Vitamins Significance

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Vitamins are natural molecules which are important for life. There are various natural compounds essential in small quantities for human increase and development, metabolism, and functioning of the body. Since the human body cannot synthesize them, they should be taken through diet both by food or with the aid of supplemental vitamins. Vitamins are very vital in the body and have many functions. Vitamins are labeled into two: water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins are these can easily dissolve in water thus can be without problems excreted through urine. Fat-soluble vitamins are these that are soluble in fat or lipid and are absorbed into the body thru the ileum.

Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and vitamin B complex. Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid is a strong antioxidant.it is required for progress of propyl hydroxylase which synthesizes 4-hydroxyproline, which is an amino acid required in collagen. Collagen is an important connective tissue in the body. The role of the amino acid formed that the proline formed on the amino side of glycine residues become hydrated, whereby the oxygen atom which becomes attached to proline originates from molecular oxygen. The other oxygen atom is absorbed by alpha-ketoglutarate which is converted to succinate. The enzyme reaction is aided by ferric ions. The enzyme also converts alpha-ketoglutarate into succinate where an iron complex is formed which deactivates the enzymes. Vitamin C improves the immune system and activates white blood cells in the body. It also helps in tissue repair and regeneration as well as protecting against heart diseases and a variety of cancers. Moreover, vitamin C helps in absorption of iron, decreases cholesterol in the body and adds value to the teeth, skin, teeth, and bones. Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, apples, berries, dark leafy greens, peppers, potatoes among many others. Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy which is characterized by sporty skin, bleeding and swollen gums, slow healing of wounds, joint and muscle aches as well as weakness. Scurvy is fatal if it’s not treated. However, too much consumption of vitamin C may lead to severe diarrhea, nausea and also causes kidney stones.

Vitamin B complex is another water-soluble vitamin comprising of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamin. It helps to convert blood sugar in the body to energy. It maintains the mucous membrane of the circulatory system, nervous system and that of the muscles. Vitamin B1 can be got from whole grain cereals, pork and wheat germs. Deficiency of vitamin B1 leads to Beriberi whose symptoms are loss of weight and emotional disturbances. To add on to that, deficiency of vitamin B1 also causes wernickle-korsakoff syndrome characterized by amnesia. A beriberi patient needs quick attention since the disease is fatal Vitamin B2 is known as Riboflavin. With the aid of other vitamin B complexes, it converts the proteins, carbohydrates, and fat into calories for energy in the body. It creates more red blood cells, keeps skin healthy promotes eyesight and growth of the body. Sources of vitamin B2 are milk, red meat, and leafy vegetables. Deficiency leads to ariboflavinosis whose symptoms include swelling of the tongue, cracking of lips, sore throat, pseudo syphilis and edema (Lin, Chun-che, and Mei-chin Yin 2007). Another type of vitamin B complex is vitamin B3 which is also known as Niacin. It also helps in conversion of carbohydrates and proteins into calories for energy in the body. It increases appetite, brings about healthy nerves and lowers cholesterol in the body. Vitamin B3 is found in meat, peanuts, and yeast. Lack of vitamin B3 causes pellagra which is characterized by dermatitis, insomnia, weakness, mental confusion, and diarrhea. A person with pellagra also experiences constipation, nausea and vomiting, turning red of the mouth and the tongue, and develop sores. Pellagra is mainly caused by malnutrition or having depended on certain types of foods for too long.

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid is another water-soluble vitamin. It helps to process carbohydrates, proteins, and fat for energy in the body. It can be found in meat, whole grains and peas and its deficiency cause paresthesia and acne. In addition to that, vitamin B6 is also a water-soluble vitamin. It contains six compounds: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine and their respective 5’ phosphate esters. It also helps process proteins, carbohydrates, and fat into energy. The sources include fish, beef liver, eggs, soya beans, and whole grains. Lack of vitamin B6 causes microcytic anemia, dermatitis, swelling of the tongue and weakens immune function. Another type if vitamin B complex is vitamin B7 or Biotin. It is a co-factor necessary for proper function of enzymes. It decreases insulin resistance and promotes glucose tolerance. Vitamin B7 also lead to the formation of fatty acids and glucose in the body. Sources of vitamin B7 can be found in cereals, legumes, barley, yeast, liver among many others. Furthermore, lack of vitamin B7 leads to disorders, impaired growth in infants and also affects skin and hair growth. Folic acid, commonly known as vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin. Pregnant women need vitamin B9 for the formation of new cells. It aids in the manufacture of red blood cells and lowers the risk of birth defects which includes cleft palate and brain damage. Vitamin B9 can be found in dark leafy vegetables, peas, whole grains, beans, avocado, and milk. Its deficiency leads to neural tube defects in infants. The last type of vitamin B family is vitamin B12 (cobalamin). It helps to maintain the central nervous system and the red blood cells. Vitamin B12 can be found in meat, eggs, and milk. The risk factors associated in too much consumption of the vitamin B complex are; diarrhea, nausea, swelling, breathing difficulties, allergies and too much itching (Alhadeff, et al. 1984). Change in urine color is also another side effect but it is normal and harmless.

