ABC of Vitamins – Let us learn everything about Vitamins

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ABC of Vitamins

Vitamins Guide – Let us learn all about Vitamins | ABC of Vitamins

We always thought that a diet containing proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and water was adequate to maintain life. Research has proved that some vital factors were missing from the diet. These were clearly Vitamins. Vitamins have captured public interest in the last sixty years.

This may be because vitamins have been synthesized and marketed by large pharmaceuticals industry. Their efforts have been supported by medical practitioners and health-conscious people.

Surely vitamins are essential nutrients. We need to understand what they do, how much we need them and where we can get them.

Can we get enough of these in foods or do we need supplements?

By the time we reach the end of the article, we will certainly know the ABC of Vitamins.

What’s in it for me?

1. What are Vitamins?

2. Why are Vitamins essential?

3. Different Categories of Vitamins

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble Vitamins

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are vital, organic dietary substances, which are not carbohydrates, protein or fat. It is required only in small amounts to perform a specific metabolic function or to prevent an associated deficiency disease. It cannot be manufactured by our body so it be supplied by the diet.

Why are Vitamins essential?

Vitamins are necessary for life and growth. The chemical structure of each vitamin is specific. They do not provide calories but are essential in the metabolic reactions. They may act singly or in coordination with each other.

Each vitamin has specific functions and so one vitamin cannot substitute for another in the body.

Vitamins may occur in performed or its active form in the food, or as a precursor compound which can be changed into an active form in the body.

Different categories of Vitamins

different-Types-of-Vitamins

Vitamins are conveniently classified into two groups on the basis of their solubility- Fat-soluble and Water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K. Water-soluble vitamins include B-group and C.

Fat-soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins can be absorbed in the presence of fat. Therefore, the presence of some fat in the diet is essential for their absorption. Not much of fat-soluble vitamins are lost during the cooking procedures.

1. Vitamin A

vitamin-A-fat-soluble-vitamins

This was the first fat-soluble vitamin to be discovered. It has a number of important functions in the body. Vitamin A is found only in animal foods, mainly as retinol. Plants too provide a source of vitamin A for animals in the form of orange-yellow carotenoids.

The chief source in human nutrition is beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Functions-

It is necessary for normal growth and development. If the intake of vitamin A is not sufficient for normal growth, the bones will stop growing, before the soft tissues are affected. This may result in overcrowding of the brain and nervous system. In some cases, the pressure on the optic nerve may result in blindness. Vitamin A occurs in the retina of the eye and is required in the process of vision to adjust to the light of varying intensity. It also functions in T-cell mediated responses (which provide immunity). It plays a major role in the development of tissues in the foetal nervous system.

2. Vitamin D

different-Types-of-Vitamins

Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sunshine Hormone’ because the body is able to convert a sterol present in the skin to vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. For the same reason, people with Vitamin D deficiency are asked to stand in the sun. It can be synthesized in the body in adequate amounts by simply standing under the sun for five minutes daily.  Vitamin D activity is shown by a group of chemical substances called sterol. These are wax-like substances.

Functions-

  • Calcitriol, a hormone, is an activated form of vitamin D.It stimulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the small intestine.
  • It helps in the formation of strong and rigid bones.
  • Also helps in bone mineralization.
  • Regulates the rate of deposition and reabsorption of these minerals in bone.

This balancing process helps to build and maintain bone tissues. It can also be used to treat rickets in kids and osteoporosis in older women.

3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E

Vitamin E or alpha-tocopherol is a fat-soluble vitamin. Popularly an antioxidant. May help protect your cells from damage. Often described as eight different compounds. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active one.

Functions-

  • The main function of vitamin E is preventing issue breakdown.
  • It acts as nature’s most powerful fat-soluble oxidation of vitamin A and carotene in the digestive tract.
  • It also regulates the rate of oxidation of food.

4. Vitamin K

Vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, comes from plants. It is the main type of dietary vitamin K. A lesser source of vitamin K2 or menaquinone, which occurs in some animal-based and fermented foods.

Function-

  • The basic function of vitamin K is in blood clotting.
  • It is essential for the formation of prothrombin by the liver. Prothrombin is a normal constituent of the blood and helps in the clotting of blood.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins consist of a large number of substances. These include ascorbic acid and B-complex vitamins. The water-soluble vitamins are absorbed quickly in the body and the amounts not utilized are excreted in the urine.

Most of the water-soluble vitamins are partly lost in cooking procedures. For the same reason, food contains these vitamins should be consumed raw.

