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Know Your Vitamins!

Vitamins are organic compounds and are essential nutrients required for the body. They are present in small traces in natural food. 

Vitamins come in two forms: Fat-soluble and water-soluble. Vitamins that are fat-soluble are kept in the body's fatty tissues and liver. Vitamins that are fat-soluble are kept in the body's fatty tissues and liver. A, D, E, and K are examples of fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and leave the body via the urinary tract. As a result, the body requires frequent delivery of these vitamins. The water-soluble vitamins include vitamins B and C.

Different types of vitamins:

Vitamin A – Vitamin A is essential for health as it boosts immunity and aids in cell growth, vision, and fetal development. It possesses anti-oxidant qualities and reduces the incidence of lung cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It is a crucial nutrient for eye health and guards against some eye illnesses. Vitamin A is essential for both male and female reproduction because it aids in the formation of sperm and eggs. Additionally, it is vital for placental health as well as for the growth, development, and maintenance of fetal tissue.

Additionally, it aids in lowering the likelihood of developing acne. Vitamin A is also involved in the creation of B cell and T cells which protects the body against diseases bringing immunity to the body. It is also a necessary nutrient for bone development. Deficiency in Vitamin A increases the risk of diseases like blindness, measles, diarrhoea, anaemia, skin diseases, and poor bone health. Foods that are high sources of vitamin A include egg yolks, butter, cod liver oil, chicken liver, salmon, cheddar cheese, papaya, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B – A group of water-soluble vitamins known as vitamin B, or vitamin B complex, contains chemically unique molecules that are essential for a healthy body. Vitamin B aids in the process of turning the carbohydrates in the diet into glucose, the body's primary energy source. Included in it are the following vitamins:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) – It is necessary for the body's neurological system, heart, and brain to operate normally. It aids in the body's synthesis of energy and the metabolism of carbohydrates. Vitamin B1 improves vision and strengthens the immune system. Additionally, it maintains the kidney's healthy functioning and lowers the chance of kidney disorders. It is crucial for mental health and lowers the risk of disorders like Alzheimer's and memory loss. Deficiency in Vitamin B1 increases the risk of diseases like Beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, heart diseases, and kidney diseases and impacts eye health. Sources of Vitamin B1 include rice, cereal, bread, pasta, pork, poultry, peas, nuts, dried beans, soybeans, and lentils.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – It is essential for the body's ability to produce energy and aids in the breakdown of lipids and amino acids. It also slows the ageing process by acting as an antioxidant. Additionally, it is necessary for the body's production of antibodies and red blood cells. The thyroid is kept active by vitamin B2, which also safeguards the brain and digestive systems. Additionally, it aids in enhancing eye and skin health. It maintains the development of reproductive organs, the immune system, and bodily tissues such as the skin, connective tissue, eyes, mucous membranes, hair, and the neurological system. Additionally, vitamin B2 is essential for the body's production of proteins, tissue repair, and wound healing. It also helps in the absorption of minerals and other vitamins in the body and enhances immunity in the body. Deficiency in Vitamin B2 causes slow metabolism in the body, poor eye health, anaemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, parched lips, split nails, skin and hair problems, impaired nerve function, poor digestion, and poor mental health. Rich sources of Vitamin B2 include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, beans, mushrooms, avocados, dried peas, spinach, asparagus, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, whole-grain bread, millets, and nuts.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – Vitamin B3 helps in aiding enzymes that convert food into energy. It is responsible for cellular metabolism and plays a role in cell signalling and formation and repair of DNA and also acts as an antioxidant. Vitamin B3 may help to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce LDL (good) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thus, decreasing the risk of heart diseases. Studies show that Vitamin B2 also helps in improving blood circulation and reducing blood pressure. It also protects the insulin-creating cells in the pancreas and may help in lowering the risk of type 1 diabetes. It is also found to improve skin health and boost brain function. According to Dr Sherry Ross, women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, "Niacin has a role in producing certain hormones in the adrenal glands and helps remove harmful chemicals from the liver."

