Vitamins are essential to promote a healthy living. When you deprive your body of them, you may experience a wide range of health effects. Natural vitamins are only found in plants and animals, but you can still be supplied vitamins through the form of dietary supplements. However you choose to take them, you need your vitamins for your body to function properly.
Remember, each type of vitamin can potentially have dozens upon dozens of health benefits. Each vitamin also can have many deficiency symptoms. I have decided to tackle only the most dominating and important ones.
Also, I recommended foods extremely high in the respective vitamin that are both tasty and relatively easy to find in a local supermarket.
Vitamin A Health Benefits
Vision support: The human retina contains four kinds of photopigments that store vitamin A compounds. One of these pigments, known as rhodopsin, is responsible for the eye to detect small amounts of light. This is important because you use this light when you are in low-light conditions and through night vision. Vitamin A guides in the production of rhodopsin and helps improve your vision, especially in low-light conditions or at night.
Immune function support: Vitamin A is known to improve the function of white blood cells and fight against disease and viruses. Vitamin A also keeps the tissues of the lungs, trachea, skin, oral cavity, and gastrointestinal tract healthy. These tissues often serve as the first defense mechanism for the immune system, blockading pathogens from entering.
Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin A deficiency primarily affects (but not limited to) the health of the skin, hair, eyes, and immune system.
The most obvious sign of vitamin A deficiency is known as “hyperkeratosis, a goose bump-like appearance of the skin caused by excessive production of keratin (a protein found in skin) that blocks hair follicles.” In the beginning stages, hyperkeratosis is found on the forearms and thighs, where the skin can become dry, scaly, and rough. In the later stages, it can affect the whole body, causing hair loss.
Deficiency in vitamin A can lead to a higher prevalence of night blindness and problems with the immune system, such as inability to fight off pathogens. Lack of vitamin A can be responsible for an increased susceptibility to viral infections, such as measles, chicken pox and pneumonia. Vitamin A deficiency is quite common in developing nations.
The formation of red blood cells: The most recognized function of B12 is through its role in the development of red blood cells. As red blood cells grow and mature, they require information through DNA molecules. Without B12, the synthesis of DNA does not function properly, and so does the information needed for red blood cell formation. The cells begin to experience a condition called pernicious anemia, which is when the cells become oversized and poorly shaped, and function unproductively.
Developing nerve cells: Research has found that the myelin sheath, a coating that encloses and protects the nerve cells, begins to form less effectively when there is a deficient amount of vitamin B12. In addition, B12 has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in many nervous systems disorders.
Proper cycling of nutrients: Protein needs B12 for proper transportation through the body. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, fail to be used without enough B12. In addition, research has found that a deficient amount of B12 may affect the proper cycling of carbohydrates and fats throughout the body.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
One of the more common symptoms of B12 deficiency is pernicious anaemia. You get anaemia when your body doesn’t get enough red blood cells. You need red blood cells for oxygen so depriving yourself of red blood cells (less oxygen) will make you more tired.
In addition, deficient amounts of B12 can cause your nervous system to break down through inflammation of the nerves (neuritis) and dementia (mental deterioration).
Elderly people are at the highest risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, although it can be common in young women.
Molecule production: Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, need vitamin B6 for their production. In addition, B6 is needed for the development of nucleic acids, which are used for the creation of DNA. Since amino acids and nucleic acids are an integral part in creating news cells, B6 is crucial for the synthesis of virtually all new cells in the body.
Processing of carbohydrate: You need an adequate amount of vitamin B6 in the body to properly process carbohydrates in the body. This vitamin is exceptionally important in the breakdown of glycogen stored in our muscle cells and in our liver.
Maintains a healthy nervous system: B6 helps with the formation of amines, a group of messaging molecules. Amines are needed to transmit messages between nerves, and thus amines are function as neurotransmitters.
