Vitamins are organic compounds that our body needs, in small amounts, to maintain a correct functioning of the organism. Most of them are obtained from food. People on balanced diets, where they consume approximately 5 pieces of fruit or vegetables daily, often have no problems due to a lack of vitamins.
In this article we will explain you the different types of vitamins that existWe will also inform you about the function of vitamins and their main food sources, so that you can be sure that they are all in your diet sufficiently.
Why should vitamins be taken?
Vitamins are organic molecules that our body needs in small amounts to carry out important vital functions. Except for vitamin D, which is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin.” because our body generates it after exposure to the sun, it is necessary to obtain vitamins from external organic sources, like other nutrients.
Lack of vitamins causes serious metabolic problems, which can be lethal. These are the cases, for example, of beriberi (the lack of vitamin B1, which causes disorders in the nervous system and cardiovascular), or scurvy, a deficiency of vitamin C that causes anemia and general inflammation, in addition to the deterioration of tissues such as skin, cartilage or gums.
In a balanced diet without food restrictions, in which a minimum of five pieces of vegetables or fruit are consumed dailyit’s hard for a vitamin shortage to occur. Even so, physical activity can quickly lower our vitamin levels, so it’s also not uncommon to see some vitamin deficiencies in people who don’t control their diet.
In diets without meat or products derived from animalsIf you have a vitamin B12 deficiency disorder, you are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency disorders, as well as other vitamins usually obtained from meat. Fortunately, there are vitamin supplements that can help people with dietary restrictions get enough vitamins every day.
Types of vitamins and foods rich in them
Vitamins are divided into two large groups, depending on their solubility in water. Water-soluble vitamins need to be renewed more frequently, as their excess is quickly eliminated through urine. Among the soluble vitamins, we find the vitamins of the C group, such as ascorbic acid and B, such as niacin (B3).
In contrast to the hydrosoluble vitamins, we find the liposoluble vitamins, which as their name indicates can be stored in lipidic environments, as in our adipose tissue -the fat-. Our liver also stores these vitaminswhich are more stable and durable than water-soluble ones. Some vitamins can take several months to deplete the body’s reserves, even though they are not available in our diet.
Here’s a small record of vitamins, which also contains information about some foods from which you can get different types of vitamins.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A, also known as retinolis a group of organic compounds necessary for the maintenance of tissues such as skin or mucous membranes, in addition to having a role also in the immune system, the proper functioning of the eye or the development and growth of the body. Being a fat-soluble vitamin, excessive consumption can cause hypervitaminosis, an intoxication due to excessive accumulation of vitamin A.
We found vitamin A especially in the liver.With 100 gr. it provides us with more than 300% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A. Also in foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes or butter.
2. Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine.. Its deficiency leads to beriberi, a disease that can affect the nervous system or the cardiovascular system, relatively common in areas with nutritional difficulties, such as sub-Saharan Africa.
It is found mainly in vegetables, legumes and whole grains, as well as meat and viscera, but its absorption is inhibited by alcohol. It has a fundamental role in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
3. Vitamin B2
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is important for the growth of the immune system. and the production of red blood cells. It is a fragile vitamin, which is destabilized by sunlight or industrial treatments such as pasteurization.
Some of the foods that contain it are milk and milk products, cereals, yeasts and leafy green vegetables.
4. Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin. It participates in metabolism, but is also necessary to control some cardiovascular processes, the nervous system and tissue growth.
Its deficiency causes pellagraa disease that causes diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and, if left untreated, death. We will find it mainly in liver and other viscera, meat, fish, rice, mushrooms and some fruits such as peach or dates.
5. Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 is also called pantothenic acid. It is necessary for the generation of coenzyme CoA, a metabolic component of the Krebs cycle, important in obtaining energy through cellular respiration.
Pantothenic acid is found in many foods, but is more commonly found in eggs, meat, whole grains, and some legumes.
6. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine.. It is found in meat, eggs, fish, nuts and legumes, as well as many other vitamins that are part of the B vitamin group.
Vitamin B6 is needed in dopamine synthesisadrenaline, norepinephrine and GABA, hormones and neurotransmitters of high biological importance. Its absence can lead, for example, to mood and concentration disorders, as well as problems with bladder stones.
7. Vitamin B7/B8
Vitamin B7, also known as vitamin B8, is biotin. It is a vitamin that intervene in the lipid and amino acid metabolism. Much of the necessary dose of biotin in our body comes from our intestinal bacterial florathat synthesizes it inside us even though our cells are not capable.
It can be found in foods such as fruits, mushrooms, viscera, milk, as well as nuts and almonds. Curiously, the raw egg white prevents its absorptionso continued consumption of this raw food can cause problems in the long run, such as hair or skin.
8. Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9 is also known as folate.when its origin is organic, and folic acid when it is of artificial origin, added to supplements or in fortified foods, but both terms are used interchangeably.
Folate is of vital importance, especially for pregnant women and children who are pregnantLow levels of vitamin B9 are linked to abnormalities in the newborn, such as spina bifida. It is now believed that its deficiency in adults can cause some types of cancer, in addition to depression.
9. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. It’s a molecule that contains cobalt.necessary for the correct function of the nervous system, the production of blood cells, the synthesis of DNA and the metabolism of energy molecules such as fatty acids and carbohydrates.
It’s a complex vitamin, that can only synthesize bacteria and archaeabut that we obtain thanks to the bacterial symbiosis that these bacteria do with some animals, mainly herbivores. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are examples of foods containing vitamin B12 .
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is known as ascorbic acid.. It is involved in several important roles, such as iron absorption, wound regeneration, the generation of immune system cells or the formation of oxygen-carrying cells in the blood. Its deficiency causes scurvy.
This antioxidant vitamin can be found in many fruits, especially citrus fruits such as lemon or grapefruit, as well as potatoes and other vegetables.
11. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not obtained mainly from foodif not that our own organism produces it with exposure to the sun. Depending on factors such as our latitude, skin color or amount of clothing exposed, we will produce more or less vitamin D in each sun exposure session.
Vitamin D is important in several processes, such as the control of inflammation and the immune response, but it is mainly known for its role in calcium absorption, which allows for better bone health, especially important in children and people with osteoporosis.
12. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is also known as tocopherol. Has antioxidant function, but is also necessary for nerve health and maintenance of cell membranes. Rarely does its deficiency occur due to a bad diet, but rather due to diseases that affect its incorporation into the body.
We find it mainly in seed oil -such as sunflower oil-, legumes and vegetables such as lettuce.
13. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a vitally important vitaminbecause it is part of the blood coagulation process, which is necessary, among other things, for the repair of tissues. It is also rare to be deficient in vitamin K due to poor eating habits.
It can be found both in green leafy vegetables in their K1 form -filoquinona- as well as in meat and some fermented foods such as cheese, in its K2 form -menaquinona-.
- Hegyi, J. , Schwartz, R. A. and Hegyi, V. (2004), Pellagra: Dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea. International Journal of Dermatology, 43: 1-5. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2004.01959.x.
- Agarwal, A., Shaharyar, A., Kumar, A., Bhat, M. S., & Mishra, M. (2015). Scurvy in pediatric age group – A disease often forgotten?. Journal of clinical orthopaedics and trauma, 6(2), 101-107. doi:10.1016/j.jcot.2014.12.003.