Individuals deficient in Vitamin B3 are at risk of developing a disease called pellagra which involves developing flaky skin, digestive problems, mental disease, and diarrhoea. Deficiency in Vitamin B3 also causes poor blood circulation, indigestion, vomiting, canker sores, depression, memory loss, headache, loss of appetite, constipation, and fatigue. Food sources rich in Vitamin B3 include chicken liver and breast, tuna, turkey, salmon, peanuts, milk, eggs, avocadoes, brown rice, whole wheat, mushrooms, green peas, potatoes, and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B5 – For the body to operate properly, vitamin B5 is a crucial ingredient for the production of blood cells. The body may use the food's lipids, proteins, and carbs for energy and the repair of its organs, tissues, and muscles thanks to its assistance in breaking down these nutrients. It aids in managing blood cholesterol levels as well as supporting the digestive system. Additionally, it moisturizes the skin and hastens wound healing. It also improves brain health and assists in lowering stress and anxiety.

Deficiency in Vitamin B5 increases sensitivity to insulin and causes tiredness, depression, irritability, sleep disorders, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems, and rheumatoid arthritis. Top sources of Vitamin B5 include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes, corn, avocados, potatoes, whole-grain cereals, nuts, beans, peas, mushrooms, eggs, lentils, dairy products, fish, meat, and poultry. 

Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 plays a significant role in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism and the formation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters. It helps in regulating emotions, improves mood, and reduces premenstrual syndrome, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, it enhances brain function and lowers the danger of Alzheimer's disease. Because it is crucial for the creation of blood haemoglobin, vitamin B6 guards against anaemia. In pregnant women, Vitamin B6 comes as a saviour in treating nausea and morning sickness. Additionally, it aids in controlling blood cholesterol levels and guards against heart disease and artery blockages. It also lowers the risk of the development of colorectal cancer and breast cancer. In particular, age-related eye problems are helped to be prevented by vitamin B6. Rheumatoid arthritis patients' inflammation is reduced by it.

Deficiency in Vitamin B6 increases the risk of diseases like Anaemia, skin diseases, depression, low immunity, kidney diseases, and autoimmune diseases. Foods rich in Vitamin B6 are potatoes, bananas, chickpeas, salmon, tuna, poultry, nuts, fortified cereals, whole grains, beans, papayas, and oranges.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) – An essential nutrient, folic acid supports healthy cell growth and the creation of red blood cells. Given that it aids in the creation of DNA and other genetic material, it is crucial for maintaining prenatal health. It also has a big impact on early pregnancies because it lowers the incidence of brain and spine birth abnormalities. Additionally, it helps to improve renal, diabetic, brain, and inflammatory health. Folic acid helps in reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers and also helps in treating depression.

Deficiency in Folic acid or Vitamin B9 increases the risk of congenital irregularities and causes fatigue, weakness, irritability, headache, heart palpitations, tongue and mouth sores, and anaemia. A high quantity of folic acid is found in foods such as oranges, whole-wheat products, dried beans, peas, lentils, beet, broccoli, liver, brussels sprouts, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, banana, papaya, avocado, boiled egg, grapefruit, kale, lemons, melons, and strawberries.

Vitamin B12 – The synthesis of red blood cells, as well as the healthy operation of the brain and nervous system, depends heavily on vitamin B12. It improves thinking ability and prevents congenital abnormalities. Additionally, it prevents macular degeneration in the eyes and aids in the production and management of DNA. It is essential for the body to produce energy. Birth defect risk is lowered thanks to vitamin B12, which also protects from anaemia and heart conditions. It promotes healthy bones and guards against osteoporosis. Additionally, it elevates mood and treats depression. The body's hair, skin, and nails benefit from vitamin B12.

Deficiency in Vitamin B12 increases the risk of anaemia, birth defects like neural tube defects, osteoporosis, macular degeneration in the eye, depression, memory loss, fatigue, heart diseases, and dermatological problems. Vitamin B12 is found in abundance in beef, pork, eggs, poultry, lamb, fish, and dairy products.

