Benefits of Vitamins A,B,C,D

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients required in very small amounts for essential metabolic reactions in the body.

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  - The Cell Regulator

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.

Benefits Include;

  • Vitamin A aids in immune system function, fertility and is also an antioxidant
  • Healthy vision including low light vision - formation of rhodopsin, a photoreceptor pigment in the retina
  • Healthy skin and cell regulation (both growth and differentiation) - maintenance of healthy epithelial tissues

Sources:
Dr Joseph Mercola
Medline Plus

Vitamin B Group- The Energisers

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.

Benefits

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

Sources:
British Medical Journal
Minstry of Health NZ
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Bach, P. A. (2010). Prescription for Nutritional Healing 5th Ed

Vitamin C - The Healer

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.

Benefits

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. 

Sources:
New Zealand Nutrition Foundation
US National Library of Medicine
Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group
US Institute of Medicine

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

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;

  • Eggs
  • Oily Fish
  • Cheese
  • Sensible sun exposure – 20% of the body for a non-burning period (times vary depending on factors such as skin colour, genetic history, melanoma risks)
  • Supplementation

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.

Sources: 
Ministry of Health NZ
Vitamin D is this the miracle vitamin?