Vitamins are essential micronutrients. They do not give energy. They are vital for normal body functioning and maintaining good health. In order to get various vitamins, you should eat foods from all nutrition groups:
- whole grains;
- dairy products;
- fish-egg-poultry-meat products rich in edible fats (for example, nuts, seeds, almonds).
If you eat very fatty and sweet foods, you will get a lot of energy, but often such foods are poor sources of vitamins.Vitamins are vital as:
- they participate in metabolic processes, regulate nerves’ functioning, play a role in the formation of bone and muscle tissue;
- protect against infectious diseases;
- protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals, which is why many vitamins are called antioxidants.
Vitamins are needed in very small quantities, from micrograms to milligrams, but they need to be taken constantly because the body does not form their long-term supply.
A person is able to synthesize only single vitamins (B3, B5, vitamin K, retinol from ß-carotene, also vitamin D under the influence of solar radiation). It happens only in the cases when the starting compounds and favorable external conditions are made. Most vitamins are found in foods of both plant and animal origin, however, digestible forms of vitamins D and B12 are found only in animal foods.
Groups of vitamins
Vitamins are divided into two groups:
- fat-soluble (A, D, E, K);
- water-soluble (B1, B2, niacin, B6, folates, B12, C).
In the case of fat-soluble vitamins, one letter means a whole group of compounds of similar structure and action. The danger of excessive consumption of fat-soluble vitamins can arise when eating enriched foods or dietary supplements. Their accumulation is formed more easily than for water-soluble vitamins. An overdose of water-soluble vitamins is not possible to gain when consuming food because its surplus is excreted from the body through the urine.
Vitamins B goal
- Valuable mainly for metabolism to supply the body with energy.
- Indispensable for the normal nervous system functioning.
- Required to maintain the muscle tone of the digestive tract.
- Valuable for healthy skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver.
The primary symptoms of vitamin deficiency are fatigue and mood swings, as well as skin disorders. Vitamins group B is potent if taken in a complex, but excessive consumption of one of the vitamins can cause disturbances in others’ absorption. One of the reasons for the lack of B vitamins is the increased consumption of processed food. A significant part of the B vitamins has been removed. Another reason is the increased consumption of sugar, as a result of which microflora becomes not suitable for B vitamins.
The need for vitamins mainly depends on:
- physical activity.
Vitamin deficiency can occur for many reasons:
- nutritional peculiarities;
- unbalanced food;
- improper processing of products, for example, too long heating;
- malabsorption caused, for example, by alcoholism;
- physiological causes (increased need for certain vitamins, for example, in young children, pregnant and lactating women or the elderly);
- certain painful conditions and specific medications.
Vitamin absorption is prevented by:
- excessive coffee consumption;
- alcohol consumption;
- some drugs;
- some birth control pills.
Vitamins: from where to receive?
Vitamin A can be obtained from natural sources in the form of retinol. The body is able to convert beta-carotene contained in plant products into Vitamin A. Therefore, the recommended amounts of this vitamin are expressed in ER (retinol equivalent).
Vitamin A is needed for:
- growth and development of many body cells;
- normal development of mucous membranes (it causes a disinfecting protective effect);
- regulation of antioxidant processes;
- contribution to fertility.
It is impossible to get a toxic vitamin A dose with food. Vitamin A becomes toxic with the abuse of dietary supplements, which can lead to abnormalities in fetus development, a decrease in the mineral structure of bones and liver damage. If large amounts of retinol-enriched foods are present in the human diet, the daily dose of this substance may exceed a safe dose of 3 mg. In smokers, excessive intake of carotenoids in the form of dietary supplements may increase the risk of cancer.
The best sources of vitamin A are:
- dairy products (cheese, butter);
Most carotenoids are found in egg yolks and oranges, but they are also found in some green vegetables, fruits and berries (rose hips, carrots, kale, melon, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, paprika, orange, papaya, persimmon), as well in sweet potato.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine
Vitamin B1 is vital for:
- normal lipid and carbohydrate metabolism;
- the functioning of the nervous system and muscles, in particular, cardiac muscle;
- normal formation of gastric juice.
