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vitamins

The Power of Vitamins

Vitamins are organic mixtures that are necessary for small amounts in animals and human diets to sustain life and health. The absence of certain vitamins can cause diseases, poor growth and variety of syndromes. 13 vitamins have been identified as essential for our overall health, these are– vitamin A, Vitamin C, D, E,K and the group of B vitamin (consist of 8 vitamins) collectively known as B complex vitamins.

We cannot produce most vitamins ourselves at least not in adequate quantities to meet our needs. Therefore, they have to be gained from the food we eat. Each of the vitamin known today has specific functions in the body, which makes it unique and irreplaceable. No single food contains the full range of vitamins and inadequate intake may result in deficiencies. A variety of food is therefore vital to meet the body’s requirement.

Of the known vitamins, 4 are fat-soluble. This means that fat/oil must be consumed for these vitamin to be absorbed by the body .These fat – soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. The others are water – soluble; these are vitamin C and the B-group vitamins. These cannot be stored in the body for long as they are soon excreted in urine. Therefore water soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often.

Eating a balanced diet is the best way to get enough of the 13 essential vitamin. Here we start with a series to why you need each essential vitamin, and the best food sources from which to obtain them.

Power of Vitamins –

All you need to know about Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a very important role in your overall health by maintaining healthy vision vision, healthy skin and hormonal / reproductive health, and support the lungs, liver, kidneys and digestive organs.

Vitamin A is available in 2 forms in the diet:-

  1. Beta – carotene
  2. Retinol

Beta carotene is the form obtained from plant foods, like

  • Cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, broccoli
  • Green leafy vegetable – spinach, lettuce, carrots, red, yellow bell peppers.
  • Yellow fruits such as mango, papaya, apricots.

Retinol is the active form of vitamin A mainly found in animal foods like –

  • Eggs, oily fish, milk, cheese, yoghurt.
  • Organ meats mainly liver.

Animal source of retinol is bio-available, which means the body can utilize it. In contrast, beta carotene form from plant sources must be first converted to retinol to be useful in body. The conversion is at the rate of 6 unit beta carotene sources is equivalent to 1 unit retinol source which simply means one must eat around 2 kg of carrots to get vitamin A in the available form to the body.

Vitamin A Deficiency can contribute to symptoms and condition including:-

Changes in vision is amongst the first symptoms to occur due to vitamin A deficiency. If left untreated may lead to night blindness or potential blindness.

  • Thickening of cornea.
  • Dryness of eyes, hair and mouth.
  • Higher chances of developing sinus, lungs or ear infections.
  • Various skin problems like skin flaking or formation of dots, dry scalp/ dandruff.
  • Disturbances in fetal growth and poor development in infants and children.
  • The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A varies according to age, sex and level of risk an individual falls into. For example:- liver being the best source of vitamin A (retinol), which can be included atleast once a week. Egg is another very good source and can be eaten daily. Other than this vitamin A in the beta carotene form includes 1 medium size sweet potato, ½ cup of pumpkin, ¼ cup carrot, ½ cup spinach and 1/4th cup of cantaloupe, papaya etc. as a part of daily diet. Since VItamin A is a fat soluable vitamin, in case of salads remember to add a dash of oil as dressing to make best use of beta carotene.

Metro Hospital