Vitamins are organic molecules that serve as a source of nutrients for the body. Our body does not normally produce vitamins like Vitamin E. We sometimes get them from fatty food sources.
What are Vitamins?
Though vitamins are vital in supplying nutrition to the body, these are only needed in small quantities. The bodies obtain these vitamins from the food we eat and when the perfect amount is required, these vitamins then aid in metabolism.
First off, vitamins can be classified into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble.
- Fat-soluble vitamins are deposited in the fatty tissues of the body and the liver. The vitamins that are considered fat-soluble are vitamins A, D, E, and K. They are called fat-soluble vitamins because they are characterized by the fats – or lipids – that help them get absorbed through the intestinal tract.
These fat-soluble vitamins can also stay in the body for days, or even months, and are easier to store in the body compared to water-soluble vitamins. Therefore, they act as reserves and can be used by the body when needed.
- Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are characterized by their ability to get easily dissolved in water. These vitamins do not get stored in the body; instead, they are carried through the body tissues and will soon get excreted together with the urine.
Since they cannot be stored in the body, they are required to be replaced regularly. Sample vitamins that are water-soluble are vitamins B and C.
Types of Vitamins
There are 13 known vitamins in the body; each has its own characteristics and qualities. At the same time, they provide different functions and they also differ in terms of quantity needed.
Here are the 13 vitamins that must be present in the body in order for it to be considered well-balanced:
1. Vitamin A
This vitamin is classified as fat-soluble. When a person lacks vitamin A, it may result to night-blindness and other eye disorders like keratomalacia, which results in dry cornea. In order to avoid eye-related issues, one can get vitamin a from apricot, broccoli, butter, carrots, cantaloupe melon, eggs, kale, liver, milk, pumpkin, some cheeses, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
2. Vitamin B
This vitamin is water-soluble. Lack of vitamin B may result to beriberi; which is a serious condition that affects the circulatory or nervous system, or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome; which is a type of brain disorder. There are foods rich in vitamin B such as asparagus, brown rice, cauliflower, cereal grains, eggs, kale, liver, oranges, pork, potatoes, sunflower seeds, whole-grain rye, and yeast. Again, this vitamin is water-soluble, so be sure to add any or more of the mentioned foods in your diet.
3. Vitamin B2
Vitamin B2 is another water-soluble vitamin. Lack of vitamin B2 may cause ariboflavinosis, which is characterized by sores in the mouth. The foods containing this vitamin are asparagus, banana, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, green beans, meat, milk, okra, persimmon, and yogurt.
4. Vitamin B3
This is vitamin is also water-soluble. Lack of vitamin B3 may result to pellagra, which is often associated with dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis, or also called as “the three Ds”. In this case, pellagra is considered as a dangerous disease and may even turn fatal when left untreated. To avoid this, the person should eat more of the following: asparagus, avocados, beef, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, carrots, chicken, dates, fishes like tuna and salmon, heart, kidney, leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, milk, mushrooms, nuts, and whole grains.
5. Vitamin B5
Again, this vitamin is water-soluble. Vitamin B5 deficiency may cause paresthesia, or the abnormal sensation of the skin that is either a burning, chilling, pricking, tingling, or numb feeling and it happens without any physical cause. You can get vitamin B5 from avocados, broccoli, fish ovaries, meat, royal jelly, and whole grains.
6. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is water-soluble. Lack of this vitamin may cause anemia or peripheral neuropathy, which happens when the nerves that travel through the brain, the spinal cord, and the rest of the body get damaged. To avoid these, you should eat bananas, meats, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains.
7. Vitamin B7
Just like other B vitamins, vitamin B7 is water-soluble. Deficiency from this vitamin may cause dermatitis; which is inflammation of the skin, or even enteritis; which is inflammation of the intestine. Foods rich in vitamin B7 are egg yolk, liver, and some vegetables.
8. Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9 is water-soluble. It may cause birth defects to pregnant women when they lack vitamin B9. A woman who plans to get pregnant is advised to use B9 supplements for a whole year before the planned pregnancy. She can also get vitamin B6 supply from baker’s yeast, leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, and sunflower seeds. They are also present in some fruits.
9. Vitamin B12
The last B vitamin is also water-soluble. Lack of vitamin B12 may lead to megaloblastic anemia, a condition where the bone marrow produces unusual and immature red blood cells. This vitamin is present in eggs, fish, meat, milk and dairy products, poultry, and some fortified cereals; soy products, and nutritional yeast.
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is water-soluble. Lack of vitamin C may also lead to megaloblastic anemia. The foods rich in vitamin C are most fruits and vegetables.
11. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is fat-soluble. This is the type of vitamin that is needed by the bones. Foods that contain vitamin D are beef liver, eggs, fatty fish, and mushrooms. The ultraviolet B from sunlight is also a good source of vitamin D in which it is instead absorbed through the skin.
12. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is fat-soluble. Lack of vitamin K may cause bleeding diathesis, in which the person experiences vulnerability to bleeding. Avocados, kiwi fruits, and leafy vegetables contain vitamin K, but the food that has high content of vitamin K is parsley.
The above mentioned vitamins are all essential to the body, but there is one more – the vitamin E.
13. Vitamin E
Vitamin E, unlike the other mentioned vitamins, does not have a common side effect when a person is deficient. Being vitamin E deficient may, however, affect newborn babies with hemolytic anemia. It occurs when red blood cells abnormally breakdown.
Vitamin E is considered an antioxidant. Antioxidants are essential to the body since they act as an agent that protects the body from harmful substances that can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are also familiarized as vitamins for aging.
This vitamin also serves as a boost for the body’s immune system; it fights against certain viruses and bacteria. Also, vitamin E plays a huge part in the formation of red blood cells, plus it aids the body in using vitamin K.
Foods Rich in Vitamin E
In order to have a sufficient amount of vitamin E, we should consume the following foods:
Like other nuts, almonds are rich in vitamin E. It has the ability to reduce the risks of heart disease.
Avocados are packed with nutrients like vitamin E. It is considered a powerful antioxidant.
Though they only contain small amounts of vitamin E, eggs are still good source of vitamins.
- Green leafy vegetables
Spinach and broccoli are samples of green leafy vegetables containing good amounts of vitamin E.
- Kiwi fruits
Kiwi fruits are a good source of nutrients. They have a lot of antioxidants and fiber. They are also rich in other vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin K.
Milk is another good source of nutrients. It mainly consists of vitamin B12, but it also contains almost all other vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
All nuts contain vitamin E.
- Unheated vegetable oils
Vegetable oils naturally contain lots of vitamin E. They must be eaten uncooked though, to maintain the vitamins. You can use them in salads.
- Wheat germ
Wheat germ is high in vitamin E. It can be eaten together with food like cereals and granolas. It can also be used as an alternative to breadcrumbs used in cooking.
- Whole grains
Whole grains like wheat, rice, corn, barley, oats, and quinoa are rich in vitamin E.