Vitamins and minerals are groups of chemical substances needed in the body in significantly smaller amounts than proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but they are essential for normal functioning and health as part of a series of biochemical processes important for normal work of our bodies. Vitamins and minerals indeed are important and essential compounds that many people do not get enough from only by taking food into the body, and should be taken in especially high quantities any kind of nutritional program, because at that times, the vitamin intake is often reduced because of the changed intake of food.
First of all, we should clarify the term “vitamin” a bit. Vitamins are organic chemical compounds that the body can not only produce by itself, and because of that they need to be taken in form of food or food supplements. People who consume a healthy diet rich in vitamins or vitamin supplements generally have better health. They are natural components of food, and are usually present in relatively small amounts. The quantity that is synthesized by our own bodies is not enough to meet our physiological needs.
They are essential for normal growth of our bodies, for normal reproduction, fast recovery of energy and they are also important for the normal and efficient functioning of the immune system. Although vitamins certainly do help in the process of maintaining good health, they are unfortunately not the magical solution to all problems, but can, however, reduce the number of problems that we may possibly run into in the first place. Without vitamins, our organism could not survive for long. Already after a shorter time of vitamin deficit, some level disruption in the functioning of the body would occur.
Vitamins can be divided into two basic groups according to their physical properties, water-soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K, while the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C vitamins are soluble in water. The mentioned physical properties determine in which types of foods can certain vitamins be found. One must also mention, that whenever it is possible, vitamins should be taken in form of natural food, and not in form of supplements. But if that is not always possible, it is still better to take supplements, than not to take care about vitamin intake at all.
In this article we will say a bit more about some of the most important vitamins – B1, B6, B9, B12 and vitamin C. The first four are a few of the larger number of vitamin B complexes.
Vitamin B1 finds its importance in the metabolism of carbohydrates, and is also important for the normal functioning of the membrane of neurons. It is also important in the neuromuscular transmission, and it is known to be responsible for a normal appetite. It also helps athletes in the prevention of fatigue and stress caused by various conditions. It is also used to improve concentration and to achieve better utilization of mental abilities.
Good sources of this vitamin are whole grains, sunflower seeds, legumes and pork.
Vitamin B6 is also one of the most important vitamins that our body needs. It is very important in the process of synthesis of amino acids and therefore proteins. Since proteins build our complete organism (cells and tissues, hormones, etc.), it is clear why this vitamin is so important.
Related to the biological functions of this vitamin in our body, vitamin B6 has been used in the treatment of autism, depression, high cholesterol and homocysteine levels, problems with kidney stones, asthma, atherosclerosis, PMS, and it is also recommended in higher dosages for people who are active in sports.
The main sources in which vitamin B6 can be found are meat (especially liver and turkey meat), fish (tuna), eggs, milk, potatoes, cereals, spinach, bananas and many types of fruit.
Vitamin B9 is important in the synthesis of nucleic acids, and thereby for growth and development. It also maintains and regulates normal cell functioning. Application of this vitamin is primarily linked with pregnancy because of its positive effect on the prevention of neural tube development defects of children. It turned out that vitamin B9 can also help with the coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease and diseases of the gums.
The main sources of this vitamin are spinach, escarole, oranges, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, avocados, beans, peas and cabbage.
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that is important in the process of utilization of fats, carbohydrates and proteins for energy production and it also takes a part in the production of red blood cells. It is also participating in the production of genetic material and is also intended to create a specific kind of protective layer around nerves. A too small intake of vitamin B12 in children can have a significant impact on their growth and development. In adults, lack of vitamins causes a weakening of the nervous system, as well as the possibility of causing anemia. Chronic lack of vitamin B12 can cause degeneration of nerve fibers and irreparable neurological damage.
It is exclusively synthesized by bacteria and can be mostly found in foods rich with proteins, exclusively from animal origin (meat, eggs, milk).
And finally, vitamin C. This vitamin is an important and essential compound that many people don not get enough from only by food intake. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, but also protects vitamins A and E, which are among the vitamins soluble in fat, not water. Vitamin C also protects fatty acids from oxidation and cures the disease known as scurvy.
Vitamin C is can be found mainly in fruits and vegetables. Oranges and lemons are known to have very high amounts of this vitamin.
One can clearly see the many vitamin health benefits, and it would be a good idea to start taking about personal vitamin intake, as the deficit of these compound can cause various problematic conditions.