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Vitamin A

Nutrient description/background:
  • Also known as retinol;
  • Mostly comes from animal foods, but some plant-based foods provide beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A;
  • Fat-soluble vitamin.

Nutrient function:
  • Vitamin A is required to maintain the function of the cells that make up the skin;
  • Vital in the production of white bloods cells, which are critical in the body's immune response;
  • Necessary for bone growth through building and maintaining healthy teeth and strong bones;
  • Positive effect on vision, especially in low light;
  • Needed for producing tears and keeping the eye moist and free of infection;
  • Commonly found in skin medications used to treat acne.

  • Children 1-3 and 4-8 years old: 300 and 400 micrograms per day (mcg/day), respectively;
  • Children 9-13 years of age: 600 mcg/day;
  • Males and females 14 years and older: 900 and 700 mcg/day, respectively;
  • Pregnant women require higher amounts and should consult their doctor for the recommended amount.

Food Sources:
  • Fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids, plant pigments that are responsible for the red, orange and yellow color, provide vitamin A;
  • Dried fruits, including apricots and prunes;
  • Fresh fruits, including watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches and mangos;
  • Raw vegetables, including carrots, endive, tomatoes and red peppers;
  • Cooked vegetables, including broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, turnip greens and winter squash;
  • Foods that come from animals, such as whole eggs, milk, liver and most fortified fat-free and dried nonfat milk solids.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Diets rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A may lower many types of cancer.
  • Beta-carotene and/or vitamin A rich foods may decrease the risk of lung cancer.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Studies show that beta-carotene did not protect against cancer.
  • One study discovered that subjects receiving beta-carotene supplements had a 46% higher risk of dying from lung cancer.

Vitamin B6

Nutrient description/background:
  • Water soluble

Nutrient function:
  • Required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine;
  • Involved in protein metabolism;
  • Contributes to red blood cell metabolism;
  • Aids in immune system functioning;
  • Maintains health of lymphoid organs, including spleen, thymus and lymph nodes that synthesize white blood cells;
  • Maintains blood glucose levels within normal ranges.

  • RDA 1.3 milligrams a day for men and women under 50 years old;
  • RDA 1.9 milligrams a day for pregnant women;
  • DRI 2-2.5 milligrams a day.

Food sources:
  • Cereal grains;
  • Vegetables, including carrots, spinach, peas and potatoes;
  • Beef, pork, chicken, fish (salmon and tuna), animal products such as milk, cheese, eggs and liver.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Can potentially intervene with neurological conditions, such as seizures, depression, headaches and Parkinson's disease;
  • Reduce probability of carpal tunnel syndrome and premenstrual syndrome.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Research currently being conducted regarding the relation of vitamin B6 with seizures, depression, headaches and Parkinson's disease;
  • No scientific evidence exists to support the claims made about the effects of B6 on carpal tunnel syndrome or premenstrual syndrome.

Vitamin B12

Nutrient description/background:
  • The body's ability to absorb from food usually declines with age;
  • Found in animal protein;
  • Strict vegetarians and vegans are at a greater risk for developing a deficiency due to low or no consumption of animal products;
  • Water-soluble vitamin;
  • Normally, water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body;
  • B12 can be stored in the liver for years, making deficiencies very rare.

Nutrient function:
  • Required for normal blood formation;
  • Important for metabolism;
  • Needed for proper neurological function;
  • Used to help make DNA.

  • Children 1-3 and 4-8: .9 micrograms per day (mcg/day) and 1.2 mcg/day, respectively;
  • Children 9-13: 1.8 mcg/day;
  • People 14 and older: 2.4 mcg/day;
  • Women who are pregnant and lactating need larger amounts.

Food sources:
  • Dairy products;
  • Meats;
  • Poultry;
  • Eggs;
  • Fish;
  • Many fortified cereals.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Positive association between B12 and bone health;
  • Getting adequate amounts of folate and B12 may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Framingham Osteoporosis Study conducted by Tufts University found that both men and women with low vitamin B12 levels also averaged low bone mineral density compared to those with high vitamin B12 levels;
  • Researchers from the Netherlands found that osteoporosis occurred more often in those with deficient B12 levels than those whose levels were normal;
  • Results hypothesizing that adequate amounts of folate and B12 reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease are highly preliminary.


Nutrient description/background:
  • A common ingredient found in Italian cuisines;
  • Characterized by a distinctive odor and sharp taste;
  • Used in perfumes, soaps, shampoos and dental preparations;
  • Also known as Ocimum Basilicum;
  • Annual herb of the mint family that originated in India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is now cultivated worldwide.

Nutrient function:
  • Has many antioxidants that aid in anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties;
  • Preparations are used for feelings of fullness and flatulence, stimulation of appetite and digestion, and used as a diuretic;
  • Carries leukotrienes that serve against asthma, allergic rhinitis, and other allergic and inflammatory disorders;
  • Low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium;
  • Good source of Protein, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Niacin, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.

  • Because Basil is an herb, there are no recommended doses.

Food sources:
  • Recommended to be used fresh;
  • In cooked recipes, it is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor;
  • Can be kept in the refrigerator, only if tightly sealed;
  • Can be frozen, after blanching quickly in boiling water;
  • The dried herb loses most of its flavor, leaving a weak coumarin flavor, similar to hay.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Used for disturbances of renal function, stomach cramps and gum ulcers;
  • Used for treatment of earaches, rheumatoid arthritis, itching and skin diseases, anorexia, amenorrhea and dysmenorrheal, malaria, and other common diseases;
  • Should not be taken during pregnancy.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • There have not been recent studies of Basil; however, the indications come from old Indian and Chinese medicine practices.


