In this extensive article I will state the properties and benefits of essential vitamins required by the human body. I will reveal the function of each of these vitamins and also reveal the source of the vitamins.
Vitamin A – One Function Or Many?
Similar to the properties of many other essential vitamins for the human body, vitamin A, too, is a fat-soluble nutrient that is required for several bodily functions. Although vitamin A is a singular nutrient, its fat-soluble compounds aid in the growth and development of the human body.
While vitamin A can be obtained by consuming food from different healthy food groups, it can, also, be produced in the body through a regular intake of supplements. Vitamin A obtained from food groups can be divided into two categories; one being the retinol and retinyl esters (preformed vitamin A) which can be obtained by consuming animal products such as tuna or herring (fatty fish), animal organ meat like liver and dairy products. Moreover, the second category being carotenoids (provitamin A), an antioxidant, which is commonly found in plant-based edible items such as leafy vegetables, fruits, and oils.
Since vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient, it is stored in the body tissues as well as the liver. The production of vitamin A in the human body appears to be a complex process since stored retinyl esters in the liver are converted to retinol and retinoic acid to form active vitamins, after which it can be used for a variety of growth and development functions in the human body. The importance of vitamin A can be observed through its innumerable bodily functions. These include vitamin A’s crucial role in improving eyesight, supporting cell growth and immune functions, along with aiding in fetal and reproduction development in the human body.
The most important benefit of having sufficient vitamin A in the human body is its role in helping perform the aforementioned bodily functions. For example, vitamin A plays a key role in improving eye health and vision. The key role consists of two significant functions; one being the formation of rhodopsin, a molecule used to enhance colored and low-light vision for the human eye. Furthermore, vitamin A protects and maintains the outermost layer of the eye i.e., the cornea. Additionally, vitamin A supports cell growth and immune functions of the body by subsisting white blood cells, mainly T-cells, which protect the human body from infections. Other than this, vitamin A, also, helps in maintaining surface tissues of the inner ear, lungs, intestines, etc. Moreover, vitamin A is said to aid fetal and reproduction development in, both, males, and females because it assists in the production of sperm and egg development. Also, it is said to maintain, grow and develop fetal tissues in the human body, thus leading to an overarching conclusion that more than any other vitamin, vitamin A has one of the most important bodily functions in the human body.
Despite its significance, largely, being attributed to bodily functions, vitamin A has proved to be beneficial due to its property of being a formidable antioxidant. Provitamin A (carotenoids) have strong antioxidant properties which helps in fighting against reactive molecules, free radicals, which create oxidative stress. This type of stress has, time and again, been linked to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, thus plant-based diets that are high in provitamin A have helped combat the threat of these chronic illnesses. In addition to being an antioxidant, vitamin A protects the human body against certain types of cancers, not only due to its carotenoid features but, also, because of its retinoids which impede the growth of specific cancer cells such as ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
Over the years, scientific research in the fields of skin and hair have noticed the contribution of vitamin A in the strengthening of hair and skin tissues by stimulating the growth of sebum, an oil that helps maintain moisture in the skin and hair, simultaneously helping improve acne. In the modern period, acne has become a major skin issue. However, this skin issue is seen to diminish for individuals who consume foods rich in vitamin A since the antioxidant properties of provitamin A protect against the growth of free radicals which, in turn, decelerates aging cells in the human body, thus making the skin appear to be young and fresh.
As fascinating as the benefits of vitamin A appear to be, often a times, many individuals living in the developing world such as Africa and South East-Asia face a deficiency of vitamin A in the human body. Although vitamin A deficiency is rare in people living in the developed world such as the United States, it is seen to be a recurrent form of deficiency in individuals living in the developing world due to limited access of food sources having preformed and provitamin A. Lack of vitamin A production can be alluded to two reasons – the primary reason being prolonged dietary deprivation, while the secondary reason being lessened absorption, transport, and storage of vitamin A in the human body.
Vitamin A deficiency usually happens in the bodies of preterm infants, children, pregnant women, and people having cystic fibrosis, etc. Inadequate production of vitamin A has been a paramount cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide. This is because of the different forms of blindness and damage done to the eyes due to insufficient vitamin A. A few examples include night blindness, spots in the conjunctivae causing a hazy vision, and xerophthalmia leading to a dry and thick cornea. Furthermore, insufficient vitamin A makes an individual prone to catching certain harmful infections such as diarrhea and measles, which, in certain serious medical conditions, can sometimes lead to human deaths. Also, other types of gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections can be a result of vitamin A deficiency such as pancreatic insufficiency. Growth slow down in children is, also, a cause of lack of sufficient vitamin A production. Moreover, vitamin A deficiency increases the risk of anemia and death in pregnant women, simultaneously, hampering the growth and development of the fetus, thus negatively impacting pregnant women. Lastly, vitamin A deficiency, is also reflected by skin issues, primarily causing a dry, thick, and follicular skin along with acne.
In all its glory, the significance of having sufficient vitamin A in the human body is equally important as having other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D. However, considering the unparallel bodily functions and benefits of vitamin A for the human body, it can be concluded that vitamin A is a vital fat-soluble nutrient required for the proper functioning of many important body organs such as the eyes. Nevertheless, it is equally important to ensure that one can produce enough vitamin A since an overdose of vitamin A supplements or excessive eating of foods which are high in vitamin A can offset the innumerable benefits provided to the human body by having the medically approved dose of vitamin A.
Vitamin B1 – Thiamine
Thiamine, being the first “B” vitamin to be discovered by scientists, is an essential nutrient that is primarily required for the proper functioning of the tissues in the human body. Similar to other types of “B” vitamins, vitamin B1 (Thiamine) assists in the functioning of certain enzymes in the body, which primarily convert food into some form of energy source for the human body. Thus, due to its properties of converting food into energy in the human body, Thiamine is a water-soluble nutrient unlike other types of vitamins, which in effect, are fat-soluble, such as Vitamin D and Vitamin A.
Vitamin B1, Thiamine, can be obtained by consuming specific types of foods, supplements, and multivitamin tablets. Amongst the various food groups, vitamin B1 is found in abundance in meat sources such as beef, cereals made from white flour and white rice, pulses, fruits, and vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, and oranges.
The significance of vitamin B1, Thiamine, is based on its active role in enzymatic reactions in the liver, heart, brain, and kidneys. The role is based on producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the human body; this is a type of molecule that is used to transport energy within the cells. This means that Thiamine is useful for improving the metabolism in the human body. This is achieved by converting carbohydrates into glucose to produce energy for the cells to function which is aided by adequate amounts of vitamin B1. Furthermore, Thiamine helps to break down protein and fats in the body which can be used for energy or storage purposes. Considering the role of Thiamine in the smooth running of the metabolism, it is integral to highlight the significance of vitamin B1 in the enzymatic reaction of pyruvate dehydrogenase which assists in the metabolic breakdown of sugars. This has been reflected in studies conducted which feature the importance of Thiamine in reducing the symptoms of early-stage diabetes.
