Vitamins are a vital role in our nutrition and have been one of the key talking points among all concerned with health and wellbeing.
Vitamins are a group of non-caloric essential nutrients, necessary in small amounts for specific metabolic control and disease prevention.
According to an article by Dr Danny Laliwala in Health Shots,these are essential nutrients that keep the body running properly. It is very important to understand the adverse impacts vitamin deficiencies have on the human body.
They act as specific catalysts to regulate body metabolism. Vitamin supplements needs are individual specific. Vitamins are broadly categorised into fat-soluble (vitamins A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble (vitamins C and B complex) — each having its own role in the body.
Vitamins are diverse in nature and can come from both natural and manmade sources. Natural sources of vitamins include fruits, vegetables, etc while manmade or synthetic sources are known as vitamin supplements.
Here are some of the most common vitamin deficiencies that women should know about:
- Vitamin A is mainly responsible for vision. If one had deficiency of Vitamin A, then they may suffer from dryness of the eyes to blindness.
- Deficiency of vitamin D may lead to osteoporosis of bones if its levels are not adequate. It also plays an important role in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) because it keeps menstrual cycles regular. Its adequate levels are important in pregnancy, in the prevention of miscarriage and continuation of pregnancy till term. If deficient, an oral dose is given.
- Vitamin E is a very good antioxidant agent, where it functions with selenium to prevent cell membrane damage. Its deficiency in the body can lead to anaemia and can affect spinal and fibres and retinal fibres of the eye.
- Vitamin K is useful for clotting blood and bone development and its deficiency can lead to bleeding disorders.
- Vitamin C found in citrus fruits are important for collagen formation and helps in the absorption of iron in the body. So, if we have a deficient intake of Vitamin C, it can lead to scurvy—bleeding gums, tendency to bruise easily, fever, infection (in the respiratory tract), and problem in wound healing. Thus, it is very important to keep your vitamin C at normal levels.
- Vitamin B complex is necessary for the functioning of the nervous system, gastrointestinal system and cardiovascular system. Its deficiency may lead to beriberi, characterised by pain and paralysis of legs and arms. One way of preserving this is vitamin is to retain the cooking water in the dish when preparing food.
- Lack of Vitamin B in our body can lead to cracked lips and mouth corners, and swollen red tongues. Riboflavin found in milk is the most important source of this B vitamin. This vitamin can be lost by light, so it is important to consume milk in cartons rather than in bottles.
- Niacin, another type of B vitamin must not be ignored. Its deficiency can lead to pellagra, characterised by diarrhoea, dementia and dermatitis. Eating peanuts, legumes and grains prevents its lack in our body.
- Pyridoxine is another type of B vitamin. Its food sources are grains, seeds and meat. It is very important for amino acid metabolism. Its deficiency can lead to hyperirritability and neuritis.
- Pantothenic acid is involved in many metabolic functions of the body involving fat and cholesterol metabolism. Its deficiency is rare, as it is provided by many foods, especially whole-grain cereals and legumes.
- Folate (folic acid) is found in green leafy vegetables, especially cauliflower, and legumes. This vitamin forms a part of the DNA and important for the formation of haemoglobin. Its balanced levels prevent spinal abnormalities in the foetus, miscarriage, and preterm labour.
- Cobalamin or vitamin B2 is found in animal proteins. A deficiency of this vitamin can lead to neuritis, sore mouth and tongue and nervous disorders. Its deficiency can lead to a condition called pernicious anaemia.
The importance of vitamins in diet is paramount and its deficiency can lead to various diseased and in turn lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. A woman who is undergoing pregnancy or is lactating will definitely require some nutrient supplements so does an ageing woman because of her decreased food intake and reduced absorption of food.
A person on weight loss diet may not attain all vitamins from diet alone. In addition, women who smoke a lot could have deficiency of vitamin C. Also, women with chronic diseases may require vitamin supplementation as well.
However, supplementation should be done cautiously and judiciously—with a doctor's recommendation—as they may be harmful if taken in large amounts.