Our body performs several functions throughout the day. It churns out blood that carriy nutrients and oxygen to different cells; it sends nerve signals across body pathways. It also formulates chemical messengers that shuttle from one organ to another. To do all of that, your body requires at least 30 vitamins, minerals, and dietary components that your body can’t manufacture in sufficient amounts. So you need to get them from daily diet. Vitamins and minerals are often called micro-nutrients because unlike the case with macro-nutrients — protein, fat, and carbohydrates — your body needs only tiny amounts of micro nutrients. Yet failing to get these small quantities can prove to be fatal sometimes.
Types of Vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins B and C
Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A (retinol)
This vitamin is essential for growth and healthy skin and hair. It is a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in the body's immune system. Vitamin A can be obtained from dairy products, yellow & green vegetables & fruits, fish etc.
Vitamin B complex
It includes B1(thiamine) , B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinic acid), B6(pyridoxine), B12( cobalamin) , Folate ( folic acid).
The body requires relatively small amounts of vitamins B1, B2 and B3.Vitamins B6 and B12 help the body to use folic acid and are vital nutrients in a range of activities, such as cell repair, digestion, the production of energy and in the immune system.Vitamin B12 is also needed for the breakdown of fat and carbohydrates. Deficiency of either vitamin will result in anaemia. Vitamin B6 is found in most foods, so deficiency is rare. The best dietary sources of the B vitamins are milk, seeds, whole grains, pulses, etc.
Folic acid (folate)
Folic acid work closely in the body with vitamin B12. It is vital for the production of healthy blood cells. Lack of folic acid is one of the main causes of anaemia, particularly in people with poor diets. Vitamins B6 and B12 help the body use folate, so are often given alongside folic acid supplements. In pregnancy, low folate levels increase the risk of the baby's spinal cord system not developing completely (spina bifida). Folate can be obtained from liver, whole grains, enriched food products etc.
Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidant vitamins. We need vitamin C for growth, healthy tissues, wound repair and an efficient immune system. In addition, it also helps with the normal functioning of blood vessels and helps absorb iron from plant sources as opposed to the iron in red meat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the main sources of vitamin C – eating five sdrvings a day will easily meet the body's needs. Too much vitamin C can result in a sensitive, irritable stomach and mouth ulcers.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It helps the body to absorb calcium. The action of sunlight on the skin enables the body to manufacture vitamin D – even on a cloudy day. For this reason, most people will get enough vitamin D through their everyday activities. Foods rich in vitamin D are oily fish, liver, cod liver oil and dairy products. Many foods are also 'fortified' with low levels of vitamin D, such as margarine and breakfast cereals.
Vitamin E is important in cell maintenance and also plays an active role in the maintenance of a healthy heart and blood circulation. It is one of the body's main antioxidants. Deficiency only occurs in cases of severe mal-absorption or certain rare genetic disorders. Vitamin E can be obtained from consumption of nuts & seeds, fish, oils, whole meal & whole grain products.
Vitamin K is involved in the blood clotting process and in the maintenance of strong bones. It is found in small quantities in meat, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. Your body also makes vitamin K in the large intestine, through the activity of 'healthy bacteria'. For this reason, there is no recommended daily amount. Diets rich in fatty and sugary foods can adversely change the balance of the gut flora, as can the additives and pesticides that are often a part of modern food production.