Vitamins and Minerals

Why do we need vitamins and minerals?

            Just as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, inorganic salts and water are the essential ingredients of our food, vitamins and minerals are also necessary to keep our body free of none. Lack or deficiency of vitamins can cause many disorders and diseases like weak digestive power, impaired eyesight, general weakness, tiredness, dryness of skin, inflammation of gums, weakening of bones, beri-beri, rickets, etc.

Foods Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

            What are vitamins? The word ‘vitamin’ was coined in 1912, and is derived form the Latin word vita, which means life. In fact, vitamins are organic materials which are found in many food substances and are essential for the proper functioning of the body parts and organs. They are of many kinds and each vitamin has a separate role in keeping our body healthy.

            Twenty kinds of vitamins have so far bee isolated, out of which six vitamins are of crucial importance. These are vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is mainly found in milk, butter, cream, cheese eggs, fish oil, cabbage, etc. it is very essential for the development of the body. Deficiency of Vitamin A weakness eyesight and leads to night blindness. Vitamin A protects us form infections, skin diseases and many eye diseases.
Vitamin B complex: Vitamin B consists of several water-soluble vitamins of the same nomenclature. They are known by their chemical names. Their constitution and functions are also different. These are described below.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Vitamin B1 or thiamine’s found in yeast, germinated wheat and pork. Its deficiency leads to a disease called beri-beri and causes tiredness, weakness, breathing difficulties, indigestion, etc. vitamin B1 is lost if food is cooked with baking soda.

Vitamin B2 ( riboflavin): Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is mainly found in milk, eggs and liver, deficiency of vitamin B2 causes general weakness, skin diseases, and sores on tongue and cracks on lips. Eye is also affected; there is dimness in vision, redness or burning sensation in the eyes.

Vitamin B6 (nicotinic acid or niacin): Vitamin B6 or nicotinic acid or niacin is found in bigger proportion in yeast, grain chaffs, eggs, meat, kidneys and livers. This is also found in smaller quantities in flour, polished rice, fruits, green vegetables and milk.

Deficiency of vitamin B6 causes diseases
Called Pellagra: This causes mental tension, inflammation of tongue, gums and inner lining of the intestine. There is loss of appetite and the body becomes weak.

Vitamin B7: Vitamin B7 is found in eggs, meat, milk and green vegetables. Deficiency of this vitamin adversely affects the inner lining of stomach and intestines, thereby causing disorder of digestion.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is found in milk, meat, liver etc. by keeping the diet balanced; it can be obtained in sufficient quantity. Deficiencies of this vitamin can result in anemia, pains, toughness in arms, and partial paralysis. For the formation of red blood corpuscles, vitamin B12 folic acid ad vitamins C are essential. In case of a extreme anemic condition, it is injected into the body.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is found in large quantities in orange, lemon, grape, tomato, pineapple, germinated pulses and green vegetables. Pears, bananas also have it.

Deficiency of vitamin C leads to pain in joints, and a disease called scurvy. Inflammation of gums, weakening of brain, lethargy, weakness, tiredness, pain in legs, loss of eyesight, appearance of blue scars on the body, and peeling of skin are also caused by its deficiency.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is found in milk, butter, fish-oil, eggs, etc. the sunlight falling on the body also makes vitamin D under the skin. Deficiency of vitamin D causes a disease called rickets (weakening of bones).

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is found in grains and oils. It is also found in large quantity in onions. Deficiency of this vitamin badly affects skin, blood, brain and liver.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables. Generally, the organisms present inside the intestines make vitamin K. it helps in clotting of blood on wounds. If we take a balanced diet containing fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, fish, beans, wheat and rice, we get all these vitamins. All these vitamins are also available in the form of tablets and capsules in the market. Minerals are also needed for good health. Iron is needed for blood pigment, hemoglobin. Calcium- found in milk and cheese- and phosphorus, which is present in most foods, are needed for the growth of healthy bones and teeth.