Vitamins are substances your body needs to grow and develop normally. The majority of them promote enzymatic function, and the only way to obtain them is through food or supplements because your body is unable to synthesize them. However, it is known that our own body has the ability to produce Vitamins D in the skin, and both vitamin K and folate through intestinal bacteria.
Each Vitamin has specific functions. If you have low levels of certain Vitamins, you may have signs and symptoms according to each deficiency. For example, if you don’t get enough Vitamin B12, you might develop anemia. Additionally, some Vitamins prevent medical problems, as in vitamin A, used to prevent night blindness.
The most important vitamins your body needs are as follows:
1. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Ascorbic Acid is a water-soluble vitamin found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, protecting our cells against damage caused by free radicals. It improves the immune function and helps your body create and repair certain tissues such as ligaments, tendons, skin, and much more.
2. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine (vitamin B1) helps your body’s cells to convert carbohydrates into energy. The main role of carbohydrates is to supply energy to the body, especially to the brain and nervous system.
3. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) works with other B-complex Vitamins. It is important for the growth of the body. Helps in the production of red blood cells. It also facilitates the use of protein as energy sources.
4. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
It is also Called Nicotinic Acid, Vitamin PP or Antipelagra, it is part of the B complex and acts on cellular metabolism as part of the coenzyme NAD and NADP. It is absorbed by passive diffusion and surpluses are eliminated in the urine. Its derivatives are essential for the metabolism of energy and in the process of DNA repair.
5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) is responsible for modulating the humoral immune response, which is basically mediated by antibodies. Additionally, it helps your body maintain a normal neurologic function and produce essential blood particles and substances such as hemoglobin. This protein in blood is in charge of carrying oxygen to the cells and tissues. Vitamin B6 is also important to promote the breakdown of proteins to create energy, and it helps the body keeping a normal level of glucose in the blood.
6. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
This vitamin is also known as vitamin H, and it is responsible for keeping the structures of the body. It’s excellent if you want to have a healthier hair, nails and skin. It helps to activate hair growth and has been used to treat alopecia. In addition, it has been shown to improve imperfections and acne. Biotin can only be synthesized by bacteria, molds, yeasts, seaweed and certain species of plants, so we need to obtain this vitamin from outer sources, always.
7. Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
It is also referred to as “Folates”. Folic acid (Vitamin B9) or folate, is a hidro-soluble Vitamin (can be dissolved in water) that is present in plants and animal tissues such as liver, ox, legumes, leafy vegetables and grain cereals. It belongs to the B vitamin group and helps the body in the maintenance and creation of new cells. Even though it is synthesized in the gut, supplementation is essential in pregnant women to prevent spinal and brain birth defects.
8. Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Similar to other B-complex vitamins, vitamin B 12 is important for protein metabolism. It facilitates the formation of red blood cells in the blood and the maintenance of the normal function of the central nervous system. The body can store Vitamin B12 for years in the liver and toxicity is not common. After the body uses these Vitamins, the leftover amounts leave the body through urine.
9. Vitamin A (Retinol)
It is also known as the antineuritic vitamin. This vitamin contributes to the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, soft and bone tissues, mucous membranes and skin. Vitamin A produces pigments in the retina of the eye and it is known to promote good eyesight, especially in the face of dim light. It also plays a role in having a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding.
10. Vitamin D (Calciferol)
This is a fat-soluble vitamin, a type of vitamin that is stored in the body’s fat tissue. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, and this is why it is commonly added to calcium supplements to prevent ostheoporosis.
11. Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol)
This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant, which means that it scavenges or neutralizes free radicals and this way offers protection to body tissues and organs against something called oxidative stress. Free radicals play an important role in the aging process, and vitamin E is known to reduce aging-related conditions and symptoms in the skin and other body tissues. Similarly, our body needs vitamin E as a part of the defense mechanisms and immune processes against viruses and bacteria.
12. Vitamin K (Menaquinone)
It is also known as the antihemorrhagic vitamin. Menaquinone (Vitamin K) Is known as the clotting vitamin. Without it, blood wouldn’t clot as fast and effectively. Moreover, studies also suggest that it helps older people to keep their bones stronger and reduce their risk of fracture. We can find it in plants and products of plant origin, such as green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, mustard leaves, parsley, romaine lettuce, etc.)
Vitamins perform very specific functions in the human body. Some of them even act as hormones, others are involved in cell reactions that are essential for the proper functioning of tissues. Many vitamins contribute to processing nutrients such as proteins, fats or carbohydrates, the majority of them are involved in cell replication and other important body processes. Therefore, they are important to maintain our blood cells and genetic material intact. In children and the fetus, they are involved in the synthesis and creation of nervous system structures.
In a nutshell, you can’t live without consuming this type of nutrient because your body starts experiencing a series of deficiency signs and symptoms. A healthy diet should not only include protein, fat and carbohydrate, but focus on vitamins as well, and it is important to know when multi vitamins and supplements are really necessary to consume these products when they are truly needed.