Vitamins are inorganic substances necessary for life. Vitamins are essential for the normal functioning of our bodies; and with some exceptions they cannot be created or synthesised by the human body. They are necessary for our growth, vitality and general well-being. In their natural state, they are found in minimal amounts in all natural foods. Vitamins act primarily as regulators of metabolic processes and play an important role in energy transformation. Many people think that vitamins can replace food, but it is not. In fact, the body cannot assimilate vitamins if we do not eat food. Vitamins are not sources of energy or contribute significantly to the substances in the body.
Importance of vitamins and minerals in our daily life
To help you understand the role of vitamins in the body, let me give you an example. Think of the human body as a battery operated watch; and vitamins are the batteries that make walking the clock. Vitamins are components of our enzyme system that regulates our metabolism and helps us function properly. These are divided into two groups: soluble in water and soluble in fat.
In this article I will cover vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, and K.
VITAMIN A, (RETINOL-CAROTENE)
Vitamin A is fat soluble, can be stored in the liver and does not need to be replenished every day. It helps in the prevention of infections, especially in the eyes and in the respiratory system. It also promotes normal growth and tissue repair. Vitamin A tends to inhibit or prevent cancer. It is necessary to have a healthy skin, hair, gums, teeth and bones, and for the production of visual purple, which is essential to see at night. The vitamin is highly toxic if taken at doses slightly higher than the recommended dose. Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness, frequent colds, and infections in the respiratory system, skin diseases and reproductive difficulties. Some natural foods that are sources of vitamin A are: carrots, sweet potato, green cantaloupe, and fruits that are green or yellow.
VITAMIN B-1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B-1 is soluble in water and any excess is expelled from the body and not stored there. It is necessary to replace it every day. It is necessary for the control of the Central Nervous System regarding learning, joviality or good humour, the sense of organisation; in addition, it is necessary for the proper functioning of the digestive tract. Vitamin B-1 contained in food can be destroyed if treated with chlorinated water or cooked at very high temperatures for a long period. A deficiency in Thiamine causes Beriberi with fatigue, irritation, stiffness, damage to the heart muscle, swelling of the tissues, discomfort stomach, constipation and insomnia. Some natural sources of thiamine are: whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and potatoes. Almost all natural foods contain some amount of thiamine.
VITAMIN B-2 (RIBOFLAVINA)
Vitamin B-2 is soluble in water and is easily absorbed by the body. The amount expelled per body depends on the needs of the body, and may be accompanied by loss of protein. It is not stored in the body and should be replaced daily. It is necessary to help metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Riboflavin is essential for the growth of cells, to have healthy skin, nails and hair. This removes abrasions on the mouth, lips, and tongue; is beneficial for vision and relieves tired eyes. Riboflavin cannot be destroyed by heat, oxidation or acid. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause lesions in the mouth, hair loss, skin scales, hypersensitivity to light, blurred vision and others. Some natural sources of Riboflavin are: green vegetables in the form of leaves, grains and legumes.
VITAMIN B-6 (PYRIDOXIN)
Vitamin B-6 is soluble in water and is expelled by the body within eight hours following ingestion and needs to be replaced or ingested daily. It is necessary for the production of antibodies and red blood cells; furthermore, it is necessary for the production of hydroelectric acid and magnesium. Helps prevent nervous and skin disorders. A deficiency in pyrimidine can cause depression, learning difficulties, seizures, anemia, hair loss, poor hearing, and others. Birth control pills cause vitamin B-6 deficiency in 25% of users. Some natural sources of pyrimidine are: whole grain cereals, legumes, bananas, potatoes, cabbage, oats and others.
VITAMIN B-12 (COBALAMINE)
Vitamin B-12 is soluble in water and is effective in very small doses; can be stored in the liver for some years. Vitamin B-12 is needed to form and regenerate red blood cells; to absorb iron; to maintain a healthy nervous system; for the correct use of fats, carbohydrates and proteins; and to improve concentration, memory and balance. Vitamin B-12 supplements can be harmful to your health. A group of French researchers reported a number of cases suggesting that vitamin B-12 supplements may stimulate the growth of cancer cells and aggravate this disease. Vitamin B-12 stimulates the division or multiplication of cells in general and certain tumour cells in particular.
B-12 deficiency is a rare disorder, and most cases occur in people who eat meat. Some symptoms of B-12 deficiency are: mental depression, ringing in the ears or tinnitus, dilated liver and spleen, pernicious anemia (which is a reduction in the number of red blood cells) and neurological damage.
Some natural vegetarian sources of vitamin B-12 are: various green vegetables, beans, soybeans, wheat, olives, fruits and many other foods that occasionally contain B-12. B-12 has also been found in roots, in the stem of tomato, cabbage, celery and broccoli; it is also found in alfalfa and seaweed. A further source of vitamin B-12 is the growth of bacteria inside the mouth.
VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID)
Vitamin C is soluble in water and is expelled by the body in only a few hours and cannot be stored in the body. Vitamin C prevents scurvy; helps heal wounds, burns and gums that bleed. It helps in resistance against infections, in iron absorption and in the formation of haemoglobin. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause scurvy, fatigue, and loss of appetite, ease of bruising or bruising, heavy bleeding, slow healing of wounds, loss of teeth and anaemia.
Vitamin C supplements can be harmful. Excessive amounts of this reduce the pH in the urine as low as 2, increasing the risk of stones in the kidneys. It also interferes with metabolism, increasing the risk of gout. High doses of vitamin C may also promote cancer.
Some natural sources of vitamin C are green and leafy fruits and vegetables. Carbon monoxide destroys vitamin C, so those living in the city should definitely ingest quantities of foods rich in vitamin C.
VITAMIN D (CALCIFEROL, VIOSTEROID AND ERGOSTEROL)
It is an oil soluble vitamin and is stored in the body. It is known as the sunshine vitamin, because it is formed when the ultraviolet rays of the sun act on the skin to produce vitamin D, which, then, the body absorbs. Vitamin D is necessary to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. A vitamin D deficiency causes rickets that are a disease in the bones that do not develop properly (for example: 1 leg in the form of a scissors or X or bowlegs, 2. arched legs.) It can also cause severe tooth decay, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, loss of appetite and weight.
The only natural source of this vitamin is the sun or the sun’s rays. There is a limited amount of vitamin D in some animal products which I will not consider as natural sources of this vitamin and I would not recommend them.
Vitamin E is fat soluble and stored for long periods in the liver, fatty tissues, heart, muscles, and others. It takes many months of deprivation of this vitamin to deplete any vitamin supplement to deplete any existing vitamin E supplement in the body. One of the most important functions of this vitamin E is also essential for proper absorption of iron, keeping the skin looking young, helps prevent and dissolve blood clots and provide resistance through the oxygen supplied to the body. It prevents the formation of thick scars on the outside of the skin and accelerates the healing of wounds. It can lower blood pressure and help prevent miscarriages.
Vitamin E deficiency rarely occurs. Vitamin E is usually found in almost all foods; green vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, various seeds, fruits and vegetables.
VITAMIN K (MENADIONA)
Vitamin K is fat soluble and stored in the body. This vitamin promotes proper blood clotting and prevents the body from bleeding to death. A deficiency of this vitamin causes internal bleeding and bleeding, in addition to excessive menstrual flow. Some natural sources of vitamin K are: alfalfa, green and leafy vegetables, tomatoes and grains.