1. Vitamin B-Complex

There are six members of this group.

  • Thiamine- The name thiamine is derived from its chemical ring-like structure. Its basic function is to make energy available for normal growth and function of the body. Thiamine is needed to maintain three systems of the body- gastrointestinal, nervous, and cardiovascular.
  • Riboflavin- It is less soluble in water than thiamine. It is destroyed by exposure to sunlight. It plays a vital role in energy production and tissue protein building.
  • Niacin- Niacin, the term which includes both nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, is another vitamin in the B-complex family. Works as an energy provider in close association with thiamine and riboflavin. Also necessary for growth. Helps in tissue respiration and synthesis and the breakdown of glucose to provide energy.
  • Pyridoxine- This is also known as vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is a co-factor for several enzymes connected with the metabolism of amino acids. It is also believed to have a role in the formation of antibodies.
  • Folic Acid- This vitamin was first isolated from spinach leaves and is widely distributed in green, leafy plants. The primary function of folic acid is related to the transfer of single carbon in the synthesis of a number of metabolites in the body. It Is also involved in the synthesis of nucleic acid along with vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin B12- Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin, was the last member of the B-complex family. Found in animal food and the higher plant is unable to synthesize it. Considered to be one of the most potent vitamins. normal growth and development. elps with certain kinds of nerve damage and treats pernicious anemia. Also for the normal functioning of all cells, especially those of bone marrow, nervous system, and gastrointestinal system.

2. Vitamin C ( Ascorbic Acid)

Ascorbic acid closely resembles glucose in structure. The vitamin is white, crystalline, odorless compound readily soluble in water. It is a strong reducing agent. It is now made synthetically.

Function-

  • It performs a number of important functions in the body.
  • Thus it plays an important role to build and maintain strong tissues in general, especially connective tissues. Blood vessels tissue

Fat-soluble Vitamins1. Vitamin A
This was the first fat-soluble vitamin to be discovered. It has a number of important functions in the body. Vitamin A is found only in animal foods, mainly as retinol. Plants too provide a source of vitamin A for animals in the form of orange-yellow carotenoids.
The chief source in human nutrition is beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sunshine Hormone’ because the body is able to convert a sterol present in the skin to vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. For the same reason, people with Vitamin D deficiency are asked to stand in the sun.
It can be synthesized in the body in adequate amounts by simply standing under the sun for five minutes daily.  Vitamin D activity is shown by a group of chemical substances called sterol. These are wax-like substances.

3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E or alpha-tocopherol is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is an antioxidant. It may help protect your cells from damage. It is described as eight different compounds. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active one.

4. Vitamin K
Vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, comes from plants. It is the main type of dietary vitamin K. A lesser source of vitamin K2 or menaquinone, which occurs in some animal-based and fermented foods.
Water Soluble Vitamins1. Vitamin B Complex

Thiamine- The name thiamine is derived from its chemical ring-like structure. Its basic function is to make energy available for normal growth and function of the body. Thiamine is needed to maintain three systems of the body- gastrointestinal, nervous, and cardiovascular.

Riboflavin- It is less soluble in water than thiamine. It is destroyed by exposure to sunlight. It plays a vital role in energy production and tissue protein building.

Niacin- Niacin, the term which includes both nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, is another vitamin in the B-complex family. It works as an energy provider in close association with thiamine and riboflavin. It is necessary for growth too. It helps in tissue respiration and synthesis and the breakdown of glucose to provide energy.

Pyridoxine- This is also known as vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is a co-factor for several enzymes connected with the metabolism of amino acids. It is also believed to have a role in the formation of antibodies.

Folic Acid- This vitamin was first isolated from spinach leaves and is widely distributed in green, leafy plants. The primary function of folic acid is related to the transfer of single carbon in the synthesis of a number of metabolites in the body. It is also involved in the synthesis of nucleic acid along with vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12- Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin, was the last member of the B-complex family. It is only found in animal food and the higher plant is unable to synthesize it. It is considered to be one of the most potent vitamins. It promotes normal growth and development. It helps with certain kinds of nerve damage and treats pernicious anemia. It is essential for the normal functioning of all cells, especially those of bone marrow, nervous system, and gastrointestinal system.

2. Vitamin C ( Ascorbic Acid)
Ascorbic acid closely resembles glucose in structure. The vitamin is white, crystalline, odorless compound readily soluble in water. It is a strong reducing agent. It is now made synthetically.

water-soluble-and-fat-soluble-vitamins

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