Vitamins are a number of low-molecular-weight organic compounds that have no nutritional value (i.e. they are not a source of calories) but are essential for the body’s vital functions. The role of vitamins in human nutrition is enormous. The human body’s need for essential vitamins is now well understood, and if there is a lack or an overabundance of a particular vitamin, one begins to experience certain unpleasant symptoms.
The importance of vitamins in human life.
The role of vitamins in human nutrition is to ensure the normal functioning of all internal organs and body systems. When they are deficient, avitaminosis begins. The common symptoms of vitamin deficiency and avitaminosis are:
- loss of appetite;
- rapid fatigue;
- emotional instability, irritability, bad temper, depression;
- “gagging” or cracking in the corners of the mouth;
- sleep disturbances;
- Skin peeling, dryness, redness, spots, erosions.
Vitamins in the human diet can be divided into two groups:
- water-soluble (B1, B2, B6, B9, B12, P, PP, C) – they are water-soluble and water is needed for them to be absorbed by the body;
- Fat-soluble ones (A, E, D, K) – for them to be absorbed they need fat, as they are only soluble in fats. This is why it is important to consume the right amount of fat, even during diets, because without it your body would not get the vitamins it needs.
Essential vitamins in human nutrition.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant, it ensures normal human development, is responsible for healthy skin, organs of vision, reproductive system and supports immunity.
B vitamins are a group of vitamins involved in the regulation of the nervous system, the synthesis of a number of enzymes and hormones, hematopoiesis, energy metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, protein and amino acid metabolism. These include:
- B1 – thiamine: it is responsible for energy metabolism, improves memory, increases stress tolerance and regulates the nervous system, as well as the heart, muscles, gastrointestinal function, improves immunity and even increases pain threshold;
- B2 – Riboflavin: this vitamin in the diet is important for the regulation of nervous activity, cellular respiration, hematopoietic function, it is essential for vision, immunity and regeneration of the body, it is also responsible for the health of hair, nails and skin;
- B3 (PP) – niacin, niacinamide, niacin acid: responsible for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, production of cells and hormones, nervous system activity, growth and development, cholesterol levels, skin health
- B4-Choline: regulates insulin production, nervous system activity, protects the liver, maintains cell membrane integrity, and lowers blood cholesterol;
- B5 – Pantothenic acid: the role of this vitamin in nutrition is that it regulates nervous activity, energy metabolism, reduces stress levels, regulates growth and development, and supports immunity;
- B6 – pyridoxine: it regulates the cardiovascular and nervous systems, the synthesis of many hormones, enhances hair growth, supports gum health, improves attention, memory;
- B7 (H) – biotin: responsible for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, energy production from carbohydrates and fats, metabolism of proteins and amino acids; this vitamin is essential for the growth and health of hair and nails, and for healthy skin;
- B8 – Inositol: regulates cholesterol and fat metabolism, skin and hair health, stimulates brain function;
- B9 – folic acid: extremely important vitamin in the diet of pregnant and nursing women as it ensures normal fetal and infant development; regulates hematopoietic function, synthesis of new cells including DNA and RNA, protein metabolism, hair health;
- B10 (H1) – para-aminobenzoic acid, RABA: this vitamin is poorly understood in human nutrition, except that it is known to be necessary for the growth and development of Lacto- and bifidobacteria in the human gut, as well as preventing skin and hair ageing, strengthening the immune system, improving the circulatory system and enhancing milk production for lactating women
- B12 – cyanocobalamin: it regulates blood production, the nervous system, the absorption of calcium, and ensures normal growth and development;
- B15 – pangamic acid: regulates oxygen supply to cells and tissues, regulates the nervous and endocrine systems, immune protection of the body, and supports liver health.
The following vitamins also play an important role in human life:
- C – ascorbic acid: Vitamin C in food plays a role as an immunomodulator, it is also involved in oxidation and reduction reactions;
- E – tocopherol: it is an antioxidant, regulates the glands and heart;
- D – calciferol: it is not just a vitamin in the human diet, but also a hormone, it is responsible for mineralizing bone tissue, improving calcium absorption, strengthening the immune system, stimulating cell growth, improving the nervous system, reducing the risk of cancer;
- K – phylloquinone: this fat-soluble vitamin plays an important role in nutrition: it regulates blood clotting, strengthens bone tissue, protects the heart.
Vitamins can be obtained both from food and from vitamin complexes sold in pharmacies or stores. Needless to say, natural vitamins are much better absorbed? After all, the level of vitamins in food is very well designed by nature and is in close correlation with the concentration of minerals and other nutrients.
Vitamin content in food.
Nature allows us to get everything useful from the food we eat. Sources of vitamin A include fish and animal liver, butter, egg yolks, orange-coloured plant foods, fish oil and green leafy vegetables. B vitamins are found in cereals, nuts, beer and bread yeast, sunflower seeds, fish and animal liver, meat, fish, seafood, meat by-products, green vegetables, legumes, potatoes, and dried fruit. Vitamin C in foods is found mainly in plant foods: fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, berries, root crops, especially those that have a sour taste, such as rose hips, lemons, currants, etc. Sources of vitamin D include fish and seafood, as well as nuts and milk. Vitamin E is found in vegetable fats, eggs, animal liver, legumes, nuts and seeds, rose hips, sea buckthorn, rowanberries, cherries and leafy vegetables. Vitamin K is synthesized in the human intestine, but in order to maintain daily vitamin K levels, it is necessary to consume plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts, tea, vegetable fats, as well as milk, animal liver, eggs and fish. Biotin is found in eggs, milk, nuts, fruit, beef liver, and legumes. Vitamins found in foods keep our bodies vital and healthy.
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