Vitamins are vital nutrients required by the human body in minimal amounts to help in growth, development and proper function of the body. There are thirteen of them that the body needs in total.
Vitamins can be broadly classified into two types based on how they are transported and stored in different parts of the body. They are Water-Soluble and Lipid or fat Soluble in nature.
Water-soluble ones can dissolve in water and move around freely in the body through the bloodstream. Vitamins of this type are present in the watery portions of vegetables, fruits and grains. Such vitamins can not be stored in our body. The body absorbs these from the food we eat and the remaining is gushed out by the kidneys. Therefore, water-soluble vitamins have to be an essential part of our daily diet.
Lipid or Fat-soluble variations need fat in order to do their job. In other words, these vitamins require special carrier proteins which help them to be transported in the blood. Unlike their water-soluble peers, lipid-soluble vitamins are stored in fat cells when it is present in excess and will be used when the need arises.
Water-soluble vitamins: Vitamin B and C.
Vitamin B: There are 8 types of vit B in total and most of them are a part of our daily diet. Vit B is found in a lot of food sources.
Vitamin B helps in extracting energy from the food you have eaten and in the production of red blood cells.
Lack of vit B in humans can lead to a lot of diseases depending on the kind of vit B a person is deficient of.
For example, deficiency of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 can cause anaemia (lack of red blood cells). Deficiency of vitamin B1 and B3 can cause mental instability in humans.
Vitamin C: This vitamin is known to protect an individual against infections. It also plays an important role in aiding for growth and repair of damaged tissues like bones including teeth and even skin.
Vit C is majorly found in fruits and vegetables. Peppers and broccoli have the highest vit C content in vegetables. When it comes to fruits, guava has the highest amount of vit C followed by papaya, kiwi and orange.
Vit C deficiency causes scurvy. Scurvy was quite common with a lot of sailors and pirates who were at sea for long periods of time. Such people were generally deprived of fresh fruits and vegetables. Vit C is very much required to synthesize collagen. Collagen is an important protein component present in tissues, it makes up about 35% of the whole body’s protein content.
Symptoms of scurvy include spongy gums, teeth loss, bleeding mucous membrane and in extreme cases can even cause death.
Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamin A and D
Vitamin A: Playing an important role in protecting our eyesight, vit A is rich in a protein called rhodopsin—which both detects and absorbs light in the eyes. It can be found in two main sources. Animal sources like liver, egg, fish and meat contain this vitamin along with green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow coloured vegetables and fruits. The highest amount of vit A is present in squash, carrot, and spinach.
Vit A deficiency is quite rare as most diets consist of at least a small amount of this vitamin. However, in developing and backward countries like India and Nigeria respectively Vit A deficiency is usually much more prevalent as not everyone has access to good food. Deficiency of this vitamin can be commonly seen in infants and children as they cannot get the required nutrition.
Vitamin A deficiency causes xerophthalmia because of which an individual loses his complete ability to see in low light or in darkness.
Vitamin D: is also called the sunshine vitamin because it’s produced in your skin when exposed to sunlight. You can derive it from food, however, the amount derived from it is very little. Ex:- Salmon Fish.
Vit D aids in the growth and strengthening of bones and it’s structure. It also plays an important role in regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus essential for bones. As a matter of fact, even if you consume huge amounts of food rich in calcium and phosphorus, it’s of no use without having the required amount as your body cannot absorb them for utilization. Helping to make sure that your heart, lungs, brain and muscles function properly, it also plays an important role in maintaining the immunity of your body to fight against any kind of infections.
Deficiency of vitamin D causes softening of the bones this disease, in other words, is known as rickets in children. However, in adults, this disease is diagnosed as osteomalacia.