Fat-soluble vitamins are those that are soluble in fat as stated earlier. They include vitamins A, D, E and K. Vitamin A is a powerful oxidant. Vitamin A is a precursor of retinal which is a light-sensitive group in the rhodopsin. It brings about healthy eyesight, maintains urinary track intestinal track and respiratory system. Vitamin A helps in strengthening of bones, responsible in growth and development of sperms and ovaries, and boosts immune function. Vitamin A is found in two different forms: active vitamin A and beta carotene. Active vitamin A comes from animal products while beta carotene is acquired from vegetables and fruits. Deficiency of vitamin A causes night blindness, skin damage and diseases infections in the respiratory system and severe deficiency can lead to keratomalacia. Consumption of too much vitamin A causes nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and jaundice. Toxicity of vitamin A leads to dry skins, headaches and confusion. Vitamin D is another fat soluble vitamin. It is essential for strong bones since it helps the body to use calcium and phosphorous properly and regulate their amount in the body. It helps in the formation of RNA, controls heartbeat, nervous system and blood clotting. Vitamin D can be found in animal products, fish, milk, and sunshine. Lack of vitamin D causes deformities of bones, and growth retardation. Infertility in rats is usually as a result of lack of vitamin. Severe deficiency of vitamin D causes rickets. It is a disease which is mostly associated in children where their bones becomes soft thus resulting in deformities. This is due to the fact that it its major role is bone formation and strengthening. Too much consumption of vitamin D causes too much calcium accumulation in the body thus weakening the bones and damaging the skin and the heart.

Another fat soluble vitamin is vitamin E. Being an antioxidant, it keeps the tissues healthy by getting rid of free radicals in the body. It is also involved in immune function and regulation of gene expression and any other metabolic processes. Vitamin E can be found in spinach, wheat and almonds. It can also be found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Lack of vitamin E causes fat-malabsorption disorder, impairment of immune system and premature births. Excessive uptake of vitamin E causes hemorrhage, and interruption of blood clotting. Vitamin K too is a fat soluble vitamin which functions as a coenzyme. It takes part in carboxylation of glutamate residues to gamma-carboxyglutamate.Vitamin K is grouped into vitamin K1 and K2. Vitamin k1 is obtained from leafy vegetables whereas vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs, and cheese. The major role of vitamin K is blood clot by preventing excessive bleeding thereby facilitating healing. It helps in calcium regulation within the body. Vitamin K is given to patients in hospitals to reduce bleeding since it is very important for healing. Newborns are usually injected vitamin K to prevent bleeding Deficiency of vitamin K causes impaired clotting (Dutta, et al. 1982). The risk factors associated in consumption is clotting disorders.

Conclusively, vitamins have very many roles in the body of a human being as well as animals. People are advised to always take a balanced diet in every meal so as to get enough nutrients in the body as well as prevent deficiencies. There are some cases where supplements are greatly required. This is especially for people who have high risks of deficiencies. In addition to that, vitamin deficiencies are usually either minor or very fatal. It is therefore very important to maintain healthy and proper eating habits to avoid deficiencies and body complications.

References

Table, Elements, and Vitamins Table. "Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc." (2001).

Lin, Chun-che, and Mei-chin Yin. "B vitamins deficiency and decreased anti-oxidative state in patients with liver cancer." European journal of nutrition 46.5 (2007): 293-299.

Alhadeff, Leslie, C. Thomas Gualtieri, and Morris Upton. "Toxic effects of water‐soluble vitamins." Nutrition reviews 42.2 (1984): 33-40.

Dutta, Sudhir K., et al. "Deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins in treated patients with pancreatic insufficiency." Annals of internal medicine 97.4 (1982): 549-552.

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