Vitamin C – A vital ingredient for the body is vitamin C. Due to the fact that it is a water-soluble vitamin, it must be consumed orally with food or supplements. It is an effective antioxidant and supports the body's immune system, which helps it combat inflammation. According to research, vitamin C may help lower blood pressure, levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, which lowers the risk of heart disease. It might also aid in lowering blood uric acid levels, preventing gout attacks. Supplements of vitamin C help in absorbing iron from the diet, thus reducing the risk of iron deficiency or anaemia. Studies have shown that taking vitamin C quickens the healing process of wounds. Vitamin C helps in the production of WBC in the blood and thus, protects the body against infections. It also has a positive impact on the memory and thinking capability of the brain with ageing. Vitamin C reduces the severity of the common cold and its recovery time in both children and adults. Individuals deficient in Vitamin C are likely to develop scurvy, fatigue, malaise, anaemia, heart diseases, gout, and dementia. Natural food sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, kiwi, lemon and grapefruits, strawberry, bell pepper, broccoli, kale, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, and green peas.

Vitamin D – Vitamin D, also referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," is created in the body when UV rays from the sun interact with unique receptors on the skin. It aids in regulating how much calcium and phosphate are absorbed from the diet. Phosphorus is necessary for healthy bones, muscles, teeth, nerves, and general bodily function, and calcium enhances bone health. Strengthening bones and muscles, reducing inflammation, enhancing heart health, and boosting immunity are all benefits of vitamin D. Additionally, it aids in the reduction of body weight and lowers the risk of diseases including the flu, respiratory infections, and multiple sclerosis. Deficiency in Vitamin D causes tiredness, aches and pains, bone or muscle pain, stress fractures in the legs, pelvis, and hips, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, inflammation, hair loss, hypertension, eczema, arthritis, osteoporosis, respiratory diseases, allergies, asthma, heart diseases, and depression. Foods that are rich in Vitamin D are fish, egg yolk, milk, oatmeal, yoghurt, cheese, butter, cod liver oil, almonds, and mushrooms.

Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a nutrient with antioxidant capabilities necessary for healthy blood, skin, brain, vision, and skin. Heart disease and fatty liver disease risks are decreased. Additionally, it helps women with severe menstruation discomfort and pelvic pain. Lung function, skin health, and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease may all benefit from vitamin E. It lowers the risk of adult and pediatric asthma, lowers inflammation, and enhances immunological function in older persons. Vitamin E deficiency can lead to poor vision, damage to the peripheral nerves, ataxia (loss of control of body movement), a decrease in immunity, and nerve pain. Foods rich in Vitamin E include mango, kiwi, tomato, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, canola oil, olive oil, meat, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, avocado, red bell pepper, and fortified cereals.

Vitamin K – Vitamin K is an essential nutrient required by the body for its healthy functioning. It plays an important role in blood coagulation, calcium metabolism, and heart health. It improves bone health and lowers the risk of osteoporosis. It may improve dental health and helps fight against cancer. Vitamin K may help in improving memory in older adults. It also regulates blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and prevents internal bleeding. Vitamin K reduces excessive menstrual flow, menstrual pain, and nausea during pregnancy in women and also prevents haemorrhaging in newborn babies. It also protects the digestive system and the immune system and also reduces the risk of developing cancer in the prostate, colon, stomach, liver, and nasal and oral cancers. Deficiency in Vitamin K leads to an increase in the time of blood clotting, internal bleeding, haemorrhaging, and osteoporosis. Dietary sources of Vitamin K include green leafy vegetables, canola oil, soybean oil, eggs, meat, cheese, legumes, and berries. Vitamins are highly essential for the smooth and healthy functioning of the body. Therefore, to have the required amount of vitamins in the body, we must include the food sources rich in all vitamins in our diet or by consuming vitamin supplements. 

Know Your Minerals!

The body needs minerals to remain healthy. Our bodies use minerals for a variety of purposes, including maintaining healthy bones, muscles, hearts, and brains. The synthesis of hormones and enzymes depends on minerals.

