Types of Vitamins
Vitamins are essential nutrients for the body, and they help our body to function properly. There is a wide range of vitamins, and each vitamin plays a different but important role for the body. Therefore, to stay healthy, it is necessary to keep the levels of each vitamin balanced.
Because vitamins participate in more than hundreds of human body activities, we should know about them. In this article, we are talking about types of vitamins, their requirements in the human body, sources, etc. Before discussing the types of vitamins, let us first understand the definition of vitamins:
What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are a group of many substances necessary for normal cells' functioning, growth and development. They are organic compounds that are generally consumed in small quantities by the human body. It is not possible to synthesize vitamins in the body. Most vitamin needs come from food obtained through the diet. The person requires vitamins regularly because they are either not often consumed or regularly consumed in sufficient amounts. This mainly depends on the vitamin type. Vitamins participate in various metabolic processes of the body.
Classification of Vitamins
Although there are several vitamin types, they are all grouped under two broad categories. Vitamins are either soluble in fat or water; otherwise, they are dissolvable. Therefore, based on their solubility properties in fats and water, vitamins are classified into the following categories:
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in body cells, fatty tissues, and the liver. They are not consumed by the body more often than water-soluble vitamins. If fat-soluble vitamins exceed certain limits, they can behave like toxic. Despite this, these vitamins can remain in the human body for days or months because they are consumed in adequate amounts.
Fat-soluble vitamins involve four different vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins are not collected in the body. They travel freely through the body, and an excess amount of these vitamins is discharged from the body by urine. However, the body keeps a small reserve, and therefore, small amounts of these vitamins are needed to prevent deficiency. Although water-soluble vitamins do not act as toxic in excess, they can cause some other serious harm in the body. Water-soluble vitamins contain nine different vitamins, such as vitamin C and all types of B vitamins.
Types of Vitamins
Typically, there are 13 important types of vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12). Let us discuss each type:
This vitamin has many chemical names, such as retinal, retinol, and 'the four carotenoids', including beta carotene. Vitamin A is essential for good vision and a strong immune system. This vitamin helps create or maintain various organs, bones, healthy skin, teeth, soft tissue, better reproductive system etc. Some common vitamin A sources include eggs, fish, broccoli, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, milk, and more. If the body does not receive sufficient vitamin A, it can cause a disease called xerophthalmia. It can also cause night blindness and keratomalacia, making the clear eye layer very dry and cloudy.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
This vitamin helps in generating various enzymes needed to break down blood sugar. Also, vitamin B1 helps the body cells to convert carbohydrates into energy. Women must obtain adequate carbohydrates during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Thiamine is the chemical name for vitamin B1 and is very important in the heart's functioning and keeping nerve cells healthy. Some good sources of this vitamin include cereal grains, yeast, pork, brown rice, potatoes, sunflower seeds, oranges, and more. In the case of thiamine deficiency, it can cause diseases like beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, etc.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
This vitamin works with other types of B vitamins. It mainly helps in the growth of the body, production of red blood cells and metabolizing food. The chemical name for the B2 vitamin is riboflavin. Some good sources of this vitamin include bananas, eggs, fish, green beans, yogurt, milk, cheese and more. In the case of riboflavin deficiency, it can cause inflammation of the lips and fissure in the mouth.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Vitamin B3 helps the body maintain good skin, cells, and nerves. Additionally, it can also cause cholesterol to be reduced when high doses of it are consumed. Besides, when the level of vitamin B3 in the body is low, it can cause pellagra disease. This can result in diarrhea, intestinal irritation and unnatural skin changes. The chemical names for vitamin B3 include niacin and niacinamide. Some good sources of this vitamin include leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, carrots, eggs, tomatoes, milk, and more.
The chemical name for vitamin B5 is Pantothenic acid. This vitamin is mainly required for the food metabolism process. Also, it plays an essential role in the development of energy, hormones and cholesterol. In case of deficiency of this vitamin, it can cause paresthesia symptoms, or 'pins and needles'. Some good sources of vitamin B5 include yogurt, broccoli, whole grains, avocado etc.
