Vitamines

vitamin is an organic molecule (or related set of molecules) which is an essential micronutrient—that is, a substance which an organism needs in small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism but cannot synthesize, either at all or in sufficient quantities, and therefore must obtain through its diet.

In this lesson, you will learn about vitamins and the different types your body needs. You will also learn how vitamins function in your body, by the use of specific examples.

Vitamins Defined

If you are like most people, you’ve probably heard at least one of these sayings: ‘Don’t forget to take your vitamins!’ or ‘Eat your veggies — they are packed with vitamins!’ or maybe ‘Need more energy? Take your vitamins!’ But what exactly are vitamins?

Vitamins are nutrients your body needs to function and fight off disease. Your body cannot produce vitamins itself, so you must get them through food you eat or in some cases supplements. There are 13 vitamins that are essential to your body working well. Knowledge of the different types and understanding the purpose of these vitamins are important for good health.

Types and Examples of Foods

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your fat cells, consequently requiring fat in order to be absorbed. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in your body; therefore, they need to be replenished daily. Your body takes what it needs from the food you eat and then excretes what is not needed as waste. Here is a list of some vitamin types and common food sources:

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin A – comes from orange colored fruits and vegetables; dark leafy greens, like kale
  • Vitamin D – can be found in fortified milk and dairy products; cereals; (and of course, sunshine!)
  • Vitamin E – is found in fortified cereals; leafy green vegetables; seeds; nuts
  • Vitamin K – can be found in dark green leafy vegetables; turnip/beet greens.

Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamin A carotenoids (most notably beta-carotene).Vitamin A has multiple functions: it is important for growth and development, for the maintenance of the immune system and good vision.Vitamin A is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of retinal, which combines with protein opsin to form rhodopsin, the light-absorbing molecule[5] necessary for both low-light (scotopic vision) and color vision. Vitamin A also functions in a very different role as retinoic acid (an irreversibly oxidized form of retinol), which is an important hormone-like growth factor for epithelial and other cells.

Vitamine B

B vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Though these vitamins share similar names, they are chemically distinct compounds which often coexist in the same foods. In general, dietary supplements containing all eight are referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific number or name of each vitamin: B1 = thiamine, B2 = riboflavin, B3 = niacin, etc. Some are better known by name than number: niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin and folate.

Vitamine C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid, is a vitamin found in food and used as a dietary supplement.The disease scurvy is prevented and treated with vitamin C-containing foods or dietary supplements. Evidence does not support use in the general population for the prevention of the common cold. There is, however, some evidence that regular use may shorten the length of colds.It is unclear if supplementation affects the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or dementia. It may be taken by mouth or by injection.

Protein

What Are Protein?

Protein is a macronutrient that is essential to building muscle mass. It is commonly found in animal products, though is also present in other sources, such as nuts and legumes.

“When protein is broken down in the body it helps to fuel muscle mass, which helps metabolism,” said Jessica Crandall, a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes educator and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It also helps the immune system stay strong. It helps you stay full. A lot of research has shown that protein has satiety effects.”

For example, two recent studies showed that satiety, or feeling full after a meal, improved after consuming a high-protein snack. A 2014 study published in the journal Nutrition compared afternoon snacks of high-protein yogurt, high-fat crackers and high-fat chocolate. Among the women who participated in the study, consuming the yogurt led to greater reductions in afternoon hunger versus the chocolate. These women also ate less at dinner compared to the women who snacked on crackers and chocolate.

A similar study published in 2015 in the Journal of Nutrition found that adolescents who consumed high-protein afternoon snacks showed improved appetite, satiety and diet quality. The teens also had improved moods and better cognition.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 10 to 35 percent of daily calories come from protein. How that equates to grams of protein depends on the caloric needs of the individual. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the amount of protein foods a person should eat depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity. Most Americans eat enough food from this group, but need to make leaner and more varied selections of these foods.

A safe level of protein ranges from 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight [2.2 lbs.], up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram for very active athletes,” said Crandall. “But most Americans truly need to be eating about 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.”

Most people need 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal, said Crandall. “For example, that’s 2.5 egg whites at breakfast or 3 to 4 ounces of meat at dinner.” She said that most American women are not getting anywhere close to adequate protein at breakfast. “That could be hindering their muscle mass, their metabolism and their hormone levels.”

Crandall cautioned parents against stressing protein consumption for their children, who typically get sufficient protein easily. “It’s important to focus on fruits and vegetables for kids, but protein supplementation for kids is going overboard,” she said. When considering how to get protein into kids’ diets, parents should focus on whole foods and natural sources.

