Vitamins play significant biochemical roles principally as structural components in tissues such as bone and blood and as cofactors for various enzymes. They are micronutrients needed in small amounts to work properly and stay healthy. There are about 13 essential vitamins which are classified as:
- Fat-soluble vitamins – Vitamin A, D, E and K which are stored in body’s fat tissues. They get absorbed easily in the presence of dietary fats.
- Water-soluble vitamins – Vitamin B complex, vitamin C.
Some of the functions of vitamins are:
- Vitamin A – assists formation and maintenance of teeth, skin, bones and soft tissues, has antioxidant properties and anti-aging properties and improve immune health.
- Vitamin D – helps in calcium metabolism and regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, vital for the development of strong teeth and healthy bones.
- Vitamin E – maintains healthy cholesterol levels, protect the body from free radicals and enhance immune system functions and reduce the risk of cancers of prostate and breast.
- Vitamin K – prevents coronary artery diseases and formation of kidney stones and also plays a significant role in blood clotting process.
- Vitamin C – antioxidant, promotes the absorption of iron and wound healing, help formation of collagen.
- Vitamin B6 – assist in the formation of red blood cells, maintain brain function, aids chemical reactions involving proteins.
- Vitamin B12 – plays significant role in metabolism
- Biotin – plays significant role in metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, production of hormones and cholesterol.
- Folate – helps the formation of red blood cells and production of DNA.
- Niacin – improves cognition and prevent the risk of development of degenerative diseases such as dementia.
Since each vitamin is vital to perform specific tasks, deficiency of vitamins can pose a threat to the health of the body. The deficit of vitamins causes a wide range of adverse effects which can range from deficiency diseases such as rickets, scurvy, and anemia to unfavorable chronic conditions such as eye diseases and cardiovascular diseases as well as a decline in immunity system which would be reflected by subjection to infections.
Do We Really Need Vitamin Supplements
Although required in minimal quantities, all of these vitamins are not synthesized in the human body. Therefore, balanced diet enables you to achieve your vitamin levels which are necessary for optimum body functions and extend quality of life. But studies and surveys continuously reported that a significant number of the world population, particularly young women, do not achieve recommended intakes. In circumstances where nutrient intake from diet is inadequate, a vitamin supplement can be taken to ensure continuous performance of body functions. Vitamin supplements can fill nutrition gaps in your diet and minimize the risk of chronic diseases. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits and effectiveness of supplementing missing nutrients in the diet. Vitamin supplements are highly recommended for particular people who might benefit from supplements including infants, children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and older people. Studies confirm that postmenopausal women who took calcium and vitamin D supplements had improvement in their bone density and reduction of bone fractures.
To select the best supplements that we need to ensure good health can be selected according to our needs, by consulting experts on nutrition. Ultimately, we will be able to achieve a good quality of life and an extended life with good physical fitness.
Huskisson, E., Maggini, S., & Ruf, M. (2007). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Energy Metabolism and Well-Being. Journal Of International Medical Research, 35(3), 277-289. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/147323000703500301
What you need to know about vitamin and mineral supplements. (2017). Pharmaceutical Journal. Retrieved from http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/features/what-you-need-to-know-about-vitamin-and-mineral-supplements/11099947.article