The ABCD’s of vitamins


In this presentation we will explainwhat vitamins are and their functions inthe body. We will be taking a closer lookat four of these vitamins, their function,and the consequences when we’redeficient in any of them. We all remembertaking vitamins as kids but what exactlyare these vitamins and what do they do?Vitamins are essential nutrients neededby the body in small amounts to allow itto grow, develop, and function normally. Intotal, there are thirteen vitamins neededby the body. Vitamins come in two typesthat are transported and storeddifferently in the body. These are:water-soluble and lipid soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins dissolve in waterand are able to move around freely inthe body through the blood. Thesevitamins are found in the wateryportions of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Water soluble vitamins are not stored inthe body. The body takes the vitaminsneeded from our food and the remainderis disposed of through the kidneys. Thismeans that water soluble vitamins needto be regularly replenished as part ofour daily diet. Fat soluble vitamins, onthe other hand, need fat in order todissolve. These vitamins require specialcarrier proteins to be transported inthe blood. Unlike water soluble vitamins,fat soluble vitamins are stored in fatcells when excess vitamin is present inthe diet,to be used at a later time. Now let’stake a look at two water solublevitamins: vitamins B and C. We’ll now betalking about one common water solublevitamin, vitamin B. There are 8 typesof vitamin B and most of them come fromour diet. Due to the various types ofvitamin B, they can be found in a varietyof sources. In terms of the roles vitaminB perform two main functions in thehuman body: one to make energy from theingested food and two to make red bloodcells. It’s important to note that somevitamin B types only perform one ofthese functions but there are also othertypes that are involved in bothfunctions. Deficiency in vitamin B canlead to one or more diseases dependingon the number of types of vitamin Bdeficiency. For example, deficiency in vitamin B12and vitamin B6 can cause anemia, which isinsufficient red blood cells. On theother hand deficiency in vitamin B1 andB3 can lead to mental confusion. Now wewill take a look at anotherwater-soluble vitamin, vitamin C. VitaminC has various functions in the body oneof its most important functions is toprotect the body from infections. It alsocontributes to the growth and repair oftissues. Umm, not those kind of tissues. The tissues in your bodylike your bones your teeth and your skin!Now, you may be wondering where you canfind vitamin C. Well the best sources ofvitamin C are fruits and vegetables. Peppers and broccoli have the highestvitamin C content among the many kindsof vegetables. Now, it’s commonly believedthe oranges are the best source ofvitamin C among fruits, however, this isnot actually the case. The fruit that isthe best source of vitamin C is actuallyguava, in second place it’s papaya, andkiwis are the third best source ofvitamin C among fruits. Oranges areactually the fourth highest. So whathappens when you don’t consume enoughvitamin C? Well vitamin C deficiency canlead to a disease called scurvy. Scurvywas a disease that many pirates andsailors used to have when they were outat sea for long periods of time withoutaccess to fresh fruits and vegetables. You see, vitamin C is necessary toproduce collagen. Collagen is the mainprotein component of the tissues in yourbody and collagen alone makes up 35% ofthe whole body’s protein content. Scurvyhas many symptoms such as brown spots inthe skin, bleeding from different mucousmembranes, spongy gums, loss of teeth, andeven death. Now look at two fat solublevitamins: vitamins A and D. We will firsttake a look at vitamin A. Vitamin A’smain role in the body is maintaining andprotecting vision. Vitamin A is criticalfor vision because it’s a component ofrhodopsin—a protein that detects andabsorbs light in the eyes. There are twomain sources of vitamin A. The first, isin foods from animal sources, whichincludes fish, meat, liver, and eggs. Thesecond, is in leafy green vegetables,orange and yellow vegetables, and fruit. The top three choices are squash, carrot,and spinach. A deficiency in vitamin A isusually rare since most foods contain atleast a small amount of it. Vitamin Adeficiency is usually much moreprevalent in developing countries likeNigeria and India where access to foodis much more restricted. Deficiency ismore common during periods of highnutritional demand such as duringinfancy and childhood. One of the mostcommon symptoms of vitamin A deficiencyis xerophthalmia, or the inability to seein low light or in darkness. The secondfat soluble vitamin we will be talkingabout is vitamin D. Vitamin D is alsoknown as the sunshine vitamin becauseit’s produced in your skin in responseto sunlight. You can also get vitamin Dfrom supplements and a very small amountcomes from some foods like salmon. Vitamin D works to promote bone growthand bone strength. This is importantsince vitamin D regulates the absorptionof calcium and phosphorus, which are twoessential components for developing thestructure and strength of your bones. So,even if you eat lots of foods thatcontain calcium and phosphorus, withoutenough vitamin D you can’t absorb theminto your body. Vitamin D is also animportant factor in making sure yourmuscles, heart, lungs, and brain work welland that your body is able to fightinfection. Too little vitamin D resultsin the softening of the bonethis disease is known as rickets inchildren and osteomalacia in adults. Vitamins are essential nutrients neededby the body to grow, develop, and functionnormally. The two types of vitamins arefat soluble and water soluble vitamins. We discussed two water soluble vitaminsvitamin B involved in the production ofenergy and red blood cells and vitamin Cwhich is associated with tissue growthand repair. We also discussed two fatsoluble vitamins: vitamin A which plays arole in vision and vitamin D which isinvolved in bone growth and strength.

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