Nutrient description/background:
  • Is in the family of the B vitamins;
  • Synthesized by bacteria, yeast and other fungi, algae and certain plant species;
  • Is rarely a problem in people who eat a wide variety of foods, because the body produces its own biotin from intestinal bacteria;
  • Is only needed in small amounts;
  • Used for the treatment of biotin-responsive inborn errors of metabolism.

Nutrient function:
  • The micro flora of the human large intestine appears to contribute to the biotin requirements of the body;
  • Necessary for the formation of fatty acids and glucose, which are used as fuels by the body;
  • Important for the metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates.

  • Adolescents and adults: 30 to 100 micrograms per day;
  • Allowances vary with age, sex, and physical condition;
  • Some conditions increase the body's need, such as genetic disorders of biotin deficiency, seborrheic dermatitis in infants (flaking of the skin), and surgical removal of the stomach.

Food sources:
  • Salmon, liver, kidney and pancreas;
  • Cauliflower, carrots and bananas;
  • Soy flour, cereals, barley and yeast;
  • Milk and egg yolks;
  • The content in these foods are reduced when cooked or preserved;
  • The richest source is Brewer's Yeast.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Effective in the treatment of acne, eczema and hair loss;
  • Plays a role in gene expression, both at the transcriptional and translational levels, and may play a role in DNA replication;
  • Management of brittle fingernails;
  • Helps improve glucose metabolism in ways that may be beneficial in some with diabetes.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • All health claims need further investigation.

Vitamin C

Nutrient description/background:
  • An essential nutrient, meaning it cannot be produced by the body.

Nutrient function:
  • Aids in cell development and growth;
  • Essential for formation of collagen, the foundation for all connective tissues in the body including teeth, bones, skin and tendons;
  • Helps repair and heal cuts and wounds;
  • Encourages the absorption of iron, which operates within blood cells to facilitate oxygen distribution throughout the body.;
  • Develops strong gums.

  • Adult male: 90 milligrams a day;
  • Adult female: 75 milligrams a day.

Food sources:
  • Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables;
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, are a main source;
  • Other fruits and vegetables, such as melons, berries, broccoli, green bell peppers, potatoes and green dark leafy vegetables, are good sources.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Is an antioxidant and protects the body from free radicals;
  • May prevent/treat the common cold.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • As an antioxidant, Vitamin C has the ability to eliminate free radicals from fluid in the body, consequently reducing their harmful effects;
  • Free radicals are the byproduct of a process that uses oxygen and could be harmful to DNA, cells and tissue;
  • Results from long term free radical damage may be cancer, heart disease or diabetes;
  • Will not cure the common cold but can significantly shorten its duration and lessen the severity of symptoms because of the immunity boosting function of Vitamin C that fuels the production of antibodies, which serve to protect the body against viruses and bacteria.


Nutrient description/background:
  • The most abundant mineral in the human body;
  • More than 99% of total body calcium is stored in the bones and teeth;
  • The remaining 1% is found throughout the body in the blood, muscles and fluid between cells.

Nutrient function:
  • Helps support heart muscles and nerves;
  • Builds and keeps bones strong;
  • Needed for muscle contraction;
  • Required for blood vessel constriction and expansion;
  • Needed for secretion of hormones and enzymes;
  • Aids in blood clotting;
  • Needed for sending messages through the nervous system.

  • 0-6 months: 210 milligrams per day (mg/day);
  • 7-12 months: 270 mg/day;
  • 1-3 years: 500 mg/day;
  • 4-8 years: 800 mg/day;
  • 9-18years: 1300 mg/day;
  • 19-50 years: 1000 mg/day;
  • >51 years: 1200.

Food sources:
  • Dairy products, such as milk, cottage cheese, cheese and yogurt;
  • Pinto, red and white beans;
  • Tofu;
  • Chinese cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach and rhubarb;
  • Calcium fortified foods, such as orange juice.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Increasing calcium intake from dairy products, not supplements, may increase weight reduction;
  • May help prevent and/or treat symptoms of moderate hypertension;
  • High calcium intake helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and may reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • According to the Cochrane evidence base, trials conducted on calcium's effect on hypertension were of poor quality. A longer and better quality trial must be done to demonstrate calcium's effect on lowering blood pressure;
  • According to Cochrane musculoskeletal trials, calcium, accompanied with vitamin D, showed a significant prevention of bone loss;
  • Low dietary intakes have been linked to PMS in several studies and calcium supplementation has been shown to decrease symptom severity.


Nutrient description/background:
  • Comes from a dried, unripened fruit in the form of a pod which encases small brown seeds. The seeds are ground to produce an aromatic and sweet herb;
  • The pods which contain about 20 seeds are hand-picked and dried, then sorted and grated;
  • Ayurvedic medicine, an alternative medical practice derived in India more than 5,000 years ago, has and continues to use cardamom for its many health benefits;
  • Eastern, Arab and some Scandinavian countries use cardamom in cooking, particularly in spice blends, sweet and savory dishes;
  • Use of the herb dates back to fourth century B.C. when Greek physicians recognized and documented its medicinal value;
  • One of the most expensive herbs in the world, it has been used for medicinal, spiritual and culinary purposes for ages and is currently used in many cuisines around the world;
  • Low in saturated fat, sodium and has no cholesterol, making it an ideal addition to many dishes;
  • High in calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, iron, zinc and magnesium.

Nutrient function:
  • Functions in the body in helpful ways due to its volatile oils;
  • Aids in digestive health through increased production of bile and reduction of stomach acid;
  • Works as an antibacterial agent.