Support of sulfur and methyl metabolism: Vitamin B6 helps the body to synthesize and transmit molecules that contain sulfur for the purpose of maintaining proper hormonal balance and to eliminate toxic substances in the liver. In addition, B6 helps transfer methyl groups from one place to another, as methyl is needed to maintain healthy genes and for cells to transmit messages to each other.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency Symptoms
Since vitamin B6 is crucial in the formation of new and healthy cells, B6 is especially important for the healthy function of skin tissue to regenerate itself quickly. Skin is the prime example of this. When deficient in vitamin B6, many skin disorders can develop.
In addition, when deficient in B6, problems with the nervous system can arise. Seizures and convulsions can happen when highly deficient. Also, as stated above, B6 creates many new red blood cells. When you are deficient in B6, you have less blood cells, which can result in high fatigue (since you have less oxygen in the body), anemia and malaise.
Strengthens the immune system: Perhaps the most well known vitamin is vitamin C because of its immense benefits for maintaining a healthy immune system. More people take vitamin C than most other vitamins and nutrients for this reason. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help protect cells and their DNA from damage and mutation. Vitamin C has been known to help to defend and prevent sickness, cancer and many forms of disease through its strong antioxidant capabilities. In addition, many scientific studies verify that vitamin C can help protect against the common cold, as it acts as a natural antihistamine.
Speeds up the healing process: Also, vitamin C can help with the healing process, making nearly anything (broken bones, cuts, burns and surgical wounds) heal faster and better. It also helps prevent against ultra violet rays when applied to the skin.
Vitamin C Deficiency Symptoms
A very extreme deficiency symptom of vitamin C is known as scurvy, which is characterized by swollen and bleeding gums and skin discoloration due to ruptured blood vessels.
More widespread deficiency symptoms of vitamin C can range from a slower healing process and higher frequency of developing colds and other infections.
Best Foods for Vitamin C
Oranges, Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Broccoli, Bell Peppers
Vitamin D Health Benefits
Maintains calcium balance: The main purpose of vitamin D is to maintain the body’s calcium balance by the absorption of calcium, which helps bones grow and maintain strength.
Promote immune system function: Vitamin D helps promote more white blood cells and anti-tumor processes. In addition, vitamin D has been shown to help fight off colds and other infections.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Since vitamin D is primarily responsible for calcium absorption, the deficiency symptoms mainly deal with weaker bones and higher chances for fractures and breaks.
More subtle deficiency symptoms have to do with a weaker immune system, but deficiency in vitamin C is primarily responsible for this.
Best Foods for Vitamin D
Salmon, Shrimp, Milk, Eggs
Vitamin E Health Benefits
Prevention of oxidative stress: Although oxygen is needed for humans to live, it can also cause molecules inside the body to be overly reactive, which can damage the cell-structures around them. This is known as oxidative stress. Vitamin E helps prevent oxygen molecules from becoming too reactive.
Maintains healthy skin: Vitamin E protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation.
Vitamin E Deficiency Symptoms
Research has not exactly pinpointed a concrete deficiency symptom of vitamin E, but many scientists believe it has to do with digestive system problems where nutrients are poorly absorbed from the digestive tract.
In addition, research has found that deficiency in vitamin E might contribute to peripheral neuropathy, in which there are problems with the nervous system. A result of this is pain, there is a tingling and loss of sensation in the arms, hands, legs and feet due to a lack of vitamin E.
Blood clotting: Blood clotting is essential to prevent us from bleeding to death when we harm our bodies. In addition, blood clotting conceals the area of an infection or injury and begins the healing process. Vitamin K is needed for the blood to clot since it initiates the process of healing by slowing and stopping the bleeding. For this reason, many people are given vitamin K before surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.
Lower risk of developing osteoporosis: According to research, over 50% of Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, which has emerged as one of the bigger health problems in the country. Vitamin K helps the body to absorb the mineral calcium, helping to fight against osteoporosis and the loss of bone density.
Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin K deficiency is rather rare but it can prevent blood clots, which can result in longer bleeding. Severe deficiency can lead to fatal anemia.
In addition, vitamin K deficiency can lead to a higher chance for developing bone problems since calcium is not as absorbed in the body. This can result in a higher chance for osteoporosis. Consuming both vitamin D and vitamin K foods or supplements together can have an even better effect of fighting against osteoporosis, as both work to fight against the disease.