A Guide to A Vitamin
Vitamin A was given the first letter of the alphabet for a name because it was the first vitamin to be discovered. It was found that vitamin A has a large number of uses in the body including keeping eyes healthy, aiding cell growth and also helping boost the immune system. However, vitamin A is not only absorbed directly but it is also created by the body by converting beta carotene into vitamin A.
Vitamin A itself is found in a number of foods such as eggs, milk, liver and meat. Beta carotene that the body can convert into vitamin A is found in many fruits and vegetables, especially the red, orange and green coloured ones. The most important point to remember that consuming too much pure vitamin A can be toxic. It is essential not to exceed the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A. The actual recommended allowance of vitamin A varies depending on a person’s age, sex and other factors. While the actual amount of vitamin A consumed may be toxic if the recommended daily allowance is exceeded, there is a far higher limit to how much beta carotene can be consumed. Therefore it is advisable to concentrate on obtaining the greatest amount of beta carotene which the body can then convert to vitamin A, rather than consuming vast quantities of pure vitamin A rich foods.
Many people will remember being told that eating lots of carrots helps you to see in the dark and that is down to the vitamin A that is produced from the high levels of beta carotene that are found in the vegetables. Other foods which have high levels of beta carotene that can be converted to vitamin A include tomatoes and dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Beta carotene is not only used to form vitamin A, but it is also a powerful antioxidant in itself. None of the beta carotene that is absorbed is wasted as any excess after conversion to vitamin A has taken place is used to fight the harmful free radicals within the body. Vitamin A also helps fight infections and illnesses by helping tissues that line various parts of the body, including the eyes, mouth, nose, throat and lungs, to grow and also to repair them if they are damaged to prevent infection. Children also need plenty of vitamin A to help their bones and teeth to develop properly.
The Different Types of B Vitamins
There are a large number of B vitamins that are needed to keep all of the body functions performing properly. All of the B vitamins are essential for a number of different processes. Without sufficient B vitamins the blood supply would not be healthy and this leads to a variety of illnesses and diseases. The brain needs B vitamins to function correctly and the heart also needs B vitamins to stay healthy and prevent heart disease and food is broken down into the various nutrients by B vitamins. In fact, just about every organ and process within the body requires at least one form of the B vitamin.
Thiamin, or B1, is the B vitamin that the body needs to keep all of its cells, especially the nerves, functioning correctly. It is especially important for memory and general mental health and is one of the B vitamins that is required to convert food into energy.
Riboflavin, or B2, is the B vitamin that is essential for releasing the enrgy from food that has been consumed. Without this B vitamin the body cannot grow or develop properly as red blood cells will not be as healthy as they should be.
Niacin, or B3, is the B vitamin that is involved in over fifty processes, ranging from detoxifying chemicals to making hormones and releasing energy from food.
Pantothenic acid, or B5,works with several other B vitamins for a number of essential processes including breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy and is also the B vitamin that is needed to form vitamin D, a variety of hormones, and red blood cells.
Pyridoxine, or B6, is the B vitamin that is largely responsible for redistributing the amino acids to create over five thousand proteins that are needed by the body and is also one of the B vitamins needed to form various enzymes.
Biotin, or B7, is one of the B vitamins that are involved in a number of processes within the body, including the breaking down of fats, carbohydrates and proteins into useable energy forms.
Folic acid, or B9, is the essential B vitamin for aiding in cell growth and division, especially during pregnancy. This B vitamin is also necessary to make natural chemicals which control the appetite, moods and quality of sleep. It is also the best B vitamin for helping lower the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke by keeping the arteries open.
Cobalamin, or B12, is one of the B vitamins that is important in the process of converting the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy. This B vitamin is also vital in forming the protective covering of nerve cells and to keep red blood cells healthy, and help prevent heart disease.
A Guide to the C Vitamin
The c vitamin has got to be the most widely known vitamin these days. It is not surprising because the body needs c vitamin for over 300 functions. In fact, the c vitamin has been proved to help protect against heart disease, cancer and other serious illnesses. Without the c vitamin the body would not be able to heal itself either. This is because the c vitamin is vital for the formation of collagen. Whenever a person has a cut or an injury it is the collagen that helps repair the damage and without sufficient c vitamin this would be almost impossible. Collagen has a multitude of functions in the body, including keeping the organs in place, and it would not be able to do this without sufficient c vitamin.
