Vitamins, Minerals, and Overall Health Part 1
While everyone is aware that a balanced diet will provide nutrients, not many people fully understand why. Minerals in food come from the soil. However, if the soil is poor or depleted, there will be very little or no minerals in the soil. Vitamins are naturally formed in plants. However, not all foods contain the necessary vitamins. To fill in the gaps and promote vitality and health, everyone should take a supplement. Not all supplements are the same, so not all vitamins and minerals will be absorbed. We’ll start with vitamins and their vital roles in human health.
Vitamins can be divided into either fat-soluble or watersoluble groups. The way a vitamin is absorbed determines which group it belongs to. Although it is difficult to determine how each vitamin is absorbed, it can be simplified. The vitamin is water-soluble if it is absorbed directly from the intestinal lumen to the bloodstream. Vitamins that are absorbed with dietary fat and then transported to the liver for further processing before reaching the bloodstream are considered fat-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins cannot enter the bloodstream through the lymphatic system. Vitamins are essential for hormone regulation and cellular functions as well as overall homoeostasis. Every vitamin serves a specific purpose in the body. If a vitamin is missing, an individual may become sick or even die.
The number of water-soluble vitamins is greater than that of their fat-soluble counterparts. They include vitamin C as well as the various types vitamin B. Many water-soluble vitamins can be damaged by heat, so it is important to eat raw or fortified foods in order to get enough.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, can be found in many fruits and vegetables such as berries, citrus fruits, and brassica veggies. Ascorbic acid is readily absorbed into the bloodstream, and used by the body. It is therefore a bio-available vitamin. Vitamin C is an important anti-oxidant and vital for collagen production and renewal, tissue health, and metabolism of fats and proteins. To avoid deficiency, an adult should consume at least 60mg per day. This can cause scurvy.
Vitamin B comes in many forms. Each has a unique but vital function within the human body. Vitamins B1,B2, and B3, also known by thiamin and riboflavin, and niacin, play different roles in glucose metabolism and cellular power production. Low levels of Thiamin can be found in many foods. It is fortified in milk, dairy alternatives, and cereal grain products. Beri Beri, a thiamin deficiency-related disease, can lead to edema and/or mental or cardiovascular problems. To prevent deficiency, the average adult should consume 1.3mg thiamin per day. Riboflavin also serves an additional purpose, as B6 cannot easily be converted to a usable form without riboflavin. Riboflavin can be found in milk, milk alternatives, liver, meat, fortified grain flour, and liver. To prevent symptoms of deficiency, daily intake should be 1.6 mg. Although riboflavin deficiencies are not fatal, they can cause skin problems such as lesions or dermatitis. You can get nicotinic or nicotinamide niacin, with nicotinic and nicotinamide being the most common supplement. Niacin has been shown to reduce blood pressure and have a positive effect on overall cardiovascular health. The amino acid tryptophan is converted into niacin. Thus, the daily intake of niacin can be expressed as niacin equivalents (or NE). 60mg of tryptophan is equivalent to 1 NE of niacin. All protein sources can contain tryptophan. A high dose of Niacin can lead to a condition called a “niacin flush”, a reaction that causes skin reddening due to blood vessel dilation below the skin. A condition known as pellagra is a deficiency in niacin. It causes symptoms such as dermatitis and diarrhea to progress into dementia, dementia, and ultimately death.
Vitamin B6 can be used in many different roles in the body. As previously mentioned, B6’s primary function is to break down proteins into amino acids. This can have an impact on niacin status. Vitamin B6 is vital to the nervous system. Vitamin B6 plays a role in the synthesis and regulation of chemical signal hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine. Vitamin B6 plays a role in the regulation and production of steroidhormones. Fasting and strenuous exercise are the best times to convert glycogen into glucose. Red blood cell formation is another important function of B6, particularly the formation heme, which is an oxygen-carrying component of haemoglobin. A small part of immune function regulation is also played by B6, although this process is still being investigated. Vitamin B6 can be found in many foods, including meats, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The average person needs 1.8mg per day to avoid becoming deficient. Vitamin B6 is essential for many functions. A deficiency can cause sleeplessness, dermatitis and irritability.
Folate, also known as folacin or folic acid is another vitamin that has many functions throughout the body. Folate is essential for DNA and RNA repair. This process occurs in all cells that actively divide, including skin, blood cells and intestinal lumen. Children and women trying to get pregnant or already pregnant with children need Folate. There are many rapidly dividing cells that require it. Folate deficiency can lead to neural tube defects and even death. Folic acid is best absorbed. Adults should consume at least 220 mg of it daily, and more if they are trying to conceive. Anaemia, weakness, and depression are all signs of folic acid deficiency. An adult cobalamin deficiency could mask a folate deficiency. This is because they are both caused by the same type anaemia. Separate testing must be done to determine the cause. Folate is found in vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, and beans.
