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Did You Know?
Vitamins are natural substances required in small quantities for human beings to remain healthy and for the normal functioning of their bodies. Not all vitamins are synthesized in your body. Some are found naturally in food obtained from plants and animals.Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble. There are thirteen essential vitamins in your body and each one plays a special role to help maintain the health of your body. Most of the vitamins are named by letters: A, B, C, D, E, K and so on. Vitamin B is further sub classified into vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12. They are all important and necessary in our diet. Usually a varied diet gives you all the vitamins required.
Types of Vitamins
Let's look at the Water soluble and Fat soluble vitamins discussed above.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Water soluble vitamins include B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. These vitamins are easily dissolved in water , absorbed in our intestines and eliminated through urine.They cannot be stored in the body. So, your body needs a continuous supply of these through your diet.These vitamins can be easily destroyed during food preparation and storage.Hence over cooking of the food and excess fast food intake should be minimized. Generally, Water soluble vitamins are not harmful as your body can excrete the excess levels through urine.
Take vegetables like carrot, radish ,onion etc in their raw form. Steam vegetables instead of boiling, refrigerate fresh produce, store grains and milk away from strong light and use the cooking water of vegetables in soup preparations. Proper storage and preparation of food can minimize the loss of vitamins.
Thiamine(B1), Riboflavin(B2), Niacin(B3), Pantothenic acid(B5), Pyridoxine(B6), Biotin(B7), Folate (folic acid/B9), Cyanocobalamin(B12), and Vitamin C come under water soluble vitamins
Sources: Cereal grains, Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans and Peas, Fresh vegetables.
Role: Vitamins cannot give energy to your body when consumed but they involve in various energy producing reactions,help body get energy from food,control your appetite, maintain vision, healthy skin, healthy nervous system and red blood cell formation.
Vitamin B1: Beriberi: Symptoms include weight loss, emotional disturbances, weakness in limbs, carbohydrate absorption is impaired.
Vitamin B2 and Folate: Decreases red blood cells production.
Vitamin B3: Pellagra: Can effect skin, mucus membrane, gastrointestinal track, Central nervous system.
Vitamin B6: Leads to decreased production of antibodies.
Vitamin B7: Hair loss, fatigue and depression, Nausea, muscle pains, anemia.
Vitamin B9: Nausea, headache, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problem, diarrhea, mood disorder, anemia.
Vitamin B12: Pernicious anemia: Symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath, palpitations, Dizziness. This problem is often seen in old people.
It is also called Ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is required for your normal growth and development, formation of collagen and bones in your body, plays a key role in absorption of iron from intestine, helps to fight against bacterial infections. Megadoses of vitamin C can even cure common cold. Your body cannot synthesize Vitamin C and hence you should take it through food rich in Vitamin C.
Sources:Citrus fruits,Plantain,Asparagus,Broccoli,Brussels sprouts,cabbage,peppers,Tomatoes.
Deficiency: Observed frequently during pregnancy, if you are under stress, use of oral contraceptives, if you are alcoholic and smoke cigarettes vitamin C absorption gets decreased.
A deficiency may lead to scurvy where you may observe body pains, muscle weakness, problems with wound healing, bleeding and swollen gums
Deficiency can be treated by taking Vitamin C supplements prescribed by the Physician.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins since they are soluble in fats and absorbed in the intestines. These are the vitamins which are normally stored in your body unlike water soluble vitamins. Bile acids are used to absorb fat soluble vitamins. Once your body absorbs these vitamins, it stores them in the form of fat.
Vitamin A / Retinal
Source: Carrots, Mangoes, Spinach, Tomatoes, Celery, Mandarin, Blackberry, Butter, Cheese, Melon, Pear.
Role: Helps in bone development, prevention of respiratory diseases, improves vision, and prevents cancer.
Deficiency: Leads to decreased vision, increased infections, dry eyes, retarded growth, and joint pains.
Vitamin D / Calciferol
Source: Fish liver oil, Sardines, Salmon, Tuna, Liver, Milk, Butter, Egg yolk
Role: Takes care of your teeth, bones, joints, and helps protect your nervous system
Deficiency: Leads to Rickets, weak bones and muscles
Vitamin E / Tocopherol
Source: Corn oil, Sesame oil, Avocado, Broccoli, Prunes, Spinach, Asparagus, Apple, Blackberry, Banana, Tomato, Carrot.
Role: Relieves fatigue, prevents and dissolves blood clots, protects lungs from pollution, heals burn wounds, and prevents cramps
Deficiency: Anemia, destruction of blood cells, and muscle problems.
Vitamin K/ Menadione
Source: Green vegetables, carrots, fruits and even in seeds
Role: Forms proteins which helps in blood clotting
Deficiency: Increases bleeding and prevents blood clotting
If optimal amount of these vital micro nutrients are not found in your diet, there are many dietary supplements that can help supplement those missing nutrients. A good multivitamin supplement is the foundation of health and nutrition. In some cases, vitamin supplements may have unwanted effects and show contraindications when taken with other medicines or dietary supplements.There have been mixed studies on dietary supplements. Hence take only those multivitamins that have been proven to be safe or ones prescribed by the physician.