In addition, the role of vitamin B1 extends beyond its significant role in improving metabolism to improving the immunity in the human body. Thiamine, being a type of vitamin B, has anti-stress properties, thus a regular intake of foods rich in vitamin B1 helps to curtail and withstand stress, thus strengthening the immune system. Also, vitamin B1 greatly helps with the proper functioning of the digestive system. This is because Thiamine regulates the production of hydrochloric acid in the human body which is essential for the adequate functioning of the digestive system. Over the recent years, medical discoveries have shown a positive connection between Thiamine production in the human body as well as the cardiovascular health of an individual. This is because vitamin B1 prevents congestive heart failure since Thiamine supplementation, when given to people who suffer from heart failure, provides results that seem to improve cardiac function.
Furthermore, Thiamine is used in the form of medicine to combat several diseases; the most common one being “beriberi” which causes heart, nerves, and digestive system disorders. Thiamine injections are given to patients who suffer from low appetite, persistent diarrhea, and those who are in a coma. Thiamine supplements, too, are vital to cure medical conditions such as diabetic pain, cervical cancer, and motion sickness. Last but not the least, it has been observed that the benefit of having sufficient vitamin B1 in the human body affects the functioning of the brain. The main nerve cells and the supporting nerve cells, both, require Thiamine to develop the myelin sheath, a coat that protects the nerves from damage or death. Also, Thiamine supplements have helped treat fatigue-related issues in individuals who suffered from a stroke.
Having known the significant benefit of vitamin A for the eyes, it has been proven that vitamin B1, too, protects the eyes from cataract infection. Thiamine effectively reduces the risk of developing a cataract in the eyes, thus protecting the lens of the eyes.
Although the significance of having sufficient vitamin B1 in the human body has been discussed thoroughly, it is, also, necessary to shed light on the possible causes and implications of insufficient vitamin B1 in the human body. Since vitamin B1 is a water-soluble nutrient, it is not stored in a large quantity in the human body. Thiamine is only stored in a very minute quantity in the liver and the excess amount of nutrients is eliminated from the body through urine. However, vitamin B1 deficiency is usually caused because of high alcohol consumption, poor diet, old age, and anorexia. People undergoing dialysis for kidneys, too, are prone to developing vitamin B1 deficiency. Also, Thiamine deficiency is reflected by specific symptoms which include fatigue, loss of appetite, blurry vision, irritability, etc.
Vitamin B1 deficiency causes two severe medical conditions – one being “beriberi” and the second one being the “Wernicke-Korsakoff” syndrome. The first medical condition, beriberi, occurs when the body is unable to make fuel for energy. Due to this, breathing, heart functions, alertness, and eye movements in an individual are negatively impacted. Symptoms of beriberi include swelling, burning in hands and feet because of fluid in the lungs. Secondly, Thiamine deficiency can cause an individual to develop the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome which is a combination of two types of disorders. The first type of disorder being Wernicke’s disease which affects the nervous system causing muscle impairments, etc. When Wernicke is left untreated, it develops into Korsakoff syndrome which impairs the memory functions of the brain permanently. Together, this syndrome is primarily a cause of high alcohol dependence which has permanent negative implications on human brain functions. Other repercussions of Thiamine deficiency include muscle weakness, gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, breathlessness, and frequent reduction in heart rate.
All in all, it can be concluded that the paramount role of vitamin B1 in the enzymatic reaction of converting carbohydrates to glucose for energy is a significant one, therefore, Thiamine stands out amongst other types of vitamins. Also, considering the serious implications of a vitamin B1 deficiency in the human body, it is essential to have adequate quantities of foods that are rich in Thiamine to avoid harmful diseases like beriberi. While simultaneously ensuring that the smooth functioning of body organs that require water-soluble vitamins like Thiamine takes place.
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
The second type of vitamin B discovered by medical sciences is known as Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, the “2” reflecting the fact that it was the second discovered form of vitamin B. While the B-group vitamins are a type of water-soluble nutrients which assist in enzymatic reactions to provide energy to the cells, vitamin B2 or Riboflavin, too, is essential for various metabolic processes in the human body. Since vitamin B2 is a water-soluble nutrient, it is transported through the bloodstream and the excess nutrients are removed from the body during the process of urination. Due to this, the body does not store large amounts of vitamin B2, thus either a regular intake of foods rich in Riboflavin is important or the consumption of vitamin B2 supplements and multivitamins is needed to avoid a deficiency condition.
In order to ensure a continuous supply of vitamin B2 in the human body, it is vital to have foods which, either naturally or synthetically, contain Riboflavin such as dairy products like yoghurt and cottage cheese, leafy green vegetables like spinach, proteins from red meat, liver, and kidneys, along with wholewheat cereals and grains. Multivitamins and supplements for B-complex can, also, be used to avoid insufficient supply of vitamin B2. While the significance of all B-category vitamins is unparallel, vitamin B2 is important for the human body due to its properties of maintaining the fuel supply in the human body.
With that being said, vitamin B2 helps in enzymatic reactions which assist in the breakdown of complex molecules of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. This is accomplished by the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound, which stores energy in the muscles. ATP production, assisted by an intake of vitamin B2, produces energy as required by the cells to function adequately. Furthermore, vitamin B2 is critical for the buildup of red blood cells in the human body coupled with supporting cellular functions which provide energy, as a fuel, to the body.
Moreover, the significance of vitamin B2 has been shown in medical research which indicates that a sufficient dose of Riboflavin reduces the risk of developing cataract and preventing damage to the lens of the eye. This eliminates the danger of advancing a blurry vision. In a study carried out, people who took Riboflavin and Niacin (nicotinic acid) had fewer cataract infections than people who took other vitamins and nutrients, thus proving the potential importance of reduced eye infections due to a sufficient intake of vitamin B2. Additionally, evidence has also shown a reduction in cancer risk due to adequate levels of Riboflavin in the human body. This is because vitamin B2 stabilizes the structure of cellular DNA, which in a direct repercussion of cancers, thus cancers like cervical cancer may be avoided by consuming foods which contain Riboflavin.
Even though explicit research is required to clarify Riboflavin’s role in reducing migraine headaches, a high dose of vitamin B2 has, often, been used to potentially treat migraine headaches by reducing the number of migraine headache attacks by almost two attacks per month. Migraine headaches are harmful for the human body because it causes an imbalance in the brain chemicals which leads to changes in the brainstem. Hence, vitamin B2 when consumed adequately may help in reducing the danger of being affected by migraine headache attacks.
Furthermore, vitamin B2 assists in the reduction of homocysteine levels by a great extent. High levels of homocysteine (an amino acid found in blood) is dangerous for the human body because it can cause strokes, heart attacks, and preeclampsia. However, vitamin B2 supplements have been found to reduce homocysteine levels which further reduces the risk of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Also, vitamin B2 supplements are effectively used to control pregnancy complications caused due to high blood pressure, preeclampsia, thus being significant for pregnant women. Besides this, vitamin B2 along with other supplements has minimized the production of abnormal organic acids in the urine of autistic children. Other benefits of vitamin B2, similar to the benefits of vitamin A, include fetal development, hormone production, absorbing and activating iron and folic acid, and maintenance of a healthy liver.
Despite the natural presence of vitamin B2 in various types of foods, some people may face a deficiency of Riboflavin. Vitamin B2 is usually lost when food items rich in Riboflavin are kept in light, boiled, or fried. Vitamin B2 deficiency also known as “ariboflavinosis” usually occurs due to two reasons – the first one being a lack of healthy and nutritious diet, while the second one being functional issues with the intestines. Riboflavin deficiency can cause other nutritional deficiencies such as anemia (iron deficiency) because insufficient vitamin B2 will not help in processing nutrients in the body. In addition, Riboflavin deficiency can affect pregnant woman in a cynical way since insufficient vitamin B2 can cause preeclampsia which can, in some scenarios, become life threatening too due to extremely high blood pressure levels.
