Vitamin P in a nutshell:
Vitamin P is the name given to a group of chemicals that are found in green tea and other plants. This isn’t really a vitamin, but it may be of use in preventing radiation damage.
Best source of Vitamin P for Juicers
Vitamin P can be found in red and blue berries, bilberries. However, it is probably easier to get these plant flavanoids from drinking green tea.
What Was Vitamin P?
Until the 1990's, many nutrition books referred to a group of flavonoid chemicals found in green tea and many kinds of fruit as “vitamin P.” The governing bodies of nutritional science no longer approve of the use of the term so there is now officially no such thing as vitamin P, but early investigations into these nutrients hold useful information for today.
Alternative names: Vitamin P; flavonoids.
Vitamin P was a “permeability” factor, a substance that could keep blood vessels from leaking. The Hungarian-American Nobel prize winner who discovered vitamin C, Albert Szent-Györgyi, noticed that vitamin C could not stop scurvy from causing bleeding unless it was combined with another group of chemicals from plant foods. Since he first isolated these co-factors for vitamin C from paprika, he called them vitamin P.
What Does Vitamin P Do in the Human Body?
After months of hushed news stories coming from Japan about the radiation leaks from the nuclear power plants at Sendai, now is a good time to review the science of vitamin P. In the early 1950's, at the height of above-ground nuclear weapons testing and the beginning of the Cold War, scientists observed that “vitamin P” could reduce the effects of radiation poisoning.
One of the ways that radiation kills is by breaking down the “cement” that holds blood vessels in place in the body. Radiation breaks down tissues lining blood vessels, just as it breaks down tissues all over the body. The byproducts of dead tissue also set off inflammatory reactions that make blood vessels leak at the same time the vessels themselves are weakened by radiation. The immediate cause of death after exposure to massive amounts of radiation often is blood loss or dehydration, or destruction of the filtration system of the kidneys.
Anything that stops this kind of inflammation prolongs life or may even make recovery possible. Over 60 years ago, a team of scientists at Florida Southern University tested a combination of “vitamin P” with citrus bioflavonoids as a treatment for lab rats exposed to toxins or radiation. They found that higher doses of vitamin P and the hesperidin and quercitrin extracted from orange peels enabled the animals to survive and recover from radiation by reducing the permeability of blood vessels. The animals did not bleed out after radiation and lived long enough for their tissues to rebuild themselves.
Does vitamin P perform a similar function in the human body? About 170 studies confirm that green tea flavonoids protect capillaries after physical injury or radiation exposure in humans. These vitamin P-like compounds keep blood flowing through tissues so they can stay oxygenated and keep rebuilding themselves. They help give tissues and organs a fighting chance to recover from either radiation or physical trauma.
Not a Vitamin, But Sometimes Vital
People who have not been exposed to radiation do not have a critical need for the plant chemicals that collectively once were called vitamin P. They are good for health but they are not vital for life, so they are not considered a vitamin. However, the many kinds of plant chemicals that once could have been called vitamin P still hold considerable promise for radiation protection. These chemicals include:
- Silibinin, found in milk thistle seed extract,
- Proanthocyanidin pigments found in blue and red berries, and
- Hesperidin, tested in the 1950's as a treatment for radiation exposure.
Since vitamin P is not a vitamin, there is no recommended dietary intake of these and similar compounds for similar substances to protect the body against the harmful effects of radiation. However, prophylactic doses of supplements in which these compounds are found would be:
- 900 mg of milk thistle extract daily,
- 1000 mg of bilberry extract daily, or
- 1500 mg of hesperidin daily.
It also helps to drink green tea, especially the kind made by adding water to powdered (not instant) green tea, and to eat at least one serving of citrus fruit or berries every day.
These plant chemicals may be more useful for protection from radiation than potassium iodide (KI) tablets. KI only protects the thyroid for a few hours. Plant flavonoids protect the entire body on a continuous basis. You don't have to wait to build up your body's radiation resistance—any of the supplements on the list taken regularly plus daily consumption of green tea or citrus or berries will help your body resist radiation effects.