Vitamins are essential in promoting and regulating processes in the body such as growth, reproduction, and maintaining health. Deficiency symptoms can occur if the body does not receive the proper amount of vitamins through a diet, however once the diet changes and vitamin intake goes back to the recommended amounts, these deficiency symptoms will go away. Most of the foods that we eat contain some vitamins, all the food groups contain vitamins, however incorporating all the food groups into your diet is important because not all vitamins are found in each food group. Some food groups are lacking B vitamins while others are lacking vitamin C. There are many different kinds of vitamins and each vitamin is categorized by how they are absorbed into the body. Vitamins are labeled by letters in the order in which they were discovered. Vitamins like B6 and B12 have numbers because scientists discovered that there were many different types of B vitamins where they originally thought there was one. How vitamins are absorbed, the different classifications of vitamins, the benefits, functions, and deficiency risks is important information to know for your own health.
How vitamins are classified depends on how they are absorbed, transported, excreted, and stored in the body. There are water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins and each are absorbed, transported, excreted, and stored in the body in different ways. Water- soluble vitamins include B vitamins and vitamin C, and fat- soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. The process in which vitamins are absorbed starts in the mouth where chewing helps to release vitamins. The food then travels to the stomach where the digestion process releases more vitamins. The gallbladder then releases bile which turns into fat and helps fat- soluble vitamins absorb into the body. The pancreas also helps get vitamins out of food by secreting digestive enzymes. Fat- soluble vitamins are then “incorporated into micelles and then absorbed by simple diffusion. Once they are inside the mucosal cells, fat- soluble vitamins are packaged in chylomicrons, which enter the lymph before passing into the blood” (Grosvenor & Smolin, 2012, P. 205). Water- soluble vitamins are absorbed into the blood through the small intestine where they bind with blood proteins that transport them throughout the body.
Functions of Vitamins
Water- soluble vitamins and fat- soluble vitamins have important functions in the body. Vitamin C and vitamin E help to stop oxidative damaging molecules, and vitamins A and D help to maintain normal growth and development. Vitamins A, B6, C, and D help to keep our immune system healthy, and B vitamins “are needed to produce ATP from carbohydrate, fat, and protein” (Grosvenor & Smolin, 2012, P. 206). Vitamins have many different functions and some vitamins have more than one. Vitamin A not only helps with keeping the immune system healthy, but is also needed for bone health. Vitamin B6 also help with keeping our immune system healthy, but it also helps with blood health. According to the text, “often more than one vitamin is needed to ensure the health of a particular organ or system” Grosvenor & Smolin, 2012, P. 207). Vitamins work together to keep our bodies healthy, and that is why it is important that vitamins are part of the bodies daily nutrient intake.
Vitamins and Sources
|Water Soluble Vitamins||Water Soluble Vitamin Sources||Fat Soluble Vitamins||Fat Soluble Vitamin source|
Whole and Enriched Grains
Fortified Milk and Margarine
B6 and B12
Dark Green Vegetables
Water Soluble Vitamins
Thiamin, Riboflavin, niacin, biotin, pantothenic, folate, choline, Vitamin C, and vitamins B6 and B12 are all water- soluble vitamins. Some high nutrient sources of these vitamins include: pork, whole and enriched grains, seeds, nuts, dark green vegetables, dairy products, some fruits, beef, chicken, fish, liver, egg yolks, and legumes. Some symptoms that are brought on by deficiency in these vitamins are: weakness, apathy, irritability, verve tingling, paralysis, cracks at corners of the mouth, diarrhea, dementia, nausea, depression, hallucinations, fatigue, and rashes. Alcoholism puts people at a greater risk for deficiency in these essential vitamins.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K are all fat- soluble vitamins. Some high nutrient sources for these essential vitamins include: liver, fish, fortified milk and margarine, eggs, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, oils, tuna, sunlight, leafy greens, nuts, and apricots. Deficiency in these vitamins can bring on symptoms such as: night blindness, eye infections, poor growth, dry skin, impaired immune function, rickets, misshapen bones, weak and soft bones, nerve damage, hemorrhage, broken red blood cells, and muscle pain. Children, pregnant women, elderly people, newborns, people with kidney disease, and people with low-fat or low-protein diets are at a greater risk for deficiencies in these vitamins.
|Water Soluble||Fat Soluble Deficiency|
Impaired immune function
Weak and soft bones
Broken red blood cells
Vitamins are Important
vitamins are essential in promoting and regulating processes in the body such as growth, reproduction, and maintaining health. There are different classifications of vitamins, water- soluble vitamins and fat- soluble vitamins. The difference in these vitamins is how they are absorbed, transported, excreted, and stored in the body. The functions of these vitamins vary from helping to maintain normal growth and development to keeping the immune system functioning normally. We can attain these vitamins through a wide variety of sources like different meats, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products. Without these essential vitamins our bodies would suffer the consequences. There are a wide variety of symptoms that our bodies would experience, none of which are pleasant. To maintain the recommended amount of each of these vitamins can be difficult but is not impossible. a well balanced diet is necessary to reach your recommended daily intake of each vitamin. This will also help you avoid the nasty effects of being vitamin deficient. Make sure to contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in the vitamin deficiency table above.
Grosvenor, M. B., & Smolin, L. A. (2012). Visualizing Nutrition: Everyday choices (2th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.