Vitamin B2 deficiency can be a cause of various problems with the ENT organs such as mouth ulcers, cracked lips, dry skin, sore throat, sensitivity to bright light causing eyes to become itchy and watery, and inflammation of the tongue. Furthermore, lack of sufficient vitamin B2 can cause greasy, red patches around the nose.
As essential as the benefits of vitamin B2 are, it is important to ensure that foods rich in Riboflavin should be taken according to the prescribed dosage since too much of a nutrient or supplement is not sustained in the human body. This is because water-soluble nutrients are removed from the body through urination, thus it is vital to have a regular intake of foods rich in vitamin B2 or supplements to ensure that the lack of Riboflavin intake from other foods does not hamper the functions of the human body. However, this does not mean that individuals should restrict themselves to only a specified quantity of foods rich in vitamin B2, rather a heathy nutritious diet taken, which includes foods from each type of food group will benefit the human body. Thus, in conclusion, it can be said that all B-complex vitamins such as Riboflavin provides a helpful hand in the maintenance of body tissues, absorption of nutrients, and in the breakdown of food to supply energy to the cells in the human body.
Vitamin B3 – Niacin
One of the eight B-complex vitamins introduced third in a row by medical science is referred to as Niacin or vitamin B3. Similar to other B-complex vitamins, Niacin, too, is a water-soluble nutrient that has a diverse range of functions in the human body. While Niacin is essentially an organic chemical compound, it has proved to be a vital nutrient for the human body due to its water-soluble properties along with its innumerable functions required by almost every organ of the human body. Nevertheless, Niacin is found in two types of chemical forms which have different roles in the human body. The first one is nicotinic acid, which when used as a vitamin B3 supplement helps in the reduction of cholesterol levels and minimizes the threat of heart diseases. On the contrary, the second type of Niacin is niacinamide or nicotinamide which is used to treat psoriasis, a transmissible skin disorder, along with the possibility of reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Since Niacin is an essential nutrient that cannot be naturally produced in the human body, rather it needs to be consumed in the form of a healthy diet that includes proteins such as liver, tuna fish, chicken breast, salmon (fatty fish), and ground beef. Other than proteins, vitamin B3 is found in abundance in peanuts, brown rice, whole wheat flours, fortified foods such as cereals, fruits, and vegetables such as avocados and potatoes. Although Niacin cannot be stored or produced by the body itself, the aforementioned examples of foods rich in vitamin B3 are easily accessible worldwide. In order to avoid an insufficient amount of vitamin B3, it is vital to have a regular intake of Niacin-rich foods because the access amount is removed from the body through urination as vitamin B3 cannot be stored in the body.
While the significance of each type of vitamin needed by the human body is unique, B-complex vitamins specifically micronutrient ones like vitamin B3 are useful for the functioning of the nervous system, for the proper metabolism of the body, as well as due to its properties of being an antioxidant. To begin with, it is necessary to highlight the crucial role of vitamin B3 in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats by supplementing enzymatic reactions that provide energy to the cells of the body. In addition, sufficient Niacin reduces the chances of developing migraine headaches, prevents dizziness and circulation problem, along with minimizing the chances of developing diarrhea.
Besides its role in assisting the body cells to produce energy, vitamin B3 is an indispensable treatment for cholesterol. While Niacin helps in reducing “bad” HDL cholesterol levels by almost 5 – 20%, it has, also, been used to treat and increase “good” HBL cholesterol levels by 15 – 35%. This has been the oldest and one of the most important roles of Niacin since it has been used to treat cholesterol levels since the 1950s. Moreover, vitamin B3 assists in lowering triglycerides in the blood by restricting the performance of enzymes that are used to synthesize triglycerides in the blood. Due to lower triglyceride levels, there is a further reduction in the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Nevertheless, the overarching impact of lower triglycerides and lower “bad” cholesterol prevents heart diseases. Also, Niacin levels in the body minimize inflammation and oxidative stress, which can potentially cause atherosclerosis.
Niacin has, also, been used by medical experts to boost brain functions in humans due to the positive impact of sufficient vitamin B3 on the brain. Firstly, sufficient niacin levels help to cure patients who have undergone a stroke. A research carried out in 2000 has shown the treatment of stroke being associated with nicotinamide which has helped repair the damage to the brain caused due to a stroke. Secondly, the brain requires vitamin B3 to work together with specific types of enzymes to receive energy and function properly. Thirdly, brain fog, psychiatric issues, and diseases like schizophrenia can be treated with certain levels of niacin since it helps in revoking the damage done to the brain due to certain medical conditions and diseases.
In addition, vitamin B3 has been used to improve the skin of humans. When Niacin is applied in the form of a lotion or used orally, it protects the skin from sunburn. Also, scientific evidence has shown that Niacin can potentially prevent the development of skin cancer. Niacinamide gel when applied on the skin, also, improves the acne condition in comparison to other gels. Apart from this, research carried out on Niacin reflected its active role in controlling arthritis symptoms which improved joint mobility and reduced the requirement for taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Although vitamin B3 provides significant benefits to the human body, humans often develop a deficiency of Niacin. Niacin deficiency, also known as pellagra, happens due to undernutritious diets due to anorexia or alcoholism. Symptoms of vitamin B3 deficiency include fatigue, depression, memory loss, circulatory problems, pigmented skin, and rashes, etc. Pellagra, or vitamin B3 deficiency, can be a cause of severe gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, indigestion, oral ulcers which can affect the quality of life for individuals. Furthermore, vitamin B3 deficiency can cause serious skin inflammation which is evident by rashes, thick and scaly skin, along with discoloration. Sunburns due to vitamin B3 deficiency can cause irritation and sensitivity. Adding on, pellagra advances into neurological issues such as depression and anxiety, coupled with dementia which can lead to memory loss and a confused state of mind. Lastly, vitamin B3 deficiency is associated with an increased risk of liver damage, reduction in glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, eye infections, and lower blood pressure which leads to a loss of balance.
Overall, a consensus opinion of medical research on vitamin B3 reflects the fact that despite its benefits to humans in the form of improving brain functions to assisting in energy provision to reducing the risk of heart diseases to eliminating the risk of skin infections, Niacin does have a few side effects such as diarrhea, blurred vision, etc. These side effects usually fade away with time, considering the fact that Niacin supplements or Niacin-rich foods are taken in a prescribed quantity which has been approved by a medical practitioner.
Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid
Being the fifth B-complex vitamin to be developed by medical research, vitamin B5 is a water-soluble nutrient which is essential for the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the human body. Vitamin B5, a chemical compound, vital to the enzymatic process of food breakdown, is also known as “Pantothenic Acid” or “Pantothenate”. Both the names come from the Greek work “pantou” which means everywhere. Thus, it can be said that vitamin B5 is easily available since most of the food groups contain diverse proportions of Pantothenic Acid.