  • While there is no DRI or RDA for cardamom, researchers suggest a daily consumption of cardamom at 1.5 grams of powder to be sprinkled in food or added to beverages;
  • Cardamom is generally safe, but people with gallstones should talk with a physician before taking it as a tea or supplement.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Has many therapeutic properties and reported benefits may include improved digestive stimulation - reducing gas and counteracting stomach acidity;
  • May cleanse the kidneys and bladder, and improve circulation to the lungs, reducing the severity of asthma or bronchitis.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • There has been no substantial proof of these claimed benefits; therefore it should not replace conventional medicine or prescription drugs.


Nutrient description/background:
  • Mineral humans need in trace amounts;
  • Must be obtained through food, because the body does not produce it;
  • Absorbed chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue and bone;
  • Found primarily in two forms;
  • Trivalent- biologically active and found in foods;
  • Hexavalent- a toxic form resulting from industrial pollution.

Nutrient function:
  • Directly involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism;
  • Contributing role in glucose metabolism by enhancing the effects of insulin in the body;
  • Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to increased blood glucose levels; these increased levels usually occur after a meal;
  • Insulin provides cells with glucose that is used for energy.

  • Children ages 1-3 and 4-8: 11 and 15 micrograms per day (mcg/day), respectively;
  • Males ages 9-13 and 13-50: 25 and 35 mcg/day, respectively;
  • Females ages 9-13 and 14-18: 21 and 24 mcg/day, respectively;
  • Females ages 19-50: 25 mcg/day;
  • Pregnant women require special amounts and should consult their doctor for the recommended amount.

Food Sources:
  • Fresh fruits, including apples and bananas;
  • Juices, such as orange and grape;
  • Meats, including beef, liver, chicken, oysters and turkey breast;
  • Vegetables, such as spinach, green peppers, broccoli, green beans and potatoes;
  • Spices;
  • Whole grains, such as whole meal bread and whole oats.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Builds muscle;
  • Lowers blood cholesterol;
  • Prevents and treats diabetes;
  • Promotes weight loss;
  • Alleviates depression.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Studies have shown no benefits for weight loss;
  • Although low levels of chromium are characteristics of diabetes, there is no clear evidence of prevention and/or treatment of diabetes through supplemental use;
  • Chromium supplements are suggested to cause cancer through its damage of genetic material in animal cells;
  • There is no strong evidence backing its use for building muscle and/or reducing blood cholesterol.


Nutrient description/background:
  • When the brown bark of a cinnamon tree is dried, it rolls into a tubular form known as a quill;
  • Once considered more precious than gold;
  • One of the oldest spices known;
  • Excellent source of manganese, dietary fiber, iron and calcium;
  • Two varieties, Chinese and Ceylon;
  • Ceylon is slightly sweeter, more refined and more difficult to find in local markets.

Nutrient function:
  • Used to treat a variety of health problems, including respiratory problems, skin infections, blood impurity, menstruation problems and heart disorders;
  • Helps stop bleeding and facilitates the healing process;
  • Anti-inflammatory;
  • Used to make perfumes;
  • The oil is used as a mosquito repellant.

  • Not Applicable

Food Sources:
  • Not Applicable

Indications/Health claims:
  • Helps manage diabetes;
  • Lowers cholesterol;
  • In high doses, cinnamon is believed to be toxic.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • A study of 60 people in Pakistan with type 2 diabetes found that one-fourth of a teaspoon, twice a day, significantly lowered subjects' blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol and total cholesterol;
  • A USDA study found that the beneficial effects of cinnamon lasted at least 20 days after people stopped taking the spice;
  • An active ingredient found in cinnamon gets inside cells where it activates the insulin receptor;
  • Cinnamon makes cells more sensitive to available insulin, which allows the cell to use energy from sugar;
  • A German study found that a water-based extract of cinnamon lowered blood sugar, but didn't affect LDL (bad cholesterol) or triglycerides;
  • Dutch research didn't find any change in LDL, blood sugar or triglyceride levels in older women with type 2 diabetes who took powdered cinnamon.


Nutrient description/background:
  • An essential trace mineral found in animal and human nutrition;
  • In gram amounts, copper is extremely toxic.

Nutrient function:
  • Absorbed in the small intestine and a small amount is absorbed in the stomach;
  • The body needs copper for normal growth and health;
  • Needed to help the body use iron;
  • Important for nerve function, bone growth and to help the body use sugar.

  • Adolescent and adult males: 1.5 to 2.5 milligrams per day;
  • Adolescent and adult females: 1.5 to 3 milligrams per day;
  • Some conditions may increase the body's need for copper such as burns, diarrhea, intestine disease, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, surgical removal of the stomach and stress (continuing);

Food sources:
  • Organ meats (especially liver), seafood, beans, nuts and whole grains;
  • Additional copper can come from drinking water from copper pipes, using copper cookware and eating farm products that have been sprayed with copper-containing chemicals;
  • May be decreased in foods that have high acid content or that are stored in tin cans for extended periods of time;
  • The richest food sources come from nuts, seeds, legumes, the bran and germ portions of grains, oysters and crustaceans.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Copper supplements are effective in the treatment of arthritis or skin conditions;
  • In a study concerning middle-aged people, copper was found to protect red blood cells against oxidation;
  • Copper bracelets have been worn to ameliorate symptoms of arthritis;
  • Copper complexes of aspirin, tryptophan and penicillamine have anti-inflammatory effects.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • In the study concerning red blood cells, evidence did not show increased copper/zinc superoxide activity with copper supplementations; the mechanism of the possible antioxidant activity is unclear.
  • There was evidence that copper from the bracelets dissolved in sweat and was reabsorbed through the skin.
  • More research is needed to prove most common health claims of copper.


