Vitamins and Health
Vitamins are imperative to human health. Without sufficient intake of vitamins the human body will not operate at its full potential. If a lack of an organic substance in the diet induces symptoms that are reversed by putting it back into the diet, the organic substance is classified as a vitamin. The human body needs vitamins to grow and develop regularly. Vitamin deficiencies generate crippling diseases. Even low intakes may generate small differences in daily health and put an individual at increased risk of chronic disease later in life. On the other hand, vitamin toxicity, or vitamin poisoning may also pose harmful health issues or even death in some cases. Thirteen vitamins have been identified as vital to human health and are classified as either water of fat soluble.
Vitamin Classification Vitamins are classified according to their dissolvability in water or fat. The B vitamins (Thiamin B1, Riboflavin B2, Niacin B3, Biotin, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, Folate, and Vitamin B12) and vitamin C are water soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins are washed out of the body in urine by the kidneys. Fat soluble vitamins are stocked in the body. The water soluble B vitamins and vitamin C need to be renewed every day, but the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are collected in fatty tissues and the liver cells in the body.
Water Soluble Vitamins Three water soluble vitamins include Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), and Niacin (B3). Thiamin is found in pork, whole and enriched grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. According to “Health Benefits of Vitamin B1 or Thiamin” (2013), “It plays an important role in maintaining a healthy nervous system and improving the cardiovascular functioning of the body.” Thiamin helps convert carbohydrates into glucose, which produces energy needed to fulfill multiple body functions. The breakdown of fats and protein requires Thiamin. Weakness, irritability, and paralysis are just a few of the symptoms of a Thiamin deficiency. Alcoholics and individuals who live in poverty are at risk for Thiamin deficiency. There have been no reports of Thiamin toxicity, nor is there an upper intake level (UL). Riboflavin also aids in energy metabolism. It is found in dairy products, whole and enriched grains, leafy green vegetables, and meats. Symptoms of a riboflavin deficiency are cracks in the corners of the mouth and swelling in the mouth and tongue. There are no specific groups at risk of Riboflavin deficiency, zero toxicity cases reported, and no set UL. Niacin is needed for energy metabolism, lipid synthesis, and breakdown. Two symptoms of a Niacin deficiency are diarrhea and dementia. Alcoholics and individuals who mostly eat a corn based diet are at risk of a Niacin deficiency. The UL for Niacin is 35mg. Symptoms of toxicity are nausea and tingling extremities.
Fat Soluble Vitamins The fat soluble vitamins are vitamin A, D, E, and K. Vitamin A is needed for vision, reproduction, and immunity. Three high nutrient sources of vitamin A are fish, carrots, and cantaloupe. Symptoms of a vitamin a deficiency are night blindness, dry skin, and poor growth. Individuals who live in poverty, or who consume a…