All about Vitamins

All About Vitamins

Are you a health freak? If you are, then you surely know that the required guidelines for nutrition keeps changing. Remember when you though eggs were bad, but now it is fine to eat them. Of course, you might have a tough time keeping up with what can be harmful and healthy, especially when it is related to vitamins.

Being health conscious is somewhat a bit leery of consuming vitamin supplements, you might not feel right as certain supplement companies who provide vitamins might not be regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

There can be chances that such companies might provide tall claims regarding the effects of vitamins on one’ s health. Of course, you might have seen most of your friends claiming that they consumed vitamin C and was able to ward off their disturbing cold.

Frankly, you shouldn’t follow the instructions or the vitamins that research companies emphasize. As a health-conscious person, you need to do the right thing where taking the help of experts will ensure that you aren’t damaging your body.

Most research and pharmaceutical firms will advertise and try to market their products, without thinking about the amount of damage it does to the consumers. By taking the help of experts, you can gain some background information about what the particular vitamin does to your body and how much effective it is to partake it.

Necessity Of Vitamins

Do you know the kind of vitamins our body needs? The vitamins you consume can be classified into two types – water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. For our body to function in the right manner, we need both the vitamins. For fat-soluble vitamins, you need the body fat to absorb the vitamins and also be used by the organs.

Vitamin E, A, and carotenoids are fat-soluble vitamins and as these vitamins depend and need fat to get digested. Hence, we must consume a diet that is extensively filled with healthy fat.

Without healthy fat in your diet, you can ultimately suffer from fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies. This can simply lead to extreme malnutrition and diseases.

Sometimes there are chances of it becoming toxic and getting stored in the fatty tissue. However, other kinds of vitamins, which is the water-soluble vitamin, can’t be stored in our tissue like the fat soluble ones. Such vitamins are commonly found in various foodstuffs. Once our body uses them, the excess amount is thrown out as urine.

Since our body can’t create vitamins by themselves, we need to get them from supplements or food. Some of the most common water-soluble vitamins consist of vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B. Most medical experts and dieticians feel that people need to have certain water-soluble vitamins in their diet every day. Also, the requirement will increase based on particular conditions like poor kidney, immune disorders, medication usage, chronic stress, etc.

Characteristics Of Vitamins

Vitamins have certain distinct characteristics like –

  • Natural food component and present in small amounts.
  • Essential for normal and important physiological conditions like reproduction, growth, etc.
  • Absences of necessary vitamins from the daily diet will lead to great amount of deficiency.

Vitamins Your Body Requires

There are really about 13 vitamins your body needs. Some of the major vitamins are A, D, C, K, E, and B (riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, and folate.

Most of the vitamins are available from the food you eat. And your body can create vitamin K and D. Individuals who consume vegetarian diet will have to take vitamin B12 supplement. As already stated, vitamins are classified as fat soluble and water soluble. Among the 13 vitamins, four are fat-soluble (i.e. A, D, E, and K) and nine are water-soluble (8 are vitamin B and vitamin C).

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Like the name suggested, water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in water and they are excreted from the body through the urinary output. Since they can’t be stored readily, you need to constantly consume it every day in a prescribed dose. Most of the time, water-soluble vitamins will be synthesized by bacteria.

Fat-Soluble Vitamin

This vitamin is absorbed from the intestinal tract using the assistance of the fats (lipids). As these vitamins are most commonly going to get accumulated into the human body, it will somewhat lead to hypervitaminosis compared to the water-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps in improving vision, normal cell reproduction and reproductive function. Do you know Beta-carotene, which is one of the precursors to Vitamin A, assists to fight disease-causing free radicals? You can get vitamin A in various organ meats, milk products, and fish oils.

In addition, you can find Beta-carotene in colorful veggies, like broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach. Some of the major foodstuffs having a high amount of vitamin A are liver, beef, fish, fortified milk and dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream), dark-colored fruit, egg yolk and dark leafy vegetables

Vitamin B

Unlike Vitamin A, Vitamin B-1 (which is also called as Thiamin) helps in processing carbohydrates into energy. It is also important for nerve cell function. Cereals and bread are often fortified with thiamin, even though it is commonly found in whole grains, fish, lean meats, and dried beans.

The major foodstuffs you get vitamin B1 are dried milk, peas, egg, whole grains, organ meats, lean meats, legumes (dried beans), enriched bread and flour, and nuts and seeds.

Vitamin B-2

This helps in the production of red blood cells and is important for growth.

Vitamin B-3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B-3 assists in processing alcohol, controlling cholesterol, converting carbohydrates to energy and maintaining a healthy skin.

You can get vitamin B-3 from various sources like enriched bread and fortified cereals, potato, fish (tuna and salt-water fish), eggs, nuts, avocado, lean meats, legumes, and poultry.

Vitamin B-5

Also called as pantothenic acid, vitamin B-5 helps in doing all the bodily functions like synthesizing the cholesterol, converting fats into energy, etc.

The various foodstuffs which provide vitamin B-5 are white and sweet potatoes, eggs, poultry, milk, organ meats, avocado, mushroom, broccoli, kale, and other vegetables in the cabbage family, whole-grain cereals, legumes, and lentils.

