Vitamins and Their Role in Good Health

Vitamins are organic substances contained in various natural foodstuffs in minute amounts. Because these substances play a critical part in normal metabolism, not having enough of them can cause illnesses or medical conditions.

Being organic compounds, vitamins contain carbon, which is an essential nutrient that the body produces in inadequate amounts, hence the need to source it from food. However, unlike proteins, fats and carbohydrates, vitamins do not give you energy, although they do help the body grow and function optimally.

There are thirteen essential vitamins offering an entire variety of health benefits like better eyesight, stronger bones and immunity, better energy absorption from food, and more. Inadequate vitamin intake can make you more likely to develop illness, from mild to life-threatening.

Types of Vitamins

Vitamins are either fat soluble or water-soluble, depending on body storage. Fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K – remain in the body for a maximum of about six months and are stored in fat tissue.

On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins, which include vitamin C plus the B vitamins – B6, B12, thiamine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, folate and biotin – are circulated around the body through the blood. Considering that your body does not retain water-soluble vitamins, you have to make sure that your stores are constantly replenished.

Essential Functions

All thirteen vitamins have their own specific functions, but they can also work together to benefit your health. Apart from stronger bones, teeth and immunity, vitamin A also gives you better eyesight and glowing skin.

Vitamin C contributes to optimal tissue development, promotes iron absorption, and improves immunity. Vitamin D, together with calcium (another mineral), also has a role in bone health and immunity. Vitamin E aids in your body’s use of vitamin K, which affects bone health and blood-clotting mechanisms, and contributes to optimal production of red blood cells.

The B vitamins, for their part, play a role in optimal metabolism, brain function, hormone production, cardiac activity, central nervous system functions, and cellular maintenance.

Effects of Vitamin Deficiencies

Inadequate intake of vitamins leads to health risks associated with osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. A deficiency in vitamin B in particular can lead to irreversible nerve damage and anemia.

Too little vitamin C diminishes your ability to produce collagen, your body’s primary tissue. In prolonged cases of vitamin C deficiency, a person can develop scurvy, whose symptoms include gingivitis, skin hemorrhage, anemia and general weakness.

Lastly, vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, or the softening and weakening of bones in children, and the existence of autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure and poor bone health in adults.

If you’re really interested about the importance of vitamins, there is a lot of information available today. With the above, you can begin on the right track.