Vitamins are organic compounds required in limited amounts and must for the normal growth and nutrition of body. Vitamins themselves do not provide any energy but are essential for many of the physiological processes of the body. Our body cannot synthesize all the vitamins and thus it is dependent on the diet one intakes.

Let’s understand the role of vitamins

The construction of the body depends on the availability of vitamins. Its growth, development and maintenance including transformation and use of micro nutrients, vision, blood clotting, nervous system, immune system etc. all need vitamins in their processes

While an insufficient level of vitamins can lead to malnutrition or even physical disorders, excess of vitamins is also not healthy. Its surplus may result in diseases like elevated blood and calcium levels and bone loss. 

Types of Vitamins, their source and function

Vitamins needed by humans are of 13 types. These are vitamin A, C, D, E, K and 8 types of vitamin B. While all other vitamins have to be acquired via diet, vitamin D and K can be synthesized by the body as well.

Details below provide an idea on different vitamins, their food source and how each vitamin is relevant for the body’s varied functions:

  • Vitamin A – Also known as Retinol, it helps producing pigments in the retina of the eye thereby strengthening vision. Vitamin A also helps in formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, soft tissue, muscle membrane and skin.

Source – Egg yolk, leafy vegetables and dark coloured fruits, milk and dairy products, beef, liver and fish

  • Vitamin B1 – It improves brain function, aids digestion, helps in keeping heart healthy and prevents the risk of cataract, produce energy by converting the carbohydrates in glucose

Source – Egg, Peas and whole grains, nuts and seeds, unrefined flour, meat

  • Vitamin B2 – Vitamin B2 helps in the overall growth and good health. It allows oxygen to be used by the body along with producing energy by breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Source – Eggs, nuts, dairy products, sprouts, mushrooms, soybean and green leafy vegetables, whole grains and cereals

  • Vitamin B3 – It contributes to the normal functioning of heart, brain and nervous system.

Source – Potato, avocado, cereals, meat, fish and eggs

  • Vitamin B5 – Essential in maintaining normal metabolism, production of hormones and cholesterol in the body.

Source – Broccoli, white and sweet potatoes, whole grain cereals, dairy products, meat and eggs

  • Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is required by the body in almost all daily tasks including movement, memory, using energy and maintaining blood flow. It also helps in production of hormones helping in regulating mood and managing of stress.

Source – Vegetables like white and sweet potatoes, carrot, bitter gourd, fruits including banana and avocado, whole grains, milk and its products, meat

  • Vitamin B7 – It promotes the health of skin, hair and nails.

Source – Cereals, vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes and mushrooms, cheese, nuts, fish

  • Vitamin B9 – Also known as Folic acids, vitamin B9 plays a crucial role in creation of red blood cells, prevention of anaemia, optimal brain functioning.

Source – Dark leafy greens as well as beans, carrots, okra and peas, citrus fruits, seeds and nuts, eggs

  • Vitamin B12 – Helps in generation of red blood cells, prevents the loss of neurons thereby benefitting brain.

Source – Eggs, cheese, low fat milk, beef, fish

  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps in preventing common cold, prevents cataracts, protects against heart disease and promotes the immune system of the body.

Source – Tomato and its juice, winter squash, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage and other leafy greens

Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium thereby promoting bone growth and keeping them healthy. It also helps in nerve and muscle function.

Source – Orange juice, milk, fish and cereals. Attained in natural form from sunlight

  • Vitamin E – It acts as an antioxidant and protects body from damage which can ham cells, tissues and organs.

Source – Nuts and seeds, vegetable oils such as sunflower and soybean oil, avocado and wheat germ.

  • Vitamin K – Vitamin K plays a crucial role in preventing excessing bleeding.

Source – Broccoli, lettuce, pumpkins, spinach

Good to know information about vitamins

Vitamins are of two types – water soluble (vitamins B and C) and fat soluble (A, D, E and K). It is important to understand this fact about vitamins as it helps in qualifying how each vitamin behaves within the body.

Water Soluble Vitamins – If one absorbs more of water soluble vitamins, excess will be excreted through urine and not stored. Also since these are excreted, one has to daily intake water soluble vitamins to maintain the requirement of the body.

Fat Soluble Vitamins – These vitamins are stored in body for longer duration and if consumed in excess, pose a threat of harmfulness to individuals.

Deficiency of vitamins

As seen above, vitamins play a crucial role in a lot of body building functions along with keeping healthy brain, heart and nervous system. It is imperative that our diet should contain ample food items which provide the required vitamins in sufficient quantity and prevent on health issues like muscular pain, digestive disorders, poor vision, hair loss, anaemia etc.