Bioflavonoids (Vitamin P)
Bioflavonoids, known as vitamin P, are water-soluble and are composed of a group of brightly colored substances that often appear in fruits and vegetables as companions to vitamin C. The components of the bioflavonoids are citrin, hesperidin, rutin, flavones, and flavonals.
Bioflavonoids were first discovered as a substance in the white segments, not in the juices, of citrus fruits. There is ten times the concentration of bioflavonoids in the edible part of the fruit that there is in the strained juice. Sources of bioflavonoids include lemons, grapes, plums, black currants, grapefruit, apricots, buckwheat, cherries, blackberries, and rose hips.
Bioflavonoids are essential for the proper absorption and use of vitamin C. They assist vitamin C in keeping collagen, the intercellular cement, in healthy condition. Bioflavonoids act as an antioxidant, keeping vitamin ,C and adrenalin from being oxidized by copper-contining enzymes. The bioflavonoids also chelate copper from the body. They are vital in their ability to increase the strength of the capillaries and to regulate their permeability. These actions help prevent hemorrhages and ruptures in the capillaries and connective tissues and build a protective barrier against infections.
The absorption and storage properties of bioflavonoids are very similar to those of vitamin C. The bioflavonoids are readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. Excessive amounts are excreted through urination and perspiration.
There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance for this vitamin. Since bioflavonoids occur with vitamin C in natural food sources, synthetic vitamin C does not contain the bioflavonoids. When ingested together, bioflavonoids and C are more helpful than vitamin C taken alone. Rutin, which comes from buckwheat leaves, is a good food source of bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are reportedly nontoxic.
Deficiency Effects and Symptoms
Symptoms of a bioflavonoid deficiency are closely related to those of a vitamin C deficiency. Especially noted is the increased tendency to bleed or hemorrhage and bruise easily. A deficiency of vitamins C and P may contribute to rheumatism and rheumatic fever.
Beneficial Effect on Ailments
The body's utilization of vitamin C is increased when bioflavonoids are present. They are helpful in strengthening the capillaries and may help prevent colds and influenza. Bioflavonoids have proved to be beneficial in treating various degrees of capillary injury and have been found to minimize bruising that occurs in contact sports.
Rutin is especially helpful in the prevention of recurrent bleeding arising from weakened blood vessels. It is sometimes used in the treatment of hemorrhoids
and helps prevent the walls of the blood vessels from becoming fragile.
Bioflavonoids have been used successfully to treat ulcer patients and those suffering from dizziness caused by labyrinthitis, a disease of the inner ear. Weakness of the capillaries was found to be a major causative factor in both of these ailments. Asthma has been successfully treated by the administration of bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids have also been used as a protective agent against the harmful effects of x-rays.
Bioflavonoids and vitamin C when taken together may help prevent habitual miscarriages. They are helpful in the treatment of disorders such as bleeding gums, eczema, and susceptibility to hemorrhaging. Rheumatism and rheumatic fever seem to be helped by vitamins C and P. The blood-vessel disorder of the eye which affects diabetics seems to respond to bioflavonoid vitamin C treatment. Administered together, these vitamins have also been beneficial in the treatment of muscular dystrophy because they help lower blood pressure moderately.
Dr. Carl Pfeiffer has used rutin, at an oral dose of 50 milligrams, for depressed patients. His studies have shown that rutin has a sedative-stimulant effect on the brain. There are also indications that rutin, in oral doses of 60 milligrams, raises blood histamine and lowers serum copper in the body, helpful for schizophrenics.
In France, bioflavonoids have been used successfully for a number of women's gynecological problems. Physicians have found the flavone compounds effectively replace hormone therapy in cases of irregular or painful menstrual flow not caused by anatomical damage. Some of the compounds have prevented bleeding and regulated menstrual flow after insertion of intrauterine contraceptive devices.