Nutrients: vitamins


  1. What are vitamins
  2. Classification of vitamins
  3. Vitamin A or retinol
  4. Vitamin B1 or thiamine
  5. Vitamin B2 or riboflavin
  6. Vitamin B3 or niacin
  7. Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid
  8. Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine
  9. Vitamin B8 or biotin
  10. Vitamin B9 or folic acid
  11. Vitamin B12, or cyanocobalamin
  12. Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid
  13. Vitamin D or calciferol
  14. Vitamin E or tocopherol
  15. Vitamin K

Vitamins are inorganic substances that are present in food and are absolutely essential for life. With vitamins can and should use the term 'essential', which means that they are necessary for our organism, is that every one of the 13 vitamins have a specific function in the proper functioning of the body, making it indispensable within the power of any individual.
Its deficiency in the body of any person may trigger health problems. For this reason, we must take them compulsorily from the outside, since we ourselves are not able to synthesize them from chemical reactions. This rule has exceptions, as we shall see later, since the body is capable of synthesizing certain amount of some vitamins.
Currently there are discovered and described 13 vitamins. This is not to say that they are the final. It is possible that, at some point, a group of scientists discover another, while since 1948 has not described any. All have, as a minimum, two denominations, on the one hand have a name with digits (letters and numbers) and on the other also known with a designation extended, which can refer to its chemical form or any of its functions. For example: Ascorbic acid is vitamin C.
No food has all the vitamins necessary for the proper functioning of the body and nor is there any food that does not have any. There are vitamins that are more widespread than others in nature and are present in many foods and others that focus on a smaller group of foods.

What are vitamins?

Each of these components has concrete and specific, functions that are irreplaceable. For this reason, if there is a mismatch (hiccup or hypervitaminosis) levels or the body there is an absence of the same (avitaminosis) does not work well and alterations occur. Most of the vitamins work, among other things, as cofactors or co-enzymes of chemical reactions. I.e., they are essential elements for this transformation, tiny but constant, takes place in our bodies. For example, without vitamins cannot get energy from food or does not work well the defense system against infections or of our nervous system neuronal connections are altered.
Vitamins do not provide energy to the body, i.e. are nutrients along. For this reason, in a diet low calorie or slimming, no reduce the vitamin intake.

How much vitamins should take?

Each of them has a specific recommendation of consumption which is usually quite small and is adjusted to characteristics and situations such as sex, age, pregnancy or lactation. However, and despite need small amounts of vitamin, if we do not keep a complete and varied diet of all the food groups, developing deficiencies with some vitamins is not so uncommon.
In addition, some vitamins are very sensitive to environmental conditions and can inactivate is ceasing to be useful. The direct incidence of sunlight, heat, or even own solubility of some, makes that they can degrade before or during their intake.

Special requirement of vitamins

There are different stages in life as children, pregnancy or breastfeeding, where our body requires an increase of these vitamins, this supplement must be prescribed by a physician, since as mentioned, their abusive intake (hypervitaminosis) can also be harmful to health.
The consumption of alcohol, tobacco, or drug can generate a high vitamin expenditure, which must be taken into account when preparing the daily diet.

Classification of vitamins

Vitamins They are classified into two broad groups according to their solubility (its ability to dissolve): water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Water soluble vitamins

Within this group we find nine vitamins. As the name suggests, these are soluble in aqueous elements, so it is relatively easy to eliminate its excess in the urine. But this same reason, makes it important to keep your intake in a stable way, since they are not stored in the body.
Water-soluble vitamins are:
  • Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid
  • B-group vitamins: are eight vitamins belonging to this group and have all as common denominator, as well as participate in reactions of obtaining energy, a name that consists of the letter B, followed by a number as a subscript:
    • Vitamin B1 or thiamine
    • Vitamin B2 or riboflavin
    • Vitamin B3 or niacin
    • Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid
    • Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine
    • Vitamin B8 or biotin
    • Vitamin B9 or folic acid
    • Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin

Fat-soluble vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are four and have in common the characteristic that is not solubilize in water, but in fat. These vitamins, unlike the water-soluble, yes are stored in fatty tissues of the body (liver, adipose tissue), so it can give, where appropriate, problems of toxicity. In addition, their removal is more difficult, so you have to put special care in cover the recommendations, but not to exceed them. They are as follows:
  • Vitamin A or retinol
  • Vitamin D or calciferol
  • Vitamin E or tocopherol
  • Vitamin K

Vitamin A

Daily recommendations of vitamin A:
800-100 µg Retinol/day equivalent in adults.
Vitamin A, also known as antixerophthalmic, or retinol is fat-soluble.
Vitamin A itself is retinol, but there are also other molecules called carotenoids, which function as pro-vitamin A, since they become this in the intestine and liver. The most abundant is the β-carotene with the particularity of being water soluble.
As a fat-soluble vitamin, can build up in the tissues causing toxicity and resulting in skin, bone, visual disturbances and disorders teratogenic (malformations of the foetus).

