People around the world pop vitamin pills daily without giving it a second thought. But most people are not sure why they do this or how exactly their bodies benefit from this daily routine.
Metabolism refers to a series of chemical reactions that perform numerous functions like converting fats and carbohydrates into energy and using proteins to repair injured tissue.
Vitamins are organic substances that act as catalysts in the metabolic processes of the body. They do not supply the body with either energy or calories directly. They work in more subtle ways ensuring the smooth running of the metabolic machine.
Most healthy women who eat a well-balanced diet do not need to take vitamin supplements. Vitamin supplements are recommended for pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, those on low-calorie diets or who consume moderate amounts of alcohol, or who are taking certain kinds of medication.
Vitamin A (Retinol): It is contained in foods like eggs, butter, whole milk, vegetables and liver. Vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness and dry skin.
B1 (Thiamine): Foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish, cereals, whole grain and bran contain this vitamin. Alcohol abuse leads to deficiency in Vitamin B1. The symptoms of this deficiency are numbness, tingling, loss of sensation and shooting pains in the extremities, especially in the legs.
B2 (Riboflavin): Foods such as liver, milk, eggs and vegetables are rich in Vitamin B2. People who are deficient in this vitamin develop dimness of vision, ulcers in their mouth and cracked lips.
B3 (Niacin or nicotinic acid): This vitamin is found in foods like cereals, whole grains, vegetables, fish and meat. Vitamin B3 deficiency could lead to weakness, diarrhoea, burning sensation on the tongue, sores in the mouth, rough skin and weight loss.
B6 (Pyridoxine): A diet of meat, vegetables and bran will maintain the levels of this vitamin. Low levels of this vitamin could cause depression, dizziness, nausea and sores in the mouth.
B12 (Cyanocobalamine): Strict vegetarians may need to supplement their diet with this vitamin as it is contained mostly in fish, meat and milk. Symptoms of deficiency are feelings of weakness, numbness and tingling in the extremities and shortness of breath.
C (Ascorbic acid): Citrus fruits and fresh vegetables supply the body with Vitamin C. While it is very unlikely for a person to have Vitamin C deficiency, it is characterised by bleeding, swollen or infected gums, and bleeding into the skin causing bruising.
D (Calciferol): Fish, egg yolks and the rays of the sun are the sources of this vitamin. Bowed legs and a deformed spine are the result of Vitamin D deficiency.
E: Whole grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables contain this vitamin. Deficiency in this vitamin is not known.
Folic acid: Pregnant women and those taking certain anticonvulsant drugs may require supplements of this vitamin. For others, a diet that includes liver, nuts, vegetables and whole wheat should provide an adequate supply of this substance. Symptoms of folic acid deficiency are sensations of weakness, numbness and tingling of fingers and toes, ulcers in the mouth and sore tongues.
K: Deficiency of this vitamin, found in vegetables, could result in bleeding.
Pantothenic acid: Liver, eggs, potatoes
and vegetables supply the body with pantothenic acid. Low levels of this
substance in the body manifests itself in symptoms like fatigue, loss of
coordination and headaches.
Some Interesting Facts about Vitamins