Essential vitamins and minerals, along with other nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fats, are crucial for the growth and maintenance of a healthy body. These 4 essential vitamins have distinct roles in promoting overall health. While a balanced diet can provide most people with their daily vitamin and mineral requirements, different foods provide varying amounts of these nutrients. In some cases, individuals may have conditions that necessitate additional vitamin or mineral supplementation beyond what they obtain from their regular diet.
Vitamin A is great for eye vision. Eating carrots won't give you night vision, but it's not entirely a myth that they can help improve vision in dim conditions. The main nutrient in carrots is beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body and helps your eyes adjust to low light. Consuming lots of Vitamin A can support eye health.
Apart from improving vision, vitamin A also plays a role in white blood cell production, bone remodeling, maintenance of healthy endothelial cells, and regulation of cell growth and division needed for reproduction. There are two main forms of vitamin A in the human diet: sourced from animals and gained from plants, which are converted to retinol in the body. Additionally, there are other carotenoids in food, such as lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, that don't convert to vitamin A but still have health-promoting properties.
B vitamins are essential for converting carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy, as well as for cell development, growth and function. B vitamins can be obtained through a balanced diet that includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and fortified cereals, breads and pastas. Supplements may be necessary for those with deficiencies or difficulty obtaining enough B vitamins through their diet, but it's important to consult with a physician before taking any supplements. B vitamins do not provide energy on their own and should be obtained through a balanced and nutritious diet.
Your body requires vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, as a vital nutrient to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. In addition to this, vitamin C plays a crucial role in the healing process of your body.
Being an antioxidant, vitamin C protects your cells against the damaging effects of free radicals - molecules that your body produces during food breakdown or exposure to tobacco smoke, radiation from the sun, X-rays, and other sources. Free radicals may lead to various diseases. Vitamin C also helps in the absorption and storage of iron.
Since your body cannot produce vitamin C on its own, you must obtain it through your diet. Citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach are some of the food sources that contain vitamin C. Furthermore, vitamin C supplements are available in the form of oral capsules and chewable tablets.
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. The two major forms of vitamin D are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is found in some plant-based foods, while vitamin D3 is produced by the skin in response to sunlight exposure and is also found in some animal-based foods.
Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are important minerals that are necessary for bone health. Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem worldwide, especially in regions with limited sunlight exposure or diets low in vitamin D-rich foods. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include muscle weakness, bone pain, fatigue, and an increased risk of infections.