Vitamins are essential nutrients for the body to function properly. Together with proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and minerals, these organic compounds are essential for life and come from the food we eat, but today they can also be taken thanks to supplements and tablets.
Some of these active ingredients are only needed in very small doses, because the body is able to store and dose them. However, an excessive deficiency of any of them can damage a person’s overall health, affecting their growth and emotional balance.
Contrary to other nutrients, vitamins do not provide energy directly. However, they are essential for the proper maintenance of energy reserves. In this article, we will look at some elements to better understand why vitamins are basic in human nutrition.
What are vitamins and what are they for?
Vitamins are “essential nutrients”. Without them, the body could not function properly. The body cannot make them, so you need to incorporate them through food.
These organic compounds are responsible for controlling the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Put simply, they allow humans to transform what they eat into energy.
In addition, vitamins participate in the formation of certain chemicals necessary for the nervous system, as well as hormones and red blood cells. They are also responsible for regulating the metabolic system and, ultimately, are necessary for the growth and overall health of a living organism.
Fresh fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins that fulfill these basic functions. However, no food alone offers all the vitamins you need.
For all these reasons, it is very important to follow a diversified diet and consume different types of foods. So as to cover the body’s vitamin needs and avoid dangerous deficiencies.
Vitamin A plays a very important role because it protects the body from infections, as well as the skin and mucous membranes. It also helps prevent night blindness. The daily requirement for this vitamin is only 0.8-1 mg.
Some of the foods that offer a good source of vitamin A are: carrots, spinach, beets and squash. Cheese, egg yolks and some fish, such as tuna, are also very important ingredients in a healthy eating routine.
Vitamins of group B
B vitamins are essential for turning food into energy. They also contribute to the proper functioning of the nervous system and heart.
- Vitamin B1 is found mainly in: meats, eggs, nuts, cereals, peanuts, chickpeas and lentils.
- B2: plays a primary role in eye and skin health. It is found in cheese, eggs, meat, milk, mushrooms, coconut, lentils, and almonds, among others.
- B3: contributes to the functioning of the digestive system and the nervous system, improves the quality of the skin. It can be found in: wheat, yeast, liver, fish such as salmon and tuna.
- B6: serves for the regulation of the central nervous system. The main sources of this vitamin are: lentils, chickpeas, chicken, pork, banana, avocado and egg.
- B9: it is essential for the formation of cells and DNA, so it is vital during the first month of pregnancy. It is found in lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, spinach and walnuts.
- B12: Helps prevent anemia and is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It is found in carrots, tomatoes, eggs, nuts and milk.
Vitamins C, D and E
Vitamin C, probably the best known to the general public, has antioxidant properties and increases the absorption of calcium and iron. It is mainly found in fruits such as kiwi, orange, lemon, blackberry and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.
Vitamin D is also of crucial importance and is mainly obtained from ultraviolet sunlight. It can be found in foods such as oily fish, egg yolk, liver and milk mainly.
Finally, vitamin E protects cell membranes. It is found in some vegetable oils, nuts, avocado, fish and whole grains.
As you have seen, each vitamin is important and performs fundamental functions for the human body. Eating a diet rich in vitamins will allow your body to defend itself better and prevent many diseases.