The best sources of vitamin B1 are:
- wheat germ;
- whole grain pasta;
- rye bread;
- sea buckthorn berries;
- whole grain rice;
Vitamin B2 is intended for:
- normal lipid and carbohydrate metabolism;
- the functioning of the nervous system and muscles, in particular, the heart;
- contribution to vision, to reduce eye fatigue and normal visual functions;
- healthy skin, mucous membranes, nails, and hair;
- production of antibodies.
Foods usually contain small amounts of vitamin B2. So to get enough of it, you should eat varied food. It is recommended unrefined foods.
The best sources of vitamin B2 are liver, yeast, almonds, eggs, kale, cheese, spinach, rye bread, broccoli, dried apricots and prunes, herring, avocados, pork, legumes, turkey, nuts, seeds.
Vitamin B6 is vital:
- to provide normal amino acid metabolism (including the breakdown and use of proteins);
- to ensure carbohydrate and lipid metabolism;
- for the synthesis in the body of many biologically active compounds (for example, serotonin);
- to produce red blood cells;
- for the normal functioning of the central nervous system;
- for full absorption of vitamin B12 and magnesium;
- for the production of hydrochloric acid.
The best sources of vitamin B6 are liver, nuts, poultry, fish, yeast, avocado, paprika, banana, pork and beef, rye bread, seeds, egg yolk, and legumes.
Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin
Vitamin B12 is needed for:
- normal amino acid metabolism;
- the prevention of various types of anemia (for example, it participates together with folates in the synthesis of red blood cells);
- the normal development of nerve tissue.
Continuous overdose of vitamin B12 has been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
The best sources of vitamin B12 are liver, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, cheese, pork, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt.
Biotin is vital for:
- the synthesis of fatty acids and glucose;
- the metabolism of certain amino acids;
- the metabolism of proteins, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12.
The best sources of biotin are liver, nuts, almonds, yeast, kale, flour, oatmeal, and other cereal products, as well as mushrooms.
Vitamin C is required for:
- development and functioning of the skin, gums, teeth, bones;
- normal wound healing;
- increase in the body’s resistance;
- prevention of spring fatigue and stress;
- reduction of the formation of nitrosamines;
- conversion of folic acid into the body into folates;
- normal brain function;
- control over the synthesis of steroid hormones;
- synthesis of bile acid from cholesterol and regulating blood cholesterol levels;
- enhancement of the absorption of non-heme iron protein.
The best sources of vitamin C are vegetables and fruits, berries, juices; rosehip, sea buckthorn, paprika, black currant, blackberry, strawberry, citrus, red currant, cabbage, broccoli, leek, rutabaga, gooseberry, raspberry, tomato, cauliflower.
Vitamin D or Cholecalciferol
Vitamin D is recommended for better:
- absorption of calcium and phosphorus;
- development of bones and teeth;
- blood coagulation and maintenance of cardiac activity;
- reduction in the risk of infection and diabetes.
The best sources of vitamin D are (fatty) fish, eggs, liver, and dairy products rich in this vitamin.
Vitamin E or Alpha-tocopherol
Vitamin E is vital for:
- slowing down the aging process of cells;
- maintenance of normal hemoglobin levels;
- strengthening the walls of the capillaries;
- protection of blood cells (lymphocytes, red and white blood cells), which helps to improve the supply of oxygen to the body and overall protective function;
- blood coagulation, myocardial function, nerve tissue, and immunity;
The best sources of vitamin E are oils, seeds, nuts, almonds, bread, avocados, paprika, and liver.
Folates or Folic Acid
Folates are prescribed for:
- normal development of nerve tissue in the fetus;
- protein, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism;
- normal functioning of the nervous system;
- synthesis of DNA and RNA during growth and for the restoration of body cells;
- synthesis along with vitamin B12 of red blood cells;
- lower blood cholesterol and increase liver efficiency.
The best sources of folate are yeast, liver, legumes, broccoli, kale, spinach, nuts, seeds, beets, kohlrabi, green parts of plants, eggs, rye bread, paprika, rutabaga, Kama flour, cauliflower, radishes, and strawberries.
The best sources of vitamin K are green parts of plants and oils. A lot of vitamin K is found in parsley and other herbs, sauerkraut, nettle, Brussels sprouts, spinach, wheat germ, soy flour, broccoli, rapeseed oil, rose hips, cabbage, wheat bran, potatoes, oats, corn, peas, beans.