They are either fat-soluble which can be stored or water soluble which cannot be stored in the body. Vitamins A,B,C and D are commonly known useful vitamins.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which has two forms/source options for the human diet;
Retinoids or Preformed vitamin A which is found in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods. Common forms include Retinyl Acetate or Retinyl Palmitate.
Carotenoids or Pro-vitamin A which is found in orange/yellow or dark, green leafy plant based foods such as fruits and vegetables. The most commonly known form is Beta Carotene.
Consuming Retinoids allows absorption by the body but if consuming carotenoids then the body must first convert these to a bioavailable form of Vitamin A. If systems of the body are impaired or suffering due to stress and strain, this can cause the conversion process to be compromised. Additionally genetics, medicines, alcohol consumption and digestive issues can also create difficulties absorbing and converting vitamin A. 80-90% of vitamin A is stored in liver.
Vitamin A works synergistically with a number of other vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins D, K2, Zinc, and Magnesium , without which it cannot perform its functions. Vitamins A + D + K2 for immune health, support for growth of strong bones and teeth and protect soft tissues from calcification. Magnesium + A + D for protein production.
These vitamins are actually a large group consisting of the following;
B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin). B9 Folic Acid (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamin).
Sources include proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Additionally leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas are also good sources. Many cereals and some breads are now fortified with B vitamins.A lack of certain B vitamins can cause diseases such as anemia which can be due to a lack of vitamins B12 or B6.
As a collective the B vitamins provide energy and can help the body through short bursts of stress. Metabolism of macro nutrients is also a key activity for this group with the additional benefits for the following:
B6 - aids in blood, central nervous system, and skin metabolism, synthesis of heme (iron) and nucleic acid
B9 - for red blood cells, development of the foetal nervous system (pregnancy),
B12 - formation of normal red blood cells
Vitamin C or L-Ascorbic Acid is a water-soluble vitamin the human body cannot synthesis so daily intake is essential. Excess Vitamin C is excreted in urine.
Supplementation of Vitamin C comes in several forms such as Ascorbates, Ascorbic Acid with Bioflavonoids; and products, often referred to as Ester C which are able to be stored in the body for longer periods.
Smoking causes oxidative stress on the lungs which leads to the depletion of Vitamin C with every cigarette. Those needing extra include regular consumers of alcohol, smokers, those under extreme stress or suffering infection and those taking regularly aspirin or antibiotics. However doses of over 2000 mg/day are not usually reccomended.
Vitamin C is involved in a large number of biological processes;
Collagen synthesis – for skin, joints and bones, anti-aging
Healing - speed up wound healing, red blood cell formation and prevent bleeding
Immune system – white blood cell activity, natural antihistamine, free radical protection
Absorption facilitation– iron (especially nonheme), folic acid and food to energy conversion
Deficiency in Vitamin C can cause diseases such as scurvy, bleeding gums, anemia and a compromised vascular system.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for bone health, calcium absorption and blood clotting, one of which around 35% of New Zealanders lack. The two most important forms of vitamin D for humans are vitamin D₂ (Ergocalciferol) and vitamin D₃ (Cholecalciferol).
Ways to boost vitamin D levels and increase serum stores for the winter months include;
Vitamin D levels can be compromised by smoggy atmospheres, laxative usage and consumption of fried foods. As Vitamin D helps with bones and muscle function it can be useful for training as well as general health. Requirements for vitamin D also increase with aging.