Nutrition A to Z
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Vitamins and minerals are most important part of out dietary need. These are essentials that our body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are also considered as coenzymes because these help our body’s enzymes in performing daily activities and chemical reactions to support life. Our body needs vitamins and minerals in very less amount and so these are called micronutrients.
People who take a balanced diet receive all the vitamins and minerals from the food they eat. However, some of the food contains more vitamins and minerals than other foods or more of a particular type of vitamin and mineral than others.

In this section, we will discuss, the benefits of vitamins and minerals and the deficiencies caused by a lack of them.


All the vitamins are organic materials i.e. these are either made up of some plants or animals. We need to eat these materials plants or animals or animals fed on these plants to fulfill the need of vitamins and minerals need of our body.
Vitamins are divided into two major categories:

  • Water Soluble Vitamins
  • Oil Soluble Vitamins (also called Fat Soluble Vitamins).

Water Soluble Vitamins (vitamin C and All vitamin B) must be taken daily because our body cannot store them due to solubility in water. Water soluble vitamin pass through our digestive system and then extract out mostly through urine, so we require these vitamins everyday.
Oil soluble vitamins i.e., vitamin A, D, E, K can be stored by the body. Body stores these vitamins for use in different parts of it, for example; body’s fatty tissues, liver, etc.
Both Water-soluble and Oil soluble vitamin are essentials for the body to function properly.

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K


Vitamin A

Vitamin A prevents us from eye problem in particular. This also imparts to a healthy immune system, growth and development of cells and keeps the skin healthy. Vitamin A also plays an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division, and cell differentiation.
Main sources of vitamin A are milk, egg, liver, fortified cereals, dark or green vegetables (i.e. carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and kale) and orange fruits (oranges, cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, papayas and mangos). 
A deficiency of vitamin A makes the body disables to fight infections and night blindness (which can be treated) but if not taken care may turn into permanent blindness.
The deficiency of vitamin may cause due to deficiency of zinc mineral. Zinc is needed to synthesize retinal binding protein (RBP), which carries vitamin A around the body.
Some of the foods are extremely poor in vitamin A content. White rice does not contain vitamin A at all.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin A

  • Males- Approximately 900 micrograms (1 micrograms = 1/1000 of a milligram) each day.
  • Females- Approximately 700 micrograms each day

An over consumption of vitamin A can cause headaches, liver damages, skin color change and deficiency by birth.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Thiamin is necessary for the heart, muscles, and nervous system functioning. This also helps the body to convert carbohydrates into energy.
Some of the good sources of vitamin B1 (Thiamin) are fortified breads, cereals, and pasta along with meat, dried beans, soy foods, peas, and whole grains such as wheat germ.

Recommended intake of vitamin B1

  • Approximately, 1 to 1.2 milligram per day, (1 milligrams = 1000 microgram).

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin changes carbohydrates into energy and produces Red Blood Cells (RBCs). It is also essential for vision and eye’s functioning.
Some of the sources of Vitamin B2 (Riboflovin) are meat, eggs, legumes (peas, lentils, etc), nuts, dairy products, leafy green vegetables. Broccoli, asparagus and fortified cereals.

Recommended intake of Vitamin B2:

  • Approximately 1 to 1.3 milligrams everyday.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is important for nerve function. It also helps in digestion and helps the body to change food into energy.
Some of the sources of Vitamin B3 (Niacin) are red meat, poultry, fish, fortified hot and cold cereals and peanuts.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin B3:

  • Approximately 15 to 16 milligram (1000 microgram) per day.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is necessary for brain and nerve function. It assists the body in breaking of proteins and make Red Blood Cells (RBCs). Pyridoxine is the requirement for over 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism.
Some of the good sources of Vitamin B6 are potatoes, bananas, seeds, nuts, red meat, fish, eggs, poultry, spinach and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B is usually safe at high doses but Vitamin B6 is exception. Higher doses of B6 cause nerve toxicity, which further leads to difficulty in walking, clumsiness, numbness, and / or burning, shooting or tingling pains.