Vitamin B6 is also known by its chemical names, such as pyridoxamine, pyridoxine, and pyridoxal. This vitamin is beneficial for the development of red blood cells and also helps maintain brain functioning. Despite this, vitamin B6 also plays a crucial role in the management of proteins in the body. The more protein we consume, the more vitamin B6 our body needs. Some good sources of vitamin B6 include nuts, squash, bananas, chickpeas, etc. In the case of low levels of vitamin B6, it can cause anemia and peripheral neuropathy.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Vitamin B7 mainly helps the body in the metabolism process of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Furthermore, it is essential for the development of cholesterol and hormones in the body. Besides, vitamin B7 contributes to keratin, a structural protein required for skin, nails, and hair. The chemical name for vitamin B7 is known as biotin. If biotin levels are low in the body, it can cause dermatitis or intestinal inflammation. Some good sources of vitamin B7 are cheese, broccoli, egg yolk, spinach, and more.
Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)
Vitamin B9 is mainly known as folate, which works well with vitamin B12 to make red blood cells in the body. Other chemical names of this vitamin include folic acid and folinic acid. This vitamin helps produce DNA and RNA, which further helps regulate cell functioning and tissue growth in the body. To avoid any problems during childbirth, women are always said to have sufficient folate during pregnancy. In the case of low folate deficiency, it can affect the fetus's nervous system during pregnancy or cause congenital disabilities such as spina bifida. Some good sources of this vitamin include sunflower seeds, leafy vegetables, some fortified cereals, peas, legumes etc. Most foods and fruits contain moderate amounts of folate.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Like most vitamins, vitamin B12 also helps in the metabolic process. Additionally, it can produce red blood cells in the body to keep the central nervous system healthy. The chemical names of vitamin B12 are cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin. In the case of vitamin B12 deficiency in the body, it can cause some anemia types or neurological problems. Some good vitamin B12 sources include fortified soy products, fortified cereals, fortified nutritional yeast, fish, eggs, and many dairy products.
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and participates in bone formation, collagen production, wound healing and maintaining healthy teeth and gums. It also helps the body to absorb a sufficient amount of iron to keep the body tissues healthy. Besides, vitamin C supports a strong immune system and blood vessel production. Ascorbic acid is the chemical name of vitamin C. If vitamin C is low in the body, it can cause tooth loss, slow wound healing, poor tissue development, bleeding gums and more. Fruits and vegetables are best known for providing vitamin C; however, cooking destroys vitamins' presence.
The main source of vitamin D is sunshine, and hence, it is also known as 'sunshine vitamin'. Usually, ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight without sunscreen is sufficient to meet the body's vitamin D requirement. Chemical names for this vitamin include ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol. Like calcium, vitamin D also helps in the formation of bone tissue and strengthens bones. This ultimately plays an essential role in fighting germs. If vitamin D levels are low in the body, it can cause rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, or even soften bones. Some other vitamin D sources include fortifying cereals, fish, eggs, mushrooms, milk, and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body and helps the body form a strong defense system against diseases. It also helps the body to produce red blood cells and prevent oxidative stress. Chemical names for vitamin E include tocopherol and tocotrienol. Although vitamin E deficiency is rare, it can cause hemolytic anemia in newborns. This problem usually destroys the red blood cells in the body. This problem usually destroys red blood cells in the body. Some good vitamin E sources include leafy green vegetables, wheat, corn, nuts, margarine, eggs, almonds, kiwis and vegetable oils.
Vitamin K is essential for the body because it primarily participates in blood clots. Blood coagulation would not be possible without the presence of this vitamin. It can also sometimes help in the production of healthy bones. In the case of vitamin K deficiency in the body, it can result in internal clot formation and lead to severe bleeding diathesis or internal bleeding. This vitamin is commonly found in natto, figs, parsley, pumpkin and leafy green vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, and spinach.
Measurements for Vitamins
Vitamins are measured in several ways. Some of the most common measurements include milligram (mg), microgram (mcg), and an international unit (IU). In particular, micrograms are most commonly used for measuring very small amounts of vitamins. A milligram consists of 1,000 micrograms. Besides, an international unit's size usually varies based on the vitamin or drug to be measured.