Nutrient description/background:
  • Wisconsin has been the top cranberry-producing state in the nation for the past 12 consecutive years;
  • Declared Wisconsin's official state fruit in 2004;
  • Grown on vines in sandy bogs and marshes where the berries are flooded when ready for harvesting;
  • Freeze well up to two years;
  • In the 1800s, American soldiers ate cranberries to prevent scurvy.

Nutrient function:
  • Packed with antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals - molecules that cause a cell to malfunction or become malignant;
  • Phytonutrients found in the berries help promote urinary tract health and the prevention of cardiovascular disease, stomach ulcers and even cancer;
  • Rich source of flavonoids, which have many health benefits.

  • Not applicable

Food Sources:
  • Fresh fruit;
  • Juice;
  • Sauce;
  • Dried.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Contains significant amounts of antioxidants, which help protect against certain diseases;
  • Prevents ulcers;
  • Prevent dental plaque and periodontal disease;
  • Prevents urinary tract infections.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Recent research shows that cranberries and cranberry products contain great amounts of antioxidants, which may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases;
  • Results of medical research show that cranberries may prevent ulcers, which are linked to stomach cancer and acid reflux disease;
  • A published study in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that a unique cranberry juice component has the ability to inhibit and reverse the growth of certain oral bacteria responsible for dental plaque and periodontal disease;
  • Contains certain factors that inhibit adhesion of certain bacteria, which can cause urinary tract infections.

Vitamin D

Nutrient description/background:
  • In the beginning of the 20th century, scientists revealed that rickets, a childhood disease characterized by improper bone development, could be prevented by vitamin D;
  • This fat-soluble vitamin is present in very few foods and is often added to foods or found in supplement form;
  • It is produced by the body when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.

Nutrient function:
  • Essential for calcium absorption in the gut;
  • Maintains calcium and phosphorus concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone;
  • Needed for bone growth and remodeling;
  • Maintains normal cellular growth and function;
  • Maintains healthy immune function, preventing excessive inflammation;
  • Sufficient amount prevents rickets in children, when bones become soft and weak;
  • When paired with calcium, vitamin D helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

  • 14-50 years- 200 IU
  • 51-70 years- 400 IU
  • >70 years- 600 IU

Food sources:
  • Flesh of fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel);
  • Fish liver oils - best sources;
  • Small amounts found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolk;
  • Fortified foods, such as milk, ready-to-eat cereals, orange juice, yogurt and margarine.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Insufficient vitamin D intake can lead to fragile bones and an increased risk of bone fractures;
  • May help prevent certain types of cancer;
  • Recent research suggests that vitamin D might have some role in the prevention and treatment of type I and type II diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Insufficient vitamin D intake reduces calcium absorption, causing an increased risk of osteoporosis;
  • Recent data suggest that vitamin D has a protective effect against colon cancer;
  • Vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of colon, prostate and breast cancers;
  • Most evidence for studies on diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis come from in vitro, animal and epidemiological studies, not randomized clinical trials.

Vitamin E

Nutrient description/background:
  • Vitamin E exists in eight different forms in nature;
  • The most biologically active form of vitamin E is a-tocopherol;
  • Food processing and preparation can substantially reduce the vitamin E content in foods.

Nutrient Function(s):
  • Primary function is to maintain cell membrane integrity;
  • Protect cells from damage;
  • Assist in the transfer of cellular information;
  • Protects the skin from UV damage.

Gender Age RDA
Male 1-3 6mg/day
  4-8 7mg/day
  9-13 11mg/day
  14 > 15mg/day
Female 1-3 6mg/day
  4-8 7mg/day
  9-13 11mg/day
  14 > 15mg/day

Food Sources:
  • Nuts;
  • Sunflower seeds;
  • Legumes;
  • Whole grain;
  • Wheat germ;
  • Vegetable oils;
  • Leafy green vegetables;
  • Salad dressing;
  • Mayonnaise;
  • Margarine;
  • Avocado;
  • Olives.

Indications/Health Claims
  • Reduce menopause and PMS symptoms;
  • Prevent and treat diabetes;
  • Reduce risk of cancer;
  • Prevent and treat heart disease;
  • Prevent and treat osteoarthritis.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Results from several large studies indicate that increased vitamin E consumption is associated with decreased risk of heart attack and death from heart disease in both men and women;
  • Cancers are believed to result from cell damage. Because Vitamin E plays a major role in reducing damage, it has been proposed that vitamin E can prevent and/or treat cancer; however, research does not support claims of vitamin E reducing cancer rates.
  • Study results are mixed with regards to the use of vitamin E for the treatment of diabetes. Some research studies indicate that use of supplemental vitamin E improves insulin action in type 2 diabetic and non-diabetic individuals, while other studies have shown minimal to no improvements in glucose metabolism of type 2 diabetics.


Nutrient description/background:
  • A perennial herb that grows up to 45 centimeters in height;
  • The taste is slightly sweet, then bitter leaving a tingling sensation on the tongue;
  • Grows in the middle or eastern United States and is cultivated in Europe;
  • Other names include: Black Sampson, Hedgehog, Purple Coneflower, Red Sunflower, Rudbeckia and Sampson Root.

Nutrient function:
  • Used internally as supportive therapy for common colds, chronic infections of the respiratory tract and lower urinary tract, and for influenza-like infections.

  • Studies have recommended a daily dose of 900 milligrams;
  • The drug should be used for a maximum of 8 weeks;
  • People with HIV/AIDS, some types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis and rheumatologic diseases should not take this supplement.

