Vitamins and Their Essential Health Benefits

August 2, 2021

Vitamins are among the essential nutrients the body needs to stay healthy; they perform various functions that promote an individual’s wellbeing. For example, some vitamins keep the nerves healthy and help the body fight against infections. Most help the blood to clot properly, while some support the body to get energy from food. It is recommended that people obtain their vitamins from food than from dietary supplements. The body needs organic compounds to perform all its essential functions, such as maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating metabolism, and assisting tissue growth.

Vitamin A

Fat-soluble retinoids such as the retinal, retinol, and retinyl esters constitute vitamin A nutrients. It also contains provitamin A carotenoids, including beta-carotene; this nutrient is usually stored in the liver and occurs in two forms. Provitamin A is obtained from plant foods such as vegetables and fruits, while the preformed vitamin A is found in animal products like fish, meat, and poultry. People with a limited or poor diet can get vitamin A from oral supplements. The amount of vitamin A an individual requires in a day depends on their age and sex. Adult women require 700 mcg while adult men require 900 mcg daily. Young children from zero to six months require 400 mcg, pregnant women need 770 mcg while breastfeeding women require 1300 mcg daily. Vitamin A is vital for vision, reproduction, immune function, and cell recognition. It helps organs such as the kidney, lungs, and heart to function correctly. It also allows ins preventing night blindness, infections in the throat, abdomen, and chest, and delayed growth in children. Vitamin A assists in the development of all body tissues, such as the hair and the skin. However, consuming too much vitamin A can be toxic. The condition is known as hypervitaminosis A characterized by bone pain, changes in the skin, and vision. It can result in increased pressure in the brain and damage to the liver.

The B Vitamins

B vitamins play a vital role in supporting metabolism and contributing to the body’s ability to produce energy. Eight various types of B vitamins exist, and each plays a vital role in the body. These vitamins occur together in the same food and form the vitamin B complex. People can get these vitamins purely from nutrient-dense foods or use supplements if they struggle to meet their daily requirements. For example, the brain, kidney, liver, and heart contain high amounts of thiamin, also known as vitamin B1. Adults need 1.2 mg daily to maintain good health. It is present in legumes, nuts, cereals, seeds, and pork. It helps synthesize some hormones, break down carbohydrates during food digestion, produce fatty acids, and create some neurotransmitters. Vitamin B2 deficiency can result in heart problems, memory loss and confusion, numbness in the feet and hands, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Vitamin B2, known as riboflavin, is used in energy production and breaking down fats, steroid hormones, and drugs. It also converts vitamin B6 to a coenzyme essential in the body. An adult requires 1.3 mg of riboflavin in a day. Riboflavin can be obtained from various foods, including milk and yogurt, organ meats, almonds, mushrooms, and oatmeal. Although the deficiency of this vitamin is not common, it can happen to people with endocrine disorders. People with riboflavin deficiency might have cracked or swollen lips, itchy and red eyes, hair loss, swelling of the throat and mouth. In addition, most people become anemic, and pregnant mothers may have babies with congenital disabilities. Vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacin, is converted into the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide coenzyme that carries out different body reactions. In addition, vitamin B3 converts proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into energy. It also facilitates the expression of DNA in cells and communication among cells. An adult requires 16 mg of niacin that can be obtained from animal products such as fish, poultry, and meat. Foods from plants such as grains also contain niacin. A person with severe niacin deficiency might be depressed, experience skin discoloration when exposed to sunlight, constipate, vomit, and even diarrhea. If the condition goes untreated, a person might experience suicidal behavior or memory loss.

