List of Vitamins and Mineral Benefits
Synopsis: Information on A, C, D, E, K, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B-6, B-12 vitamins that are essential to the human body. In humans there are 13 vitamins: 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C). Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed via the intestinal tract thanks to lipids. The term vitamin does not include other essential nutrients such as dietary minerals, essential fatty acids, or essential amino acids...
What Exactly Are Vitamins?
A vitamin is defined as an organic compound and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts. An organic chemical compound (or related set of compounds) is called a vitamin when the organism cannot synthesize the compound in sufficient quantities, and must be obtained through the diet; thus, the term "vitamin" is conditional upon the circumstances and the particular organism. For example, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a vitamin for humans, but not for most other animal organisms. Supplementation is important for the treatment of certain health problems, but there is little evidence of nutritional benefit when used by otherwise healthy people.
All natural vitamins are organic food substances found only in living things, that is, plants and animals. With few exceptions, the body cannot manufacture or synthesize vitamins. They must be supplied by the diet or in dietary supplements. Vitamins are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies. They are necessary for growth, vitality, health, general well-being, and for the prevention and cure of many health problems and diseases.
Vitamins are classified by their biological and chemical activity, not their structure:
Thus, each "vitamin" may refer to several vitamer compounds that all show the biological activity associated with a particular vitamin. Such a set of chemicals are grouped under an alphabetized vitamin "generic descriptor" title, such as "vitamin A," which includes the compounds retinal, retinol, and many carotenoids. Vitamers are often interconverted in the body. The term vitamin does not include other essential nutrients such as dietary minerals, essential fatty acids, or essential amino acids, nor does it encompass the large number of other nutrients that promote health but are otherwise required less frequently.
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There are 13 Vitamins Your Body Needs
- They are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).
- You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat.
- Your body can also make vitamins D and K.
- People who eat a vegetarian diet may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.
Vitamins are Classified as Water-soluble or Fat Soluble
In humans there are 13 vitamins: 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C).
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in water, and in general, are readily excreted from the body, to the degree that urinary output is a strong predictor of vitamin consumption. Because they are not readily stored, consistent daily intake is important. Many types of water-soluble vitamins are synthesized by bacteria.
Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract thanks to lipids (fats). Because they are more likely to accumulate in the body, they are more likely to lead to hypervitaminosis than are water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamin regulation is of particular significance in cystic fibrosis.
Important for vision, reproductive function, and normal cell reproduction. Beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, helps to fight disease-causing free radicals. Vitamin A is found in milk products, organ meats, and fish oils. Beta-carotene is found in colorful vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin A also helps keep teeth, tissue, membranes, and skin healthy. Directly involved in the production of retina pigments, vitamin A is critical for eyesight, especially in poor lighting. Studies have indicated that it may be significant for breast-feeding mothers as well.
Because it is found in many foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol, people often unknowingly avoid vitamin A as well. Subsequently, a deficiency may result. These foods include meats, eggs, cheese, and cream. The body can use fruits and vegetables to produce A from beta-carotene. Carrots, sweet potato, cantaloupe, broccoli, and many green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, are good choices. (Generally, deeper, richer colors indicate higher quantities of beta-carotene.) While fruits and vegetables are usually low in saturated fats and cholesterol, many "on-the-go" schedules make them difficult to eat. However, with the guidelines of a medical professional, a supplement can give the body its necessary dose while leaving weight, arteries, and calendars undisturbed.
Vitamin A Sources:
- Egg yolk
- Dark-colored fruit
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Liver, beef, and fish
- Fortified milk and dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream)
Vitamin B There are actually eight separate vitamins in the B family:
- Thiamine (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
B vitamins increase energy levels, regulate metabolism, and help create new red blood cells. Foods with high B levels include meats, fish, liver, dark/leafy vegetables, whole-grains, and fortified products. Nonetheless, for the same reasons as vitamin A, B may also prove difficult to get. Ironically, hectic lives often have little time for these foods, but people with high stress may need vitamin B's energy-producing ability more than ever. Due to the list's quantity of animal products, vegetarians may also find themselves at high-risk for deficiencies. While each B vitamin can be found by itself, discount vitamins offer B-complex supplements. The combination usually proves easier for maintaining safe ratios between the eight different kinds.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin) processes carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for nerve cell function. Breads and cereals are frequently fortified with thiamine, though it is also found in whole grains, fish, lean meats, and dried beans.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) Sources:
- Dried milk
- Lean meats
- Organ meats
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes (dried beans)
- Enriched bread and flour
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) - Helps the production of red blood cells and is important for growth.
