In my previous post https://nutridietary.health.blog/2020/08/22/a-guide-on-what-should-you-eat-for-a-healthy-living/ we saw about the food groups and the nutrients that these food group provide us. Now the questions arise – why do we need these nutrients ? What does it do to our body? What would happen if you don’t get the required amount? To know the answers read the post till the end.
Nutrients generally fall in 2 categories – micro and macro nutrients. As the name says micro is required in small amount and macro is required in large amount. Macro nutrients include carbs, protein and fat. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are further classified as fat and water soluble vitamins.
Fat soluble vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins are the vitamins that require fat for their digestion and absorption. It includes vitamin A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is naturally present in food and it is important for vision, immune system, reproduction, growth and development.
- Main role of vitamin A is the formation of rhodopsin which helps us to see in dim light. This vitamin is essential for eye health.
- It is also important for strengthening the bone and thus helps to prevent osteoporosis
- It plays an important role in maintaining the immune system by helping in the formation of WBC. This WBC protects our body from the invasion of infections.
- People who have family history of cancer can lower the risk of getting cancer by consuming vitamin A rich food.
- Researches show that vitamin A controls the release of insulin into the blood and hence plays an important role in controlling diabetes.
What would happen if you don’t get enough of vitamin A?
If your body lacks vitamin A then you may get eye related problems like xeropthalmia or night blindness. It may affect growth and development in children and risk the growth of foetus in pregnant women. You may become prone to infections and can cause several health and skin disorders.
Foods rich in vitamin A
Foods that are rich in vitamin A include, green leafy vegetables, red yellow orange fruits and vegetables like orange, carrot, pumpkin, papaya, tomato, watermelon, mango, etc. It is also found in dairy products like milk, butter and cheese. Animal based foods which have vitamin A include egg, fish oils and lean meat.
Vitamin D also called as a sunshine vitamin is an important vitamin that helps for the bone strength. Body can make its own vitamin D when the skin gets exposed to sunlight.
- The main role of vitamin D is to help the body to absorb calcium and promote bone growth and provide strength to bone.
- Apart from promoting bone growth it also helps in regulating the immune system and neuromuscular system.
- It regulates insulin level and thus helps in managing diabetes.
- Getting enough vitamin D also helps in protecting from heart disease, high blood pressure and infections.
What would happen if you don’t get enough of vitamin D?
Lack of vitamin D in the body can lead to bone pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, impaired wound healing, frequent infection, depression, pregnancy complications and frequent falls among elderly people.
Vitamin D deficiency generally occurs in obese individuals, elderly people and person with kidney and liver disease.
Foods rich in vitamin D
Getting sufficient sunlight is the best way to help the body produce sufficient amount of vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fishes (salmon, tuna and mackerel), Egg yolks, cheese, mushrooms and certain vitamin D fortified cereals,oil, etc.
Vitamin E, a fat soluble vitamin is important for vision, reproduction, and health of blood, brain,heart and skin.
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Like how rust develops on a bike and damages it, in our body free radicals damages the cell line of the organ and causes various disease including cancer, kidney disease,etc. This vitamin helps in scavenging and preventing the formation of free radicals and protects the cell from damage.
- It also enhances immune system and prevents the body from invasion of microorganisms.
- It prevents the formation of clots in heart arteries.
- Vitamin E acts as moisturiser for skin and also protects the skin from itching and other infections.
- Studies have shown that taking vitamin E can delay the process of aging.
What would happen if you don’t get enough of vitamin E?
Vitamin E deficiency is rare in healthy people. It is seen only in individuals who cannot digest or absorb fat properly. When body lacks vitamin E, nerves and muscle gets damaged which leads to loss of feelings in the arm, body movements and control. Another sign of deficiency is weekend immune system.
Food sources of vitamin E
Vitamin E is found in plant based oils like sunflower, safflower, soybean oil, nuts like almond, peanut and seeds like sunflower seeds , fruits like mango, avocado and vegetables like pumpkin, red bell pepper, asparagus, spinach, etc.
Vitamin K helps to make various protein required for clotting of blood and the building of bones. Vitamin K is found in most of the organs like liver, brain, heart, pancreas and bone.
- Vitamin K supports the maintenance of strong bones, improves bone density and decreases the risk of fractures.
- Vitamin K may help keep blood pressure lower by preventing mineralization, where minerals build up in the arteries. This enables the heart to pump blood freely through the body.
- Adequate intake of vitamin K have also found to reduce the risk of stroke.
What happens if you don’t get enough vitamin K?
The main symptom of vitamin K deficiency is excessive bleeding. Vitamin K is the nutrient that is required for the formation of blood clot. So, if a person who has low level of vitamin K have any cut or wound he/she would face excessive bleeding. Vitamin K is also essential for bone metabolism. People with low vitamin K can easily be affected by osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Foods rich in vitamin K
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in two forms. The main type is called phylloquinone (k1), found in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spring onions, cabbage, spinach,etc The other type, menaquinones (k2), are found in some animal foods like meat, Egg, dairy products and also fermented products like cheese, etc. Menaquinones can also be produced by bacteria in the human intestine.
Since it is going too big I don’t want to bore you guys. So I thought I would discuss on water soluble vitamins in my next post. So wait till next saturday to know about vitamin B and vitamin C, the vitamin that have gained more importance in the recent times
Eat healthy to live healthy!!!