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Vitamins are an organic compounds delivered mainly from the diet. They help to develop and maintain human body in good health condition. In majority of the cases, those nutrients are delivered from food in suitable quantities, but sometimes their levels need to be replenished or reduced. Certain disorders, as well as bad eating habits or individual dietary preferences, may cause either excess or insufficiency of particular vitamins. Although eating a healthy diet is the best remedy to correct those abnormalities, supplementation might also be recommended.
Currently, there are 13 different types of those organic compounds, that can be divided into 2 categories. There are vitamins soluble in water or fat. Those water soluble are not stored in large amounts, and are absorbed when needed. Any excess is being constantly removed during urinating. On the other side, vitamins soluble in fat are stored in larger quantities inside the body, and are used when necessary.
They are divided into:
- Vitamins soluble in water include: vitamin B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-7 (biotin), B-9 (folic acid), B-12 (cobalamin) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
- Vitamins soluble in fat include: vitamin A, D, E and K
Diseases related to abnormal level of vitamins
Excess or insufficiency of those organic compounds can result in various diseases. For instance, lack of vitamins B can cause Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, angular stomatitis, pellagra, paresthesia, anemia or dermatitis. Insufficiency of vitamina A and C can result respectively in nyctalopia (night blindness) and scurvy. What is more, deficiency of vitamin B-9, also called as folic acid, before or during pregnancy might cause neural tube defects.
On the other side, too high intake of certain vitamins can also be harmful. Overdose of niacin leads to liver damage, vitamin B-5 to diarrhea or nausea, B-1 to muscle disorders and high levels of folic acid can mask vitamin B-12 deficiency. Apart from this, other diseases caused by too high intake include Hypervitaminosis A or D and vitamin C megadosage. In extreme incidents, too high levels of certain vitamins can interfere with medications or medical tests.
They can be found naturally in variety of foods, especially in fruits and vegetables. However, some of those organic compounds are prone to losses during cooking, thus it is recommended to eat raw products occasionally. It needs to be mentioned, that vitamin D and K are constantly being produced by organism, and their deficiency is relatively rare.
Particular vitamins can be found in:
- Vitamin A – liver, carrots, broccoli, spinach or pumpkin.
- Vitamin B family – brown rice, eggs, fish, avocado and banana.
- Vitamin C – almost all fruits and vegetables, and especially in orange, lemon, kiwi fruit, strawberry and apple.
- Vitamin D – fish, milk and mushrooms.
- Vitamin E – spinach, asparagus, pepper, blackberries, olives and avocado.
- Vitamin K – parsley, spinach, mustard greens, basil and turnip.
Exceptionally, vitamin D might be delivered from a sunlight throughout the skin. That is why in countries with low insolation patients tend to have vitamin D insufficiency.
Supplementation is required, when those type of nutrients are not delivered in suitable quantities or disease is restricting their absorption. It needs to be noted, that in United States vitamin supplements are regulated as foods, whereas in Europe Union they are regulated just like drugs.