Vitamins are organic food substances found only in living things, i.e. plants and animals. They are essential for our bodies to function properly, for growth, energy and for our general well-being. With very few exceptions the human body cannot manufacture or synthesize vitamins. must be supplied in our diet or in man-made dietary supplements. Some people believe that vitamins can replace food, but that is incorrect. In fact, vitamins cannot be assimilated without also ingesting food. That is why it is best to take them with a meal. Synthetic vitamin supplements can be of varying quality, so it is a good idea to get your supplements from a reliable source.
Vitamin A helps cell reproduction. It also stimulates immunity and is needed for formation of some hormones. Vitamin A helps vision and promotes bone growth, tooth development, and helps maintain healthy skin, hair, and mucous membranes. It has been shown to be an effective preventive against measles.
Deficiency can cause night blindness, dry skin, poor bone growth, and weak tooth enamel.
Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and retinol are all versions of Vitamin A.
Vitamin B1/thiamine is important in the production of energy. It helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system. Not getting enough thiamine can leave one fatigued and weak.
Note: Most fruits and vegetables are not a significant source of thiamine.
B6 plays a role in the creation of antibodies in the immune system. It helps maintain normal nerve function and acts in the formation of red blood cells. It is also required for the chemical reactions of proteins. The higher the protein intake, the more need there is for vitamin B6. Too little B6 in the diet can cause dizziness, nausea, confusion, irritability and convulsions.
Folate and folic acid are both forms of B9. Folate occurs naturally in fresh foods, whereas folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements. Your body needs folate to produce red blood cells, as well as components of the nervous system. It helps in the formation and creation of DNA and maintaining normal brain function, and is a critical part of spinal fluid. It has also been proven to reduce the risk for an NTD-affected (neural tube defect) pregnancy by 50 to 70 percent. Folic acid is vital for proper cell growth and development of the embryo. That is why it is important for a woman to have enough folate/folic acid in her body both before and during pregnancy.
Vitamin C is one of the most important of all vitamins. It plays a significant role as an antioxidant, thereby protecting body tissue from the damage of oxidation. Antioxidants act to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of the body's metabolism. Free radicals can cause cell damage that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vitamin C has also been found by scientists to be an effective antiviral agent.
Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" since it is manufactured by the body after being exposed to sunshine. Ten to fifteen minutes of good sunshine three times weekly is adequate to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D. This means that we don't need to obtain vitamin D from our diet unless we get very little sunlight – usually not a problem for children.
Vitamin D is vital to the human body as it promotes absorption of calcium and magnesium, which are essential for the normal development of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.
Like vitamin C, vitamin E plays a significant role as an antioxidant, thereby protecting body tissue from the damage of oxidation. It is important in the formation of red blood cells and the use of vitamin K. Many women also use it to help minimize the appearance of wrinkles, and mothers use it to help heal minor wounds without scarring, as it is valued for its ability to soothe and heal broken or stressed skin tissue.