Food sources:
  • Echinacea Purpurea herbs;
  • Echinacea Purpurea juices.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Cures: abscesses, acne, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bacterial infections, bee stings, boils, burn wounds, diphtheria, dizziness, eczema, gingivitis, gum inflammation, hemorrhoids, herpes labialis, HIV/AIDS, influenza, malaria, menopause, migraine headaches, mouth sores, nasal congestion/runny nose, pain, psoriasis, rheumatism, skin ulcers, snake bites, stomach upset, syphilis, tonsillitis, typhoid, urinary disorders, urinary tract infections and whooping cough.
  • For URI treatment, numerous human trials have found the herb to reduce duration and severity, particularly when initiated at the earliest onset of symptoms.
  • Topical Echinacea Purpurea juice has been suggested for skin and oral wound healing.
  • Long term use of this herb may cause low white blood cell counts.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Clinical trials reported in July 2005 did not demonstrate any clinical benefit for Echinacea.
  • In 2006, an investigation of the efficacy of Echinacea found that the likelihood of experiencing a cold was 55 percent higher with a placebo than with Echinacea.
  • In tests of Echinacea Purpurea, toxic cellular effects were seen only at very high, clinically irrelevant concentrations.

Folic Acid

Nutrient description/background:
  • B Vitamin;
  • Is the synthetic form of Folate, but the two are indifferent;
  • This man-made form of Folate is easier to absorb and use;
  • Water soluble and cannot be stored in the body; is safe and necessary.

Nutrient function:
  • Assists with the production of new body cells by helping to produce DNA and RNA, a cell's guide to reproduction;
  • Especially helps make red blood cells, which are important in developing the neural tube that houses the fetal spinal cord and brain;
  • Helps tissues grow and aids in cellular function.

  • 400 micrograms a day for men and women;
  • 600 micrograms a day before and during pregnancy.

Food sources:
  • Found in orange juice, bananas, asparagus, lentils, dried beans, broccoli, peanuts, avocados and dark leafy greens;
  • Breads, cereals, pastas and other grains are federally required to be enriched with folic acid, which provides 100% of the recommended daily allowance.

Indications/Health claims:
  • When adequately consumed before and during pregnancy, it prevents spina bifida, a neural tube defect that results in incomplete closure of a developing baby's spinal cord, spinal column and underdevelopment of the brain;
  • Studies in progress to determine if effective for use in Alzheimer's disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome;
  • Recent studies are researching the possibility for folic acid to prevent neuroblastoma, a deadly cancer that occurs in children;
  • Low levels affect chemicals that create DNA, which may alter how well cells can repair themselves or divide without mistake that may lead to cancer;
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Inconclusive research has been conducted about the potential to lower rates of ovarian, breast and colon cancer.


Nutrient description/background:
  • A perennial herb cultivated in India;
  • Garlic also known as Allium sativum, is a member of the lily family and a close relative of the onion;
  • Garlic gets its pungent odor from a sulphur-containing compound, called allicin;
  • Allicin is responsible for many of garlic's beneficial properties.

Nutrient Function(s):
  • Directly affects hepatic metabolism;
  • Works to increase insulin secretion;
  • Works to dilate and relax blood vessels;
  • Garlic exhibits anticoagulation properties;
  • Reduces inflammatory process.

  • Not applicable

Daily Dosage:
Indication Dose
General Health 1 fresh garlic clove 1 to 2 times daily
Arteriosclerosis 600-800mg garlic powder daily
Hyperlipidemia 600-900mg garlic powder daily
Hypertension 200-300mg garlic powder 3 times daily

Food Sources:
  • Italian cuisine;
  • Asian cuisine;
  • Indian cuisine;
  • Mediterranean cuisine.

Indications/Health Claims
  • Reduce high blood pressure;
  • Prevent and treat coronary artery disease;
  • Prevent and treat diabetes;
  • Prevent and treat cancer;
  • Prevent and treat microbial infections.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Several studies indicate that garlic powder can inhibit the build-up of cholesterol as well as lower triglyceride levels;
  • Clinical trials report that garlic consumption shows great benefit for individuals at high risk of developing coronary artery disease by slowing down accumulation of plaque over time;
  • Fresh or cooked garlic in several studies have shown beneficial effects in reducing the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer; however, further research is needed;
  • In a few small studies garlic has shown promise in the management of diabetes by increasing insulin secretion; however, further research is needed.


Nutrient description/background:
  • The underground stem of the plant Zingiber officinale;
  • Used as a medicine in Asian, Indian and Arabic herbal traditions since ancient times;
  • It can also be presented as a powder, tablet, extract and oil;
  • Valued as an important cooking spice around the world.

Nutrient function:
  • In China, it has been used to aid in digestion and treat upset stomach, diarrhea and nausea for more than 2,000 years;
  • Also used to help treat arthritis, colic and heart conditions;
  • Ginger is a good source of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and vitamin B6;
  • Believed to help the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches and menstrual cramps.
  • While there is no DRI or RDA for ginger, research indicates that a dose of 2-4 grams for adults may provide some benefit;
  • Standard dose: 75-2,000 milligrams per day;
  • For nausea, gas or indigestion: 2-4 grams of fresh root per day;
  • To relieve arthritis pain: 2-4 grams daily of fresh ginger juice, extract or tea;
  • For cold or flu symptoms, sore throat, headaches, or menstrual cramps: steep 2 tablespoons of freshly shredded ginger in hot water, 2-3 times daily.

