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13 Vitamins Essential for the Human Body

by Dr Nikola Djordjevic(more info)

listed in nutrition, originally published in issue 267 - January 2021

 

There are 13 essential vitamins humans need for normal cell function, development, and growth. They are crucial as they help transform food into energy, support the immune system, repair cellular damage, and heal wounds.

 

Glass Cup with Vitamins

 

Vitamins are divided into two groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins can be dissolved in fats and oils and stored in fatty tissue. Vitamin A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins are dissolved in water. Vitamin C and vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Folate, biotin, and pantothenic acid) are water-soluble.

 

Fruits and Vegetables

 

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for healthy teeth and skeletal and soft tissue. Food sources of vitamin A are cod liver oil, liver (beef, pork, fish), sweet potato, carrot, and broccoli leaf. Deficiency signs of vitamin A are blindness, xerophthalmia [abnormal dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eye], and skin disease;

Vitamin D

Vitamin D may prevent or slow down the progression of osteoporosis. It can also reduce the occurrence of fractured bones. Vitamin D can naturally be obtained from sunlight, and it’s also found in salmon, cremini mushrooms, breakfast cereal, tofu, and eggs. Insufficient intake may lead to a weakened immune system, fatigue and tiredness, and bone and back pain;

Vitamin E

Vitamin E balances cholesterol and fights free radicals in the body. Natural sources of vitamin E are wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnut oil, and mamey sapote [a species of tree native to Cuba and Central America]. Vitamin E deficiency may appear as cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and in someone who has had gastric bypass surgery.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is key for normal blood clotting and strong bones. It’s naturally found in cooked kale and mustard greens, raw spinach, soybean oil, and cooked broccoli. Deficiency signs of vitamin K are easy bruising, gastrointestinal bleeding, blood in the urine, and excessive menstrual bleeding.

 

Berries

 

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin C

Vitamin C improves blood circulation and prevents and treats common cold. Natural sources of vitamin C are guavas, bell peppers, kale, kiwifruit, and broccoli. Insufficient intake leads to dry and splitting hair, gingivitis, easy bruising, and decreased wound healing rate.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is vital for energy and nerve and muscle function. It’s naturally found in the following foods: marmite, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, soybeans, and trout. Deficiency signs of vitamin B1 are fatigue, low mood, and difficulty with coordination.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 is essential for the energy supply to muscles and red blood cell production. Food sources of vitamin B2 are liver, almonds, eggs, salmon, and mushrooms. Lack of vitamin B2 in the body may lead to dry or chapped lips, sensitivity to light, and sore throat.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 helps the body to metabolize fat, glucose, and alcohol. It also reduces levels of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. This vitamin is present in yellowfin tuna, peanuts, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and green peas. Insufficient daily intake may lead to indigestion, fatigue, and canker sores.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is necessary for red blood cell production, liver detoxification, as well as the development and proper functioning of the brain as well as the nervous system. It can be found in sunflower seeds, tuna, pistachios, dried prunes, and bananas. Lack of this vitamin may lead to microcytic anemia, dermatitis with cheilosis, and glossitis.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is crucial for the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, as well as the production of blood cells. It’s naturally present in clams, mackerel, trout, silken tofu, and eggs. Insufficient intake may cause strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs or feet, and difficulty walking.

Folate

Folate helps with the formation of red blood cells and reduces the risk of central nervous system defects in unborn babies. Food sources of folate are black-eyed peas, spinach, lentils, asparagus, and romaine lettuce. Deficiency signs include anemia, poor immune function, chronic low energy, and poor digestion.

Biotin

Biotin is vital for the metabolism of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as healthy hair and skin. Food sources of biotin are egg, salmon, strawberries, sweet potato, and broccoli. A shortage of this vitamin in the body may lead to hair loss, hallucination, and red rash in the face and genital area.

Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic acid oxidizes fatty acids, carbohydrates, and the formation of red blood cells. It’s also needed for the proper functioning of the adrenal glands. Natural sources of pantothenic acid are sunflower seeds, trout, eggs, mushrooms, and avocado. Lack of it may show up as fatigue, insomnia, and stomach pains.

 

Pie Chart Reasons People Take Supplementa

 

Conclusion

Vitamins are necessary for the human diet due to all the roles each of them plays in the body. They can be found naturally in different types of foods, but food nowadays may not be nutritious enough. Therefore, many people decide on using supplements to ensure they are getting enough vitamins in their diets and boosting their health.

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About Dr Nikola Djordjevic

Dr Nikola Djordjevic MD is a practicing physician who is the Co-Founder and Project Manager at MedAlertHelp.org, a site dedicated to improving your knowledge about health, nutrition, fitness, ageing, retirement, and much more. He may be contacted via nikola@medicalalerts.co   https://medalerthelp.org/

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