Zinc – A necessary nutrient with numerous important functions in the body is zinc. It is necessary for a number of bodily functions, including the synthesis of proteins and DNA, wound healing, immune system operation, gene expression and enzyme responses, and body growth and development. The health of the skin and the efficient operation of the taste and smell organs are both dependent on it. It supports the functions of the neurological system, digestive system, and metabolism. Particularly in elderly persons, zinc boosts the immune system and lowers the risk of illnesses. It is frequently used in hospitals to treat burns, skin injuries, and ulcers. It lowers the risk of age-related illnesses such as infections, macular degeneration, and pneumonia. Zinc may also help in treating acne by reducing inflammation.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency include skin rashes, fertility issues, decreased immunity and appetite, impaired growth and development, mood disturbances, chronic diarrhoea, delayed sexual maturity, impaired wound healing and behavioural issues.

Foods rich in zinc include meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, nuts and seeds, eggs, dairy products, whole grains, mushrooms, kale, peas and beet greens.

Chromium – Chromium is a crucial trace element that improves insulin sensitivity and facilitates the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. It functions as an antioxidant and encourages the body's use of insulin. In women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, chromium aids in lipid reduction and glycemic control maintenance. It boosts muscle mass, promotes protein synthesis in the body, and decreases the amount of glucose that is turned into fat. Additionally, it lessens hunger and food intake, which helps with weight loss. It aids in treating diabetes and enhancing heart health.

Although chromium deficiency is very rare, people with low levels of chromium are found to be suffering from fatigue, anxiety, neuropathy, muscle weakness, impaired tolerance of blood glucose levels and less efficiency in the control of cholesterol.

Food sources of chromium include broccoli, apples, bananas, grapes, potatoes, peas, green beans, whole grains, seafood, meat, cheese and eggs.

Calcium – The body has most of this mineral. It is essential for preserving bone and tooth health as well as the strength of the body. It helps in muscular control, weight management, and the transmission of nerve signals between the body and the brain. Additionally, it promotes blood flow and releases hormones and enzymes that support bodily functioning. In addition to lowering the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, calcium may help prevent colon cancer. It lessens the chance of hypertension, preeclampsia, and early delivery in expectant women.

Deficiency in calcium causes osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets in children.

Dietary sources rich in calcium are milk, yoghurt, cheese, sardines, salmon, broccoli, kale, cabbage, spinach, nuts, beans, tofu and oranges.

Copper – Copper is an essential trace mineral found in all body tissues and aids in the formation of red blood cells and the regulation of nerve cells and the immune system. It helps in the absorption of iron from food and energy production. It may help in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Copper contains antioxidant properties and may help prevent arthritis. It also plays a role in the growth and development of babies in the womb.

Low levels of copper can increase the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, anaemia, loss of skin pigmentation, thyroid problems, infections and Alzheimer’s disease.

Top food sources of copper are liver, oyster, lobster, mushroom, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, whole grains, beans, potatoes, cocoa, black pepper and dark chocolate.

Iron – Iron is a vital mineral for the proper functioning of haemoglobin in the blood. It helps in many processes of the body including the immune system, gastrointestinal processes, regulation of body temperature, production of energy and focus. It is important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It helps in better athletic performance, improves mood and fights fatigue.

The symptoms of low levels of iron in the body are tiredness, difficulty in concentration, poor energy, shortness of breath, anaemia, pale skin, heart palpitations, headaches, itchiness, hair loss, and frequent illness. Iron deficiency may also lead to premature delivery in pregnant women.

Food sources of iron include potatoes, broccoli, watermelon, oranges, kiwi, bell peppers, oats, spinach, tofu, cashew nuts, tomatoes, lentils and dark chocolate.

Iodine – Iodine is a mineral that occurs naturally in soil, seas, and oceans. It is a mineral that is crucial for our bodies. Goitre risk is decreased while thyroid health is promoted. It aids in the treatment of thyroid cancer as well as the control of an overactive thyroid gland. It is essential for the neurodevelopment of foetuses in pregnant women and enhances a child's brain health. Iodine is also linked to newborns' good birth weights. Both fibrocystic breast disease treatment and infection prevention may benefit from it. To make water potable, iodine is used to disinfect it. In case of nuclear emergencies, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of potassium iodide (KI) to protect the thyroid gland from radiation injuries.