Vitamin B-3 (niacin) - Helps control cholesterol, processes alcohol, maintains healthy skin, and converts carbohydrates to energy.
Niacin (vitamin B3) Sources:
- Lean meats
- Fish (tuna and salt-water fish)
- Enriched breads and fortified cereals
Vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) serves several bodily functions, such as converting fats to energy and synthesizing cholesterol.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) Sources:
- Organ meats
- Legumes and lentils
- Whole-grain cereals
- White and sweet potatoes
- Broccoli, kale, and other vegetables in the cabbage family
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) is important in the production of hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin, as well as for processing amino acids.
Pyroxidine (vitamin B6) Sources:
- Legumes (dried beans)
- Whole grains (milling and processing removes a lot of this vitamin)
A crucial component of DNA replication and nerve cell regulation. It is found in milk products, poultry, meat, and shellfish.
Vitamin B12 Sources:
- Milk and milk products
- Fortified foods such as soy milk
- Organ meats (liver and kidney)
Animal sources of vitamin B12 are absorbed much better by the body than plant sources
Important in wound healing and acts as an antioxidant. It also helps the body absorb iron. It's found in citrus fruits, potatoes, and greens.
Vitamin C is also referred to as ascorbic acid. Functioning as an excellent antioxidant, it can prevent the harmful oxidation of cells. While vitamin E and beta-carotene are also anti-oxidants, C works excellently with E in this process. Vitamin C is also connected with the health of bones, teeth, hormones, collagen, and blood vessels. It plays an important role in absorbing other important substances, such as iron, calcium, and folacin, and it may help cataracts, cancer, and heart disease. Vitamin C is particularly connected with the strengthening of the immune system and the healing of wounds.
Many fruits and vegetables provide good sources of vitamin C. These include citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and dark green vegetables. When sick with a cold or flu, many people use lozenges as a vitamin C source. However, the sugar in these "remedies" actually weakens the immune system. Increased doctor-recommended supplement levels of C may prove more effective. A variety of other factors cause the body to need higher C levels as well. These include smoking, growth in children and unborn babies, drugs such as oral contraceptives, and increased levels of stress and anxiety.
Vitamin C Sources:
- Citrus fruits
- Tomato juice
- Brussels sprouts
Helps the body absorb calcium, which creates healthy bones and teeth. The body can synthesize vitamin D after exposure to sunshine, but it can also be found in fortified milk products and cereals, as well as in fish.
Turned into a steroid hormone by the body, vitamin D possesses a crucial connection with gene functioning. It significantly impacts how much calcium the body can absorb, and it is vital for bone density and prevention against osteoporosis. However, vitamin D may have even further capabilities. More and more new research finds that D may play an important role in fighting diseases such as colon, breast, and prostate cancers.
While foods such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and fortified products contain vitamin D, the body largely produces this substance from sun rays absorbed through the skin. This puts many people at risk, especially older people that often stay indoors and people with darker skin that require longer time for sun absorption. Although D is vital for bone growth in child development, studies reveal that a substantial number of children may be deficient as well. Nevertheless, even if people are not members of these populations, they should not let down their guard. It is easy for harmfully low amounts to go unnoticed. Due to vitamin D's importance, it is advisable for everyone to speak with their doctor. A simple blood test can reveal a deficiency.
Vitamin D Sources:
- Fortified cereals
- Fish liver oils (cod's liver oil)
- Fortified milk and dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream)
- Fish (fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and orange roughy)
Helps to combat free radicals, which can damage our cells. It's found in nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, corn, asparagus, and wheat germ.
Vitamin E is involved with immune system, DNA, and metabolism maintenance. As an antioxidant, research indicates that it may have a positive effect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, particularly almonds, wheat germ oil, vegetable oil, green/leafy vegetables, and enriched cereals.
