Vitamins are substances with complex structure (organic compounds) which can not be synthesized by the body, but their presence in the human body is absolutely necessary for the fulfillment of its essential functions.
In contrast to proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, vitamins are not a source of calories and we need them in much less quantities.
Why do we need vitamins?
Each vitamin has certain specific role in the human body.
Vitamin A plays an important role in your eyes health, in preserving the integrity of epithelial tissues, mucous membranes and the skin, defending against infections and in the processes of growth and development of the human body.
Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus in the body circuit, extremely important for bone health.
Vitamin E has an antioxidant function, protecting the cell membranes of certain substances (such as unsaturated fatty acids) against destruction caused by oxidizing compounds.
Vitamin K has the leading role in the synthesis process of the liver regarding some of the factors involved in blood clotting, but it seems to be involved in the process of fixing calcium in the bones too.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is involved in the management of information via nerve fibers and various chemical reactions that carry out the transformation of carbohydrates in the body and their use for energy production.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (vitamin PP, niacin) also participates in various chemical reactions, oxidation-reduction type serving to making of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) also has a defensing role against infections and it is a presence virtually constant in all metabolic pathways.
Vitamin B6 and vitamin H (biotin) are also involved in many chemical reactions that are carried out continuously in the human body.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and folic acid are essential for the normal metabolic processes involved in the formation of heme and DNA strands and proteins (thereby ensuring the normal growth and cell reproduction).
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) also participates in the coordination of various metabolic functions in infection defense and collagen synthesis, helps iron absorption and acts as the body’s defense structures against oxidizing agents.
Where do we procure vitamins from?
Vitamin A is found in animal products, usually in association with lipids (for example, dairy products and liver), as well as in the margarine. Precursors of vitamin A (carotenoids) found in colored plants (yellow and red fruits and vegetables).
During high temperature cooking (grilling) or by exposure to light a large amount of vitamin A is lost, which explains the low content of vitamin A in dried fruits versus fresh fruits.
Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines, cod) and yeast. Varying amounts can be found in butter, liver, eggs, milk.
In turn, vegetable oils are the most important sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, considerable quantities of this vitamin are found in nuts, grains, fish, meat, green vegetables (broccoli, spinach).
Vitamin K is mainly found in green legumes, and smaller amounts are found in milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, cereals, vegetables and fruits.
Vitamin B1 is widespread in food, the most important quantity can be found in pork meat. Large quantities are also found in whole grains, potatoes, yeast and fish.
The heat, ionizing radiation and oxidation destroys vitamin B1, but it is stable in frozen products.
Vitamin B3 is mainly found in dietary products such as meat and fish products. Large quantities are also found in vegetables and fortified cereals, while maize and rice contain very small quantities.
Vitamin B3 is not destroyed by heat, but lost when the food is cooked in large quantities of water.
Vitamin B5 is found in the animals organs such as liver and kidney but also in cereals, vegetables and meat, whereas lower quantities are found in milk, fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin B6 is widely distributed in foods, can be found in large quantities in meat, offal, whole grains and vegetables. Stable when exposed to heat, vitamin B6 is destroyed by the light.
Vitamin B12 is found only in animal food sources: liver, kidney, lean meat, eggs, milk and cheese. Vitamin B12 does not change its properties during thermal preparation.
Folic acid is found in vegetable (spinach, asparagus, broccoli), mushrooms, liver, and meat products, bread, dry beans.
Folic acid is a vitamin relatively stable, but during storage or cooking can lose its properties.
Large amounts of vitamin H is found in the liver, milk, egg yolk and cereals; but biotin is synthesized by bacteria and intestinal flora. Vitamin H is destroyed by heat.
Vitamin C can be found both in vegetable and animal products. The main sources are fruits and vegetables.
Refrigeration and quick freezing preserves vitamin C, but cooking in water will make the Vitamin C lose its properties.
In recent years, more and more scientific research was concerned with determining the quantities of vitamins each person should consume (child and adolescent, adults, pregnant women or lactating etc.) to maintain an optimal state of health.
One thing perhaps less known is that excessive consumption of vitamins can cause toxic effects, especially if you consume fat-soluble vitamins that are stored in the liver and adipose tissue.
Water-soluble vitamins do not accumulate in the body, any surplus being eliminated through the digestive system and the kidneys.
Choose the right foods to include in your daily diet and become healthier and happier. Having a healthy lifestyle will eventually lead to a lean and good looking body without excess fat and many diseases linked to obesity.
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