Deficiency in iodine increases the risk of goitre, pain in the thyroid gland, fatigue, hair loss, depression, poor brain health, difficulty in swallowing, breathing difficulties and weight gain. Babies whose mothers had iodine deficiency during their pregnancies are more likely to have lower IQs and low intellectual ability.

Iodine is found in iodized salt, seafood and fruits and vegetables.

Molybdenum – The body uses molybdenum, an essential trace mineral, to break down proteins and other molecules. Sodium molybdate, a type of molybdenum, is used to treat copper deficiency and prevent tooth decay. The majority of the molybdenum that is stored in the body is transformed into a molybdenum cofactor that activates vital enzymes. These enzymes are in charge of a number of chemical processes in the body, including the removal of toxic byproducts of metabolism, preventing the dangerous formation of sulphites in the body, assisting the liver in the breakdown of alcohol and drugs, and breaking down the DNA building blocks when they are no longer required.

Although molybdenum deficiency is very rare in humans, its long-term deficiency increases the risk of oesophageal cancer. A rare genetic disorder called molybdenum cofactor insufficiency causes babies to be born unable to produce molybdenum cofactor, which prevents them from activating the critical enzymes needed to carry out crucial chemical reactions in the body, ultimately leading to their death.

Rich sources of molybdenum include beans, lentils, grains, liver and kidneys.

Selenium – A crucial trace mineral known as selenium, it is required for several bodily functions, including thyroid and metabolism. It functions as a potent antioxidant and may lower the incidence of breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancer development. It enhances cognition in those with Alzheimer's disease and lowers the risk of heart disease. Selenium supports thyroid health, eases asthma symptoms, and strengthens the immune system. According to studies, it may also lower the incidence of miscarriage and stop HIV from developing into AIDS. In addition to these conditions, selenium is used to treat enlarged prostate, hepatitis C, diabetes, Kashin-Beck disease, low birth weight, muscular dystrophy, selenium deficiency, inflammatory bowel disease, Kashan disease, and Osgood-Schlatter disease. It is also used to treat blood infections, asthma, pancreas infections, swelling after surgery, psoriasis, eczema, and itchy and scaly skin (psoriasis).

Selenium deficiency may increase the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, premature ageing, thyroid diseases, asthma, low immunity and AIDS.

Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, seafood, meat, tuna, brown rice, eggs, and white bread.

Magnesium – Magnesium is a crucial mineral for the brain and body. It regulates blood sugar levels and boosts athletic performance. It acts as a cofactor and helps in various biochemical reactions in the body, viz., protein formation, energy creation, creation and repair of DNA and RNA, muscle contraction and relaxation, and regulation of the nervous system. It improves the mood and functioning of the brain. It promotes heart health, prevents migraine attacks and fights inflammation. Magnesium helps in relieving symptoms related to Premenstrual Syndrome, promotes bone health, reduces anxiety and supports sound sleep.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle twitches and cramps, poor mental health, osteoporosis, fatigue, high blood pressure, asthma, inflammation, diabetes, and irregular heartbeat.

Best sources of magnesium include almonds, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, peanuts, popcorn, oats, cashews, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cocoa, coffee, salmon, spinach, peanut butter and avocado.

Ginseng – The plant ginseng is well known for improving physical well-being. It has been utilised for many years in traditional Chinese medicine. It possesses anti-inflammatory qualities and antioxidant capabilities. It promotes mood, cognition, and behaviour while enhancing brain health. It boosts the effectiveness of immunizations against diseases like influenza and strengthens the immune system. Additionally, it aids in lowering the risk of several malignancies. According to studies, ginseng also aids men with erectile dysfunction by enhancing penile blood flow and muscular relaxation. Ginseng boosts energy and combats fatigue.

Additionally, it increases insulin synthesis, lowers blood sugar levels, and enhances pancreatic cell activity. Ginseng enhances mental function and cognition.

However, due to the lack of evidence on its safety, ginseng is not recommended for children or pregnant or lactating women.

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