The Importance of Vitamins in Our Diet
Vitamins are organic substances present in small amounts in natural foodstuffs. Because of the crucial role these substances play in normal metabolism, a lack of them can cause a whole range of medical conditions.
As organic compounds, vitamins contain carbon, an essential nutrient that the body does not produce enough of, thus the need to obtain them from food. However, unlike proteins, fats and carbohydrates, vitamins do not give you energy, although they do help the body grow and function optimally.
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. If you don’t take in enough vitamins, you increase your risk of developing diseases or medical conditions.
Types of Vitamins
Depending on how the body stores or uses them, vitamins can be fat-soluble or water-soluble. 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, 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. As water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, it is important to replenish your stores regularly.
All the thirteen vitamins have their own individual functions, but they can work as a group as well in improving your health. Vitamin A gives you better skin, bones and teeth, aside form good eyesight and immunity.
Vitamin C contributes to optimal tissue development, promotes iron absorption, and improves immunity. Vitamin D, together with calcium (another mineral), also has a role in bone health and immunity. Vitamin E helps your body utilize vitamin K, and this improves bone health, blood-clotting mechanisms, and helps in the body’s production of essential red blood cells.
Of course, the B vitamins have their part to play, mostly in relation to better central nervous system functions, hormone synthesis, cardiac operation, basic cellular maintenance, brain activity and body metabolism.
Consequences of Vitamin Deficiencies
Inadequate intake of vitamins leads to health risks associated with osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. Insufficient vitamin B intake sets the stage for anemia and irreversible 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.
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.
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