Since vitamin B5 is naturally found in abundance in almost all food items, a healthy balanced diet enables a sufficient intake of Pantothenic Acid. The recommended amount of vitamin B5 can be obtained by having foods from various categories such as meat which includes beef, poultry, and seafood. Apart from meat, Pantothenic Acid is found in whole grain foods such as oats and brown rice, dairy items such as milk, fruits and vegetables like mushrooms, broccoli, peas, avocados. It is, also, found in items such as lentils, peanuts, and sunflower seeds, etc. Vitamin B5, can also be added to some food groups such as breakfast cereals and energy drinks. However, vitamin B5 supplements are, also, available in the form of chemical compounds for D-pantothenic acid – dexpanthenol and calcium pantothenate, which can be consumed in a medically approved quantity.
The importance of having a sufficient intake of vitamin B5 is evident due to the functions of Pantothenic Acid in the human body. One of the main functions of vitamin B5, similar to other B-complex vitamins, is its role in the breakdown of complex foods such as carbohydrates and fats to provide energy to the cells of the body and rebuild. However, unlike other vitamins, Pantothenic Acid plays an advanced role in the amalgamation of Coenzyme A and Acyl Carrier protein. Coenzyme A is integral to the liver due to its role in metabolizing drugs and toxins. Also, Coenzyme A is useful since it helps in synthesizes fatty acids and converting food into cholesterol. Importantly enough, Coenzyme assists in the creation of sphingosine, a molecule which delivers chemical messages in the cells of the human body. Likewise, Acyl Carrier Protein is important due to its role in the synthesis of fatty acids. Furthermore, studies have shown that sufficient vitamin B5 helps in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, thus protecting the heart and its functions by lowering levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
In addition, vitamin B5 has shown to improve skin acne which is one of the crucial skin problems being faced in the United States as well as the West world. An 8-week study carried out by dermatologists reflected a positive impact of pantothenic supplements on people having mild to moderate facial acne as a significant reduction in facial blemishes was observed. Although more research is required to know the exact and accurate role of vitamin B5 on acne, however, Pantothenic Acid’s impact on skin issues is impactful when it is used as a moisturizer or lotion since it improves the healing process of skin-related wounds. Also, vitamin B5 has been used as a supplement to heal the retinol process for skin overnight.
Not only does vitamin B5 help improve skin wounds, but Pantothenic Acid when taken along with other nutrients assists in reducing rapid hair loss. This is because the combination of other nutrients such as Biotin and Pantothenic Acid rebuilds each hair strand which have been damaged due to excessive heat being used on hair or due to intensive shampooing. Furthermore, vitamin B5’s cosmetic use for hair adds volume and shine on the hair strands, simultaneously, strengthening the scalp.
Apart from its cosmetic use, Pantothenic Acid’s chemical usage in the form of ointments can aid in minimizing itchiness and accelerating skin healing of damaged skin. Vitamin B5 as a chemical compound, also, heals the skin from diseases such as diaper rash, insect bites, eczema, and poison ivy. Also, dexpantherol has been used to prevent the damage caused due to the side-effects of radiation therapy.
Moreover, vitamin B5 has shown to maintain a healthy digestive system since it helps the body in using other vitamins such as vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) which, in turn helps in reducing stress. Additionally, research in the field of rheumatoid arthritis has reflected the fact that insufficient levels of vitamin B5 was a commonality among all the people who had rheumatoid arthritis. Lastly, Pantothenic Acid is a natural remedy for various health conditions such as asthma, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and depression, etc.
Since vitamin B5 is readily available in various foods, deficiency of Pantothenic Acid is generally uncommon. However, in a few situations, some people do face a vitamin B5 deficiency. This is primarily because of severe malnutrition which is a common medical condition in third-world countries like Somalia. Also, when an individual has insufficient vitamin B5, it is highly probable that the individual will have this together with other types of nutrient deficiencies. Symptoms and side-effects of Pantothenic Acid deficiency includes sleep disorders, fatigue, tiredness, numbness, vomiting, and nausea.
Along with all of this, vitamin B5 deficiency may also cause hypoglycemia which refers to a medical condition wherein an individual has very low blood sugar levels which may indicate towards heart problems. Other symptoms of insufficient Pantothenic Acid include depression, upper respiratory infections, and intestinal disturbances. Medical experiments and research on the consequences of vitamin B5 deficiency has been conducted on animals. These experiments reflect startling implications of a Pantothenic Acid deficiency which includes anemia, skin irritation, nerve damage, impaired glucose metabolism, and damage to adrenal glands.
Despite the fact that vitamin B5 is extremely useful due to its water-soluble function in terms of its vital role in the breakdown of complex foods groups for energy as well as its role in the synthesis of Coenzymes, it is necessary to ensure that the recommended intake of Pantothenic Acid is not exceeded. This is significant because very high doses of vitamin B5 can have negative consequences such as diarrhea and bleeding. Therefore, it is necessary to have a restricted rather a medically supervised dosage of vitamin B5. Even though a high intake of vitamin B5 may render harmful results, the significance of the fifth B-complex vitamin cannot be ignored due to its unparalleled benefits to the digestive system, its role in improving the skin and hair, coupled with the synthesis of Coenzymes which prove the fact that Pantothenic Acid is a vital nutrient for the human body.
Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine
Pyridoxine, also referred to as vitamin B6, is an essential water-soluble nutrient which is required by the human body to function properly. Although the eight B-complex vitamins share some features such as being vital for the breakdown of complex food groups like fats and carbohydrates, to a certain extent, each B-complex vitamin has specific unique characteristics. Similarly, vitamin B6 belonging to the category of a B-complex vitamin, needs to be consumed by eating different types of Pyridoxine-rich foods since the human body cannot produce vitamin B6 on its own. Thus, it is important to consume foods which provide adequate levels of vitamin B6 to the human body so that it can assist in performing various functions such as creation of neurotransmitters, production of red blood cells, and breaking down the complex food groups to provide energy to the cells.
Considering the significance of vitamin B6 for various functions in the human body, it is important to have Pyridoxine-rich foods. This is because vitamin B6 is a water-soluble nutrient which is not stored in the body, thus excess amounts are removed from the body through urination. Henceforth, it is paramount to ensure that the body gets sufficient Pyridoxine through the intake of a healthy and a balanced diet. Examples of Pyridoxine-rich foods include chickpeas, nuts, fruits like bananas and watermelon, vegetables like spinach, onion, and potatoes. Other foods which, also, provide vitamin B6 to the human body consist of tofu, beef liver, breakfast cereals, and fish like tuna and salmon. Apart from being taken through different types of foods, vitamin B6 intake can, also, be fulfilled through dietary supplements.
Vitamin B6 is observed to be a significant nutrient for various purposes which include its role in assisting in the breakdown of complex foods such as carbohydrates and fats to provide energy to the cells of the body. This role of vitamin B6 is similar to other B-complex vitamins, however, what makes this vitamin unique is its contribution in more than hundred enzymatic reactions in the human body which aid metabolism.
One of the most important function of Pyridoxine is its role in improving the functioning of the brain. Vitamin B6 improves brain function as it helps in creating neurotransmitters which carry out chemical messages in the brain. Furthermore, a few studies have shown that elderly people who have high blood levels of vitamin B6 have a sharper memory. Thus, proving that vitamin B6 has a positive impact on the human brain.
Secondly, vitamin B6 is seen to elevate mood while reducing symptoms of depression. This has been observed due to two reasons – one being, the assistance of Pyridoxine in creating neurotransmitters in the brain which regulate emotions like dopamine and serotonin. The second reason, however, has been associated with a decrease in high blood levels of amino acid homocysteine, which has been a cause of depression and psychiatric issues.