Vitamin B 5, also referred to as pantothenic acid, is used by the body to process fats, proteins, and coenzymes. The red blood cells transport the nutrient in the body for use in metabolism and energy processing. An adult requires 5 mg of this vitamin daily and can be obtained from various foods such as beef liver, avocados, cereals, or chicken. Lack of enough pantothenic acid can result in poor sleep and restlessness, irritability, headaches, and numbness in the feet and hands. In addition, the body requires 1.6 mg of vitamin B6 or pyridoxine each day. It helps the body in its immune function, aids in brain development, metabolism of amino acids, and breakdown of fats and carbohydrates. Potatoes, poultry, organ meats, fish, and cereals are rich in this vitamin. People deficient in this vitamin have a weak immune system, can be anemic, can become depressed and confused. The body needs 30 mcg of vitamin B7 biotin daily for DNA regulation, communication of cellular body activities, and the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Eggs, organ meats, and sunflower seeds are rich sources of this vitamin.

Vitamin B 9, also known as folate, is essential for metabolizing amino acids and vitamins. It is used in cell division and DNA replication. An adult’s body requires 400 mcg of this vitamin that can be obtained in leafy green vegetables, papaya, and beef liver. Lack of this vitamin can result in heart palpitations, headaches, irritability, and general body weakness. Finally, the body requires 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 daily for various uses such as synthesizing DNA, creating new red blood cells, neurological and brain function, protein, and fat metabolism. This vitamin can be naturally obtained from yogurt, milk, beef liver, or salmon. Lack of vitamin B12 can result in loss of appetite, weight loss, memory problems, and depression.

Vitamin C

The water-soluble vitamin is found in many foods, specifically vegetables and fruits; it is a powerful antioxidant with positive effects on immune function and skin health. The human body does not produce or store this vitamin essential in small blood vessels, bones, teeth, collagen synthesis, and connective tissues. However, humans need to consume it regularly, and adults need 90 mg of vitamin C daily. Orange juice, green pepper, kiwi, tomato juice, broccoli, and red cabbage are rich sources of vitamin C. Exceeding the upper limit of the amount required daily can result in diarrhea and stomach upsets. In addition, people with vitamin C deficiency will have bumpy or rough skin; others might have bleeding gums and nose bleeding, others will have wrinkled skin, and others will feel tired and have weak immunity.

Vitamin D

Although named as a vitamin, vitamin D is a precursor of a hormone. The body can produce its own after responding to sun exposure. If sun exposure is not enough, the body can get more from certain foods or supplements. The Daily recommended dose is between 15 mcg (600 IU) and 20 mcg (800 IU) of this vitamin, depending on an individual’s age. It promotes healthy teeth and bones. It offers support to the nervous system, the brain, the immune system and is vital in preventing cancer development. Lack of enough vitamin D can result in frequent infections and disease, back and bone pain, impaired wound healing, and fatigue. Prolonged deficiency might result in certain cancers such as breast cancer, autoimmune problems, and neurological diseases.

Vitamin E

The powerful antioxidant is a vitamin that dissolves in fat. It is essential for reproduction, vision, and healthy skin, blood, and the brain. The vitamin can be obtained from foods and also from oral supplements. Olive oil, margarine, dairy products, fortified cereals, leafy greens, and peanuts are rich sources of vitamin E. Adults are required to take 15 mg in a day. It is recommended that people get enough of it from a balanced diet. Taking it orally from supplements or having it in excess can result in blurred vision, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and increases the risk of death for people with poor health. Taking excess vitamin E supplements also increases the chances of having a hemorrhagic stroke.

Vitamin K

The clotting vitamin plays a vital role in coagulation role. It occurs in two main types: vitamin K1 obtained from plant foods such as green leafy foods and vitamin K2, naturally created in the digestive tract. Both are vital in preventing bleeding inside and outside the body. Having vitamin K deficiency results in excessive bleeding. Unfortunately, vitamin K cannot be supplemented, although doctors might prescribe medication to treat vitamin K deficiency. Men aged 19 years and older require 120 mcg daily, while women need 90 mcg daily.

Overall, vitamins are essential compounds that the body needs in small quantities. A person requires different amounts of each vitamin to play different roles that keep the body healthy. Most vitamins come from the food because the body produces very little or does not produce them. Vitamin supplements might also be necessary when the body is not getting enough vitamins from the diet. Taking excess vitamins can be harmful to health, and people should always be careful to ensure that they do not exceed the required amount.


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