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 offer various health benefits, such as immunity boost, stronger bones, faster wound healing, enhanced eyesight, better use of food-sourced energy and many more. Without enough vitamin intake, you could be vulnerable to many different 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 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 helps your body make use of vitamin K, and this is involved in blood-clotting and bone health maintenance, and also plays a part in essential red blood cell formation.
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
Without enough vitamin intake, you can be at risk of various medical issues, specially those linked to cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Insufficient vitamin B intake sets the stage for anemia and irreversible nerve damage.
Without enough vitamin C in your diet, you will have limited stores of collagen, which makes up 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.