Vitamins And Vitamin Supplements – How Do They Help?
What are Vitamins? Vitamins are substances that are needed by our body in order to function properly and keep diseases at bay. They also help us to grow and develop in a healthy manner. Vitamins are in the form of tiny molecules and are found in the foods that we eat.
Types Of Vitamins
How many vitamins are there? There are 13 different vitamins that our body needs and each has its own special role to play.
Vitamins can be of two types – water soluble or fat soluble. Certain foods contain fat soluble vitamins. When we eat these foods, the body absorbs these vitamins and then stores them in the liver or in the fatty tissues of our body. Some of them stay there for only a few days, while others can stay for as long as 6 months. They are used by the body as and when required. The fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamins A, D, E and K.
We cannot store water-soluble vitamins in our body for long. They are soluble in water and hence also in our blood. The blood carries them to all parts of the body, where they are used immediately. Whatever is not used comes out in our urine. Since the body cannot store water-soluble vitamins, they have to be replaced more frequently. The water-soluble vitamins are Vitamin C and all the B Vitamins.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is very essential for good eyesight. Its major function is to produce retinal which helps our eyes to sense and see light and color. It also helps in growth and promotes healthy skin. The lack of Vitamin A can cause night-blindness. Vitamin A is found in milk, liver, eggs, fish-liver oil, yellow fruits and vegetables (carrots, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes), and green leafy vegetables (spinach, collards, kale).
Vitamins B: This is a big group of vitamins. They help our body to make red blood cells and also carry oxygen in our blood throughout our body. In this way they are very important for our metabolism, because they help increase the body’s energy levels. Vitamin B is also important for the health of the heart, digestion, muscles and nervous system. Adequate quantities of Vitamin B can be found in eggs, dairy products, liver, poultry, meats, fish, beans, peas, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains such as wheat and oats.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C strengthens our body’s immune system allowing it to effectively protect us from bacteria and viruses. It helps to heal wounds and cuts, and keeps our gums and muscles healthy. It reduces cholesterol and prevents scurvy. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C are all citrus fruits, cantaloupes, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables and peppers.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D strengthens our teeth and bones and helps our body to absorb more calcium. The foods rich in this vitamin are milk, eggs, fish, cod liver oil, liver and fortified cereal.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is rich in anti-oxidant properties and fights toxins in our body. It builds stronger muscles and helps to form red blood cells. Nuts, wheat germ, whole grains, sardines, eggs, sprouts, broccoli and leafy green vegetables are rich in Vitamin E.
Vitamin K: This vitamin is essential for clotting the blood when we get a cut. It also helps in building strong bones. You van get Vitamin E by eating green leafy vegetables, potatoes, broccoli, meat, liver, soybean oil and dairy products.