B12, also known as cobalamin, is the largest and most complex B-vitamin. Cobalamin, which is the only vitamin that requires a receptor or ‘helper, to be absorbed in the body, is also the most complex. Gastric disorders such as colitis, pernicious anaemia, or colitis can inhibit cobalamin absorption. Although cobalamin plays an important role in metabolism and neurological function, the most significant role of cobalamin is in the formation red blood cells. To avoid deficiency, the average adult needs 2mcg per day. Sources include meats, eggs, fish, and certain forms of algae. Cobalamin deficiency can cause memory loss, fatigue, weakness, and dementia. It can take up 7 years for this condition to develop. Folate deficiency may also mask a cobalamin deficiency.
Biotin, a B-vitamin that is important for cellular growth and renewal and other cellular processes, is biotin. Biotin is required for many enzymes. Without biotin, cell growth and renewal would be impossible and cellular functions wouldn’t occur. Although biotin can be found in many foods, it is often bound to proteins that prevent its absorption. The pancreatic enzymes can be used to remove the protein from the body and make it more absorbable. Biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss, depression, lethargy, and even hallucinations. The average adult needs 30mcg of biotin per day to avoid deficiency.
Pantothenic Acid (also known as vitamin B5) is our final water-soluble vitamin. Pantothenic Acid is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fatty acids and for the production of cellular energy and cholesterol. Pantothenic acids have been shown to accelerate wound healing and lower cholesterol. Like biotin and pantothenic acids, pantothenic must be separated from protein before it can absorb and be used by the body. Pantothenic Acid is widely distributed and can be found in meats and whole grains as well as legumes. The average adult can easily consume 7mg per day. A rare condition, Pantothenic acid deficiency can cause burning sensations in the extremities (Burning Feet Syndrome).
There are four types of vitamins that are fat-soluble: vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin K has many forms, and they are called retinoids. The form of retinyl ester that can be found in foods and stored in the liver is called vitamin A. Fish, meat, milk, and egg yolks are all rich in retinyl ester. Plant food sources are rich in compounds called carotenoids, which supply retinyl ester. Carotenoids are found in tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits and veggies, and dark green vegetables. Vitamin A can be used for many purposes once it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Vitamin A is responsible for vision and ability to adjust to brightness changes. Retinoic acid is the vitamin A that is responsible for reproduction, growth and immune system function. It also helps maintain cellular health. A vitamin A deficiency can cause Night Blindness. This is a condition where vision slowly recovers after a flash of light. Night blindness can be an early sign of a deficiency. If the deficiency continues, it could lead to total loss of vision. Deficiency can also cause slow growth, inability to reproduce, and reduced immunity. Consuming too much vitamin A can cause toxicity, as vitamin A is long-term stored in the body. An excess of vitamin A can lead to headaches, nausea, liver damage, hemorhage, and even coma. Vitamin A can also be teratogenic and cause birth defects in pregnant women if taken too often. For adults, the recommended daily intake of vitamin A is 600 mg per day and for pregnant women it should be 700.
Vitamin D can be synthesized by sunlight, but it is also found in fish, fortified milk, and other milk alternatives. Vitamin D is multifunctional and should be consumed at least 5mcg per day in order to keep your health. Vitamin D is safe and does not cause toxicity. Many people now consume five times the daily recommended vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus homoeostasis. It assists the kidneys to recover calcium and/or phosphorus as needed. Vitamin D is essential for bone growth and maintenance and maintains healthy bone density. Vitamin D has also been shown to regulate immunity and prevent disease. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause poor bone formation in children (known as Rickets) or decrease in bone density in adults (known as osteoporosis). Both of these conditions can be linked to low calcium intake and inactivity.
Vitamin E, also known by tocopherol is a vitamin that plays many roles in the body. The most important function of Vitamin E is its powerful anti-oxidant power. Vitamin E protects cells and molecules against oxidant damage, which can cause cell dysfunction or harm. Vitamin E is also important for immune function and gene expression, but it is most often used to find oxidative damages. Vitamin E is found in seeds oils and certain fruits like avocado and pumpkin. The average adult should consume 10mg of vitamin E per day.
Vitamin K can be absorbed in three forms: phylloquinone (found in plants), menaquinone (found in supplements), and menadione (found within supplements). The form found in plants is phylloquinone, while menadione can be found in supplements. Menaquinone, made by intestinal bacteria, is the form that is used in the body. Blood clotting is the first function of vitaminK. Vitamin K is responsible for initiating the blood clot formation process. Vitamin K is essential for stopping blood flow in the event of injury or rupture of blood vessels. Vitamin K is also used to make bone proteins, which supports the growth and maintenance bones. Vitamin K has no toxic side effects, but deficiency may cause hemorhages. Vitamin K deficiency is most common in infants, as breast milk contains low levels of vitamin K. In addition, intestinal bacteria has not been established to produce menaquinone. Adults should consume 80mcg daily.