The human body requires different types of nutrients in order to stay healthy. The nutrients are meant to sustain the overall growth, development as well as normal functioning of the body. One of the nutrients required is vitamins. Vitamins are natural substances found in animals and plants. There are two types of vitamins that must be available in the body for it to function properly, namely; water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins.
Water soluble vitamins are easily absorbed into the body and require regular supply since they are usually flushed out through excretion mechanisms. On the other hand, fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s cells and hence not easily excreted. They do not need to be consumed as often as their water soluble counterparts.
Types of Water soluble Vitamins
Vitamins C and B make up the water soluble vitamins. Vitamin B is divided into eight sub vitamins that have different sources and functions within the body.
It is sometimes referred to as ascorbic acid and acts as a potent antioxidant that fights different infections in the body. They are readily available in different fruits and vegetables.
Food Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is readily found in fruits such as the berry family, mango, papaya, pineapple, tomatoes, melons, potatoes, broccoli, citrus fruits, squash, kiwi, green/red peppers and leafy vegetables among many more.
Functions of Vitamin C in The Body
- Prevention of cell damages
- Healing of cuts and wounds
- Protect against infections of the immune system
- Prevents abnormal blood clotting , scurvy and cataracts
There are different types of vitamin B. They include; B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): It aids in the breaking down of food and converting it to glucose and enhances the functioning of the nervous system. Sources of vitamin B1 include:
- Whole grain
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): It is essential for energy metabolism, maintaining a healthy skin and normal vision. Some of its sources include:
- Milk and milk products
- Leafy green vegetables
- Enriched breads
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): It’s vital for proper functioning of both the nervous and the digestive systems. It can be found in:
- Peanut butter
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): It forms as part of an enzyme needed for energy production. It’s available in almost every food.
Vitamin B6: Also referred to as pyridoxine. It aids in the manufacture of red blood cells. It’s available in:
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): It plays a crucial role in formation of new cells as well as helping in the breakdown of proteins and stored sugar. It can be found in:
- Fortified foods
Folic Acid: It helps to produce and maintain DNA and cells as well as prevention of anemia. It can be found in:
- Dried beans
- Oranges etc
Biotin: It allows efficient usage of proteins, fat and carbohydrates to produce energy. Some of its sources include:
- Sweet potatoes
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins A, D,E and K have the ability to dissipate in fat and do not need regular replenishment. They absorb dietary fat in the small intestines and the excess is stored in the body.
Vitamin A (Retinol)
It plays a crucial role in the growth and development of the body.
Food Sources of vitamin A
It can be found in:
- milk and dairy products
- fish liver oils
- fruits like apricots, mangoes, carrots ,pumpkins etc
- sweet potatoes
Functions of Vitamin A
Vitamin A improves the immune system, maintains healthy skin, vision and formation of strong teeth and bones. A deficiency in vitamin A may lead to night blindness, retarded growth, skin orders, sleeplessness, fatigue and depression etc.
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol)
Vitamin D is highly involved in the proper utilization of phosphorous and calcium in the body. It leads to formation of strong bones and teeth. A deficiency of this vitamin could lead to rickets, osteomalacia, weak bones etc.
Sources of Vitamin D
- Exposure to sunlight
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish
- Fortified milk
- Cod liver oils
Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
It acts an antioxidant and protects body cells from damage. It also has beauty benefits. When applied onto the skin, it removes scars, stretch marks and wrinkles. Its deficiency in the body mostly leads to skin disorders.
Sources of Vitamin E
- Wheat and wheat germ oil
- Yams etc.
It is necessary in the prevention of coronary artery diseases, kidney stones as well as blood clotting. A deficiency in vitamin K makes an individual prone to injuries and bruises that may become critical due to poor clotting of blood.
Sources of Vitamin K
- Leafy green vegetables
- Dairy products
In conclusion, all types of vitamins play a vital role in the body of a human being. In order to have a healthy body and mind, one needs to consume a variety of vitamins. A healthy diet therefore full of vitamins is crucial and should be taken as a priority by all.