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Vitamins are essential organic compounds that are required by individuals in small quantities. Each vitamin has a distinct role in maintaining overall health and bodily functions. Some individuals may need to supplement their vitamin intake based on their lifestyle and overall well-being.
Different organisms have varying vitamin requirements. For instance, humans need to obtain vitamin C from their diets, whereas dogs can internally produce the necessary amount of vitamin C.
Most vitamins need to be obtained from food sources because either the body does not produce them or produces them in limited quantities.
In the case of humans, vitamin D is not abundantly available in food. Instead, the human body synthesizes this vitamin when exposed to sunlight, making sunlight the best source of vitamin D.
Different vitamins fulfill different functions in the body, and the required amount of each vitamin varies for maintaining good health.
Listed below are various vitamins and their crucial roles in the body. A deficiency in any specific vitamin can lead to health problems. Consuming an inadequate amount of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, and fortified dairy foods can increase the risk of health issues such as heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis (poor bone health).
Vitamin A supports the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucous membranes, and skin.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, aids in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of brain function. It also plays a significant role in the body’s chemical reactions involving proteins. The requirement for pyridoxine increases with higher protein consumption.
Vitamin B12, similar to other B vitamins, is crucial for metabolism. It contributes to the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, acts as an antioxidant and promotes healthy teeth and gums. It facilitates iron absorption and supports tissue health, including wound healing.
Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” is synthesized by the body when exposed to sunlight. Most people can fulfill their vitamin D requirements by spending 10 to 15 minutes in the sun three times a week, except for those living in less sunny areas. Food sources alone may not provide sufficient vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption, normal teeth and bone development, and maintaining appropriate blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.
Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, functions as an antioxidant and aids in the production of red blood cells. It also facilitates the utilization of vitamin K.
Vitamin K is essential for normal blood coagulation. Some studies indicate its importance in maintaining bone health.
Biotin is crucial for metabolizing proteins and carbohydrates, as well as the production of hormones and cholesterol.
Niacin, a B vitamin, contributes to healthy skin and nerves. At higher doses, it can also lower triglyceride levels.
Folate collaborates with vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells. It is essential for DNA production, which controls tissue growth and cell function. Adequate folate intake is particularly important for pregnant women as low levels are associated with birth defects like spina bifida. Many foods are now fortified with folic acid, a form of folate.
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is necessary for food metabolism and also plays a role in hormone and cholesterol production.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) works alongside other B vitamins and is vital for body growth and red blood cell production.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) assists body cells in converting carbohydrates into energy. Sufficient carbohydrate intake is crucial during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It also supports heart function and healthy nerve cells.
Choline contributes to the normal functioning of the brain