Functions of vitamin A

  • Participates in the development and epithelial keratinization and collaborates in the bone and cell growth: maintenance of teeth, and bone and soft tissues as well as the skin.
  • It produces a type of pigments necessary for the proper functioning of the retina and a correct vision.
  • It is involved in processes of reproduction and immunity. Also recommended in lactation and pregnancy, since it favours reproduction and that the embryo develops normally.
  • Protective element against oncological processes is considered.

Food sources of vitamin A

  • As retinol: meat (especially liver and kidneys), butter, milk, cheese, cream eggs.
  • As β-carotene: colored and green vegetables: carrots, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, sweet potatoes and lettuce.
It is also in:
· Peach, melon, mango, apricot, pumpkin.
· Peas.
· Cod (liver oil).

Consequences of the deficit of vitamin A

When a person has your body of vitamin A deficiencies, you may notice a loss of vision, especially in dim light or night situations.
You can also suffer a weakening of your immune system, which makes it more prone to infections, and even problems in the lining of the respiratory tract.

Vitamin B1

Daily recommendations of vitamin B1:
1, 1-1, 5 mg/day in adults.
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, is a water-soluble vitamin of the B group also called antiberiberi factor.
Being a water-soluble vitamin is passed to the cooking water during the culinary treatment and enrich the broth. So, to take higher content in thiamine, it is recommended to not drain dishes.
In some countries where the power base are refined grains, deficiency in this vitamin may be present, it is the case in certain areas of the East.
Certain foods or components of the diet as fish, coffee or tea can cause the destruction of thiamine at the intestinal level.

Functions of vitamin B1

  • It participates in chemical reactions of cellular respiration and is responsible for helping cells convert carbohydrates into energy.
  • He collaborates in the synthesis of fatty acids.
  • It intervenes in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
  • It is involved in the transport of sodium.

Major food sources of vitamin B1

· Pork and liver in general and pig in particular.
· Cereals, bread, legumes, pasta, nuts, eggs.
· Wheat germ, Brewer's yeast, rice bran.
· Fish.
· Lean meats.
· Soy.
· Dairy products.
· Fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin B2

Daily recommendations of vitamin B2:
1, 2-1, 6 mg/day in adults.
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin of the B group also called Flavin mononucleotide.
Riboflavin is also sensitive to environmental conditions. Two hours exposed to sunlight they cause losses of about 85%.
This vitamin is a natural dye that is used as a food additive.

Functions of vitamin B2

  • Participate in chemical reactions of obtaining energy.
  • It causes the activation of other type such as vitamin B6 and folic acid B vitamins.
  • It is essential for the growth of the body.
  • Collaborates in hematopoiesis or formation of blood elements: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • It produces formation of glycogen, which is the storage of glucose.

Sources of vitamin B2

Widespread in nature:
· Yeast beer and fungi.
· Liver and viscera.
· Meats such as beef, pork, lamb and fish.
· Milk and dairy products.
· Eggs.
· Spinach.
· Asparagus.
· Avocados.
· Wheat germ and whole grains.

Vitamin B3

Daily recommendations of vitamin B3:
15 - 19 mg/day in adults.
The vitamin B3, also called niacin, is a water-soluble vitamin of the B group also called Nicotinic Acid and PP (preventive pellagra) factor.
Niacin deficiency causes pellagra, characterized by digestive, skin problems and dementia.
Its consumption recommendations depend on the contribution of tryptophan, a protein component, since part of this is transformed into niacin.

Functions of vitamin B3

  • Eases the nerves along with healthy skin maintenance.
  • You have a lowering effect on cholesterol.
  • Form part of the cellular respiratory chain molecules.
  • It takes part in energy reactions.
  • He collaborates in the synthesis of glycogen.

Food sources of vitamin B3

· Protein foods: lean meats, fish, tree nuts (walnuts).
· Fruits and vegetables.
· Chicken.
· Dairy products.
· Eggs.
· Cereals, Brewer's yeast, wheat germ
· Bread.

Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5

Daily recommendations of vitamin B5:
4 - 7 mg/day in adults.
The Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 is water-soluble. Its name comes from the Greek panthos , meaning 'everywhere', because it is very distributed.
Alcohol consumption impairs absorption of Pantothenic acid.
A certain degree of synthesis of vitamin B there are5 in the body at the intestinal level, but it is not enough to meet the daily requirements.

