially in the elderly population who have reduced gastric absorption and consume less meat due to the high cost of meat and fish and due to gastric problems, the use of proton pump inhibitors of the stomach and antacids or for the development of cancer problems. Often the elderly and not only the young are undernourished in terms of protein and vitamin B12 which must be replenished
Here are the optimal blood levels of vitamins for good health
Normal values of vitamin K in adults should be between 15-30 mg/100 ml. In general, vitamin K deficiency is very rare as it is produced by the intestinal bacterial flora in healthy subjects, but there are still those who suffer from it. For Vitamin B12, a concentration of vitamin B12 in the blood lower than 180 ng/l can already cause megaloblastic anemia and/or peripheral neuropathies, even if only values lower than 150 ng/l are considered a deficiency index, while values between 150 and 300 ng/L are interpreted as close to the limit.
For Vitamin D3, only for levels below 12 ng/mL, treatment is indicated even in the absence of symptoms. The institutionalized elderly are deficient in almost all cases: in these conditions a treatment with replacement doses is proposed even without a confirmatory dose.
The reference values of vitamin C in the blood are between 0.5 and 1.5 milligrams per milliliter of blood. For a sufficient intake of vitamin C, between 45 and 65 milligrams per day are sufficient, i.e. those contained in a couple of pineapple slices, a kiwi or an orange. On the other hand, to benefit from its high antioxidant powers, we recommend about 200 milligrams a day, contained in a couple of large red peppers or 3-4 kiwis. The recommended daily dose of vitamin C is officially between 60 and 120 milligrams per day and the maximum tolerated level is 2000 mg per day. When the maximum tolerated level of vitamin C intake is exceeded, the body excretes the excess normally in the urine. However, gastric disorders such as heartburn, gastric acidity and gastric reflux can occur in those who take high doses of vitamin C. There may also be nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Since vitamin C can promote the appearance of kidney stones in predisposed individuals, those who have had kidney problems in this sense should seek the opinion of their doctor before taking supplements or embarking on a diet with high doses of vitamin C.
Folic acid is required for red blood cell and white blood cell function and for gene synthesis in all cells.
Folic acid, like vitamin B12, is required for DNA synthesis and both depend on the normal function of the intestine for their absorption from food.
Folic acid is present in eggs, milk, leafy vegetables, yeasts, liver, fruit, and is also produced by intestinal bacteria; is stored in the liver.
Low serum folate levels mean that the diet has recently been low in folate, that intestinal absorption has been impaired, or both.
For the completeness of the diagnosis, serum Vitamin B12 must also be measured, because in more than 50% of cases of megaloblastic anemia there is a deficiency of B12 rather than folate.
The values considered normal for the content of tocopherol in the blood are between 0.8 and 1.5 milligrams per deciliter. Usually, the cases in which the tests reveal lower values of vitamin E (hypovitaminosis) the problem derives from malnutrition or malabsorption of the vitamin in the intestine.
What should be done in case of hypovitaminosis of these vitamins ?
Vitamins are important because without them and being our body unable to produce them on its own for the processes of metabolism, if we are deficient we must start thinking about them. You must not make or increase the introduction of vitamins if exaggerated only based on the fact that if little is good for you, more is better. There are numerous studies that have shown that 2 kiwis a day reduce the oxidizing power of free radicals on tissues, but 4 instead have an opposite effect. The same goes for vitamin C, in the right quantities it has a physiological action on the tissues for the construction of the mucous membranes, but if too much it has an opposite effect on health, almost as if the body protected itself from an excess and started the same processes and against. Vitamin D included so much in food plans and supplements is receiving scientific attention for possible negative effects if in excess. This is why increasing the intake of vitamins or carotenoids or flavonoids in an uncontrolled way makes no sense if you do not first analyze the benefits and their real needs through blood tests. If a deficiency is ascertained, then yes, we need to run for cover and start increasing the foods that contain it in greater quantities. Therefore, if you are deficient in vitamin C, increase the intake of citrus fruits, if you are deficient in vitamin E, eat vegetable oils and dried fruit, if you are deficient in carotenoids, eat yellow and red vegetables, if you are deficient in vitamin D, eat milk and cheese. and vegetable oils or cod liver oil and perhaps with exposure to the sun, if you are deficient in vitamin B12 treat your intestinal bacterial flora and increase the consumption of meat, if you are deficient in folate increase the intake of green leafy vegetables and green and so on.
When should we take supplements and when should we increase their dietary intake? The choice then to take supplements and not foods is mostly linked to the individual and dietary characteristics of the subject. Increasing food is fine if from a healthy point of view the functionality of the stomach and intestines is complete and in order, if food is absorbed well, antacids are not used which reduce intestinal absorption, if there are no problems of diverticulosis which make it impossible to take some foods, if people suffer from irritable bowel and have to follow special diets sometimes low in fermentable fibers such as FODMAPs, if you are not faced with people with chronic inflammatory bowel or general diseases who make their digestion capacity limited and facilitating the development of deficiencies due to a reduction in assimilation more than anything else.
Then there are people who take medicines and who must avoid certain foods, others who have thyroid problems and who therefore must avoid certain foods such as brassicaceae, which are so rich in vitamins, people who take cortisone and must instead reduce the intake of foods rich in carbohydrates which, however, often have a high content of vitamins and minerals and therefore deficiencies could be generated. We then have people who cannot take a lot of fat due to liver or gallbladder problems and therefore cannot take foods rich in vitamin E or D because they would be difficult to digest. Therefore, in all and many other cases, nutrition alone is not enough because it simply cannot be reached with food and integration must be evaluated. So it has to be customized