In addition, vitamin B6 intake during pregnancy benefits women in different ways. One of the ways in which Pyridoxine benefits pregnant women is due to its treatment of nausea and vomiting. This has been validated by a research which proved that vitamin B6 reduced vomiting and nausea by almost 31% after four days of having a Pyridoxine-rich diet. Moreover, vitamin B6 helps reduce morning sickness in pregnant women. This is because vitamin B6 is used as a main ingredient in Diclegis, a medicine that treats morning sickness.
Moreover, Pyridoxine plays an important role in reducing the danger of a heart disease, while preventing the clogging of arteries. This is because vitamin B6, along with other vitamins such as vitamin B9 and B12 reduces high levels of homocysteine in the blood. This is important because a high level of homocysteine may cause heart diseases. Therefore, a reduction in homocysteine levels prevents the danger of heart disease, simultaneously, preventing the narrowing of arteries which is a side-effect of high homocysteine in the blood. Additionally, vitamin B6 plays a key role in creating hemoglobin which is a part of red blood cells that transport oxygen within the different cells of the human body.
Vitamin B6 has a broad role in comparison to other B-complex vitamins. This can be seen from Pyridoxine’s role in improving eye health by preventing eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which causes a loss of vision in older adults. Since vitamin B6 helps reduce homocysteine levels in the blood, the risk of acquiring AMD reduces because elevated homocysteine levels may cause AMD thus, preventing eye diseases. Also, sufficient proportion of vitamin B6 can protect the retina of the eye. Lastly, recent studies have observed that vitamin B6 helps reduce the risk of cancer and reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, however, more research is still required to confirm these observations.
Even though vitamin B6 is readily available in abundant types of foods, some people often face a deficiency of Pyridoxine. Although vitamin B6 deficiency is uncommon in developed countries such as the United States, one can still develop this form of deficiency due to poor intestinal absorption, anticonvulsants, or due to some form of medicine. Furthermore, people having liver problems, autoimmune diseases, kidney issues, addiction to alcohol, excessive smoking may face a vitamin B6 deficiency. The implications of a Pyridoxine deficiency include the weakening of the immune system. This is because a vitamin B6 deficiency can hinder the production of antibodies that are crucial to fight infections. Also, this deficiency can reduce the production of white blood cells including T cells which can hamper the immune system significantly.
Another significant consequence of a vitamin B6 deficiency is seizure which commonly happens due to overstimulation of the brain since it does not receive adequate levels of the calming neurotransmitter (GABA). Seizures can, further, harm humans due to convulsions (excessive shaking), muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. Additionally, insufficient vitamin B6 increases homocysteine levels in the blood sugar. This has been associated with heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and strokes which can significantly damage the blood vessels. Also, vitamin B6 deficiency has been linked to nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy, which causes burning and shooting pain in hands, limbs, and feet. Other symptoms and implications of vitamin B6 deficiency include tiredness, frequent mood changes, and cracked lips.
Since the human body cannot store excess Pyridoxine, it is vital to have a healthy diet which is rich in all B-complex vitamins and other nutrients since deficiencies of critical vitamins like Pyridoxine can severely damage the human body, both, internally and externally. Thus, concluding that having the approved dosage of Pyridoxine-rich foods or vitamin B6 supplements are essential for the human body.
Vitamin B7 – Biotin
Amongst the eight B-complex vitamins introduced by medical science, one of the most important B-complex vitamins is the B7 Vitamin, which is commonly referred to as Biotin or Vitamin H. Sharing the core features of all B-complex vitamins, Biotin, too, is an essential water-soluble nutrient which is required by the human body in order to metabolize complex food groups such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to provide energy for the proper functioning of the cells. Nevertheless, vitamin B7 has its own unique functions which highlight its significance for the human body. Vitamin B7, also called as Biotin, is a Greek word which comes from the term “biotos” which depicts life and sustenance. This signifies that Biotin is necessary for the proper development of various parts of the human body, both, internal and external.
In order to reap the benefits of vitamin B7 on the metabolism of the human body along with its impact on hair, skin, and nails, it is essential to have a high intake of a healthy balanced diet which includes foods from each type of food group. Biotin-rich foods include egg yolks, nuts, and nut butters such as almonds and organic peanut butter, organ meats such as liver and kidneys, vegetables, and fruits such as cauliflower and bananas. Other examples of natural sources of Biotin are mushrooms, baker’s yeast, whole grain foods and cereals, along with soybeans and legumes. Although each of the aforementioned foods contain sufficient quantities of vitamin B7, however, cooking them can reduce the effectiveness of Biotin, thus is it preferrable to eat most of these foods in the raw form. However, at times, natural sources of Biotin may not be sufficient; in such a scenario, it is vital to have Biotin supplements once the recommended intake and brand of the supplement has been approved by a medical practitioner.
Shedding light on the functions of a crucial vitamin, it can be said that one of the most important role of vitamin B7, similar to the role of other B-complex vitamins, is the metabolization of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids to provide energy to the cells. However, vitamin B7’s role is extended due to its property of being a coenzyme for carboxylase enzymes which performs several different functions such as generating glucose (gluconeogenesis), synthesizing the amino acids valine, and producing fatty acids.
Adding on, Biotin plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. This is because the breakdown of Biotin speeds up during pregnancy since more energy is required by the cells of the body. Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to have a relatively higher intake of Biotin to avoid the risks of running into a vitamin B7 deficiency which can prove to be harmful for the baby. Furthermore, it is important to have Biotin either through foods or through supplements to ensure that the side-effect of a Biotin deficiency does not cause abnormal development in the fetus.
Furthermore, vitamin B7 is famous for accelerating the growth of hair and nails, while, also improving and protecting the skin from skin-related issues. Diverse research carried out in the previous years have shown a positive correlation between adequate intake of Biotin-rich foods and improvement in strengthening the hair and nails. In 1989, a study reflected the fact that 91% women who consumed 2.5 mg of a vitamin B7 supplement for a period of five months had firmer and harder nails. Also, Biotin assists in improving the keratin structure of the human body, thus since keratin is an essential source of protein for the hair, skin, and nails, an overall enhancement of the keratin structure will have a positive impact on hair and nail growth, simultaneously, improving the skin.
In addition, vitamin B7 has proved to be beneficial for the humans due to its role in preventing certain types of disorders such as basal ganglia disease. This is a type of a rare inherited disorder which affects the function of the nervous system which controls movement. This disease can lead to muscle rigidity and muscle weakness. However, the only cure of this rare disorder is through a recommended intake of Biotin and Thiamine. Moreover, vitamin B7 helps to control neuropathy by reducing nerve damage in those individuals who are diabetic or, are undergoing a kidney dialysis.
Not only does Biotin reduce nerve damage in diabetic individuals, but it also assists in the reduction of blood glucose. Studies examining vitamin B7’s role in lowering blood glucose level show promising results; in that, Biotin is seen to help lower the blood glucose level in people who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Also, Biotin has helped with glycemic control in people who undergo type 1 diabetes. Lastly, recent studies have suggested that Biotin has helped in minimizing the implications of multiple sclerosis (an autoimmune disease which harms the nervous system).
