Vitamins are nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of the body. They can be fat-soluble vitamins or water-soluble vitamins, depending on how they dissolve, as the name suggests.
Unlike some minerals, they act in very small doses. In addition, our body is not capable of manufacturing them by itself, so it is necessary to include them through diet.
Among the main functions of vitamins are the activation of the oxidation of food, metabolic reactions and the use and release of energy provided through food.
In this way, it is easy to realize the importance of these organic nutrients for a complete state of cellular vitality and, ultimately, for the organism. From there the importance of always including them in the diet or daily feeding.
Each cell of the body has the function of transforming amino acids, minerals and other compounds in proteins, hormones and enzymes.
Some vitamins are part of these resulting compounds, so they are indispensable for the correct functioning of the body. Of the 13 different vitamins that are currently known, we can differentiate two groups:
- Water-soluble vitamins: they dissolve in water and the body can not store them. For this reason, a daily and controlled contribution is necessary; the excess is eliminated by sweat and urine.
- Fat-soluble vitamins: they dissolve in fat. These are stored in the adipose tissues of the body and in the liver. An excess in the consumption of these vitamins can be harmful to health, so we must be careful with vitamin supplements and always consult with the doctor or pharmacist.
Let's see in more detail those belonging to the first vitamin group.
This vitamin group, as we have seen, belongs to the vitamins that they dissolve in water and do not accumulate in the body. Among them, we find:
Vitamin B1 or thiamin
It is found in nuts, whole grains, legumes, brewer's yeast and wheat germ. The main function of this vitamin is to release the energy contained in carbohydrates.
A deficit of it can produce:
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Vitamin B2 or riboflavin
It has the function of catalyzing the oxidation of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The sources rich in this vitamin are milk, liver, beans, lentils, cheeses and nuts. A deficit of this water-soluble vitamin would lead to visual disturbances and inflammation of the buccal mucosa and throat.
Vitamin B3, niacin or nicotinic acid
It is present in legumes, nuts, cereals and brewer's yeast, especially. Regarding its function, favors the conversion of food into energy.
It should be mentioned the disease caused by vitamin B3 deficiency: pellagra, a disease characterized by the appearance of spots on the skin and digestive and nervous disturbances.
Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid
It is part of the immune system, since helps the body's defense against infections. In addition, it also intervenes in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It can be found in all animal and vegetable tissues, as well as in brewer's yeast.
A deficiency of this water-soluble vitamin could lead to a weakening of the body's defenses, what would favor the development of infections.
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Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine
Involved in the metabolism of amino acids and in the synthesis of hemoglobin. The deficiency occurs with a greater incidence in the dietary problems. Bananas, avocados, whole grains and vegetables in general are the richest sources of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B8 or biotin
It is found in many plant and animal foods, so does not usually offer dietary problems. It binds to certain enzymes relationships with the formation or use of carbon dioxide, so it thus exerts a coenzyme function.
Vitamin B9 or folic acid
It is essential for DNA synthesis in the cells of new tissues, as in fetuses. It also intervenes in the synthesis of red blood cells. The lack induces anemia. It is found, above all, in lentils, beans, vegetables and liver.
Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin
The main source is the liver. This vitamin is essential for the synthesis of red blood cells. It is the only vitamin that has a mineral in its structure, cobalt; hence its name.
In addition, it is not produced by any plant or animal, but only by some microorganisms. Deficiency of this vitamin also causes anemia.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid
Finally, Vitamin C is involved in the formation of proteins of connective tissues and in the regeneration of bone cartilage.
Thus, a deficiency would cause openings of the connective tissue, subcutaneous hemorrhages and difficulty in healing, among other structural problems.
How you can see, vitamins are essential substances to enjoy good health. We have only mentioned the properties of water-soluble vitamins, so all these functions must be added to those of fat-soluble vitamins.
Do not forget to adopt healthy eating habits to cover the recommended nutritional needs.