The c vitamin is also an antioxidant for the body and helps other vitamins and minerals to be absorbed better. Folic acid and iron, for example, need the c vitamin to maximise their usefulness. The more c vitamin that the body has, the better its defence against colds and other common ailments and the c vitamin may not prevent a person catching a virus but it does help speed up the recovery process.
There is c vitamin in almost every fruit and vegetable but some have far higher c vitamin content than others. Cranberries and melons have high c vitamin content. In fact, tropical fruits have the highest c vitamin amounts of all fruit. Hot peppers are amongst the richest sources of the c vitamin when it comes to vegetables. The hotter the pepper, the higher its c vitamin content is. Unfortunately, the c vitamin is water soluble so many vegetables lose their effectiveness as a c vitamin provider if they are boiled for a long time. Steaming or quick stir frying vegetables ensures that more of their c vitamin content is retained. The recommended daily amount of the c vitamin is easily obtained from eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day if they are consumed raw or cooked quickly.
C vitamin supplements are extremely useful to ensure that people obtain sufficient c vitamin. However, with a balanced diet the amount of c vitamin the body receives is likely to be sufficient. However, if a person begins feeling tired or lethargic then a c vitamin supplement will help overcome this. There is no danger of having too much c vitamin as the body simply excretes the excess.
A Guide to the D Vitamin
The D vitamin is the only vitamin that is not obtained from foods that are consumed. Instead, the D vitamin is actually obtained by sunlight on the skin. There has been a lot of media coverage about the dangers of getting too much sun but it is essential that the skin is exposed to sunlight to obtain the recommended daily allowance of the D vitamin. In reality, the amount of time that a person has to spend in the sun to receive a sufficient dose of the D vitamin is extremely small and just a few minutes a day will be sufficient and not have any adverse effects from the amount of ultra-violet light received.
The most important function of the D vitamin is to help control how much calcium is absorbed from food. The majority of the calcium is used to build strong teeth and bones but it is also needed to send messages along the nerves and to help muscles, such as the heart muscles, to contract. It is the D vitamin that ensures that there is always sufficient calcium in the blood to perform these tasks. Other functions that require the D vitamin relate to the immune system and it is believed that it is also a contributing factor in reducing the risk of contracting cancer and, in particular, colon cancer.
The variant of the D vitamin that is formed under the skin is known as vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol. This D vitamin is created when the ultraviolet in the sunlight reacts with a type of cholesterol that is found under the skin naturally. The D3 is converted into a more active form of the d vitamin in the liver and is then diverted to where it is needed the most. Some of the D vitamin remains in the liver and kidneys to help reabsorb the calcium from the blood. The rest of the D vitamin is dispersed to the bones to help them retain their calcium and the intestines to aid absorption of calcium from food.
Even though the majority of the D vitamin is formed through the exposure of the skin to sunlight there are some foods that do contain some of the vitamin naturally. This form of the D vitamin is known as vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol. This is used in the same way as the other D vitamins and is the type used to create the majority of D vitamin supplements.
A Guide to the E Vitamin
The e vitamin is extremely important for a variety of functions in the body. A healthy heart needs plenty of the e vitamin as it has been shown to actually prevent heart disease. The e vitamin can also help contain any existing heart disease and stop it from getting worse.
E vitamin is also vital in protecting the cell membranes from the harmful free radicals that are present in the body. Without e vitamin, amongst others, the cell membranes would be damaged and this could lead to serious health problems, including cancer. The reason that the e vitamin is so effective against free radicals is that it is fat soluble so it can be absorbed into the cell membranes. The e vitamin is therefore essential for the immune system.
The recommended daily amount of the e vitamin that a person requires depends on their body weight. This is connected to the fact that the more fat a diet contains then the more of the e vitamin that is needed. However, the only foods that really contain any reasonable amount of the e vitamin are vegetable oils, seeds, wheat germ, and nuts. It is for this reason that most people should take some form of e vitamin supplement.
A deficiency of the e vitamin does not affect a person immediately. In fact, it can take months for the effects of insufficient e vitamin to be detected. After years of e vitamin deficiency there may e some detectable damage to the nerves of the spinal cord or retina of the eye but this is very rare. Most people obtain enough e vitamin from a normal diet but it is essential that the food that a person eats contains a little fat to help with the absorption of the e vitamin.
There are a few medical conditions that may lead to a deficiency of the e vitamin and may require the person to take e vitamin supplements. Cystic fibrosis causes a person to be unable to digest fats well which leads to less of the e vitamin being absorbed. Crohn’s disease causes to lower absorption rates of the e vitamin and a supplement may be necessary. Some forms of liver disease can also lead to problems absorbing the e vitamin, especially through the intestine. Of course, as fat is required to help absorb sufficient amounts of the e vitamin, anyone on an extremely low-fat diet will need to discuss their options for increasing the amount of e vitamin that their body needs.
