It's interesting isn't it how we sometimes know so little about the things that are most important to us? Let’s take vitamins for example. Yeah, sure, we’ve all learned about vitamins back in school, but I bet we’ve forgotten about them ever so quickly as years have gone by. If that applies to you too, don’t feel bad about it; it’s never too late to recap and freshen your memory about these crucial micronutrients we call vitamins. In this article and next two to follow I will cover the absolute basic about the vitamins.
Vitamins are very important to our body. They are usually consumed in the food we eat for various roles throughout the body. Basically vitamins are divided into two groups: water-soluble (B-complex and C vitamins) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
We are only concentrating on one group of vitamins in this article though, i.e., fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E. Vitamin K will be covered in a separate article.
Fat-soluble vitamins are insoluble in water and are carried in the body through fats. They are stored in the body (in the liver and fatty tissues) in sufficient amounts, given that you follow a nutritious lifestyle, as such daily intakes are not necessary. These vitamins are crucial for good health and daily repair of body cells and organs. Also, they play a vital role in protein energy malnutrition. Having said that, deficiencies could occur due to long-standing illness such as cystic fibrosis (to mention some).
Now let’s look at these vitamins one-by-one;
Vitamin A (also known as retinol) plays many roles in our human body. In addition to helping the eyes adjust to light changes, vitamin A helps in bone growth, tooth development, reproduction, cell division, gene expression, and regulation of the immune system.
You can get this source of vitamin from foods such as raw sweet potatoes, mangos, carrots, red pepper, spinach, papaya, etc. Spirulina is one of my favorite source of vitamin A. Lack of enough vitamin A may lead to faulty tooth development and night blindness and very rough, dry skin. People who develop sensitivity to the sunlight may have deficient or low amount of this vitamin and could benefit from eating some of the foods mentioned above!
Vitamin D plays an important role in the body’s use of calcium and phosphorous. It works by increasing the amount of calcium absorbed from the small intestine, thus helping to form and maintain bones. In fact, children in particular need enough amounts of vitamin D to develop strong bones and healthy teeth.
The sunlight plays a key role as a source of vitamin D. The body can produce a lot of this vitamin when large parts of the body are exposed to the sun when its high in the air and with help of cholesterol. Lack of this vitamin in growing-up children may lead to muscle and bone weaknesses, as well as loss of bone mass.
Also known as tocopherol, vitamin E is a good source of antioxidants and helps with the immune system and the repairing of our DNAs. It helps make red blood cells and stabilise the cell membrane.
Fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts (raw almonds and raw hazelnuts) and seeds are great sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E deficiencies are rare, with cases usually occurring in premature infants and in those unable to absorb fats. In some cases, though menopausal women might need a healthy supplementation of the vitamin as the body’s storage often gets depleted.
Although I will not cover in this article, vitamin E is very good for healthy glow on our skin and aids in reduction of wrinkles. You might have noticed it in your day cream! Just to tap briefly into how the vitamin E helps to slow down the ageing process; it acts as an antioxidant, in that way helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. What are free radicals you might ask; when the body converts the food we eat into energy, free radical compounds are formed. These can, if in an abundance, cause hayvock on our system and result in pre mature ageing. This is a topic for a whole new article sometimes later.
To sum up, fat-soluble vitamins are very important to our health and wellness. It is important that we eat superfoods containing such fat-soluble vitamins for the sake of your health — and, your body will thank you for it.
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