The human body is a complex biological system. In other words, the human body is a continuously working machine. The human body runs smooth with all the biochemical reactions and cycles that take place in each cell of the body. Cell again is the basic unit of life. A healthy cell will lead to a healthy tissue and then tissue to organ and ultimately a healthy body.
Well, to run any machine, you would need some fuel. The same goes with the human body, the fuel here required are some important nutrients. Nutrients are molecules that are derived from various food sources which gets utilized by the body systems to release energy. The energy released is then consumed in several biochemical cycles to maintain a healthy body.
What are the important Nutrients?
Vitamins is a crucial nutrient that is required in specific amounts to maintain a healthy body. The nutrients are readily available in and around the environment. Most common food sources like plants, vegetable, fruits and meat would supply an influx of Vitamins. However, both Vitamins are considered as micro nutrients as the requirement spec is for minute amounts. But, the same “small” amounts can cause a lot of damage if not taken and missed out from the diet. The below write up will cover both Vitamins in a detailed manner. Read on, to know more!
Vitamins are basically chemical compounds that are organic in nature and are found in various foods that a human consumes. The requirement of vitamins is in “small” amounts for the body. The basic function of a vitamin molecule is to maintain certain physiological functions like growth, reproduction, digestion, energy production etc. However, there are various types of vitamins that a human body would need and they are broadly classified under two categories:
- Water soluble vitamins.
- Fat soluble vitamins
Three important characteristics of vitamins that should be remembered are:
- They are naturally occurring components of food.
- Specific deficiency might cause some diseases.
- They help maintain crucial body functions.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin B complex is the heart of all vitamins. It is divided into the following:
- Vitamin B1(Thiamine): Helps in maintaining the nervous system and energy release for various functions.
- Vitamin B2(Riboflavin): Keeps the skin, eyes and nervous system healthy.
- Vitamin B3(Niacin): Helps release energy for the body and keeps nervous system healthy.
- Vitamin B5(Pantothenic Acid): Helps in most of the biochemical cycles in the body.
- Vitamin B6(Pyridoxine): Helps in the formation of hemoglobin formation.
- Vitamin B7(Biotin): Helps in breaking down the fats in the body.
- Vitamin B9(Folic Acid): Helps to form healthy RBC’s and maintains the neural tube.
- Vitamin B12: This helps in assisting all the important functions of the body and its deficiency can have serious implications.
Food Sources for Vitamin B-complex: Meat, Salmon, Meat, Broccoli, Spinach, peas, egg.
Deficiency of Vitamin B may cause conditions like skin infections, conjunctivitis, low blood pressure etc.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and has the following functions:
- Prevents cell damage and keeps them healthy.
- Faster wound healing.
- Maintains healthy bones, tissues and cartilages.
Food Sources for Vitamin C: Orange, Lime, Blackcurrant, red and green pepper, strawberries.
Deficiency of Vitamin C may cause condition like scurvy, which is characterized by bleeding gums.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A also known as retinol have several functions such as:
- Maintains the first line of defense well.
- Enables low to dim light vision.
- Keeps skin lining of nose and other parts of body healthy.
Food Sources for Vitamin A: Cheese, egg, oily fish, Milk products, Mutton liver & Chicken Liver.
Deficiency of Vitamin A may cause condition like poor eye sight, excessive dried skin.
Vitamin D also known as calciferol and has the following functions:
- Maintain the calcium and phosphorous levels in the body.
- Keeps bone, teeth and muscles healthy.
Food Sources for Vitamin D: Natural Sunlight, Eggs, Tuna, Red Meat.
Deficiency of Vitamin D may cause condition like rickets. This condition will lead to improper growth of bones, retarded bones and deformed teeth. Children and infants are the most likely to get affected by this deficiency.
Vitamin E also known tocopherol has the following important functions:
- Helps maintain healthy skin and eyes.
- The immune system is made strong.
Food Sources for Vitamin E: Plant oils, Nuts and seeds, Cereals.
Deficiency of Vitamin E may cause condition like severe malnutrition. The deficiency is rather rare.
Vitamin K is a clotting vitamin and responsible for the following function:
- Produces prothrombin, the first molecule to initiate clotting.
- Faster wound healing.
Food Sources for Vitamin K: Leafy vegetables & Cereals.
Deficiency of Vitamin K may cause condition like delayed wound healing and internal bleeding.
Various food sources will supply almost all the vitamins for the body. A good eating habit will lead to a healthy body. However, a balance of all the vitamins is crucial as the minute amounts, if in excess can lead to toxicity reactions and feedback inhibition. This will in turn interfere with other biochemical reactions in the body. Energy release will get affected and hence will result in poor health.
Keeping a healthy diet and following the same is the key. A healthy body will lead to a healthy mind!