Although Biotin can be produced by bacteria in the gut, excess vitamin B7 cannot be stored in the human body and neither can it be produced naturally. Thus, rarely, some people may face a deficiency of vitamin B7. This deficiency is rare because Biotin is present in abundance in most of the food groups. However, in certain scenarios, vitamin B7 deficiency develops due to specific medications which restrict the number of vitamins that can be absorbed by the human body. Also, a high antibiotic dose can reduce the intestinal flora (bacteria) in the gut, thus reducing Biotin production. Other causes of a vitamin B7 deficiency include intestinal problems, long term dieting, and genetic causes like biotin transport deficiency. However, the most common cause of vitamin B7 deficiency is Biotinidase deficiency (BTD). This is an inherited disorder, wherein the body is unable to use Biotin, thus causing a deficiency,
Due to these causes, the body may face an insufficient quantity of vitamin B7, which can, further, lead to medical complications. Babies who suffer from BTD, often face eczema, seizures, developmental delay, hypotonia, vomiting, hair loss, fungal infections, etc. Some children may also suffer from speech problems and an enlarged liver. In adults, however, a Biotin deficiency can cause brittle nails, seizures, skin infections, and neurological problems such as hallucinations, depression, and lethargy.
To conclude, it can be observed that Biotin deficiency, though, rare can impact, both, adults, and children. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that the bacteria in the gut can produce sufficient Biotin for the body; alternatively, an individual’s diet consists of an adequate amount of naturally obtained vitamin B7 through the consumption of Biotin-rich foods.
Vitamin B9 – Folate
An essential water-soluble nutrient for the human body, vitamin B9, is one of the most important B-complex vitamins that has been discovered by medical science. Even though vitamin B9 is often referred to as “Folate” or “Folic Acid” interchangeably, both these terms have a specific definition and are, thus, slightly different from each other. While Folate refers to the source of vitamin B9 which is naturally present in a variety of food groups, Folic Acid, on the contrary, is a synthetic form of vitamin B9 which is artificially used in supplements and added to processed food items. However, at the end of the day, both terms commonly represent a B-complex vitamin and fulfills its functions in the human body.
In order to obtain sufficient vitamin B9, individuals have the option to either consume it naturally by increasing the intake of Folate-rich foods or consume it by increasing their intake of Folic Acid supplements. While discussing the types of different foods and supplements rich in Folate and Folic Acid respectively, it is important to highlight their functions and roles. Folate, the natural source of vitamin B9, comes from the Latin term “folium” which means leafy. This means that natural sources of vitamin B9 mostly come from leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce. Other sources which are rich in vitamin B9 include fruits like avocado and bananas, vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and peas. Also, beef liver, hard-boiled egg, and dry roasted nuts, too, provide adequate amounts of natural vitamin B9. Active vitamin B9, also called levomefolic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). In the human body, folate is converted into 5-MTHF before it enters the bloodstream to perform various bodily functions.
On the contrary, folic acid, also known as pteroylmonoglutamic is obtained through supplements such as folic acid tablets or it is artificially added to processed foods such as flours, cereals, and bread. Although folic acid performs the same functions that Folate performs, however, folic acid takes extra time to be converted into 5-MTHF before being added to the bloodstream.
Despite the fact that Folate and Folic Acid may differ in the provision of vitamin B9, both, these sources of vitamin B9 are important for the human body. One of the most important functions of vitamin B9 (Folate and Folic Acid) is its role in synthesizing, repairing and methylating DNA. Also, it is actively used in cellular division in the body, since it is used to produce new red blood cells in the human body which carry oxygen within the bloodstream. Furthermore, Folate is involved in innumerable metabolic processes which assist in the breakdown of complex food groups.
Another significance use of vitamin B9 is observed from its role in preventing birth complications. This is because Folate prevents birth defects by protecting babies from neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly (birth of a child with incomplete brain or skull). In addition, folic acid when given to pregnant women protects from fetal birth defects and subsides the risk of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia. Also, folic acid taken by women before and during pregnancy will minimize certain dangers of preterm birth and heart irregularities. In addition, some research has suggested that increasing the intake of vitamin B9 pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy may prevent the child from becoming autistic.
Including folic acid supplements or having a Folate-rich diet protects the heart against certain heart diseases because folic acid helps in the metabolism of homocysteine, which when lowered in the blood levels protects the heart against certain diseases, which is crucial for the proper functioning of one of the most significant organs for the human body i.e., the heart. Going a step further, it has been observed that vitamin B9 helps reduce blood pressure levels, simultaneously, improving the blood flow which protects against cardiovascular diseases.
Moreover, vitamin B9 complements the treatment of mental health disorders such as depression. Recently, medical studies on depression have signified the importance of folic acid supplements in curtailing depressive hormones in the body. When an individual is given folic acid supplements along with antidepressant medicines, the likelihood of a steeper reduction in depression symptoms is noticeable. In accordance with a review of 7 medical research, vitamin B9 supplied to the body through folic acid supplements and antipsychotic medicines has shown to minimize symptoms of schizophrenia.
Additionally, vitamin B9 assists in fortifying brain functions by reducing the risk of mental impairments in the elderly people. Therefore, studies have shown that folic acid supplements improve the brain function in those people who have mental impairments, concurrently, protecting individuals against harmful medical conditions such as the Alzheimer’s disease. In a research study of 121 individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, half the individuals were given a medicine alone, while the others were given a medicine as well as folic acid. Those who were given folic acid along with the medication showed positive signs of improved cognition coupled with reduced markers of inflammation.
Considering the wide array if functions performed by vitamin B9 in the human body, it is integral to have a diet which incorporates Folate-rich foods, or an alternate Folic Acid supplement is being taken to prevent the body from facing insufficient levels of vitamin B9. However, some people may still face a deficiency of vitamin B9, primarily, due to a poor dietary intake, alcoholism, diseases which affect folic acid absorption in the body such as gastric bypass. Also, folic acid deficiency is common amongst pregnant women and those who have undergone dialysis.
Insufficient levels of vitamin B9 leads to a deficiency which is commonly referred to as megaloblastic anemia. This condition affects the human body in several different ways such as increasing the risk of heart diseases and Alzheimer’s disease, increasing the danger of cancer, and creating an avenue of birth defects in infants whose mothers were deficient of vitamin B9. Also, during pregnancies, insufficient vitamin B9 magnifies the potential of congenital irregularities. Other negative health outcomes of a vitamin B9 deficiency include fatigue, heart palpitations, irritability, sores on the tongue, and weakness. Vitamin B9 deficiency, also, increases the risk of developing inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women.
All in all, it is safe to mention the fact that having Folate-rich foods or having an intake of Folic Acid supplements is integral for the human body due to the various functions of vitamin B9 in assisting bodily functions and protecting individuals against harm diseases and disorders. Even though a vitamin B9 deficiency is common worldwide, scientific research regarding Folic Acid is an overarching attempt to eliminate the cause of vitamin B9 deficiency in the human body.
Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin
Amongst the large pool of the 8 B vitamins discovered by medical science over the years, vitamin B12 has been a crucial vitamin for the human body, primarily due to its unique role in improving brain functioning, promoting nerve tissue health, and supplementing the red blood cell production. Since vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin, falls under the category of B-complex vitamins, it is, also, a water-soluble nutrient that assists in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into glucose to provide energy to the cells.
