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Vitamins – Nutritional Spark Plugs For Healthy Living
Often, when talking about health supplements, the first (and sometimes only) thing that comes to many people’s minds is vitamins. Many people are unaware of the existence and importance of many nutritional supplement ingredients, but almost everyone knows about good old Vitamin C! So what exactly are vitamins and are they as important as they are made out to be?
Essentially vitamins are organic nutrients found only in living organisms such as plants and animals. Their basic function is catalytic in nature. They are not a source of energy, for example, on their own, but act as facilitators for many essential bodily functions such as digestion and assimilation of nutrients by the body. Any deficiency or excess for that matter, of vitamins can lead to overall poor health and eventually to chronic disease. The following descriptions will attempt to describe the various groups of vitamins and their specific members where they are found and what functions they fulfill.
Vitamins are basically grouped according to their solubility characteristics, e.g. fat-soluble or water-soluble vitamins.
Fat soluble vitamins:
Vitamin A: This is the collective name for several fat-soluble vitamins, the most useful of which is Retinol. Commonly found in supplement form as vitamin A palmitate or acetate, this group of vitamins has a diverse spread of benefits including improved vision, boosting our immune system, bone and general growth, healthy body coats, reproduction and development healthy cells. Precursors of the vitamin A group are carotenoids such as beta-carotene and are found in vegetables such as carrots and supplements such as spirulina.
Vitamin D: The vitamin D group are steroid molecules produced naturally by our bodies in response to exposure to UVB light from the sun. This vitamin is important in regulating the absorption, use and excretion of calcium by our body. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D can also be found in soft and oily fish.
Vitamin E: This vitamin is one of the nutrient groups that has protective qualities. Its main purpose is to maintain the integrity of the intercellular membrane and provide protection against tissue and membrane damage due to free radical oxidation. A rich source of vitamin E is wheat germ and seeds.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone metabolism processes. This vitamin can help postmenopausal women to build bone mass. Vitamin K may also help reduce the risk of bleeding after long-term antibiotics and aspirin or in cases of jaundice, malabsorption, or liver disease. Good sources of vitamin K are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, spinach, and kale.
Water soluble vitamins:
Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Thiamine is essential for the process of burning carbohydrates as an energy source. It is also an essential component of amino acid metabolism and the correct functioning of essential enzymes in our body. Thiamine hydrochloride and thiamine nitrate are two common supplement sources of vitamin B1. Thiamine is found naturally in fortified breads, cereals, pasta, lean meats (especially pork), fish and soy.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Riboflavin is essential for generating energy from protein and fat. Vitamin B2 is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, acne, eczema and dermatitis. Riboflavin is found naturally in organ meats (liver, kidney), almonds, mushrooms and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B3 (niacin): Vitamin B3 is also a critical part of the energy production process. It is also an important part of the production of hydrochloric acid essential for healthy digestion. Niacinamide is used to treat osteoarthritis, insomnia, migraines, and insulin-dependent diabetes. Niacin is found in poultry, dairy products, fish, nuts and eggs.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 is part of the process of protein and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as in the production of insulin and red and white blood cells. Pyridoxine is also essential for the synthesis of enzymes, neurotransmitters and prostaglandins. in the processing of amino acids. In addition, vitamin B6 is needed to produce serotonin and maintain a strong immune system. Good sources are white meat, bananas, liver, whole grain breads and soy.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Vitamin B5 is a bit more complete, playing a role in many of our body’s essential functions. It helps in the metabolism of nutrients, it helps in the production of vitamin D, it helps in the production of antibodies, it helps in the synthesis of hemoglobin, steroid hormones and lipids. It also plays an important role in growth and reproduction processes. Vitamin B5 is found in cheese, eggs, corn, peanuts and wheat germ.
Vitamin B7 (biotin): The main function of vitamin B7 is in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, although it also plays a role in the synthesis of amino acids and glucose and in enzyme function. Good sources of biotin are organ meats, egg yolks, oats, bananas, soy products and mushrooms.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid): Folic acid is essential during every phase of growth such as pregnancy, lactation and early growth stages due to its role in the production of DNA, RNA and proteins. Citrus fruits, beets, wheat germ and red meat are rich sources of folic acid.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Perhaps the best known of all vitamins, ascorbic acid helps build and maintain tissue and strengthen our immune system. Vitamin C and its sodium, calcium, and potassium salts are some of the most common antioxidant food additives. Good sources of vitamin C are dark green leafy vegetables, cabbage and many fruits.
It’s pretty clear that not much happens in our bodies without involving vitamins at some stage in the process. Fortunately, there are not only many natural sources of these nutritional powerhouses, but also many supplements that make maintaining a balanced and adequate vitamin intake an easy task. Care should be taken when supplementing with specific vitamins as excess can have serious side effects. As with all supplement regimens, it is essential to discuss vitamin supplements with a medical professional.
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