All you need to know about vitamins and their functions

Our body requires thirteen vitamins on a daily basis for daily bodily functions. Lack of these vitamins can cause severe symptoms and may develop serious disease. Check this article to know about vitamins.

We all know vitamins and minerals are extremely important for our healthy living. These organic compounds help in the proper functioning of the body organs. Each vitamin has its own function in our body. Deficiency of these vitamins can cause severe effects on the body. 

What are vitamins? 

Vitamins are a type of organic compounds which are extremely needed for our body’s development, growth, cell functions, and other functions. We get these vitamins from a variety of foods. There are a total of 13 important vitamins, and people need to consume a certain amount of each vitamin on a daily basis to stay healthy. 

What are the types of vitamins? 

There are mainly two types of vitamins, such as fat-soluble and water-soluble. More details are described below. 

  • Fat-soluble vitamins: Our body reserves fat-soluble vitamins in the liver, fatty tissues and muscles. These types of vitamins can stay in the body for several days and sometimes for months. Vitamin A, D, E and K are the fat-soluble vitamins. 
  • Water-soluble vitamins: Vitamin B and C are the water-soluble vitamins, and they cannot be reserved in the body. All the excess b and c vitamins usually came out of the body through urine. This is why people require a daily amount of water-soluble vitamins.  

What are the functions of the vitamins?

Each and every vitamin has their respective function in the body. The various functions of each vitamins are described below. 

1. Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is now widely known as retinol or retinal, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. This vitamin is extremely important for our eye health, maintains healthy mucous membrane, teeth, skin, soft tissue, bones and teeth. 

  • Vitamin A deficiency: As this vitamin is extremely essential for eye health, deficiency of vitamin A may cause night blindness, xerophthalmia, and keratomalacia. This may also cause stunted growth, frequent infections and skin irritations.    
  • Vitamin A Source: Best sources of vitamin A are cod liver oil, eggs, broccoli, kale, carrots, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potato, cantaloupe melon, collard greens, apricots, certain types of cheese and milk.       

2. Vitamin B1

All the B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins, B1 is known as thiamine. This vitamin is important for producing certain enzymes that break down carbohydrates and generate energy. It is also essential for our heart and nerves health. 

  • Vitamin B1 deficiency: Prolonged vitamin B1 deficiency may cause loss of sensation, hands or feet swelling, beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and even heart failure. 
  • Vitamin B1 source: Good sources of vitamin B1 are pork, liver, eggs, kale, cauliflower, asparagus, potatoes, oranges, yeast, brown rice, cereal grains, whole grain rye, sunflower seeds, and yeast. 

3. Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 is known as riboflavin, helps in the growth and development of our body cells, and digest food. 

  • Vitamin B2 deficiency: Vitamin B2 deficiency generally develops along with other vitamin b deficiencies. The symptoms may include swollen lips, sore throat, conjunctivitis, and mucosa of mouth. 
  • Vitamin B2 sources: Banana, okra, asparagus, green beans, eggs, meat, fish, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and chard are a good source of vitamin B2. 

4. Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is widely known as niacinamide or niacin. Niacinamide is helpful for our skin and nerves health. It also helps in the development of body cells, and higher doses of niacin may have an effect on lowering triglyceride levels. 

  • VItamin B3 deficiency: Niacin deficiency is called pellagra, which may cause dermatitis, diarrhea, neurologic deficit, dementia and even death. Pellagra can develop due to genetic disorders. 
  • Vitamin B3 sources: You can get niacin from chicken, eggs, beef, salmon, tuna, milk, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, tofu, lentils, nuts and seeds. 

5. Vitamin B5        

The other name of vitamin B5 is pantothenic acid, Which is helps to digest food, and production of hormones. 

  • Vitamin B5 deficiency: Vitamin B5 deficiency is very rare, it may cause you respiratory infections, fatigue, stomach ache, vomiting, insomnia, depression, pins and needles.
  • Vitamin B5 sources: Meat, broccoli, avocado, yogurt and whole grains are high in vitamin B5.

6. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine and pyridoxal, which helps in the formation of red blood cells and support healthy brain function. 

  • Vitamin B6 deficiency: Low levels of vitamin B6 may cause anemia and peripheral neuropathy. Anemia symptoms may include pale skin, brittle nails, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, cold hands and feet. 
  • Vitamin B6 sources: Beef liver, squash, bananas, chickpeas, and nuts are high in vitamin B6. 

7. Vitamin B7

Vitamin B7 is hugely known as biotin, which is an essential protein for hair, skin and nails. This also helps to metabolize foods. 

  • Vitamin B7 deficiency: Low levels of biotin may cause dermatitis and intestine inflammation. 
  • Vitamin B7 sources: Broccoli, spinach, cheese, and egg yolk are good sources of biotin.   

8. Vitamin B9

Folic acid is another name of vitamin B9, which helps in formation of red blood cells, DNA and RNA. 

  • Vitamin B9 deficiency: Folic acid deficiency can be harmful in pregnancy, which is why doctors recommend folic acid supplements in pregnancy. 
  • Vitamin B9 sources: Leafy vegetables, fortified grains, legumes, peas, and sunflower seeds are good sources of folic acid. 

9. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is extremely important for healthy metabolism, central and peripheral nervous system. 

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency: Low vitamin B12 levels may affect the nervous system and cause anemia. 
  • Vitamin B12 sources: Meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified soy products, and fortified dairy products are high in vitamin B12.     

You can take a vitamin B complex profile to detect a vitamin B deficiency.  

10. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a very essential nutrient that we need to consume on a daily basis as it is a water-soluble vitamin. This vitamin helps in collagen production, bone formation and wound healing. Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid helps to strengthen the immune system and blood vessels.    

  • Vitamin C deficiency: Vitamin C deficiency may develop scurvy, which may cause poor tissue health, bleeding gum, loss of tooth, and poor wound healing. 
  • Vitamin C sources: Cooking vitamin C can destroy its benefits, this is why you should eat vitamin C containing fruits and vegetables raw. 

11. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, which is mainly important for our healthy bones, muscles and teeth health. 

  • Vitamin D deficiency: Low levels of vitamin d may cause bone loss, softening of the bones, rickets and osteomalacia.
  • Vitamin D source: Our body needs to be exposed in the sunlight in order to produce enough vitamin D. Other vitamin D sources include beef liver, eggs, fatty fish, and mushrooms. 

12. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents oxidative stress, and helps in the formation of red blood cells. 

  • Vitamin E deficiency: Vitamin E deficiency is very rare, however, low levels can cause hemolytic anemia in newborns. 
  • Vitamin E sources: Leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, kiwi, eggs, almonds, nuts, and wheat germ are high in vitamin e. 

13. Vitamin k

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin which helps in blood clotting and maintain bone health.     

  • Vitamin K deficiency: Vitamin K deficiency can cause excessive bleeding, poor bone health, and may increase risk of cardiovascular disease. 
  • Vitamin k sources: Leafy vegetables, pumpkin, vegetable oil, kiwi, natto and eggs are high in vitamin K. 

           These are all the essential vitamins and their functions in our body. However, vitamin deficiency may increase your chances of developing certain diseases. Therefore, if you notice vitamin deficiency symptoms then do get a complete vitamin profile test to measure the vitamin levels in your body.

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