Vitamins

Some facts about Vitamins.

Vitamins are essential, organic substances needed in small amounts in the diet. The requirement of vitamins in the body is miniscule when compared to the macronutrients. Just about 40 gms of vitamins are needed in 100 kgs of food. The Vitamins A, D, E & K are known as the fat soluble vitamins. On the other hand, the B Vitamins ( 8 in all ) and Vitamin C are water soluble. Herebelow is a short note on each of the vitamins.

Vit-A pre-formed is available in liver, fish, fish oil and eggs. Compounds which can be converted into Vit-A are found in yellow/orange fruits and vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables.
This vitamin is particularly important for pregnant women as it has a big role in fetal development. It helps regulate the formation of messenger RNA & proteins in our cell nucleus. In the eyes it helps with creation of visual pigments. Also helps to keep our endothelium within the blood vessels healthy.
Vit-D is synthesized in sunlight, from a fat under our skin, known as 7-dehydrocholesterol. For this conversion one needs around 20 minutes of exposure of 40% of the body area between 1100-1300 hours. In foods Vit-D is found in fatty fish, cod liver oil or eggs, but in very small quantities.
Vit-D has many functions in the body, but primarily it is responsible for bone health. Supplementation is very common due to reduced levels of Vit-D in a majority of the population.
Vit-E is found in many vegetable oils, seeds and nuts. Fruits like Avocado are also a good source.
Vit E’s principal function is to stop free radical damage of fatty acids in the body. To accomplish this it works in tandem with Vit-C.
Vit-K is the only fat soluble vitamin that can be excreted from the body. The others are stored in the liver and fatty tissue. Vit-K is found in fish oils, meats, and also in dark green leafy vegetables. It helps regulate the clotting mechanism within the blood supply. Absorption could be poor in new-borns and infants due to under formed gastric tracts and low bacterial synthesis in the intestines.  

The water soluble Vitamins are easily excreted from the body and hence toxicity is relatively unknown. All these vitamins form some co-enzyme and work as catalysts in energy metabolism.

B1 (Thiamin) is found widely in organ meats, pork, legumes, seeds, peas, whole grains, mushrooms. It works in carbohydrate & protein metabolism. Excessive alcohol can cause depletion.
B2 (Riboflavin) is found in eggs, meats, milk products or grains. It works to help in oxidation and reduction reactions in energy metabolism. Also helps with the Immune system.
B3 (Niacin) The best sources for this vitamin are poultry, fish, meat, peanuts, mushrooms or protein rich foods. It works in at least 200 reactions during energy metabolim.
Pantothenic Acid The name is derived from the greek word pantothen meaning everywhere. It is found in meat, eggs, milk, many vegetables, peanuts, mushrooms, broccoli and soy. As a part of co-enzyme A it is to be found in all metabolic reactions in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol.
Biotin is found widely in a variety of foods like eggs, nuts, legumes, whole grains. Unlike other vitamins in this class, this is stored in liver and muscles, hence deficiency is rare. It works in adding CO2 to many compounds in metabolism.
B6 found in meat, poultry and seafood is better absorbed within the body as compared to plant sources like carrots, spinach, avocado, potatoes and bananas. It works in over a 100 metabolic reactions and in the synthesis of hemoglobin and many neurotransmitters.
Folate is found in fortified foods or the bioactive form is found in organ meats or dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, avocados and oranges. This vitamin is required in synthesis of and maintenance of new cells and the DNA. Hence deficiency can cause anemia.  
B12 (Cobalamin) is found predominantly in foods from animal sources. It works in protein absorption and synthesis of DNA/RNA. It also plays a part in fatty acid metabolism. The absorption of this vitamin reduces with age. A shortage of this vitamin also leads to anemia and nerve degeneration.   

Vit C is available in most fruits and vegetables, but the best sources are citrus fruits, peppers and green vegetables. Its co-enzyme works in collagen formation and therefore it plays a part in bone and tissue health. It also works as a part of the Immune system by reducing damage from free radicals. In fact it so important to our health, that I have devoted an entire post to Vitamin C



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