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All About Vitamins

 

Vitamins are essential nutrients. They help strengthen bones, heal wounds, and boost the immune system. They also convert food into energy and repair cellular damage. The essential vitamins your body needs are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins.

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is fat-soluble. It requires fats as well as minerals to be properly absorbed by the digestive tract. It can be stored for a while in your body and therefore, need not be replenished daily.
It occurs in two forms, preformed and pro-vitamin A or carotene. Preformed vitamin A (Retinol) is found in foods of animal origin while carotene is provided by both plant-based and animal-based sources.

Sources of Vitamin A

  • Liver
  • Fish liver oils
  • Green and yellow fruits, and vegetables
  • Beet greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Squashes and pumpkins
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Papaya
  • Watercress
  • Capsicum
  • Plantain
  • Nettle
  • Spider weed
  • Amaranth
  • Managu

Functions of Vitamin A

  • Keeps the outer layer of the tissues and organs healthy
  • Potentiated by the presence of vitamin C and E to correct vision loss, night blindness, and atopic nerve atrophy (the weakening of the nerves)
  • Builds resistance to respiratory infections
  • Aids in the proper function of the immune system
  • Helps treat acne and superficial wrinkles. Makes the skin glow with radiance
  • Helps in the removal of age spots

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is water-soluble and is a potent antioxidant. It is used up by the body more rapidly under stress conditions. The daily requirement of an adult is 60mg per day. This vitamin is not synthesized by the human body. It is supplied by the food we eat.
Breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women may require up to 95mg of this vitamin daily. Smokers and older persons are required to increase their intake as well. Remember, if you smoke 1 cigarette, it will destroy 25- 100mg of the vitamin.

Functions of Vitamin C

  • Heals wounds, burns and bleeding gums
  • Increases effectiveness of drugs for treating urinary tract infections
  • Accelerates healing after surgery
  • May reduce cancer rates
  • Protects the cell against pollution and cigarette smoke
  • Acts as a natural laxative
  • Lowers incidence of blood clots in the veins
  • Aids in the prevention and treatment of common cold
  • Extend life by enabling proteins cells to hold together
  • Reduce the effects of many allergy-producing substances
  • Helps lower blood pressure

Note that vitamin C is excreted within 2-3 hours. If you are using supplements, it is advisable to go for a time-release type or supplement twice to three times a day. Make sure your meals are rich in vitamin C. If you are on a high dose of vitamin C supplementation, it may alter laboratory results for a Pap smear or urine test for sugar levels in diabetics.
You can lower high blood pressure with daily supplementation of 500mg (consult with your doctor). Remember carbon monoxide destroys this vitamin. It is therefore advisable for town dwellers to increase consumption of foods rich in vitamin C or can be guided by a physician to supplement. If you are looking to reduce the severity of colds and flu, it is advisable to increase your daily intake to 1000mg daily.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It dissolves in fats and oils and can be stored in the body for long. It is acquired through sunlight or diet. Light or sunlight acts on the oils of the skin to produce the vitamin.

What can Vitamin D do for you?

  • Helps the body to efficiently absorb calcium and phosphorous
  • Prevents colds if taken with vitamin A and C
  • Helps in the treatment of conjunctivitis
  • Aid in the assimilation of vitamin A

Deficiency Diseases

  • Rickets
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Senile osteoporosis

Sources

  • Fish liver oil
  • Sardines or tuna
  • Milk and milk products

It is important to note that people working at night/ night shifts require more vitamin D it may be advisable for them to supplement. Children who do not drink enough milk (less than 500mls per day) may also require to supplement with Vitamin D. Older people of 65+ years may want to consider supplementation. If one is obese, they will require more intake of vitamin D.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is an active antioxidant which prevents oxidation in fats, vitamin A, selenium and some vitamin C.

What can Vitamin E do for you?

  • Keeps one looking young. Retards cellular ageing by stopping or reversing oxidation
  • Supplies oxygen to the body
  • Protects your lungs against air pollutants/ pollution
  • Helps to prevent various types of cancer
  • Increases the power of disease-fighting T- cells
  • Helps to inhibit breast cancer cell growth
  • Prevents and dissolve blood clots
  • Alleviates fatigue
  • Reduces risk of cataracts
  • Prevents thick scar formation
  • Accelerates healing of burns
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Aids in the prevention of miscarriages
  • Alleviates leg cramps
  • Lowers risk of heart diseases and stroke
  • Decreases risk and progression of Alzheimer’s disease

Deficiency diseases

  • Destruction of red blood cell
  • Muscle destruction, degeneration
  • Reproductive disorders

Sources of Vitamin E

  • Wheat germ
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts
  • Green vegetables
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Eggs
  • Raw seeds and nuts

Destroyed by

  • Contact with air
  • Freezing
  • Processing

Vitamin E is necessary for people on high junk food consumption. If you drink unfiltered water or chlorinated you may need more of vitamin E. Women on the pill, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, premenopausal and menopausal women all need a good Vitamin E intake.

5. Vitamin K

This is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is necessary for the formation of prothrombin, a blood-clotting chemical.

What can Vitamin K do for you?

  • Prevents internal bleeding and haemorrhage
  • Promotes proper blood clotting
  • Protects against brittle bones

Sources of Vitamin K

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Yoghurt
  • Alfalfa
  • Egg yolk
  • Fish liver oil

Note

Vitamin K deficiency is prevalent in people with gallstone and liver disease. Excessive diarrhoea can cause vitamin K deficiency. Those people who experience frequent nose bleeding may require vitamin K supplementation.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs may cause vitamin K deficiency.

6. Vitamin P (C complex vitamins, Bioflavonoids, Rutin and Hesperidin)

It is necessary for the proper function of vitamin C and gives flavonoids, the colour to the fruits. Yellow, orange and red.

What can Vitamin P do for you?

  • Protects vitamin C from oxidation
  • Aids vitamin C in keeping connective tissues healthy
  • Prevents bruising
  • Helps build resistance to infection
  • Helps in the treatment of oedema
  • Prevents dizziness due to disease of the inner ear

Natural Best Sources

  • The white skin and the parts of the segments of citrus fruits. These are lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit and tangerines
  • Blackberries

Vitamins play a vital role in the health of our bodies. We require vitamins for our bodies’ metabolism and cell regeneration. For a lot more information, more vitamin elements and customized meal plans,

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We also recommend ways to cook or prepare your meals for optimal nutrition.

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