Vitamins are organic substances present in small amounts in natural foodstuffs. Since these are essential to the normal metabolism of the body, not having enough can lead to 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 offering an entire variety of health benefits like better eyesight, stronger bones and immunity, better energy absorption from food, and more. If you don’t take in enough vitamins, you increase your risk of developing diseases or medical conditions.
Types of Vitamins
Vitamins are either fat soluble or water-soluble, depending on body storage. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, and this means that they are stored in fats, where they stay for up to about six months.
On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins, namely vitamin C and the vitamin B series (B6, B12, pantothenic acid, folate, biotin, thiamine and niacin) are all distributed all over the body through blood circulation. 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. Vitamin A promotes good eyesight and immune function, as well as better skin, teeth and bones.
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.
Consequences 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.
When you take too little vitamin C, your system will not produce enough of the body’s primary tissue known as collagen. When vitamin C deficiency is severe, a person can have scurvy, with symptoms including gum disease, anemia, muscle and joint fatigue and skin hemorrhage.
Lastly, vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets, which manifests as bone pain and deformation, and overall poor growth in children, and as poor bone health, hypertension, and autoimmune diseases in adults.
There is so much information you can read these days about the importance of vitamins. With the above, you can begin on the right track.