The human body requires certain nutrients in trace quantities in order to combat diseases and stay healthy. These nutrients are called vitamins. Your body can’t manufacture most of the vitamins it needs, so it will have to get them from the food you eat. Well-balanced meals with plenty of leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts can go a long way to provide the daily requirement of vitamins needed.
Classification of Vitamins and Understanding Their Health Benefits
There are 13 vitamins, classified into two main categories: fat soluble and water soluble. Vitamins that are stored in the fat cells of the body and need fat in order to be absorbed into the body are known as fat-soluble vitamins. This includes vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Vitamins that are not stored in the body but are excreted when in excess are known as water-soluble. When you eat, the body takes the quantity it needs, and the rest is excreted as waste. For this reason, you need a daily intake of water-soluble vitamins.
Water-soluble vitamins include the vitamin B complex and vitamin C. We won’t go into detail when talking about all the vitamins, their health benefits, and food sources, but we will give you a useful summary. If you’re interested in finding out more, we suggest you visit MedAlertHelp.org and check out their infographic.
The major role of this vitamin in the body is to produce retinal. Retinal is used by the body in the cones and rods of the eyes to sense light. Its deficit can lead to night blindness. Vitamin A helps to build a healthy immune system, reproductive system, skin, bones, and teeth. It also helps protect the body against infections.
Food sources include fruits and vegetables that are orange in color, such as carrots, butternut squash, apricot, cantaloupe, sweet potato, and pumpkin. Others are leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and spinach.
This is an antioxidant that may help to avert cell damage and reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease. It is essential in the production of collagen that keeps blood vessels strong and holds the teeth in their sockets. Vitamin C also helps wounds heal, and it helps your body to absorb iron.
Food sources include citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruits. Papaya, brussels sprouts, kiwi, and bell peppers are also good sources of vitamin C.
It is an essential vitamin that’s proven to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce the risk of cancer, improve heart health, and boost the proper function of the brain. It also enhances proper blood clotting and keeps the bones strong and healthy.
Vitamin K can be found in leafy green vegetables (such as kale, spinach, brussels sprouts), dairy, meat, fermented food, and fruits such as prunes, kiwi, blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranate.
It is also referred to as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin because it is produced when the body is exposed to sunlight. It works with calcium in the body to maintain healthy teeth and bones and helps to prevent cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. It also has a beneficial role in the immune system, nervous system, and the brain.
Food sources include fatty fish, fish oils, milk, and eggs.
Vitamin B Complex
There are 9 vitamins in the B complex, and each of them plays a vital role in different functions of the body. They are essential for the production of red blood cells, energy, and new DNA for the multiplication of cells. They are also needed for the proper function of the brain and for healthy nerves. Likewise, intestinal and cardiovascular health are dependent on vitamin B complex.
Food sources include cabbage, tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, lettuce, and beans.
In conclusion, remember that most vitamins cannot be synthesized by the body, and though they are essential for normal metabolism and proper functioning of the body, they are required in limited quantities. However, deficiency of vitamins can cause poor health or specific diseases.
Today, most people live busy lifestyles, and they neglect their nutrition, often opting for fast food and other processed foods that are low in micronutrients. Moreover, most people are unaware that they lack certain vitamins. That is why it is important to regularly check levels and discover deficiencies expeditiously.
To learn more about the vitamins in our food, and how they impact our health, visit our YouTube page to watch the Food as Medicine series presented by Dr. Anne Zauderer.