Nutrition Lesson #5-Vitamins Part 2

What is Nutrition?

It is the science that links foods to health and disease. It includes the ingestion, digestion, absorption, transportation and excretion of that food.

First there is food, and then there are nutrients. Food provides energy through calories. Nutrients are the substances obtained from the food we eat that are vital for growth and maintenance of a healthy body. There are 6 sources of these nutrients. They are carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.

I am going to go over each of these on a different day on my website.  I will always link to the back posts so those of you that are new can catch up.

Four weeks ago we talked about Carbohydrates. You can read that post here.

Three weeks ago we talked about Lipids. You can read that post here.

Two weeks ago we talked about Proteins. You can read that post here.

One week ago we talked about Vitamins Part 1. You can read that post here.

Today we are going over Vitamins Part 2, so let’s jump  in. Good things to know about them:

  • They provide 0 calories per gram (yeah!!)
  • They are defined as “essential organic substances needed in small amounts in the diet for normal function, growth and maintenance of the body.
  • There are TWO groups: Fat Soluble (A, D, E, K) and Water Soluble (B & C Vitamins)

Let’s take a closer look at the individual vitamins, what they do for our bodies and (in some cases) what a deficiency or excess amount can do.

Thiamin (formerly called B-1)

Your body uses thiamin to help release the energy from the carbs you eat. So it’s important. The carbs don’t do your body any good without the thiamin around to break them apart and release the energy they have. Thiamin deficiency leads to a disease called beriberi. Symptoms include weakness, loss of appetite, irritability, poor coordination and deep muscle pain in the calves. It  is common in areas where rice is a staple and white rice in consumed rather than brown rice. A good daily recommendation is 1.1 to 1.2 milligrams per day. This vitamin is water soluble and therefore does not build up toxicity levels. Excess amounts are easily excreted in the urine.

Sources:Lean ham, Pork chops, Wheat Germ, Acorn Squash, Soy Milk, Flour Tortillas, Watermelon and Orange Juice.

Riboflavin (formerly called B-2)

This vitamin is also used in many processes that create energy for your body. It also plays the role of an anti-oxidant. A deficiency leads to inflammation of the mouth and tongue, cracking of tissues around the corners of the mouth, various eye disorders, and sensitivity to the sun. 1.1-1.3 milligrans per day is needed.

Sources:Yogurt, Milk, Mushrooms, Spinach, Boiled Egg, Feta Cheese, Asparagus, Broccoli and Oysters.

Niacin (formerly called B-3)

This vitamin is used in almost every metabolic process, so a deficiency causes widespread changes in the body. The condition that results from a deficiency is called pellagra which means rough or painful skin. Symptoms are dementia, diarrhea, dermatitis (especially on areas exposed to the sun). Often, death results. Early signs are poor appetite which results in weight loss and weakness. 14 to 16 milligrams per day is recommended.

Sources: Tuna, Roasted Chicken, Peanuts, Baked Salmon, Ground Beef and Mushrooms.

Vitamin B-6

B-6 is there to lend aid in enzyme activity in the metabolic process of breaking down carbs, lipids and proteins. Because it is used in many areas, a deficiency causes widespread symptoms. They include depression, vomitting, skin disorders, irritation of the nerves and an impaired immune response. 1.3-1.7 milligrams per day is adequate.

Sources: Salmon, Potato, Banana, Avocado, Roasted Chicken Breast, Acorn Squash and Watermelon.

Vitamin B-12

B-12 is a biggie, it goes in and maintains the myelin sheaths that insulated your neurons from each other. Destruction of these sheaths eventually causes paralysis and death. 2.4 micrograms per day is the recommended dosage.

Sources: Clams, Oysters, Lobster, Pot Roast, Plain Yogurt, Shrimp, Milk, Soy Milk and Eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in all living tissues. It helps make the protein collagen, which is very important to the maintenance of your CT, bone, teeth, tendons and blood vessels! It is important for wound healing. Vitamin C increases the cross connections between the collagen fibers, greatly strengthening the tissue it helps form. Vitamin C also enhances your body’s ability to absorb iron and is vital, as all of you well know, in the immune system. Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy. Symptoms included weakness, slow wound healing, opening of previously healed wounds, bone pain, fractures and bleeding gums. 75-90 milligrams per day is recommended.

Sources: Oranges, Brussel Sprouts, Strawberries, Grapefruit Juice, Red Peppers, Kiwi, Green Peppers and Tomato Juice.

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