A Guide to The K Vitamin
The K vitamin is essential for the blood to clot to repair injuries. Whenever a person has a bleeding wound, it is the K vitamin that is present in the blood that stops the bleeding and enables most minor cuts to heal quickly.
There are three different forms of the K vitamin. The first variant of the K vitamin is vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone. This is the form of the K vitamin that is found in types of plant foods. Vitamin K found in plant foods. The second form of the K vitamin is the vitamin K2, or menaquinone. This type of the K vitamin is formed by friendly bacteria in the intestines. Thirdly, there is vitamin K3 which is also known as menadione and is actually an artificial form of the K vitamin. All three of these types of K vitamin end up in the liver where it is used to create the blood clotting substances.
The best natural sources of the K vitamin are green leafy vegetables, such as spinach. However, because the friendly bacteria in the intestine makes one of the forms of the K vitamin it is extremely rare for a person to have a deficiency of the K vitamin and so K vitamin supplements are not needed by the majority of people.
Apart from the main function of helping blood to clot, the K vitamin, specifically the Vitamin K1, has an important part to play in the bone building process. This K vitamin is required to retain the calcium in the bones and redistribute it to where it is needed.
Although a K vitamin deficiency is relatively rare there are certain groups of people who may suffer from it. Newborn babies may not have enough of the K vitamin as they have insufficient bacteria in their intestines to produce it. The majority of newborn babies in developed countries are therefore given a K vitamin injection to tide them over until the natural process takes over. That is the only time that a K vitamin supplement will be taken by most people throughout their lives. However, an extended course of antibiotics may lead to a K vitamin deficiency due to the fact that the antibiotics kill the intestinal bacteria as well as the ones that they are being taken to cure. Again, a K vitamin supplement may be given if the course of antibiotics has to continue for a long period of time.
Natural Vitamin Sources
There are a lot of people who do not have enough natural vitamin sources in their diet and therefore suffer from a deficiency of one or more vitamins. Obviously, it is possible to buy vitamin supplements to help overcome any deficiencies but for the majority of people it should be possible for them to obtain the majority of their recommended daily allowance of vitamins from natural vitamin sources. The key to gaining the correct amount of vitamins from natural vitamin sources is to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
There are certain diets, such as vegetarian, that provide a limited number of natural vitamin supplements and therefore a supplement may be necessary. Also, the intake required of these natural vitamin sources at certain periods may need to be increased and a supplement may be the best option. It is important to be aware of each of the different types of vitamins and their best natural vitamin sources so that a person can incorporate as many of these as possible into their regular diet. Water soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body and need to be replenished on a daily basis so it is natural vitamin sources for these vitamins that are the most essential to know.
- Natural vitamin B1 sources are brewer’s yeast, whole grains, blackstrap molasses, brown rice, organ meats, egg yolk
- Natural vitamin B2 sources are brewer’s yeast, whole grains, legumes, nuts, organ meats, blackstrap molasses
- Natural vitamin B3 sources are lean meats, poultry & fish, brewer’s yeast, peanuts, milk, rice bran, potatoes
- Natural vitamin B4 sources are egg yolks, organ meats, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, soybeans, fish, legumes
- Natural vitamin B5 sources are organ meats, egg yolks, legumes, whole grains, wheat germ, salmon, brewer’s yeast
- Natural vitamin B6 sources are meats, whole grains, organ meats brewer’s yeast, blackstrap molasses, wheat germ
- Natural vitamin B7 sources are egg yolks, liver, unpolished rice, brewer’s yeast, sardines, legumes, whole grains
- Natural vitamin B8 sources are who1e grains, citrus fruits, molasses, meat, milk, nuts, vegetables, brewer’s yeast
- Natural vitamin B9 sources are dark-green leafy vegetables, organ meats, root vegetables, oysters, salmon, milk
- Natural vitamin B12 sources are organ meats, fish, pork, eggs, cheese, milk, lamb, bananas, kelp, peanuts
- Natural vitamin B13 sources are root vegetables, liquid whey
- Natural vitamin B15 sources are brewer’s yeast, rare steaks, brown rice, sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds
- Natural vitamin B17 sources are whole kernels of apricots, apples, cherries, peaches, plums
- Natural vitamin C sources are citrus, cabbage family, chilli peppers, berries, melons, asparagus, rose hips