Food contains all beneficial nutrients, macromolecules and micromolecules. They provide energy to the body through the food that is consumed.
Macromolecules include carbohydrates, proteins, fats and micromolecules include vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins and minerals are required by the body to carry out normal functioning, growth and development. These micronutrients are not produced in our body and we can obtain them from the food we eat.
Vitamins are organic substances that are generally classified as either fat soluble or water soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K, they dissolve in fat and accumulate in the body.
Water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins. They dissolve in water before they can be absorbed by the body and therefore cannot be stored.
Minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium, iron and zinc are needed in very small amounts and can be obtained from plant sources, animal sources, milk and milk products.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 recommends that people should aim to meet their nutrient requirements through a healthy eating pattern that includes nutrient-dense forms of foods.
Vitamins are needed in minimum quantity but if the quantity is not sufficient enough, the deficiencies can lead to various disorders.
Let us understand the advantages of vitamins, their sources and the disorders caused by their deficiencies.
Also called as Retinol, is a fat soluble vitamin, which is stored in fat cells.
It’s required for good vision, a healthy immune system and proper growth of bones, teeth and skin.
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, increased infection risk and skin issues.
Vitamin A can be obtained from plant sources like pumpkin, carrots, spinach, green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, milk and milk products, meat.
Vitamin D also referred to as “calciferol” is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in few foods. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal bone mineralization.
The deficiency of vitamin D leads to weakening and softening of bones resulting in osteoporosis.
Severe lack of vitamin D in children causes rickets, which are seen as incorrect growth patterns, weakness in muscles, pain in bones and deformities in joints.
Vitamin D is obtained from sunlight but the other sources include milk, eggs, fish such as salmon, tuna and fish oils.
Vitamin B complex is composed of eight B vitamins namely B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. Each of these essential vitamins is necessary for overall body function.
They play a vital role in maintaining good health have a direct impact on energy levels, brain function and cell metabolism.
Vitamin B complex helps in preventing infection, in maintaining a healthy appetite, growth of red blood cells, proper nerve function.
Vitamin B12 also known as COBALAMIN, is necessary for keeping nerves healthy, supporting the production of DNA and red blood cells, as well as maintaining normal brain function.
Deficiency of Vitamin B causes megaloblastic anemia, a condition where large abnormally shaped red blood cells that do not function properly, loss of appetite, tiredness, giddiness, discolouration of the skin.
Vitamin B can be obtained from green leafy vegetables, cheese, eggs, meat such as chicken and red meat, fish such as tuna, salmon.
It is also called ascorbic acid, plays many important roles in the body.
In particular, it is key to the immune system, helping prevent infections and fight diseases.
As this vitamin is water soluble it cannot be stored in the body, so people need to get this vitamin from their diet everyday.
Vitamin C is available in abundance in many natural sources, including fresh fruits and vegetables. The richest sources include: Indian gooseberry, citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and tomatoes, kiwi fruit, strawberries, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, capsicum, spinach and fortified cereals.
Deficiency of vitamin C leads to Scurvy which causes general weakness, low grade fever, anemia, gum disease. and skin hemorrhages.
Like Vitamins, minerals help the body grow and stay healthy. The body uses minerals in building strong bones to send nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones and enzymes.
There are various kinds of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron and sulfur.
Iron is important in making red blood cells and its main function is to carry oxygen around the body, so the cells produce enough energy.
Iron helps remove carbon dioxide. When the body's iron stores become so low that not enough normal red blood cells can be made to carry oxygen efficiently, a condition known as iron deficiency anemia develops.
When levels of iron become low, it becomes difficult for the red blood cells to carry oxygen efficiently causing iron deficiency anemia.
Symptoms observed are fatigue, weakness, pale skin, fingernails, dizziness and headache.
Sources of iron :-
Plant-based sources of iron include beans, nuts, soy, vegetables and fortified grains. Animal sources of food include meat and seafood.
Consuming vitamin-C-rich foods increases iron absorption.
Calcium is a vital nutrient that is needed by all living organisms for building and maintaining bone and teeth development. It plays a role in muscle movement and cardiovascular function.
A person with calcium deficiency may experience muscle aches, cramps, spasms, pain in the thighs, arms while walking, numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, feet and legs.
Sometimes low levels of calcium cause extreme fatigue, which involves a lack of energy and an overall feeling of sluggishness. It can also lead to insomnia.
Calcium can be obtained from a range of foods and drinks such as yogurt, milk and milk products like cheese, tofu and green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds especially almonds, sesame and chia.
Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, support normal growth and development.
They are required in minimal quantities but if the requirement is not met adequately, the deficiencies may lead to disorders.
In order to maintain health in good condition and proper development of overall growth, intake of a balanced diet is necessary.
It is said……..
So eat a balanced diet including all varieties of food…….
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