Vitamins and their functions

The importance of eating fruits and vegetables has been known since ancient times. Eating certain foods was vital to maintaining good health and this knowledge was gained even before vitamins were identified. Since Egyptian times, it was known that eating liver helps to cure “night blindness” of this disease, now it is known to be caused by a deficiency of vitamin A. In the year 1747, a surgeon of Scottish origin, discovered that Citrus foods helped cure scurvy, a deadly disease where collagen does not form properly, causing conditions such as bleeding gums, poor skin healing, pain, and ultimately death. And so with the passage of time and advances in technology and science, we now know exactly how important it is to consume the vitamins that our body needs.

Vitamins are classified into two groups that are “water-soluble” (soluble) and “fat-soluble” (lipids).

In our body there is a quantity of 13 vitamins, 9 of them are in the water-soluble category and 4 in the fat-soluble category.

Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are those that are stored in our liver and fatty tissues, because they remain in the fat of our body, it is not necessary to ingest them every day. Which means that you can go a while without consuming these types of vitamins without causing any harm.

The water-soluble vitamins
(B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9, B12 and vitamin C) as we already know with those that are soluble in water. Of these, they are necessary for the chemical reactions of metabolism. These vitamins are not stored in the body, except for B12. Vitamin deficiency can lead to serious disorders, depending on the degree of deficiency, being possible death.

Vitamin deficiency can lead to serious disorders, depending on the degree of deficiency, being possible death.

In reality, the amount of vitamins that our body needs daily is very small, but so is the amount that food contains them.

Therefore, it is required to consume at least 5 fruits or vegetables a day to cover the daily need. You can run the risk of suffering from vitamin deficiency, which is an excess of vitamins. There are many people, including those who play sports, that suffering from this problem is unlikely, when in fact it is not, by abusing vitamin supplements. It is recommended to use vitamin supplements, only if it is thought that the required amount is not reached. Different situations can cause this problem, such as overwork, lack of time, poor nutritional information, economy, etc. If this is your situation, you can help yourself with a vitamin supplement, preferably under medical supervision.

Some of the symptoms that warn our body that we are suffering from vitamin deficiency are bleeding gums, memory problems, poor mood, muscle aches, visual problems, even clumsiness.

It is necessary to take into account all this, because although we know that vitamins are of great help for our metabolism, in excess they can become toxic. Those that are considered more toxic would be vitamin A and D, in addition to B3. For this reason, it is much better to eat a well-balanced diet and do your best to maintain it. Getting organized is helpful for people who live to work. Remember that the greatest source of vitamins are vegetables and fruits, that is why we must eat 5 servings a  day.


What function does each vitamin have and where can we find them?

Vitamin A is found mostly in animal products, such as red meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products. Besides vegetables and fruits. This vitamin helps the formation and maintenance of soft and bone tissues, mucous membranes and skin, promotes sight. By consuming foods rich in this vitamin, we can reduce the risk of cancer. The recommended daily amounts for an adult are 700 micrograms for women and 900 micrograms for men.


Vitamin D helps keep bones strong, this helps the body absorb calcium from food or supplements. Our muscles also require this vitamin for their mobility, for example, the nerves need them to be able to transmit messages between the brain and each part of the body, the immune system uses this vitamin to fight the viruses and bacteria that invade it. This vitamin itself, prevents diseases such as osteoporosis. We can find it in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, cheese, beef liver and in the yolk of eggs. Of this, only 15 micrograms are needed in adults ages 19 to 70.


Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage. This is also responsible for stimulating the immune system so that it can fight against bacteria and viruses. Its recommended amount in adults is 15 milligrams per day and we can find it in vegetable oils such as sunflower, nuts and green leafy vegetables.


Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health. This vitamin is contained in some types of cheese, eggs and meats and we need an amount of 120 micrograms in adults over 19 years of age and 90 micrograms in adult women in the same age range.


Vitamin B1 (thiamine) helps the body’s cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It also has an important role in muscle contraction and the conduction of nerve signals. We find it in whole grain products, such as cereals, rice, pasta and flour. Beef and pork, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, trout and tuna.


Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) works with other vitamins and is important for the body’s growth, helping the production of red blood cells in the blood. This also helps in the release of energy from proteins and is contained in dairy products, organ meats such as beef liver or kidney, eggs and legumes.


Vitamin B3 (niacin) helps convert food consumed in the energy needed. This is very important for the function of the body’s cells and of this the recommended daily amount is 16 milligrams in adult men and 14 milligrams in adult women. It is contained in poultry, beef and pork, fish, nuts, grains, legumes, and breads or cereals.


Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is necessary in the body as it assimilates carbohydrates, proteins and fats essential for cellular life and is involved in the formation of insulin. It is important especially for the manufacture and breakdown of fats. In adults 19 years of age and older, the recommended amount is 5.0 milligrams daily and is found in red meat, chicken, shellfish, eggs, milk, vegetables (avocado, potatoes, and broccoli), sunflower seeds, and whole grains.


Vitamin B6 helps the body produce antibodies, maintain normal neurological function, produce hemoglobin, break down proteins, and keep blood glucose in normal ranges. The recommended amount in adults is 4 to 7 milligrams a day and is found mostly in beef liver and kidneys, yeast, broccoli, fish, chicken, dairy, avocado, and egg yolk.


Vitamin B7 / B8 (biotin) is part of the body’s metabolic process, one of its main functions being to transform fats, carbohydrates and proteins into the necessary energy. Of this, a daily intake of 30 micrograms is recommended in adults. This is found in red meat, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.


Vitamin B9 (folic acid) acts as a receptor and donor of carbon and ethylene units in a series of reactions critical to the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. It plays an important role in DNA metabolism and the synthesis of the amino acid methionine. Its presence is necessary in the formation of nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) that carry genetic information to cells.


We can find it in green leafy vegetables, fruits such as citrus, melon or banana, legumes, cow liver and kidney, whole grains and dairy. The recommended daily intake is 400 micrograms.


Vitamin B12 keeps neurons and blood cells healthy, it also contributes to the production of DNA, the genetic material in all cells. The daily intake is 2.4 micrograms in adults and contains beef liver, clams, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and whole grains.


Vitamin C is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. It forms an important protein that is used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Heals wounds and forms scar tissue, repairs and maintains healthy cartilage, bones and teeth, and also aids in the absorption of iron. This also works as a blocker of the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C is not produced by the body naturally and it is not stored either, so it is important to consume foods that contain this vitamin on a daily basis. The recommended daily intake is 65 to 90 milligrams per day and of course we find it in all citrus fruits, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarins, also broccoli, red peppers, kiwi strawberries, melon, tomatoes and green pepper.


With this guide you will know how much you need a day of foods rich in these vitamins and what they can do for you.



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