Vitamin B-6

Vitamin B-6 which is also called as pyridoxine is commonly used for the production of hormones like dopamine, serotonin, melatonin. Also, it is even used for processing amino acids.

Meat, legumes (dried beans), nuts, banana, poultry, avocado and whole grains (milling and processing remove a lot of this vitamin) are the common sources of vitamin B-6.

Vitamin B-12

One of the crucial components for DNA replication and nerve cell regulation is vitamin B-12. This particular vitamin is commonly found in poultry, milk products, shellfish, and meat.

Some of the food items that have an abundance of vitamin B-12 are organ meats (liver and kidney), meat, shellfish, poultry, eggs, fortified foods such as soymilk, milk and milk products. Animal sources of vitamin B12 are absorbed much better by the body than plant sources.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an efficient vitamin that helps in healing wounds and even acts as an antioxidant. Besides that, it even helps the body to absorb iron.

Most of the vitamin C is commonly found in potatoes, citrus fruits, and greens. Spinach, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, tomato juice, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts and strawberries.

Vitamin D

Unlike other vitamins, this helps the body to absorb calcium and helps in creating healthy teeth and none. When exposed to sunshine, our body can synthesize vitamin D and it is even commonly found in cereals and fortified milk products, including fish.

Food items that contain vitamin D are fish liver oils (cod’s liver oil), fortified cereals, fish (fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring), and fortified milk and dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream)

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is one of the best vitamins which can combat free radicals that damage our cells. This vitamin is commonly found in seeds and nuts, vegetables, green leafy, asparagus, corn, and wheat germ.

Other foodstuffs which have an abundance of vitamin E are oils (safflower, corn, and sunflower), seeds and nuts, avocado, wheat germ and wheat germ oil, papaya, and mango.

Vitamin K

This vitamin helps in clotting the blot. Even though our body produces vitamin K naturally, it can still be found in various veggies like cabbage and cauliflower.

Other sources of vitamin K are cauliflower, cabbage, dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens), cereals, fish, liver, beef, eggs and dark green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus).

Biotin and Folate

The foodstuffs that provide biotin are egg yolk, milk, pork, nuts, cereal, yeast, chocolate, legumes and organ meats (liver, kidney).

While folate is found in lentils, beets, wheat germ, peanut butter, asparagus and broccoli, brewer’s yeast, fortified cereals, dried beans (cooked pinto, navy, kidney, and lima), green, leafy vegetables (spinach and romaine lettuce) and oranges and orange juice.

Vitamin Deficiency

The deficiency of vitamin is classified into primary and secondary. A primary deficiency happens when an organism does not get enough vitamins in its food. While a secondary deficiency might be due to an underlying disorder that prevents or limits the absorption or use of the vitamin, due to a “lifestyle factor”, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or the use of medications that interfere with the absorption or use of the vitamin. Individuals consuming a varied diet are unlikely to develop a severe primary vitamin deficiency.

In contrast, restrictive diets have the potential to cause prolonged vitamin deficits, which may result in often painful and potentially deadly diseases.

How Do Supplements help In Vitamin Deficiency?

Dietary supplements contain vitamins and are often used to ensure that adequate amounts of nutrients are obtained on a daily basis if optimal amounts of the nutrients cannot be obtained through a varied diet.

There are scientific pieces of evidence supporting the benefits of some dietary supplements and it is well established for certain health conditions, but for others, one needs further study. One of the best ways to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, you may need to take a daily multivitamin for optimal health. However, high doses of some vitamins can make you sick.

Getting Expert Opinion For Consuming Vitamins

It can be helpful and best if you get expert opinion while taking vitamin supplements. Even though taking supplements for filling the vitamin deficiency gap is good, still having an option of an expert healthcare individual might save you from the disasters which you might suffer in the future.

Most of the vitamin supplements which are available online and in drug stores have the required 100% recommended daily amount. So, if you are consuming a healthy diet of veggies and fruits along with the vitamins, then you are taking more than the required dosage of vitamins.

Frankly, with vitamins, when it comes to excess which is quite common, it isn’t a good thing. You might suffer from various diseases and sickness if an excess amount of vitamin is found in your body. Various research and studies have shown that excess amount of the daily dose of a vitamin can lead and even increase the chances of getting cancer. There are even studies which show that women who had an excess amount of the daily dose of vitamin had the highest chances of getting skin cancer.

Consuming vitamin A supplements along with beta-carotene can easily increase the risk of lung cancer as per various researches. Calcium supplements have not been proven to improve bone density. In fact, various studies have shown that individuals taking a daily calcium supplement were more likely to suffer from a hip fracture.

Frankly, it is best if you can get the assistance of health experts or nutritionist before taking any vitamin supplement. Of course, consuming vitamins naturally from food might be a good idea, rather than popping pills, still as clearly stated, if you end up in consuming more vitamins that you need, then your health might suffer.

In best case scenario, you would really want to research and ask a lot of questions to your doctor or physician before starting on the course for the vitamin. It is better to be on the safe track.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.

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