Vitamins are the natural catalysts present in the human body.
They are called catalysts because they enhance or speed up the body reactions.
These vitamins are present in very minute quantities and can be had from nutritious food. But interestingly they have no calorific value.
Their deficiency for prolonged periods can lead to vitamin deficiency diseases.
Plants synthesize vitamins on their own.
But humans synthesize some, store some while the remaining have to be taken from diet. So lets go into more details on
Vitamins and What they do
Vitamins are the organic substances which regulate the body physiology. These vitamins are of two types based on their solubility as fat and water soluble one’s.
The fat soluble ones includes vitamin A, D, E and K while the water soluble includes vitamin B and C.
The fat soluble ones are stored in body for long and do not need regular replenishment.
While the water soluble one’s are easily excreted from body through water. So, they have to be regularly refilled back into the body.
Further these individual vitamins are available in different forms. E.g Vitamin D is available as Vitamin D2 and D3, Vitamin K as K1 and K2. While water soluble vitamin B is a complex one. It is comprised of 8 vitamins as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6,B7, B9, B12.
These vitamins perform diverse functions in the body like
1. They are enhancers of various body reactions, i.e. they speed up the reactions.
2. They are involved in synthesis various substance in the body like fats, proteins, DNA, RNA.
3. They play key role in formation of body cell like red blood cells (RBC), WBC etc.
4. They stimulate formation of bone cells, cones (color sensors) in eyes, bone cells etc.
5. Vitamins like Vit.C help fight against cold and other infections.
6. They promote reproductive health. Ex Vit.E
More details on individual vitamins, their functions and deficiency diseases can be seen in the table below.
|Vitamin-A||a) Carrot, tomato, mango|
b) Milk, Ghee, Butter, Egg
c) Shark & Cod liver oils
|Body growth, weight, vision, healthy eyes, skin & nervous system. Aid fertility, bone cell formation||Night blindness, xeropthalmia, digestive disturbance, respiratory infections, irregular bone growth
|Vitamin-D||Formed from ergosterol below the skin when exposed to sunlight.|
|Helps absorb Calcium in gut. Aids formation of bones, teeth||Rickets, Osteomalasia
|Vitamin-E||a) Wheat sprout, Soyabean|
b) Milk, butter & leafy vegetables.
|It is an anti-oxidant. It helps function of nervous and vascular system. It is needed for reproduction. DNA, RNA formation.||Degeneration of muscles. chances of abortion.
|Vitamin-K||a) Tomatoes, Green vegetables|
b) By bacteria in intestine
|It aids clotting of blood and avoid profuse bleeding in case of injury.||Produced bleeding tendency.
|Vitamin-C (Ascorbic acid) ||Lemon, oranges, grapes (green), gooseberry etc.||Wound repair,, resistance to infections, RBC-formation, germ cell, protein building ||Scurvy which is seen by gum bleeding , under skin bleeding as seen by small red patches.
|Vitamin-B1 (Thiamine) ||Pulses, nuts, cereal upper coats, carrots, beans etc.||Oxidation of sugars to produce energy, fat synthesis, aids in growth, functioning of heart, nerves, muscles||Beri-beri, muscular weakness.
|Vitamin-B2 (Riboflavin) ||Green vegetables, Milk, eggs, meat. Also by bacteria in intestine.||Body growth, cellular respiration, transfer of light stimuli in eye, protein metabolism||Swelling of lips, tongue, dry skin, hair fall etc.
|Vitamin-B3 (Niacin)||Beans, Pulses, cereal coat, tomato, milk, fish, meat etc||As Co-enzyme in oxidative process of energy generation, dilation of blood vessels||Pellagra, macrocytic anemia
|Vitamin-B5 (pantothenic acid)||Peas, Sweet potato,, liver, eggs, meat||Carbohydrate metabolism to generate energy, fat, cholesterol synthesis||Fatigue, irritability, hypoglycemia etc.
|Vitamin-B6 (pyridoxin)||Cereals, fish, eggs, by Bacteria in gut||Synthesizing fats, proteins, carbohydrates.||Ulceration, conjunctivitis, glossitis etc.
|Vitamin-B7 (Biotin) (VItamin-H)||Peas, cauliflower, liver||Cell growth, maintains steady glucose level in blood, formation of fatty acids||hair loss, conjunctivitis, dermatitis.
|Vitamin-B9 (Folic Acid)||Soya bean, Leafy vegetables, Milk, meat||RBC formation, nucleic acid synthesis (DNA, RNA)||Megaloblastic anaemia.
|Vitamin-B12||Milk, Egg, meat, etc. Absent in plants.||RBC formation, Enhances WBC & thrombocytes production, Good for nervous system and lipid formation.||Damage to brain, anemia
As seen above,vitamin deficiency causes diseases. This vitamin deficiency does not occur in individuals with healthy lifestyle.
But it can frequently occur during pregnancy lactation, Malnutrition. Even alcoholism and few medications can also cause vitamin deficiency.
The best way to recover the loss is through consumption of foods rich in the related vitamin. And still if there is deficiency, then one can take up the vitamin supplements.
If you consider to be suffering from any vitamin related diseases, it is better to consult a physician.
Medical applications of vitamins:
Besides their use in deficiency diseases, vitamins find their use in medicine.
1. Vitamin A is used in treatment of pimples in the form of retinol from animals.
2. Vit.B is used in consumption diseases like tuberculosis treatment.
In countries where less protein diet is prevalent, Vitamin-B is included along with treatment regimen drugs. Also vitamin-B is used as an appetite stimulant i.e. it enhances hunger.
3. Vit.E is used during pregnancy and also to enhance conception.
4. Vit.C and Vit.B combinations are used in case of ulcers in the mouth and gut.