After water our body is mostly composed of proteins. Indeed, proteins are the main component of cells and are essential to life. Proteins are often called “the building blocks of life”.

Proteins have complex structures: they are made up of many smaller units called amino acids. These are linked together in a chemical bond forming a long chain. Some of these amino acids are called “essential”, meaning they are crucial for life but cannot be produced by the human body and must be gained through one’s diet.

There are many different types of proteins in the body. For example:

  • Muscle mass is made of protein
  • Collagen which provides strength and structure to tissues (e.g. cartilage)
  • Skin, hair and nails which are mainly composed of proteins
  • Hemoglobin which transports oxygen around the body
  • Most hormones which act as your body’s chemical messengers are also proteins
  • Enzymes which regulate all aspects of metabolism; they support important chemical reactions that allow you to digest food, generate energy to contract muscles, and regulate insulin production
  • Antibodies which play a role in your immune response

 

Supplement In a Bottle

Supplements aren’t for everyone, but older adults and others may benefit from specific use of dietary supplements.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that your nutritional needs should be met primarily through your diet. But the guidelines go on to say that for some people, supplements may be a useful way to get nutrients they might otherwise lack.

Before you shop for supplements, get the facts on what they will and won’t do for you.

In our ‘on-demand’, fast paced society people like a quick fix. And it is no different when it comes to health.

In Australia, a whopping 75% of people take health supplements, grimly juxtaposed to the pathetic statistic of the 5% who eat the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables.

Taking supplements has become firmly entrenched in people’s health regimens. Most people feel it doesn’t really matter what they eat as long as they are taking their vitamins. RIGHT?

Supplements vs. whole foods

Supplements aren’t intended to substitute for food. They can’t replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Whole foods offer three main benefits over dietary supplements:

  • Greater nutrition. Whole foods are complex, containing a variety of the micronutrients your body needs.
  • Essential fiber. Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, provide dietary fiber. As part of a healthy diet, fiber can help prevent certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it can also help manage constipation.
  • Protective substances. Many whole foods are also good sources of antioxidants — substances that slow down a natural process leading to cell and tissue damage. It isn’t clear that antioxidant supplements offer the same benefits as antioxidants in food. Some high-dose antioxidant supplements have been associated with health risks.

Who needs supplements?

If you’re generally healthy and eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish, you likely don’t need supplements.

But supplements — or fortified foods — might be appropriate in some situations:

 

Dietary supplements also may be appropriate if you:

  • Don’t eat well or consume fewer calories than needed
  • Are a vegan or a vegetarian who eats a limited variety of foods
  • Follow any other type of diet that restricts an entire category of foods
  • Don’t obtain two to three servings a week of seafood, which supplies omega-3 fatty acids for heart health
  • Have limited milk intake due to lactose intolerance or milk allergy, or simply don’t consume enough dairy foods
  • Have heavy bleeding during your menstrual period
  • Have a medical condition that affects how your body absorbs or uses nutrients, such as chronic diarrhea, food allergies, food intolerance, or a disease of the liver, gallbladder, intestines or pancreas
  • Have had surgery on your digestive tract and are not able to digest and absorb nutrients properly

Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about which supplements and what doses might be appropriate for you. Be sure to ask about possible side effects and interactions with any medications you take.

Choosing and using supplements

If you decide to take a vitamin or mineral supplement, it’s important to:

  • Talk to your doctor. Supplements can cause harmful effects if taken in certain combinations, with certain prescription medications or before surgery or other medical procedures.
  • Check the label. Product labels can tell you what the active ingredient or ingredients are, which nutrients are included, the serving size and the amount of nutrients in each serving.
  • Watch what you eat. Vitamins and minerals are being added to a growing number of foods, including breakfast cereals and beverages. If you’re also taking supplements, you may be getting more than you realize of certain nutrients. Taking more than you need is expensive and can raise your risk of side effects.
  • Avoid megadoses. Taking more than the recommended daily values (DVs) can increase your risk of side effects. Children are especially vulnerable to overdoses of vitamins and minerals.

Keep up with supplement safety alerts

Being sold in the marketplace doesn’t make a supplement safe or effective.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a list of dietary supplements that are under regulatory review or that have been reported to cause adverse effects. If you’re taking a supplement, it’s a good idea to check the FDA website periodically for updates.

Keep in mind, though, that the FDA doesn’t regulate or oversee vitamin and supplement content or claims to the same degree as it does prescription medications.

 

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