Functions of Pantothenic acid

  • It is essential in the metabolism of foods (hydrocarbon, protein and FAT).
  • Participate in chemical reactions at the cellular level of energy production.
  • He collaborates in the synthesis of cholesterol and hormones.

Sources of Pantothenic acid

Widespread in the food. Almost all products have Pantothenic acid. However the animal sources are better than the vegetables.
· Eggs.
· Fish.
· Dairy products.
· Vegetables.
· Whole grains.
· Yeast.
· Cabbage.
· Broccoli.
· Potato, sweet potato.

Vitamin B6

Daily recommendations of vitamin B6:
1, 6-2, 2 mg/day in adults.
The vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is water soluble.
Pyridoxine It is quite resistant to oxygen from the air and heat, so it endures better broken down and inactivated.
Vitamin B6 interferes with enough drugs such as penicillin, drugs for Parkinson's disease and some oral contraceptives.

Functions of vitamin B6

  • One of its main functions is the participation which has in the formation of red blood cells and maintenance of brain function.
  • Participates in the synthesis of nerve transmitters.
  • He collaborated in the formation of glycogen.
  • It participates in the formation of groups heme and antibodies.
  • It intervenes in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
  • He collaborates in reactions of obtaining energy.

Food sources of vitamin B6

· Beef, liver, pork, poultry, lamb.
· Seafood.
· Fish liver.
· Egg yolk.
· Dairy.
· Whole grain cereals and their derivatives, legumes, wheat germ, Brewer's yeast.

Biotin or vitamin B8

Daily recommendations of vitamin B8:
30-100 µg / day in adults.
Biotin is water-soluble.
The biotin or vitamin B8 is a water-soluble vitamin of the B group, also known as vitamin H.
There is a small amount of endogenous synthesis of biotin from the intestinal organisms.
Raw egg white contains a substance called avidin, which binds to the biotin and prevents its absorption.

Function of biotin

  • Biotin is involved in enzymatic reactions, such as the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. She is also essential in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Participates in the synthesis and oxidation of fats.
  • It participates in the formation of skin.

Food sources of biotin

Vitamin B8 is very distributed in nature:
· Liver.
· Dairy products.
· Mushrooms and vegetables.
· Eggs.
· Fish.
· Vegetables.
· Whole grains.
· Yeast.
· Cabbage.
· Broccoli.
· Potato, sweet potato.

Vitamin B9 or folic acid

Daily recommendations of vitamin B9:
100-300 µg/day in adults.
Folic acid, also called folate or vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin (i.e. dissolves in water). The denomination of folic acid comes from the latin word folium which means 'leaf', because the main source of this vitamin.
Folic acid is used, as a Protocol, supplementation during pregnancy to prevent defects in the neural tube of the fetus.
Its deficiency is related to the appearance of megaloblastic anemia.
Alcohol, barbiturates, and the antacids are some of the elements that make worse use of folic acid. While vitamin C works on maintenance of folic acid.

Functions of vitamin B or folic acid9

  • Their presence is required in the formation of nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), conveyors of genetic information to cells. In the event that the woman is pregnant is essential consumption quantities needed of this vitamin, as its defect can cause birth defects.
  • He plays a set with vitamin B12 for the formation of red blood cells (RBCs).
  • It participates in the transfer of carbon molecules, essential to synthesize all kinds of compounds.
  • It is involved in the development of the nervous system.

Food sources of folic acid or vitamin B9

· Green leafy vegetables: like spinach, turnip greens, kale, lettuce.
· Some fruits, such as citrus, melon and banana.
· Legumes (beans, beans, beans).
· Meat (especially liver and kidneys).
· Whole grains.
· Milk and eggs.
· Some dried fruits.

Vitamin B12

Daily recommendations of vitamin B12:
2-2, 6 µg/day in adults.
The vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin of the B group, also known as cobalamin. Vitamin B12 is, in fact, a set of molecules with features, structures, and similar functions.
Diets vegan or strict vegetarian, not taking any food of animal origin, poorly raised or designed, can lead to deficiencies in vitamin B12.
Intrinsic factor, a protein that produces gastric mucosa, necessary for the intestinal absorption of vitamin B12. In the case of resection or gastric atrophy, intestinal parasites and alcoholism, the secretion of intrinsic factor is decreased and, therefore, also the absorption of cyanocobalamin.
The cianobalamina is located in the low quantities of food, but is quite stable during cooking, degrading maximum 25%.

Functions of vitamin B12

  • It facilitates the synthesis of red blood cells, and the maintenance of the central nervous system.
  • Involved in the maturation and development of cells in general and the blood in particular. It is part of the Hematopoiesis.
  • He collaborates with cellular integrity.
  • It participates in the creation of nervous tissue.
  • It is necessary for growth.

