Vitamins are essential nutrients for our body, but what are vitamins and what do they consist of? Find out more about them and about their important functions in our health.
The vitamins are essential nutrients that are mainly characterized by inorganic substances that are mainly in the different and various foods we eat every day through our diet and our daily diet. They are essential, which means that they are essential for the body, and for life.
So far, a total of 13 vitamins have been identified, which present and perform certain specific functions in our body, hence they are ultimately considered essential nutrients essential for life. In addition, they are “essential” because our body is not capable of synthesizing it by itself from chemical reactions, which means that they can only be provided through food.
Therefore, any deficit or deficiency has negative effects, and causes health problems in the person who suffers from it, while an excess of vitamins also produces negative effects. In this sense we can differentiate between avitaminosis (absence of vitamins) and hypervitaminosis.
The same amounts of vitamins are not required, just as no food has the necessary vitamins for the proper functioning of our body. For these two reasons, it is essential to follow a diet as varied and balanced as possible, and discover what are the recommended daily amounts that, each day, we need of these essential nutrients.
As you surely know, vitamins are divided into water-soluble vitamins (those that are soluble in aqueous elements, are not stored in the body and their excess is easy to eliminate through urine), and fat-soluble vitamins (those that are solubilize in fat, which are stored in fatty tissues of the body, being their elimination more difficult).
Water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins:
As its own name might indicate, water-soluble vitamins are those that are soluble in aqueous elements, which means that it is easy for our body to eliminate any excess through urine.
For this reason, since they are not stored in our body, it is very important to maintain the intake of these vitamins in a balanced and stable way, with the diet.
Here are the vitamins classified as water-soluble: vitamins of group B (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9 and B12) and vitamin C.
And what about fat-soluble vitamins? They are compounds that do not solubilize in water, but they do so in fat.
This means that these types of vitamins are stored in fatty tissues of our body (especially in the liver and adipose tissue), so that an excess in the consumption of these vitamins can cause toxicity problems.
On the other hand, their elimination by our body tends to be more difficult, so it would not be advisable to consume them in excess.
Here are the vitamins classified as fat soluble: vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K.
What are vitamins and what functions do they have?
Also known by the name of retinol, it is essential for sight and for maintaining the health of both the skin and the mucous membranes. It is a vitamin that can be formed from provitamin A or carotene, and we find it especially in products of animal origin.
Known by the name of thiamine, it is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates. This means that the more foods rich in carbohydrates are consumed, the more vitamin B1 will be necessary for its correct and proper metabolism.
Known by the name of riboflavin, it actively participates in energy production reactions for different biological processes. In addition, it intervenes in the maintenance of both the mucous membranes and the epithelial tissue, favoring the formation of antibodies and red blood cells.
Known by the names of niacin or nicotinic acid, it is a vitamin that can be formed in our body with the help of tryptophan, an amino acid. It is involved in the metabolism of amino acids and fatty acids, as well as in reactions related to the synthesis and degradation of carbohydrates.
Known by the name of pantothenic acid, it is part of the structure of coenzyme A, which is involved in reactions of energy metabolism. On the other hand, it actively participates in the different metabolic processes.
Known by the name of pyridoxine, it is involved in the enzymatic reactions of amino acid metabolism. It plays a prominent role in the formation of steroid hormones, intervening in turn in the process of degradation and synthesis of homocysteine.
Known by the name of biotin, it is involved in carboxylation reactions. In addition, it is essential for the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates.
Known more popularly by the name of folic acid, it is the quintessential vitamin of pregnant women (pregnancy), as it helps prevent deformations of the placenta, birth defects in the brain, in the spine (spina bifida), childhood leukemia, cleft palate and cleft lip.
Known by the name of cobalamin, it is essential for the proper functioning of both the brain and the nervous system, as well as being essential for the formation of some proteins and for the formation of blood.
It is essential for the good condition of the connective tissue, as well as being essential for the assimilation of iron. It helps prevent diseases and is useful in later recovery, especially after surgical operations. It also acts as an antioxidant.
It is a fundamental vitamin for the correct assimilation of both phosphorus and calcium. Among other aspects, it strengthens the immune system, intervenes in the secretion of insulin and promotes the growth and mineralization of bones.
Known by the name of tocopherol, it is one of the vitamins best known for its powerful antioxidant action. In addition, it is necessary both for the formation and for the maintenance of the body’s cells. Helps in wound healing and acts as a rejuvenator.
Useful in correct blood clotting. Hence, a deficit or absence of this vitamin can increase the risk of bleeding.
Where do we find the main vitamins? In what foods?
Did you know that most of the vitamins that our body needs are found in food? Therefore, through a varied and balanced diet, we provide our body with all those vitamins necessary for our health and for its proper functioning.
With the exception, yes, of vitamin D, which we obtain mainly through the sun’s rays.
Here we indicate in which foods and drinks we can find most of the vitamins:
|Group B vitamins
Special vitamin requirements:
Each of the 13 vitamins identified and described so far has a specific recommendation regarding the recommended daily amounts.
In most cases, this amount is adjusted to certain characteristics such as: sex, age and certain situations, such as pregnancy or breastfeeding.
However, there are certain stages in life in which our body needs a somewhat higher requirement of vitamins. Such is the case, for example, of childhood, adolescence, pregnancy or lactation.
Of course, it must always be the doctor who prescribes the consumption of a nutritional supplement to ensure the correct intake of vitamins in the stages described above, since an abusive intake (a condition known as hypervitaminosis), can be harmful to health.
On the other hand, it is convenient to know that the consumption of alcohol or tobacco, as well as other drugs, tend to generate a high expenditure of vitamins and other nutrients, so these conditions must also be taken into account in relation to the special requirements of vitamins and diet to be followed.