Food sources:
  • Ginger products are made from fresh or dried ginger root;
  • Steam distillation of the oil in the root;
  • Available in extracts, capsules, tinctures and oils.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Used to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting, associated with motion sickness, pregnancy and cancer chemotherapy;
  • Used as support in inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and may be used in heart disease and cancer.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • In a trial of 80 sailors, prone to motion sickness, those who took powdered ginger experienced a significant reduction in motion sickness compared to those who took a placebo;
  • In a study of 30 pregnant women with severe vomiting, those, who ingested 1 gram of ginger everyday for four days, reported more relief from vomiting compared to those, who received a placebo;
  • Preliminary studies suggest ginger may help lower cholesterol and prevent blood from clotting. These effects may protect blood vessels from blockage, which can lead to heart attack or stroke;
  • Many health care professionals today use ginger to help treat health problems associated with inflammation, such as arthritis and ulcerative colitis;
  • Laboratory studies have found that components in ginger may have anti-cancer activity; however, more research needs to be done on these claims.


Nutrient description/background:
  • One of the most abundant metals on Earth;
  • Essential to most life forms and to normal human functioning;
  • Mineral found in every cell of the body;
  • Majority is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues;
  • Iron deficiency is the most common single nutrient disorder in the world.

Nutrient function:
  • An essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport;
  • Essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation;
  • Involved in many central nervous system processes that could affect an infant's behavior and development.

  • Children 1-3 and 4-8 years old: 7 milligrams per day (mg/day) and 10 mg/day, respectively;
  • Males and females age 9-13 and males age 19 and older: 8 mg/day
  • Males and females age 14-18: 11mg/day and 15 mg/day, respectively
  • Females age 14-18 and 19-50: 15 mg/day and 18 mg/day, respectively
  • Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk may need different amounts

Food Sources:
  • Best sources include: dried beans and fruits, eggs, iron-fortified cereals, liver, lean red meat, oyster, salmon, tuna, and whole grains
  • Iron from vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements is harder for the body to absorb
  • Foods rich in vitamin C increase absorption

Indications/Health claims:
  • High iron stores may increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Differences in socio-emotional behavior between infants with iron deficiency anemia and those without anemia.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • The hypothesis that high iron stores increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease is not entirely clear.
  • In almost every case study, infants with iron deficiency anemia demonstrated a more wary, hesitant, solemn, and unhappy behavior and tended to stay close to their mothers.

Vitamin K

Nutrient description/background:
  • Named vitamin K for “Koagulation Vitamin” which was the name given to the vitamin by the German scientists who discovered it
  • Vitamin K1 product of photosynthesis in plants
  • Vitamin K2 product of bacterial breakdown
  • Fat soluble
  • Despite being fat soluble body stores little of the vitamin, so it is necessary to eat vitamin K often
  • Toxicity can only be achieved with synthetic vitamin K
  • Interferes with anticoagulation drugs

Nutrient function:
  • Blood Clotting
  • Bone Mineralization
  • Cellular Signal for Growth

DRI for Vitamin K
Gender Age (Years) DRI (Micrograms)
Both 4-6 20
  7-10 30
Male 15-18 65
  19-24 70
  25-50 80
  50+ 80
Female 15-18 55
  19-24 60
  25-50 65
  50+ 65
RDA for Vitamin K
Gender Age RDA
Male Adult 80mg
Female Adult 65mg
Both Infant 5mg

Food source
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Parsley
  • Watercress
  • Soybean Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Lettuce

Indications/Health claims:
  • Vitamin K can regulate blood clotting
  • Vitamin K reduces risk of bone fractures
  • Vitamin K may slow cancerous growth
    Evidence for or against claims:
    • UK scientists showed that women with higher vitamin K intake had significantly higher bone density even after adjusted for age, weight, height, hormonal stage, socioeconomic status and physical activity
    • Vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce the growth of tumors, however Nakamura found that it did not improve the anti-tumor effect of any treatments while Simone found that it improved survival in unison with chemotherapy


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral possessing a positive charge in the body
    • Magnesium cannot be created in the body
    • Food processing and preparation can substantially reduce the magnesium content in foods
    • 60% of magnesium in the body is found in bones

    Nutrient Function(s):
    • Assists in the functioning of more than 300 enzymes
    • Release and use of energy from energy-yielding nutrients
    • Directly affects the metabolism of Potassium, Calcium, and Vitamin D
    • Part of the protein-making machinery
    • Works with calcium for the proper functioning of muscles
    • Magnesium helps muscles relax
    • Promotes resistance to tooth decay by holding calcium in tooth enamel

     14 -18410mg/day
     31 >420mg/day
     14 -18360mg/day
     31 >320mg/day

    Food Sources:
    • Nuts
    • Legumes
    • Whole grain
    • Seafood
    • Leafy Green Vegetables
    • Carrots
    • Peas
    • Corn
    • Parsley
    • Coffee
    • Tea
    • Chocolate
    • Molasses

    Indications/Health Claims
    • Reduce high blood pressure
    • Prevent and treats migraines
    • Prevent and treats coronary artery disease
    • Prevent and treat Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Prevent and treat asthma
    • Prevent and treat Osteoporosis

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Researchers discovered an inverse relationship between magnesium intake and the development of high blood pressure in conjunction with potassium and fiber.
    • A number of studies have found a decreased mortality from cardiovascular diseases in populations who routinely consume foods high in magnesium.
    • Evidence does not support the use of magnesium for the treatment of asthma in all patients. However, use was shown to be beneficial in patients exhibiting severe asthma symptoms.
    • There is insufficient evidence to support or refute claims of magnesium improving migraine symptoms. Although, studies do indicate an improvement when there is a deficiency.