Food sources of vitamin B12

Fundamentally find vitamin B12 is food of animal origin:
· Eggs.
· Meat.
· Chicken.
· Seafood.
· Milk and milk derivatives.

Vitamin C

Daily recommendations of vitamin C:
Around 50 - 60 mg/day in adults.
Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin also known as antiscorbutic. It is the best known of all the vitamins.
This vitamin is destroyed easily by light, heat, and oxygen up to values between 90-100% of the total content. For this reason, the amount of vitamin C is especially rich in vegetable consumption raw and immediate: fruits and salads. A fresh orange juice exposed to light and oxygen from the air, if not consumed immediately, lost almost all the vitamin C.
Its deficiency results in a disease called scurvy, which was endemic during the middle ages in the Nordic countries.
People who smoke have increased vitamin C needs.

Functions of vitamin C

  • Participate in reactions of cellular oxidation, therefore, is an antioxidant component of the power.
  • He collaborated in the formation of collagen.
  • It is necessary for healing and cellular integrity.
  • He collaborates in the conversion of folic acid and the absorption of iron in the intestine.
  • Participate in neurological reactions.
  • It participates in the Leukocyte system and prevent respiratory infections.
  • He collaborates in the proper maintenance of the mucous membranes.

Food sources of vitamin C

· Citrus fruits and their juices, Orange, lemon, grapefruit...
· Strawberry, strawberries, kiwi, apricot, peach, pear, Apple, melon, tomato.
· Deciduous (leaf green) vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, capsicum.
· Potato.

Vitamin D

Daily recommendations of vitamin D:
5-10 µg / day in adults.
Vitamin D or calciferol is a liposoluble vitamin also known as antirachitic.
Better known as "the sunshine vitamin", because our body is able to produce it when exposed to solar radiation, and may assume to more than 50% of all of the available vitamin. To be able to synthesize the amount sufficient enough to approximately 10 - 15 minutes of sun exposure, three times a week.
Helps the absorption of calcium in the body, maintaining its level in teeth and bones. Therefore, adequate levels of vitamin D in the blood prevent the development of diseases such as osteoporosis and protect against bone fractures.
Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children - which leads to skeletal deformations-, and osteomalacia in adults, causing muscle weakness and bone.
The elderly, obese people, those who have dark skin, and those that used high sun protection, run a major risk of be deficient in vitamin D.
Its toxicity is teratogenic effect and can trigger related calcifications.
Vitamin D is also obtained through the diet, the intake of certain foods. There are also in the market many products rich in vitamin D.

Functions of vitamin D

  • He collaborated in the formation and bone and dental maintenance.
  • It is involved in cell growth and the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscle.
  • It is involved in blood clotting.
  • He collaborates in the maintenance of the level of calcium in the blood.
  • It increases the intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus.

Sources of vitamin D

  • Canned fish and cod liver oil.
  • Butter, margarine.
  • Liver.
  • Eggs.
  • Cheese.
  • Cream, enriched milk.
  • Fish.
  • Oysters.
  • Cereals.

Vitamin E

Daily recommendations of vitamin E:
8-10 mg α-tocopherol per day in adults.
The vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, also known as antiesterilidad or vitamin of fertilization.
As vitamin D are grouped a series of compounds called tocopherols and that increased activity has is the α-tocopherol.
All vitamin E that is taken per day, only is absorbed and passes through the intestinal barrier, from 20 to 40%.
Their toxicity can interfere with vitamin K and cause bleeding.

Functions of vitamin E

  • It helps the body to use vitamin K and participates in the formation of red blood cells.
  • Antioxidant and cellular protection.
  • Protective vitamin A.
  • Prevents muscle degeneration.
  • It participates in the process of reproduction.
  • It improves the immune system.

Food sources of vitamin E

· Germ of wheat, corn, vegetable oils, olives and nuts (walnuts).
· Butter, margarine and egg.
· Green leafy vegetables; like spinach, turnip greens, kale, lettuce.
· Asparagus.

Vitamin K

Daily recommendations of vitamin K:
45-80 µg/day.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. Anti-haemorrhagic is also called.
As vitamin K there are several molecules that have in common their participation in processes of coagulation. Hence its name, by the German word Koagulation. Blood thinners and antibiotics interfere with vitamin K.
A significant proportion of vitamin K is synthesized at the endogenous level in the human intestine.
The toxicity of this component is quite rare.

Functions of vitamin K

  • It is not present in the list of essential vitamins. Although it is important to note that their absence would lead to blood not coagulase.
  • He collaborates in bone synthesis.

Food sources of vitamin K

· Vegetables of green leaf, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, tea and soy.
· Pork liver.
· Cereals, potatoes and tomato.
· Butter, cheese.
Article contributed for educational purposes
Health and Wellness