Despite the fact that vitamin B12 is one of the largest and the most complex structured B-complex vitamins, it can neither be stored in the body nor it can be produced by the human body. Therefore, individuals are required to obtain vitamin B12 artificially through an intake of Cobalamin-rich foods or include vitamin B12 supplements in the diet. Foods that are naturally rich in Cobalamin consist of animal foods such as liver meat, poultry, lamb, and fish like tuna. Other rich sources of vitamin B12 include dairy products like yogurt and cheese and eggs. Individuals who prefer and follow the vegan diet, usually, take a medically approved dosage of multivitamins and Cobalamin supplements. Vitamin B12 supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, and soft gels, along with being available in intranasal forms (can be taken through the nose). These supplements are sold in the market under the name of Cobalamin or Cyanocobalamin.
As mentioned earlier, vitamin B12 is unique due to its assistance in performing innumerable functions in the human body. These include the maintenance of healthy nerve cells and helping in the production and regulation of genetic material for the body such as DNA. Also, when combined with other vitamins like vitamin B6 and vitamin B9, vitamin 12 helps in controlling the homocysteine levels in the blood. Along with this, one of the most important benefits of vitamin B12 is its role in the production of red blood cells since it helps in multiplying the cells. Furthermore, vitamin B12 helps in the metabolic process of almost every cell in the human body, and it helps release energy which is necessary for the complete absorption of folic acid (vitamin B9). Not only this but vitamin also B12 is essential to the human body because it takes part in the synthesis procedure for fatty acids.
Discussing each of the benefits of vitamin B12 in detail, it can be said that Cobalamin plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells while protecting the body against developing amenia. Vitamin B12 prevents the body from developing large and irregular red blood cells; this is important to ensure that these red blood cells can be carried easily from the bone marrow to the bloodstream at a steady speed, thus preventing an individual from developing a serious medical condition called megaloblastic anemia.
In addition, vitamin B12 promotes bone health by protecting the human body from developing osteoporosis, a medical condition which damages the bones of the body. In medical research, it was found that most of the participants who took adequate levels of vitamin B12 had much higher bone mineral density. This proved to be beneficial for the bones since a high bone density protects the bone from becoming weak and fragile, thus eliminating the risk of developing osteoporosis. Vitamin B12, also, plays a significant role in supporting the healthy growth of hair, skin, and nails. This is because Cobalamin halts the development of certain dermatological diseases such as hair changes, nail discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and vitiligo (skin color changes in patches).
Moreover, adequate levels of vitamin B12 have acted as a protection against certain heart diseases. This is because of the role played by Cobalamin, along with other vitamins to lower amino acid homocysteine levels in the blood. When homocysteine levels are low and controlled, the human body is safe from the potential risks of developing heart diseases. A research study by medical practitioners reflected the fact that those who have a high level of homocysteine in their blood are 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke compared to normal levels of homocysteine. Therefore, doctors usually prescribe vitamin B12 supplements to those individuals who have a high level of homocysteine in their blood.
A very important function of vitamin B12 is associated with its role in elevating an individual’s mood. This is done in two ways – one being, Cobalamin’s assistance in producing serotonin, a chemical compound, which helps in regulating an individual mood. Secondly, vitamin B12, taken in the form of a supplement, has shown positive outcomes when treating people who suffer from the major depressive disorder (MDD). The positive outcome of vitamin B12 being used as a multivitamin along with antidepressant pills has shown a significant minimization of depression symptoms.
Lastly, and very importantly, vitamin B12 has been associated with improving the functioning of the brain due to its role in intercepting the loss of neurons, also referred to as brain atrophy. Due to sufficient levels of Cobalamin in the human body, the brain does not suffer from dementia or memory losses.
Although the benefits rendered by adequate levels of vitamin B12 to the human body are unmatchable, there is an imminent potential risk of developing a deficiency of Cobalamins. Even though the chances of developing this sort of deficiency are very thin in developed countries, some people may face inadequate levels of vitamin B12. These people are those who follow a vegan diet and do not eat meat or dairy products at all, since plant-based foods do not promise a long-term provision of vitamin B12. Furthermore, older adults and those who face gastrointestinal problems of food absorption may be a victim of this deficiency. These include those who face celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.
Problems caused due to a vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, depression, bad mood swings, and memory problems. Cobalamin deficiency can have a reverse impact on the brain and the nervous system which can lead to neurological changes such as numbness and hurdles in maintaining the right balance. Additionally, a shortage of vitamin B12 can lead to serious medical conditions such as anemia, dementia, and psychosis. Untreated levels of Cobalamin deficiency may cause irritation, loss of appetite, and issues with growth.
In conclusion, it can be said that the implications of a vitamin B12 deficiency can, significantly, harm different organs of the body, simultaneously, creating a potential threat of developing harmful diseases. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that vitamin B12 is being taken regularly either through a healthy diet that is rich in Cobalamin or supplements are being taken on the approval of a medical practitioner.
Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid
As much as the human body relies on different food groups such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy to perform cellular functions, the role of essential vitamins and minerals is vital for various processes inside the human body. One of the most important types of vitamins developed by medical research is Vitamin C. By its definition, vitamin C is a water-soluble essential nutrient for the human body. Also, vitamin C is referred to as L-ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid, and Le-ascorbic. Despite having multiple health benefits, vitamin C is unique due to its role in maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, and bones.
Since vitamin C, corresponding to the eight B-complex vitamins, is, also, water-soluble, it is evident that the human body can neither produce vitamin C on its own nor can it store it. Therefore, it is necessary to have a regular intake of foods that are rich in vitamin C. Examples of foods rich in vitamin C, primarily, include fruits and vegetables which range from kiwis, oranges, blackcurrants, lemons, and lychees, to kale, broccoli, red cabbage, green and red peppers. Eating raw or boiled foods that contain a rich source of vitamin C is important to ensure that the body does not enter a deficiency state, which if happens, can have harmful consequences for the human body.
Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the human body due to its unique roles. One such unique role of vitamin C is in the production of some neurotransmitters and collagen (a type of protein that acts as connective tissue and is found in the bones, tendons, muscles, and skin). This is important because sufficient levels of vitamin C aid in the process of wound healing; this is because vitamin C helps in producing collagen which is required for the steady healing of torn skin, injured bones, and muscles, etc.
Furthermore, it has been observed that vitamin C helps improve cardiovascular health. The heart, being one of the most important organs of the human body, is at a risk due to high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low levels of good cholesterol. Vitamin C protects the heart against all the aforementioned risks, thus potentially reducing the danger of heart diseases. Scientific research has, also, reflected the fact that due to the antioxidant properties of vitamin C, along with its ability to produce nitric oxide, and widen the blood vessels, it has been considered an essential nutrient for the human heart. Besides, due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C effectively reduces and slows down the damage caused to cells because of the development of free radicals which causes oxidative stress in the body.
The importance of vitamin C can be identified by considering its role in preventing anemia i.e., iron deficiency. Iron is a significant nutrient for the human body because of two reasons – one being, the transportation of oxygen throughout the body, while the second one being its role in producing red blood cells. Vitamin C assists in the absorption of iron by converting poorly absorbed iron from plant-based sources to an easily absorbed form. A scientific study reflected the fact that consumption of 100 mcg of vitamin C regularly improved iron absorption in the human body by almost 65%.
