Vitamins – The Elixir of Life

 

We all know that vitamins are important to our metabolic functions but many of us might not be aware of the irreplaceable role they play in our health and wellness. These vitamins, without which our body cannot continue its normal course of function  are termed as essential vitamins.
This article touches on the essential vitamins that are required for a healthy functioning body, the health benefits caused by each of them and the sources from which those vitamins could be got.
Vitamin A:

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Health Benefit: 1.

Promotes healthy eyes & good eye sight

  1. General body growth & development
  2. Helps gain healthy teeth & skin
  3. Aids in mucous membrane development which in turn helps increase immunity

Source: Found in abundance in carrots. Also found in other foods like sweet potato, water melon, musk melon, turnip, winter squash & spinach. The absorption of vitamin A happens readily in an accelerated manner if the carrot is raw or semi-cooked.
Vitamin B: (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 & B12)

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Health Benefit:

  1. Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) aids to maintain proper nerve transmissions throughout the body
  2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) & vitamin B3 (Niacin) help in energy production by breaking down proteins, carbs and fat in the food3.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) helps maintain the nervous system

  1. Improves immune function
  2. Aids in absorption of iron by the body
    Source: Found in huge amounts in potatoes, chilli peppers, lentils, beans, yeast, molasses and meat. A bowl of whole grain cereal can supply the required B complex vitamins that are required for the day.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is heavily found in sunflower seeds. It is also found in black beans, lentils and yellowfin tuna.

The best source of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is the liver of cattle (sheep, goat or cow). The second best source is cow’s milk. Two large glasses of cow’s milk can take care of the B2 requirement for the day.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is found mainly in turkey breast, chicken breast and tuna. One more reason, to munch on that chicken and grab another tuna sandwich.
Vitamin C:

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Health Benefit:

  1. Boosts immune system
  2. Strengthens blood vessels
  3. Gives elasticity to skin and avoids formation of wrinkles
  4. Acts as an anti-oxidant in the body
  5. Aids in absorption of iron by the body
  6. Maintain the connective tissues in the cartilage and tendons

Source: Vitamin C is found in abundance in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons etc. It is also found in broccoli. A small bowl of broccoli or an orange should take care of the vitamin C requirement for the day.
Vitamin D:

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Health Benefit:

  1. Aids in Calcium absorption by the bones
  2. Plays an important role in proper functioning of muscles

Source: Vitamin D is found in small quantities in milk and sea food, but, it is found in traces and we cannot meet the daily requirement for the body from these foods. However, the good news is that our skin has the ability to produce vitamin D by itself provided we expose it to the sun.
Hence, this vitamin is also known as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’. Exposure to early morning sun rays is the best way to allow our body to produce vitamin D while still not getting burnt by the sun.
Vitamin E:

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Health Benefit:

  1. Plays a key role in repairing worn out or damaged tissues in the body
  2. Acts as an anti-oxidant
  3. Helps regulate the flow of blood throughout the body
  4. Boosts immune system

Source: A handful of almonds a day should be enough to take care of the vitamin E requirements of the day. Vitamin E is also found in olives, spinach and papaya fruit.
In addition to these, sunflower seeds contain vitamin E in large quantities. It can also be found in ripe tomatoes.
Vitamin K:

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Health Benefit:

  1. Aids in the clotting of blood after injury

Source: Kale is rich in vitamin K. It is also present in spinach, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and broccoli. For best results it is advisable to consume these either raw or semi-cooked rather than fully cooking them.
People who are not used to a whole food habit, resort to vitamin supplements to meet the daily requirement of these essential vitamins. While it is not harmful to take vitamin supplements, it is essential that we do not overdose on any of the vitamins as consuming over and above the requirement has a lot of ill effects on the body metabolism.
Care needs to be exercised while calculating the amount of supplements that are to be consumed. It is safer to consult a certified nutritionist/physician before consuming supplements.

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