Vitamins are organic compounds that are crucial for our body. Unlike plants, we cannot produce them in our own bodies to meet requirements. That is why they have to be ingested through food, as we are always advised by doctors. But Why Are Vitamins Necessary In The Diet? Let’s find out.
Vitamins fulfil many functions in the body. They are involved in both tissue building and energy production. Due to their antioxidant properties, some vitamins help prevent the formation of free radicals, which can lead to many diseases. Vitamins also play a major role in our immune system.
The actual vitamin content of food depends on many factors like the climatic conditions, maturity and storage & processing. The survival of the vitamins is influenced by extreme temperatures such as heat and cold as freezing slows down the decay while heating accelerates the breakdown of the vitamins.
There are two types of vitamins, depending on their solubility.
1. Fat-Soluble Vitamins
2. Water-Soluble Vitamins
Due to their chemical structure, vitamins E, D, K and A are readily soluble in fats. That is why we only find them in fatty foods. With the exception of vitamin K, they can be stored in large amounts in the body. Fat-soluble vitamins are involved in protein synthesis.
Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed in the body by the small intestine together with the fats. Since they are stored in the body, it is easier to overdose, which is toxic to the body. The consequences are headache, hair loss, nausea and visual disturbances.
Vitamin C, the B vitamins and folic acid use water as a solvent. An overdose of water-soluble vitamins is very unlikely because they are hardly stored in the body. That is why they have to be fed continuously.
The body cannot compensate for a shortage of food for a long time. Vitamin B12 is an exception as it is stored in the liver. But excess vitamin B12 is simply excreted through the kidneys, so there is no risk of overdosing.
Why are Vitamins Necessary in the Diet?
Vitamins serve individual functions in the body. We have listed the purpose of vitamins in our body, their best sources, and what can their deficiency cause.
Vitamin A is an indispensable part of the vision. It is also an antioxidant and radical scavenger and therefore a protective factor for the skin and mucous membranes.
Vitamin A is only readily found in animal foods. Sources of vitamin A are liver, liver sausage, tuna, egg yolk, milk products, carrots, spinach, pumpkin and apricots. Deficiency of Vitamin A causes problems related to vision.
Vitamin C – Why Are Vitamins Necessary In The Diet
Vitamin C is a radical scavenger and antioxidant. It helps support immune function and build connective tissue. Sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, cherries, black currants, broccoli, peppers, potatoes and cabbage. Vitamin C is often used as a preservative.
Vitamin C promotes iron absorption from food. Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, susceptibility to infection and scurvy.
Vitamin D forms in our skin under the influence of sunlight, but mostly it is ingested with food. A lack of vitamin D is shown by muscle weakness, soft bones that are prone to fractures. In infants, a deficiency also leads to rickets, which results in skeletal deformities.
Since vitamin D drives calcium and phosphate absorption through the intestine, it is particularly important for bone structure and tooth development. Vitamin D deficiency may cause diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Do we still need to ask Why Are Vitamins Necessary In The Diet?
Suggested Read: 5 Foods to Have if You Wake Up Tired in The Morning
Vitamin E acts as a radical scavenger and antioxidant in cell membranes because it prevents the destruction of the cell walls. Due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E is important for athletes in order to reduce stress-induced tissue damage.
The vitamins are said to intercept free radicals. The early symptom of a vitamin E deficiency is a shortened lifespan of the red blood cells. Good sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts, soybeans and eggs.
Vitamin K – Why Are Vitamins Necessary In The Diet
Vitamin K is required for the production of some proteins in the body. It also works in bone formation and bone metabolism. A vitamin K deficiency manifests itself through bruises and nosebleeds. The bone density decreases, which can more easily lead to broken bones.
Vitamin K is found in the highest concentrations in green vegetables such as spinach. Various varieties of cabbage are also good suppliers of the vitamin. Other sources are sunflower oil, fruits, grains and animal foods like eggs, dairy, meat.
Numerous B vitamins are involved in the functioning of the metabolism. A lack of B vitamins can lead to reduced performance, which is why they are often added to energy drinks. The increased metabolism increases the need for B Vitamins in athletes.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of red blood cells. Together with folic acid and vitamin B6, vitamin B12 detoxifies the amino acid homocysteine in our body, which is a waste product of the metabolism. Homocysteine is toxic and can damage the blood vessels and nerves. Vitamin B12 also contributes to the breakdown of fatty acids and protein.
Vitamin B12 can only be produced by microorganisms. Sources of vitamin B12 include animal foods such as meat, fish and milk. It is also found in small amounts in fermented, plant-based foods such as sauerkraut or beer. B12 deficiency leads to disruption of cell division in the bone marrow. The result is anaemia and degeneration of the spinal cord areas.
Folic acid is important for growth, development and metabolic processes as well as for haemoglobin formation. Examples of sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables, meat and fruit. Deficiency of folic acid can lead to increased homocysteine levels and contribute to anaemia in the long term.
Pregnant women usually take folic acid supplements to prevent damage to embryonic development. Folic acid may increase the protective factor against colon cancer.
Our body cells contain vitamin B2. It is used for the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Together with vitamin A, it promotes skin healing processes. A lack of riboflavin can be recognized by small tears in the corners of the mouth, on the nose, lids and on the nail bed. Anaemia and visual disturbances can occur due to lack of Vitamin B2.
Niacin or nicotinic acid is found in all cells and is necessary for many metabolic processes. Skin and mucous membranes in particular need vitamin B3. Meat and fish in particular, but also peanuts and whole-grain cereals contain niacin. Constant sugar consumption can lead to a lack of niacin, as sugar is incompatible with vitamin B3.
Suggested Read: Best Vegan Sources of Protein
Vitamin B5 is found in almost everything we eat. It is needed for energy metabolism. It is also used for the formation of hair, nails, connective tissue and mucous membranes. Dry, cracked skin and brittle hair and stiff joints can indicate a lack of vitamin B5.
As we grow, we need vitamin B6 for protein metabolism. However, it is also responsible for the proper functioning of the heart, brain and liver. In addition, vitamin B6 is also a building block of the messenger substances that are responsible for the transmission of stimuli between nerve cells.
It can alleviate pregnancy sickness, menstrual cramps and menopause. Pyridoxine is found in almost all foods. It is particularly abundant in yeast, fish, corn, soy and dairy products.
Vitamin B7 is involved in energy metabolism and is involved in cell growth and DNA and protein synthesis. Biotin also affects the growth and maintenance of skin and hair.
A lack of biotin can be caused by excessive caffeine consumption and may lead to brittle hair and cracked fingernails. Depression and fat metabolism disorders can be the result. Biotin is found in offal, milk and egg yolk and is found in nuts and legumes.
This should answer the question ‘Why Are Vitamins Necessary In The Diet?’. With a varied diet, adequate vitamin intake can usually be ensured. However, vitamin supplements are only recommended in certain situations, such as folic acid for pregnant women. Since overdoses are possible with some vitamins, they should not be consumed in excess.
So, now you know why are vitamins necessary in the diet, start eating vitamin-rich food and see your health getting better. Feel more energised and fit. Make way for a healthy mind and body.