How to Know What Vitamins Are Essential For You
27 Jun, 2022

Vitamins are organic substances that our bodies need in small amounts in order to perform vital functions. Each and every vitamin has a specific purpose, and understanding which vitamins are the best for you is crucial if you want to stay healthy.  Your body needs vitamins to keep your organs and systems working properly. You can get these vitamins from your diet or through vitamin supplements. In this article, you will learn what vitamins your body needs, foods that contain those vitamins, symptoms of vitamin deficiency, which vitamins you should include in your diet, and why it is important to do so.


Vitamin A

Let's start with Vitamin A. Since your body cannot produce vitamin A on its own, you must either incorporate it into your diet or take supplements instead. Vitamin A is included in many foods you consume daily, such as broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, bell pepper, mango, milk, eggs, and fish oils. Although most people get their Vitamin A from the foods listed above, some people do not eat these foods and, as a result, suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. Those who lack vitamin A usually take supplements instead. The following symptoms are the most common for Vitamin A deficiency; dry skin and eyes, throat and chest infection, eye problems such as night blindness, xerophthalmia, and problems with fertility.


Vitamin C


Similar to Vitamin A, Vitamin C is also found in many fruits and vegetables such as oranges, strawberries, broccoli, sprouts, potatoes, and pepper. Vitamin C has many essential functions, such as keeping the cells healthy, protecting the skin, bones, and cartilage, and helping in wound healing. Moreover, it reduces oxidative stress and most importantly it boosts your immune system by helping white blood cells function more effectively. The most common symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are; painful and swollen joints, weak immunity, slow wound healing, bleeding gums, nose bleeds, weight gain, dry skin, and problems with vision.


Vitamin D

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin absorbs UV B radiation and is converted to previtamin D3 which in turn isomerizes into vitamin D3. People who have dark skin are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency. That's because darker skin pigment blocks the effect of the sun. Vitamin D is also included in foods such as fish (specifically salmon), mushrooms, milk, and eggs. Vitamin D has many benefits; it improves muscle functions, lowers blood pressure, shuts down cancer cells, reduces Alzheimer's risk, helps lose weight, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include;  mood changes and fatigue, overweight, excessive sweating, joint pain, high blood pressure, and digestive problems.


Vitamin E


Vitamin E deficiency is a rare condition, but those who lack it are mainly from developing countries with poor dietary intake. Vitamin E deficiency also happens from a genetic condition known as ataxia, which is rare among healthy people. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E helps you have a robust immune system. It also treats hyperpigmentation,  helps scar and wound heal faster, and keeps the nerves and red blood cells healthy. You can find Vitamin E in several vegetables, such as; leafy veggies, corn, nuts, and wheat. However, food alone cannot provide a good amount of Vitamin E, and therefore supplements are necessary. The following symptoms are indicators of Vitamin E deficiency; blurred vision, rash, fatigue and nausea, diarrhea, intestinal cramps, and headaches.


Vitamin K


Vitamin K has many vital functions in the body, including preventing blood clots from forming in the heart. It also helps wounds heal faster, regulates blood calcium levels, protects the bones, and increases their density. While Vitamin K deficiency is not very common, those who suffer from it usually don't include vegetables in their diet. Foods rich in Vitamin K include kale, broccoli, asparagus, kiwi, spinach, cabbage, and other leafy vegetables. Those who suffer from Vitamin K deficiency,  most often experience haemorrhages in the skin and nose, and sometimes in the stomach and intestine. In severe cases, blood appears in the urine or stool.


Vitamin B complex  


Eight of 13 essential vitamins are found in Vitamin B, which are water-soluble, meaning they are carried to the body's tissues but not stored in the body. The water-soluble vitamins found in B complex are the following:


Vitamin B1(Thiamine)

Vitamin B1, like all Vitamin B complexes, allows the body to use carbohydrates as energy. It plays a vital role in glucose metabolism, as well as nerve, muscle and heart function. It is usually found in foods such as; pork, seafood, beans, brown rice, tofu, seeds, and nuts. Symptoms of B1 deficiency include; fatigue and irritability, loss of appetite and muscle weakness, beriberi, ataxia, nerve damage, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting.  


Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 


Vitamin B2 is another member of the Vitamin B family. Similar to B1, it helps for glucose metabolism. Moreover, it produces healthy red blood cells, boosts the immune system, and helps with digestion. Vitamin B2 is mainly found in milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs, but also in beef, pork, seafood, and chicken. You might notice the following symptoms if you have vitamin B2 deficiency; sore throat, blurred vision, fatigue, lesions of the lips and mouth, anaemia, and conjunctivitis.


Vitamin B3 (Niacin)


Vitamin B3 also known as Niacin is good for many reasons. Including a sufficient amount of Niacin in your diet boosts the level of good cholesterol and lowers the levels of triglycerides. It also improves brain functions and helps ease arthritis. Foods with rich Vitamin B3 include; red meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, brown rice, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and bananas. Symptoms of  Vitamin B3 deficiency are the following; diarrhoea, vomiting, fatigue, swollen tongue, poor blood circulation, skin rash, and depression.


 Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) 


Like any other B complex vitamin, B5 is vital for many reasons. It plays a significant role in boosting memory by producing neurotransmitters like acetylcholine. It's also good for skin and hair and produces red blood cells to carry oxygen through the body. Foods that include Vitamin B5 are the following: beef, chicken, mushroom, avocado, yogurt, milk, potatoes, and broccoli. Symptoms of B5 deficiency include; restlessness, disturbed sleep, muscle cramps, headache, and fatigue.


Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)


Vitamin B6, or what is rather called Pyridoxine, is good for many reasons. First, it boosts the immune system and is good for the nervous system as well as helps in brain development. It also helps fight depression, reduces Alzheimer's risk, and prevents and treats anaemia. Foods that include Vitamin B6 are the following: beef, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, bananas, and starchy leafy veggies. People who do not get enough vitamin B6 from their diets may experience the following symptoms; numbness in hands and feet, sore tongue and cracked lips, weak immune system, skin rashes, and seizures.  


Vitamin B7 (Biotin)


Vitamin B7 is crucial for your body's metabolism and creates important enzymes. It also promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails and manages blood sugar levels. This vitamin is found in many foods such as; egg yolk, organ meats, nuts, soybeans, grains, cauliflower, and bananas. Symptoms of Vitamin B7 deficiency include; hair loss, depression, ataxia, weak immune system, bacterial and fungal infections, and numbness.  


Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)


Vitamin B9 is essential in the formation of red blood cells and healthy cell growth. It also plays a vital role in mental health as well as reduces the risk of heart disease. Foods that contain Vitamin B9 are; eggs, seafood, leafy vegetables, beans, grains, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. Symptoms of Vitamin B9 deficiency include; shortness of breath, headaches, palpitations, difficulty in concentrating, and tiredness.


 Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins)


The last water-soluble vitamin is Vitamin B12. This vitamin is essential in the formation of red blood cells, metabolism, function of the nervous system, and  DNA production. It also boosts memory and prevents risks of heart disease. You can find Vitamin B12 in the following foods: chicken, seafood, red meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and mushroom. Common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency are; mood swings, dizziness, mouth ulcers, memory loss, pale skin, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, and diarrhea or constipation.


To conclude, we should all be eating a balanced diet, one that provides us with various nutrients. We don't necessarily think about having enough specific vitamins. But we should — that's because not having enough of certain vitamins can result in health problems. The key is to know which vitamins your body needs and which vitamins you're lacking so that you can find ways to get them through a healthy diet or by taking supplements.