Vitamin E Sources:
- Seeds and nuts
- Papaya and mango
- Wheat germ and wheat germ oil
- Oils (safflower, corn, and sunflower)
- Margarine (made from safflower, corn, and sunflower oil)
- Dark green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus, turnip greens)
While involved in protection against osteoporosis, skin wounds, and possibly cancer, Vitamin K significantly helps blood to clot after an injury. Also found in a variety of foods, especially vegetables, K most often forms from intestine bacteria in the body. However, various circumstances can prevent the body from receiving the proper amount. Medications, such as antibiotics and blood-thinners, can cause a hindrance. Injuries and illness, such as serious burns, gallbladder problems, and liver disease, may also disturb K levels. While vitamin K shortages are uncommon, particular attention should be given to breast-fed babies and the elderly. Older people are typically known to take more medications, to eat poorly, and to have difficulties forming vitamin K in the intestine. Because breast-milk contains poor K levels, it is important that mothers eat an adequate quantity of green vegetables or take an extra doctor-prescribed supplement during this time.
A variety of food contains vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. However, while eating a diet full of these foods may prove difficult, no one can be sure that fertilizers, food-processing techniques, cooking preparations, and other modern factors have not depleted their natural organic quantities. No need to wonder or worry. Medical professionals and dietitians can provide information on the best available discount vitamins and their proper use. No one should have to go without the organic substances that nature intended.
While our bodies produce some vitamin K, it can also be found in vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage.
Vitamin K Sources:
- Fish, liver, beef, eggs
- Dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens)
- Dark green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus)
- Egg yolk
- Organ meats (liver, kidney)
- Wheat germ
- Peanut butter
- Peanut butter
- Brewer's yeast
- Fortified cereals
- Asparagus and broccoli
- Oranges and orange juice
- Dried beans (cooked pinto, navy, kidney, and Lima)
- Green, leafy vegetables (spinach and romaine lettuce)
Deficiencies of vitamins are classified as either primary or secondary.
- A primary deficiency occurs when an organism does not get enough of the vitamin in its food.
- A secondary deficiency may be due to an underlying disorder that prevents or limits the absorption or use of the vitamin, due to a "lifestyle factor", such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or the use of medications that interfere with the absorption or use of the vitamin.
People who eat a varied diet are unlikely to develop a severe primary vitamin deficiency.
In contrast, restrictive diets have the potential to cause prolonged vitamin deficits, which may result in often painful and potentially deadly diseases.
Dietary supplements, often containing vitamins, are used to ensure that adequate amounts of nutrients are obtained daily, if optimal amounts of the nutrients cannot be obtained through a varied diet. Scientific evidence supporting the benefits of some dietary supplements is well established for certain health conditions, but others need further study.
Interesting Facts on Vitamins
- Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. There are 13 vitamins your body needs.
- Vitamins are essential for the normal growth and development of a multicellular organism.
- The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods.
- Dietary supplements typically contain vitamins, but may also include other ingredients, such as minerals, herbs, and botanicals.
- In those who are otherwise healthy, there is no evidence that supplements have any benefits regarding cancer or heart disease.
- In 1747, the Scottish surgeon James Lind discovered that citrus foods helped prevent scurvy.
- The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins reflect how much of each vitamin most people should get each day.
- Humans must consume vitamins periodically, but with differing schedules, to avoid deficiency.
- Each vitamin has specific jobs. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may get health problems.
- In large doses, some vitamins have documented side effects that tend to be more severe with a larger dosage.
- Anti-vitamins are chemical compounds that inhibit the absorption or actions of vitamins.
- The best way to get all the daily vitamins you need is to eat a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fortified dairy foods, legumes (dried beans), lentils, and whole grains.
- Most countries place dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of foods, not drugs.
- The European Union and other countries of Europe have regulations that define limits of vitamin (and mineral) dosages for their safe use as food supplements.
- The ancient Egyptians knew that feeding liver to a person would help cure night blindness, an illness now known to be caused by a vitamin A deficiency.
- The reason that the set of vitamins skips directly from E to K is that the vitamins corresponding to letters F-J were either reclassified over time, discarded as false leads, or renamed because of their relationship to vitamin B, which became a complex of vitamins.
The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, you may need to take a daily multivitamin for optimal health. However, high doses of some vitamins can make you sick.
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