In addition to this, vitamin C helps improve the immune system by performing a variety of functions. These range from its antioxidant properties which act as a barrier against skin diseases, thus improving the quality of the human skin to avoid any skin problems. Also, vitamin C plays an active part in the production of white blood cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes which actively engage in protecting the human body against harmful diseases. Not only this but vitamin C also protects the white blood cells against harmful molecules like free radicals which can harm the functioning of the white blood cells. Therefore, as an immunity booster nutrient, vitamin C performs various functions.
Supplementing its role as an immunity protector, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C protect individuals from developing dementia, a medical condition associated with a weak-to-poor memory and thinking. Vitamin C protects the human brain from oxidative stress and inflammation which can lead to impaired thinking and memory. Therefore, it is important to consume vitamin C-rich foods. Lastly, vitamin C is necessary for the proper functioning of the body organs since it reduces the uric acid levels in the human body which is vital to restrict gout attacks. Uric acid, essentially, is the waste produced by the body which, sometimes, crystalizes and gets stored in the joints. This is a danger because it can lead to gout attacks, a category of arthritis that causes inflammation of the joints leading to excessive swelling. Chances of developing such a harmful medical condition are significantly minimized due to adequate amounts of vitamin C being supplied to the human body.
Nevertheless, if foods rich in vitamin C are not consumed in adequate quantities, it can lead to the development of a deficiency condition. Vitamin C deficiency is referred to as “scurvy” which exists due to a lack of ascorbic acid or vitamin C in the human body. This condition usually develops due to excessive alcoholism, lack of diverse food intake, milk being consumed only in boiled or evaporated form, and specific medical conditions such as intestinal malabsorption.
Scurvy or a vitamin C deficiency formulates into specific symptoms which include the development of anemia, mood changes and depression, weak wound healing, swelling, and shortness of breath. The absence of collagen in the human body often causes skin diseases like acne, joint and painful swelling, brittle and fragile bones. Other implications of a vitamin C deficiency include a vulnerability to infectious diseases like pneumonia, oxidative stress, and chronic illnesses that harm the heart.
The overarching conclusion which can be drawn from the benefits of vitamin C is that it is an essential nutrient. This is because of innumerable reasons which range from vitamin C’s antioxidant properties to its role in producing collagen to protecting the heart and the immune system. Therefore, medical practitioners recommend individuals include vitamin C rich foods in their diet to avoid the development of harmful medical conditions such as anemia.
Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, is a fat-soluble organic molecule. This is an essential micronutrient that is vital for the proper functioning of an organism’s metabolism. Two types of vitamin D are produced in an organism’s body – vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. The former is naturally produced due to direct exposure to sufficient sunlight, while the latter is produced by the consumption of specific foods and nutrient supplements. These specific foods include salmon (fatty fish), mushrooms, egg yolks, etc. Supplements that assist in the production of vitamin D in a human’s body mainly include cod liver oil. Furthermore, the sunshine vitamin also incorporates the properties of a hormone as well as a vitamin, thus it is necessary for mineral homeostasis and proper formation of bones.
While the production of vitamin D is critical for the proper development of bones in a human’s body, it plays a significant biological function by maintaining blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. One of the major benefits of having sufficient vitamin D in the human body is that it helps in the smooth absorption of calcium which aids in the development and maintenance of proper bones and teeth. This can be achieved by allowing intestines to stimulate and absorb calcium; while, also, reclaiming calcium which the kidneys would otherwise excrete.
Furthermore, recent studies have shown that the availability of vitamin D in the human body has improved the body’s resistance against diseases; such that it helps fight against autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, cancer, hypertension, and osteoporosis, etc. This proves the significance of having sufficient vitamin D production in the human body. In addition to this, several studies conducted between 2006 and 2010 reflect the fact that the presence of vitamin D is crucial for the strengthening of the immune system because it helps in the production of antibodies. Also, vitamin D reduces the risk of developing heart diseases, simultaneously, preventing the human body from contracting flu, mainly the influenza virus.
The benefit of having sufficient vitamin D in the human body is that it assists in the reduction of depression. As surprising as it may sound, vitamin D plays an important role in warding off depression and regulating an individual’s mood. This is known because of a study conducted which signified the fact that vitamin D supplements when given to people having persistent depression, showed an improvement in their moods and reduced depression symptoms. Moreover, vitamin D, also, assists in rapid weight loss as vitamin D supplements render an appetite-suppressing effect on people incorporating calcium and vitamin D tablets in their diet, wanting to lose weight. Not to forget, vitamin D supplements help reduce the risk of heart diseases especially in obese individuals.
Continuing the benefits of vitamin D, it has been scientifically proven that vitamin D plays a significant role in improving abnormal social behavior, especially in people have autism spectrum disorder. Vitamin D plays a key role in regulating genes active in brain development, neurotransmission, and synaptic plasticity, thus helping improve the symptoms in autistic children. Interestingly, vitamin D has, also, proven to improve cholesterol levels in humans. In scientific research carried out, those who had higher blood levels of vitamin D had better lipid profiles, showing increased high-density “good” cholesterol, decreased low-density “bad” cholesterol, and lower triglycerides.
As astounding as the benefits of sufficient vitamin D may appear to be, at times many individuals face a deficiency of vitamin D. This is caused due to several factors such as regular use of sunscreen and darker skin types, which act as a hindrance in obtaining vitamin D through natural sunlight. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency can be caused due to the geographical location for those living in the northern latitudes of the world as well as obesity. Such factors often cause a vitamin D deficiency in humans which is recognized through the visibility of certain symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, muscle pain, regular sickness or infections, bone and back pain.
If, however, the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency continue for a prolonged period, an individual may develop medical complications such as cardiovascular conditions, neurological diseases, autoimmune problems, infections, pregnancy issues in women, as well as certain cancers like colon cancer, breast cancer, etc.
Insufficient vitamin D in a human body, certainly, poses an imminent danger of loss of bone density which can cause osteoporosis and fractures. This coupled with the development of osteomalacia causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness. Also, the deficiency of vitamin D causes several diseases such as rickets. This is a type of disease that commonly develops in children due to lack of sufficient vitamin D, and it causes bones to become soft and bend, thus leading to handicapped bodies. Furthermore, lack of sufficient vitamin D hampers brain development, thus causing cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. Brain development, when hampered, causes problems in the nervous system, thus impacting the human body in different and dangerous ways.
Adding on, a vitamin D deficiency is commonly associated with increases in cardiovascular (heart) diseases such as hypertension, heart failure, stroke, etc. All of these issues caused due to a vitamin D deficiency poses a serious threat to an individual’s life. As discussed earlier, vitamin D strengthens the immune system; if the reverse happens i.e. a vitamin D deficiency, it can cause an individual to fall skin frequently since the immune system is not strong enough to fight against harmful bacteria and viruses. Lastly, vitamin D deficiency leads to poor wound healing, hence causing surgeries, infections, and injuries.
Vitamin D, being the significant requirement of the human body, due to its diverse positive implications, proves to be necessary for a variety of reasons as discussed and highlighted above. This signifies that it is necessary to produce sufficient vitamin D in the human body either naturally or through the intake of dietary and nutritional supplements to augment the cause. Observing the innumerable roles of the human body organs such as the heart and the brain, it can be concluded that it is imperative to ensure that each organ functions properly to its full capacity, thus it is essential to ensure that the human body receives an adequate number of vitamins and minerals, especially significant ones like vitamin D which plays a diverse yet paramount role in helping the human body function properly internally and externally.