Vitamins and Their Role in Good Health
Vitamins are organic substances contained in various natural foodstuffs in minute amounts. Because these substances play a critical part in normal metabolism, not having enough of them can cause illnesses or medical conditions.
Being organic compounds, vitamins contain carbon, which is an essential nutrient that the body produces in inadequate amounts, hence the need to source it from food. Unlike carbohydrates, proteins and fats, however, vitamins don’t supply energy, but they help the body work and grow at best capacity.
There are thirteen essential vitamins that provide a whole range of health benefits, including better eyesight, a stronger immune system, stronger bones, faster wound healing process, and several others. Without enough vitamin intake, you could be vulnerable to many different diseases or medical conditions.
Types of Vitamins
Vitamins may be fat-soluble or water-soluble, depending on how the body uses them. There are four fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K – all stored in fat tissue for up to as long as half a year.
On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins, which include vitamin C plus the B vitamins – B6, B12, thiamine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, folate and biotin – are circulated around the body through the blood. Considering that your body does not retain water-soluble vitamins, you have to make sure that your stores are constantly replenished.
All thirteen vitamins have their own specific functions, but they can also work together to benefit your health. Apart from stronger bones, teeth and immunity, vitamin A also gives you better eyesight and glowing skin.
Vitamin C aids in iron absorption, boosts immunity and promotes good tissue development. Vitamin, D coupled with calcium (another mineral), is vital to bone health and immunity as well. Vitamin E aids in your body’s use of vitamin K, which affects bone health and blood-clotting mechanisms, and contributes to optimal production of red blood cells.
Of course, the B vitamins have their own work to do, most of which is related to metabolism, cellular maintenance, heart and brain health and hormone production.
Effects of Vitamin Deficiencies
Inadequate intake of vitamins leads to health risks associated with osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. Vitamin B deficiency in particular can cause anemia and permanent nerve damage.
Too little vitamin C diminishes your ability to produce collagen, your body’s primary tissue. When vitamin C deficiency is severe, a person can have scurvy, with symptoms including gum disease, anemia, muscle and joint fatigue and skin hemorrhage.
Finally, vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, which can be seen as autoimmune diseases and poor bone health in adults, and as poor bone health and growth in kids.