Recommendation 14 Background
Vitamins are compounds necessary for the normal physiologic and metabolic functioning of the body.
This list includes carotenoids and vitamins. Carotenoids are pigments in foods responsible for many yellow, orange and red colors. Some carotenoids, including beta- and alpha-carotene, are precursors to vitamin A. Their food sources and relation to cancer risk are given below.
Vitamins and Carotenoids
|Beta-carotene||Orange vegetables and fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots, mangoes, kale, spinach, collard greens, chicory|
|Alpha-carotene||Carrots, avocado, pumpkin|
|Lutein (a carotenoid)||Spinach, kale, other greens|
|Lycopene (a carotenoid)||Tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava|
|Cryptoxanthin (a carotenoid)||Mangoes, pawpaw, persimmon, red peppers, pumpkin, oranges and orange juice|
|Vitamin C||Vegetables, tubers, fruits in general. Specifically, broccoli, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin, potatoes, cassava (manioc), yams, citrus fruits, mangoes, papaya, banana, strawberries, melon.|
|Folate||Dry legumes like lentils, beans, chickpeas, split peas; spinach and other green leafy vegetables, asparagus, artichoke, avocado, wheat germ, orange juice, pineapple, blackberries, tomato juice, breakfast cereals. fortified with folate.|
|Vitamin B12||Primarily foods of animal origin.|
|Vitamin E: alpha-tocoherol & gamma-tocopherol||Vegetable oils like olive, canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, soybean and their margarines, shortening, mayonnaise and salad dressings. Also in whole grains, nuts, seeds and wheat germ. Alpha-tocopherol is present in animal foods.|
Vitamins assessed in their relationship to cancer by the AICR/WCRF panel are the carotenoids, vitamin C, folate (also known as folic acid), vitamin B12, retinol (preformed vitamin A), and vitamin E. The following table summarizes and grades the current evidence for vitamins and cancer risk.
Vitamins and Cancer
|Evidence||Decreases risk||No relationship|
Vitamin C: Stomach
|Possible||Carotenoids: Esophagus, Stomach, Colon, Rectum,
Vitamin C: Mouth and Pharynx, Esophagus, Lung, Pancreas, Cervix
Vitamin E: Lung, Cervix
|Retinol: Lung, Stomach, Breast, Cervix,
Vitamin C: Prostate
Vitamin E: Stomach, Breast
|Insufficient||Carotenoids: Larynx, Ovary, Endometrium, Bladder
Vitamin C: Larynx, Colon, Rectum, Breast, Bladder
Vitamin E: Colon, Rectum
Folate & methionine: Colon, Rectum
Adapted from Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, 1997
More on cancer risk in Recommendation 14/Minerals, Recommendation 14/Phytochemicals.
Practical recommendations in Recommendation 14 "How to"
For more details visit the web site for the Center for Alternative Medicine at http://chprd.sph.uth.tmc.edu/utcam/research.htm#list
Back to Fourteen Recommendations
Prepared 1998 by Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D.
University of Idaho, Dept. of Food Science and Toxicology - EXTOXNET FAQ Team.