Deficiency of Vitamin B6 causes dermatitis (skin inflammation), glossitis  (a sore tongue), depression, confusion, convulsions, and anemia.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine):

  • 1.2 to 2.0 milligrams (1 milligram = 1000 microgram) per day.

Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)

Vitamin B9 helps the body to keep heart healthy, making Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and protein break down. It also helps in making of DNA and RNA, the building of tissues and prevents the change of DNA, which may lead to cancer.
A research suggests that Vitamin B9 rich diet help in prevention of colon cancer, heart disease, stroke and birth defects.

A deficiency of Vitamin B9 can cause the following health problems:

  • Pregnant women with Vitamin B9 deficiency are at higher risk to give birth a low weight, premature and / or infants with neural tube defects.
  • Infants and Children with Vitamin B9 deficiency can have a slower growth rate.
  • A long-term deficiency of Vitamin B9 in adults can cause a special type of anemia.
  • Other signs of a Vitamin B9 deficiency are: diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, sore tongue, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability, forgetfulness, and behavioral disorders.
  • A high level of homocystine in the blood, which might result in cardiovascular disease, also may happen due to deficiency of Vitamin B9.

Some of the sources of Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) are dried beans, legumes, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, oranges, poultry, fortified bread, noodles and cereals.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin B9:

  • Approximately 400 microgram (1 microgram = 1/ 1000 milligram) each day.


Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 contains element Cobalt and hence called cobalamin. This vitamin helps in building of DNA in all cells, prepare Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and significant in nerve cell functioning and maintenance.
Some of the sources of Vitamin B12 are milk, cheese, fish, poultry, red meat. It's also added to some breakfast cereals.

A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can cause irreversible nerve damage. It may also cause   numbness, tingling sensations in hands and feet, anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, memory loss, mental confusion, depression, dementia, blurred vision, and soreness of the mouth or tongue.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin B12:

  • Approximately 2 to 2.5 microgram each day.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C is required for collagen the binding tissue that helps in keeping cells together. A deficiency in Vitamin C makes the bones week. It is required for teeth, gums and blood vessel. This vitamin helps the body in absorption of calcium and iron; aids in wound healing and contribute to the brain functioning.
Some of the sources of Vitamin C are red berries, kiwifuit, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, red and green bell peppers and fruits like guava, grapes, and orange.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin C:

  • Males: Approximately 75 gram each day.
  • Females: Approximately 65 grams each day.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body in maintaining the level of Calcium and Phosphorus. It makes our bones strong and works in association with other vitamins, minerals and hormones to promote mineralization. It also helps in maintaining healthy immune system, and cell growth and cell division.
A deficiency of Vitamin D causes a disease called Rickets particularly in children.
Some of the known sources of Vitamin D are: egg yolks, fish oil, fortified food. Ultraviolet rays are natural source of Vitamin D, which you can get from Sunlight.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin D:

  • Approximately 5 micrograms each day.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an anti oxidant. It protects the cells from threat to radicals. Free Radicals are natural by products of oxygen metabolism, which add to chronic disease like cancer and heart problems.
Some of the sources of Vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts (almond nuts) , green leafy vegetables, avocados, whole grains and wheat.
A deficiency of Vitamin E causes neurological problems like nerve degeneration in hands and feet.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin E

  • Approximately 15 milligrams each day.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for the development of strong bones. Vitamin K also helps in coagulation of blood. A deficiency in Vitamin K leads to gum bleeding, hematomas, hemorrhaging, easy bruising etc.
Some of the sources of Vitamin K are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach and soybeans.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin K:

  • Males- Approximately 80 milligrams per day.
  • Females- Approximately 65 milligrams per day.


n Nutrition

n Malnutrition

n Metabolism

n The 5 Food Groups

n Vitamins

n Good Fats Vs Bad Fats

n Carbohydrates

n Dietary Guidelines

n Minerals

n Height and Weight Charts

n Glossary of Terms

n Contact Us

n Home


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