Vitamins play an important role to the overall health of the human body. They are mostly found in our food or in nutrition supplements. Among the most important ones are:
|Vitamin A helps vision and prevents eye problems, promotes bone growth and tooth development, essential for the reproduction and development of cells|
It can be found in fruits (they contain alpha and beta-carotenes that are transformed to vitamin A in the body) such as, apricot, avocado, blackberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, orange, peach, tomato, watermelon. It is also found in red, yellow, orange and dark green vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, green pepper, kale, peas, spinach, summer squash, sweetpotato. Nuts are also a very good source of vitamin A such as, almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pine nuts, sunflower, seeds
Deficiency can cause night blindness, dry skin, dry eyes, loss of appetite, poor bone growth, and weak tooth enamel.
Overdose may cause headaches, blurred vision, irregular periods, fatigue, cracked skin, joint and bone pain, rashes, loss of hair, vomiting, liver damage.
|Vitamins of the B complex|
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.
It is found in avocado, orange and watermelon, in asparagus, cauliflower, dried beans, peas and potatoes as well as in sunflower seeds. Whole grains, fortified cereals and pasta and soy foods are a good source of B1.
Deficiency can leave one fatigued and weak. It can cause depression, muscle cramps, hysteria, loss of appetite and beriberi (common with chronic alcoholism).
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is essential for turning carbohydrates, fat and protein into energy. It is important for body growth and producing red blood cells. It is also important for vision.
It is found in kiwi, green leafy vegetables, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, and spinach. No nuts contain a significant amount of B2. Enriched and Fortified Cereals are also a good source of this vitamin.
Deficiency can cause visual problems, and can cause cracks and sores around the mouth and nose.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is important for the conversion of carbohydrate, protein, and fat into energy. It helps maintain healthy skin. It assists in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves.
Rich in B3 are bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, peach, tomato, watermelon, artichoke, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, carrots, corn, green pepper, kale, Lima beans, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, summer squash, sweet potato, almonds, chestnuts, peanuts, peanut butter, pine nuts. Enriched or fortified grain products are also a good source.
Deficiency may cause diarrhea and mouth sores. In extreme cases it may cause pellagra.
Overdose may cause high blood sugar and uric acid, hot flashes, cardiac arrythmias, ulcers and liver disorders.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is essential for the metabolism of food. It is also essential in the formation of hormones and “good” cholesterol.
It is found in avocado, oranges, bananas, artichoke, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, Lima beans, mushrooms, potato, sweet potato, winter squash and whole grain cereals. No nuts contain significant amounts of B5.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells. It helps maintain normal brain and nerve function. It plays a role in the creation of antibodies in the immune system.
It is found in avocado, bananas, watermelon, beans, broccoli, carrots, peas, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and fortified cereals.
Deficiency can cause anemia, dizziness, nausea, irritability and convulsions.
Overdose can cause nerve damage.
The higher the protein intake, the more need there is for vitamin B6.
Vitamin B9 helps the body make red blood cells, as well as components of the nervous system. It is needed to make DNA. It helps maintain normal brain function, and is a critical part of spinal fluid.
Folate and Folic Acid are both forms of B9. Folate occurs naturally in fresh foods, while Folic Acid is the synthetic form found in supplements.
Great source of B9 are avocado, bananas, blackberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, orange, strawberry, tomatoes, artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, corn, green pepper, kale, Lima beans, onions, peas, potatoes, spinach, squash, sweet potato, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, peanuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, pecans, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
It has been proven to reduce the risk for an NTD-affected pregnancy by 50 to 70 percent. Before and during pregnancy, a woman should have enough Folic Acid since it is vital for proper cell growth and development of the embryo.
Vitamin B12 is important for metabolism. It helps to make red blood cells. It is important for nerve cell function.
It is only available from fish, poultry, meat or dairy sources. Supplements and enriched foods such as fortified cereals are available for vegetarians.
Deficiency can cause anemia (especially in vegetarians and the elderly) and nerve damage.
Important note: Excess of one B vitamin may cause deficiency of others
|Vitamin C is an important antioxidant. It protects body tissue from the damage of oxidation. It is needed to form collagen, a tissue that helps to hold cells together.|
It can be found in citrus fruits, apples, avocado, banana, berries, cantaloupe, grapes, guava, kiwi, lemon and lime, orange, peach, strawberry, tomatoes, watermelon, in many vegetables, especially the cabbage family and green leafy vegetables, as well as in asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, red pepper, kale, Lima beans, onions, peas, potatoes, spinach, squash, calcium fortified cereals.
Deficiency can cause muscle weakness, bleeding gums, easy bruising. In extreme cases can cause scurvy.
|Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" since it is manufactured by the body after being exposed to sunshine. 10-15 min of sunshine 3 X a week is adequate. It strengthens bones and teeth because it helps the body in the absorption of calcium and magnesium. It also helps maintain adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.|
Mushrooms are a good natural source of vitamin D as well as D-fortified soy or nut milks and cereals.
Deficiency can cause rickets in children, bone softening in adults, osteoporosis.
Overdose can cause calcium deposits in organs, fragile bones, renal and cardiovascular damage.
|Vitamin E is an antioxidant and defends cells against damage by free radicals, protecting body tissue from the damage of oxidation. It is important for the health of red blood cells and the use of vitamin K.|
It is found in apples, bananas, blackberries, kiwi, green leafy vegetables, brown rice, vegetable oils, soybean oil, wheat germ, almonds, brazil nuts, pine nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds.
Deficiency is rare. It can be seen primarily in premature or low birth weight babies, or children who do not absorb fat properly. Causes nerve abnormalities. It is used to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, and to help heal minor wounds without scarring.
|Vitamin K is fat soluble. It plays a critical role in blood clotting. It regulates blood calcium levels and activates at least 3 proteins involved in bone health.|
Foods rich in vitamin K are dark green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and vitamin K fortified cereals.
Deficiency can cause defective blood coagulation.
Overdose can cause Jaundice in infants.