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Discovered in 1873 during work with nicotine
    • Originally named nicotinic acid the name was later changed to separate the vitamin from the substance with which it was originally discovered

    Nutrient function:
    • NAD, a niacin coenzyme, is involved in many oxidation-reduction reactions that the body uses to create energy
    • NAD is also a substrate for a number of enzymes in non-reduction reactions

    AgeRDA for Males (mg)RDA for Females (mg)
    1-3 years66
    4-8 years88
    9-13 years1212
    14-18 years1614
    19 years and older1614

    Food sources:
    • Fortified Cereals
    • Tuna
    • Salmon
    • Chicken
    • Peanuts
    • Lentils

    Indications/Health claims:
    • May help prevent cancer
    • May help protect Beta Cells of the pancreas and help prevent type I diabetes
    • Treatment of high cholesterol

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Lampeter and colleagues found that in vivo animal studies showed that vitamin B could protect the Beta Cells of the pancreas from a number of potential sources of damage including toxins, oxygen species, and white blood cells
    • May help prevent cancer by helping to repair damage to cellular DNA
    • Has been shown to lower cholesterol

    Pantothenic Acid

    Nutrient description/background:
    • Also called vitamin B5
    • A water-soluble vitamin
    • Essential to all life
    • Comes from the Greek word pantos, meaning everywhere, referring to its wide distribution in most plants and animals

    Nutrient function:
    • Essential for proper growth
    • Helps the body break down and use foods including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
    • Helps your body cells produce energy

    Adequate Intake (AI):
    • 0-6 months- 1.7 milligrams/day (mg/day)
    • 7-12 months-1.8 mg/day
    • 1-3 years- 2 mg/day
    • 4-8 years- 3 mg/day
    • 9-13 years- 4 mg/day
    • > 14 years- 5 mg/day

    Food sources:
    • Eggs
    • Fish
    • Milk and milk products
    • Whole-grain cereals
    • Legumes
    • Yeast
    • Broccoli and other vegetables in the cabbage family
    • White and sweet potatoes
    • Lean beef

    Indications/Health claims:
    • Accelerate wound healing
    • Role in lowering cholesterol

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Administering oral pantothenic acid and applying pantothenic ointment to the skin has been shown to accelerate the closure of skin wounds and strengthen scar tissue in animals. However there is little data to support accelerated wound healing in humans.
    • A derivative of vitamin B5, called pantethine, has been reported to have a cholesterol lowering effect.
    • Pantethine has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic patients on hemodialysis, process of removing waste from the blood through dialysis and returning it to the body through a vein, without adverse side effects.


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Parsley is the most widely used culinary herb in the United States
    • It is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean
    • According to legend, parsley first sprang up where the blood of the Greek hero Archemorus was spilled when he was eaten by serpents

    Nutrient function:
    • Not Applicable

    • Not Applicable

    Food sources:
    • Not Applicable

    Indications/Health claims:
    • Parsley may help prevent cancer
    • Parsley may help treat bladder infections
    • Parsley may be a diuretic

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Myristicin, a part of parsley leaf oil, has been shown to help prevent cancer in a 1992 study.
    • Parsley has been shown to have diuretic effects which are thought to help flush bacteria out during bladder infections.


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Is a water-soluble vitamin
    • People with healthy diets rarely need riboflavin supplementation
    • Also known as Vitamin B2
    • The myth of Vampires in the 18th Century came about from riboflavin deficiencies. People were viewed as Vampires due to their pale skin, blood shot eyes, and bleeding gums

    Nutrient function:
    • Involved in vital metabolic processes
    • Necessary for normal cell function, growth and energy production
    • Breaks down carbohydrates, proteins and fats
    • Makes it possible for oxygen to be used by the body
    • Used for oxidation of glucose and fatty acids to produce ATP (energy)

    • Average male: 1.3 milligrams per day
    • Average female: 1.2 milligrams per day
    • Pregnancy and lactation: 1.4 to 1.6 milligrams per day
    • Some conditions that may increase your need include: alcoholism, burns, cancer, diarrhea (continuing), fever (continuing), illness (continuing), infection (continuing), intestinal diseases, liver disease, overactive thyroid, serious injury, stress (continuing), and surgical downsizing of the stomach.

    Food sources:
    • Dairy Products and eggs
    • Enriched cereals/grains, green leafy vegetables, meats, liver, kidneys, and legumes such as mature soybeans, yeast, and almonds

    Indications/Health claims:
    • Necessary for energy
    • Diets sufficient in riboflavin can help protect against the development of cataracts
    • Reduces the frequency, incidence, and duration of migraine headaches in the short-term
    • Ingestion of alcohol impairs riboflavin digestion and absorption
    • Treatment of acne, certain kinds of anemia, and muscle cramps

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • There have been no reports of the vitamin increases energy, or combating fatigue
    • The greatest concentrations of riboflavin are found in the liver, kidneys and heart
    • Additional research is needed for all other health claims


    Nutrient description/background:
    • A small evergreen, that is part of the mint family
    • Known as the herb of remembrance
    • Commonly associated with the Greek goddess Minerva, the goddess of knowledge
    • Rosemary is reported to contain a dozen aromatic compounds that are beneficial to memory

    Nutrient Function(s):
    • Inhibits breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholinesterase
    • Rosemary exhibits anti-mutagenic and tumor-inhibiting properties
    • Reduces inflammatory process

    • Not applicable

    Daily Dosage:
    General Health4-6 g daily

    Food Sources:
    • Italian cuisine
    • Mediterranean cuisine

    Indications/Health Claims
    • Improved memory and cognitive functioning
    • Stimulation of the immune system
    • Improved wound healing
    • Prevent and treat migraines
    • Prevent and treat microbial infections

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Studies indicate that rosemary has a mild antimicrobial and antiviral effect.
    • Clinical trials show rosemary to be beneficial to cognitive function.
    • Researchers recently investigated the effects of rosemary on Alzheimer's disease and found that rosemary had the ability to reduce risk of disease development, more research is needed.
    • Evidence does not support the use of rosemary for the treatment of migraines, wound healing, or digestive symptoms.


