Essential vitamins are classified as either water soluble, meaning that they dissolve easily in water, or fat-soluble vitamins, which are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of lipids (fats).
In general, water-soluble vitamins are readily excreted from the body, while fat-soluable vitamins are stored in the fatty tissues.
Vitamins are typically used in multiple reactions and, therefore, most have multiple functions.
In humans there are 13 essential vitamins: 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C).
Information below was excerpt from KBets at Cylive.com
List of Essential Vitamins
Vitamin A (Beta-carotene, Retinol)
Source(s): Fruits (squash, cantaloupe, mangoes, watermelon, apricots); vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, red and yellow peppers, mustard greens, spinach, carrots, pumpkin); eggs & diary products, liver, fish oils.
Beta carotene is a precursor to essential vitamin A - the body converts this previtamin-A compound found in plants into vitamin A. Vitamin A is readily destroyed upon exposure to heat, light, or air.
It is a component of a pigment present in the retina of the eye. Vitamin A is one of the essential vitamins for the proper functioning of most body organs and also affects the functioning of the immune system. It promotes bone growth, teeth development and reproduction. It helps form and maintain healthy skin, hair, mucous membranes.
Deficiency in Vitamin A - a powerful antioxidant - results in various disorders that most commonly involve the eye and the epithelial tissues--the skin and the mucous membranes lining the internal body surfaces. An early symptom of vitamin A deficiency is the development of night blindness, and continued deficiency eventually results in loss of sight. If deficiency is prolonged, the skin may become dry and rough and eventually lead to defective bone and teeth formation.
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol)
Source(s): Fish (salmon, cod-liver oil, sardines, mackerel); organic egg yolk; sunlight; Vitamin-D-fortified milk
Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins for calcium metabolism in animals and therefore important for normal mineralization of bone and cartilage. The skin forms vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but in some circumstances sunlight may lack sufficient amounts of ultraviolet rays to bring about adequate production of the vitamin.
Vitamin D regulates growth, hardening and repair of bone and teeth. It works with calcium to control bone formation.
Deficiencies cause many biochemical and physiological imbalances. If uncorrected, faulty mineralization of bones and teeth causes rickets in growing children and osteomalacia (progressive loss of calcium and phosphorus from the bones) in adults. Rickets may produce such conditions as bowlegs and knock-knees. Common early symptoms of rickets include restlessness, profuse sweating, lack of muscle tone in the limbs and abdomen, and delay in learning to sit, crawl, and walk. Deficiency may also cause osteoporosis, a bone condition characterized by an increased tendency of the bones to fracture.
Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol)
Source(s): Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts); Vegetable oils (corn oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil), dark green leafy vegetables; wheat germ, whole-wheat flour
This vitamin promotes normal red-blood-cell formation. Its primary role appears to be as an inhibitor of oxidation processes in body tissues. It acts as an anti-blood clotting agent. It protects cell membranes against lipid peroxidation & destruction.
Deficiency of this vitamin causes edema and hemolytic Anemia in children. Although serious toxicity has not been attributed to large doses of vitamin E, adverse effects have been reported.
Vitamin K (Menadiol)
Source(s): Alfalfa; Vegetables (brussel sprouts, soybeans, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower); soybeans, green tea, oats, cheddar cheese
Vitamin K is one of the essential vitamins for the synthesis of certain proteins necessary for the clotting of blood (prevents abnormal bleeding).
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Source(s): Citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, lemons, mangos, strawberries, tomatoes, tangerine, black curant, guava, papaya); vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, rose hips, potatoes, cabbage, green peppers, collards, sweet and hot peppers)
Vitamin C is essential in wound healing and in the formation of collagen, a protein important in the formation of healthy skin, tendons, bones, and supportive tissues.
Deficiency is marked by joint pains, tooth/gum defects, irritability, growth retardation, anemia, shortness of breath, and increased susceptibility to infection (slow wound healing). Scurvy is the classic disease related to deficiency. Symptoms peculiar to infantile scurvy include swelling of the lower extremities, pain upon flexing them, and bone lesions.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine or thiamin chloride)
Source(s): Vegetables (garbanzo beans, kidney beans, soybeans); whole wheat, brown rice, brewery yeast, beef (liver, kidney), pork, salmon, peanuts, oatmeal, milk.
Vitamin B1 helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy and helps in the metabolism of proteins and fats. It maintains normal function of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and peripheral nervous systems.
Beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (often seen in alcoholics) are the primary diseases related to thiamine deficiency. General symptoms of beriberi include loss of appetite and overall lassitude, depression, digestive irregularities, nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of numbness and weakness (tingling) in the limbs and extremities.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Source(s): Milk, cheese, yeast, organ meats (liver, kidney), chicken, almonds
Vitamin B2 is required to complete several reactions in the energy cycle, i.e., release of energy from food. It helps maintain healthy mucous membranes lining the respiratory, digestive, circulatory and excretory tracts. It preserves integrity of nervous system, skin and eyes.
Reddening of the lips with cracks at the corners of the mouth, inflammation of the tongue, eyes sensitive to light, dizziness, trembling, insomnia, scaly inflammation of the skin are common symptoms of deficiency. Low riboflavin (B2) levels have been reported (a cause or result) in 81% of patients with cataracts.
Vitamin B3 (niacin & niacinamide)
Source(s): Peanuts, green vegetables, beans, Whole wheat, yeast, lean meats, chicken,turkey, veal, pork, fish (salmon, tuna, swordfish) & liver.
Vitamin B3 is one of the essential vitamins that help in the metabolism of carbohydrates. It reduces cholesterol and triglycerides in blood (dilating blood vessels). It maintains normal functioning of the skin, nerves and digestive system.
Prolonged deprivation leads to pellagra, a disease characterized by skin lesions, gastrointestinal disturbance, and nervous symptoms. Weakness, fatigue, swollen (red) tongue, dermatitis, diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, skin lesions, memory loss, irritability, insomnia and lack of appetite are other common symptoms of vitamin B3 deficiency.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid, calcium pantothenate)
Source(s): Meats of all kinds, liver, yeast, soybeans, peas, sunflower seeds, lentils, peanuts, corn, eggs, wheat germ, lobster, blue cheese
Pantothenic acid is one of the essential vitamins that promotes a large number of metabolic reactions essential for the growth and well-being of animals.
Deficiency in experimental animals leads to growth failure, skin lesions, and graying of the hair. Vitamin B5 deficiency severe enough to lead to clear-cut disease has not been described in humans.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine, aka pyridoxal phosphate)
Source(s): Fruits (banana, avocado, hazelnuts); vegetables (carrots), lentils, bran, fish (tuna, salmon), shrimp, wheat germ, whole wheat, rice, soybeans
Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme for several enzyme systems involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It promotes red-blood-cell formation, maintains chemical balance among body fluids, regulates excretion of water, and helps in the normal function of the brain.
Fatigue, anemia, skin lesions, nerve dysfunction, irritability are common deficiency symptoms.
Vitamin B9 (Folic acid - aka folate, pteroyglutamic acid, folacin)
Source(s): Fruits (orange), vegetables (peas, beans, soybeans, chickpeas, cabbage, lettuce), barley, rice, wheat & wheat germ, yeast, sprouts
Folic acid is an essential vitamin and is necessary for the synthesis of nucleic acids and the formation of red blood cells. It maintains nervous system, intestinal tract, sex organs, white-blood cells and normal patterns of growth.
Folic-acid deficiency most commonly causes (hemolytic and megaloblastic) anemia. Symptoms include irritability, weakness and other gastrointestinal signs such as sore tongue, cracks at the corners of the mouth, diarrhea, and ulceration of the stomach and intestines.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Source(s): Milk and milk products; blue cheese, Swiss cheese, eggs, beef, beef liver, clams, sardines, yeast.
Vitamin B12 is a complex crystalline compound that functions in all cells, but especially in those of the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, and the bone marrow. It is one of the essential vitamins known to aid in the development of red blood cells in higher animals.
Deficiency most commonly results in pernicious anemia, weakness, fatigue, red sore tongue, nerve degeneration, nausea, appetite (and weight) loss, bleeding gums, confusion and dementia, headache, yellow eyes and skin, and shortness of breath.
Vitamin H (Biotin)
Source(s): Cashew nuts, peanuts, walnuts, lentils, soybeans, split peas, green peas, oats, brown rice, yeast, milk, egg yolks, liver, cheese, tuna, and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin H plays a role in metabolic processes that lead to the formation of fatty acids, and the utilization of carbon dioxide. It facilitates metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates. It promotes normal health of sweat glands, nerve tissue, bone marrow, male sex glands, blood cells, skin and hair.
Biotin deficiency results in anorexia, nausea, muscle pains, lassitude, vomiting, inflammation of the tongue, pallor, depression, dermatitis, and hyperesthesia of the skin.
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