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Trace element, meaning it is required for functioning but in very small doses
    • A primary part of the cellular structure of white blood cells

    Nutrient function:
    • Works with Vitamin E to protect against oxidative stress from antioxidants
    • Reduces death in cancer patients and slows the growth of tumors
    • A key advocate for immunity
    • Attributed to proper thyroid functioning

    • 55 micrograms a day for males
    • 45 micrograms a day for females

    Food sources:
    • A wide variety of Plants and grain foods
    • Animals fed with plants or grains grown in selenium rich soil yields mineral dense muscle which can be consumed for a good source of the mineral
    • Brazil nuts, grains, garlic, eggs and shellfish are great sources of selenium

    Indications/Health claims:
    • Antioxidants provided by selenium may reduce the levels of free radicals and their oxidation of LDL, the main contributor to heart disease.
    • Selenium may be beneficial for cancer prevention.
    • Epidemiological studies indicate there is a higher incident of skin cancer in areas of the United States with low soil concentrations of selenium.

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Seven dermatology clinics in the U.S. have studied the link between selenium and skin cancer and the results did not support the use of selenium for cancer prevention.
    • Recently, studies have shown a decreased risk of prostate cancer


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Thiamin also known as vitamin B1 is water soluble
    • It is a fragile nutrient that is easily destroyed by heat
    • Involved in numerous chemical reactions in the body

    Nutrient Function(s):
    • Plays a vital role in energy metabolism
    • Converts carbohydrate into energy
    • Involved in nerve membrane function and nerve signal transmission

     14 >1.2mg/day
     14 >1.1mg/day

    Food Sources:
    • Meat, especially pork
    • Milk
    • Legumes
    • Whole or enriched grain
    • Yeast
    • Wheat germ
    • Oranges

    Indications/Health Claims:
    • Prevent or treats depression
    • Prevent and treats epilepsy
    • Prevent and treats fibromyalgia
    • Prevent and treats multiple sclerosis
    • Reduce symptoms of Crohn's disease
    • Improve cognitive function in individuals with dementia and Alzheimer's disease

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Research indicates that individuals with Alzheimer's disease have biochemical abnormalities in thiamine-dependent enzymes, which aid in memory. Although there is a link between thiamin and Alzheimer's disease there is no conclusive evidence to support or refute any claims.
    • While studies show that thiamin levels are low in people with Crohn's disease, no study shows improvements in symptoms.


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Tomatoes are believed to have originated in Peru based on the number of species of wild tomatoes that grow there today.
    • Tomatoes were brought to Europe as a result of Cortez's conquest of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, or present day Mexico City, and brought to America with some of the first colonists.

    Nutrient function:
    • Not Applicable

    • Not Applicable

    Food sources:
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Salsa
  • Tomato Juice
    Indications/Health claims:
    • Lycopene from tomatoes may help prevent cancer
    • Lycopene may help prevent heart disease
    • Lycopene may prevent skin damage from the sun

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Epidemiological data has shown a decreased risk of cancer with higher tomato intake.
    • Lyconpene has also been shown to be a potent antioxidant and an inhibitor of cancer cell production.
    • Lycopene has been associated with decreases in LDL production.
    • Lycopene is an efficient scavenger of ROS, a damaging byproduct of sun exposure.


    Nutrient description/background:
    • A shrub related to ginger
    • Grown throughout India and other parts of Asia and Africa
    • Comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and possesses a deep yellow-orange color
    • Warm, bitter taste
    • Commonly used in fabric dyes and foods such as curry powders, mustards, and cheeses

    Nutrient function:
    • In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been used to aid digestion and liver function, relief of arthritis pain, and regulate menstruation
    • Applied directly to skin to help treat conditions such as eczema and wound healing
    • Used for conditions like heartburn, stomach ulcers, and gallstones
    • Used to reduce inflammation, as well as prevent and treat cancer

    • Considered safe for most adults
    • People with gall bladder disease should avoid using turmeric as a dietary supplement
    • High doses or long-term use may cause indigestion

    Food sources:
    • Stems are dried and taken by mouth in the form of powders, teas, capsules or liquid extracts
    • Can be made into a paste and applied directly to the skin
    • Found in curry powders, mustards, and cheeses

    Indications/Health claims:
    • May have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties
    • Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent that has been used to treat flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhages, toothaches, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • There is little reliable evidence for the use of turmeric for any health conditions, because very few clinical trials have been conducted
    • Preliminary findings from animal and laboratory studies suggest that a chemical found in turmeric may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. However, these findings have not been confirmed in people
    • The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine- funded investigators are studying the active chemicals found in turmeric and its effects on humans


    Nutrient description/background:
    • Zinc deficiency first described in humans in 1961
    • Zinc is an essential trace element
    • Zinc is the fourth most abundant metal on earth

    Nutrient function:
    • Growth and development
    • Neurological function
    • Immune response
    • Reproduction
    • Gene expression
    • Catalytic enzyme function

    AgeMales (Mg/day)Females (Mg/day)

    Food sources:
    • Oysters
    • Beef
    • Crab
    • Pork
    • Milk
    • Cashews
    • Almonds
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Sunflower Seeds
    • Whole Grain

    Indications/Health claims:
    • Zinc may prevent and lessen the severity of the common cold.
    • Zinc may also slow or stave off the effects of Age-related macular degeneration.
    • Zinc supplementation may decrease glucose control in diabetics.

    Evidence for or against claims:
    • Zinc was shown to lessen the duration of cold symptoms from 8.1 to 4.5 days and lessen the severity of symptoms.
    • Zinc supplementation was shown to decrease the degeneration associated with age-related macular degeneration.
    • Zinc supplementation was shown to decrease glucose control in type 1 diabetics.