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Know When Vitamins Need To Be Taken

While we do need to maintain a healthy level of vitamins, we should be aware that the body will naturally store certain vitamin-like A & E in the liver for weeks. This means that there is no need to take ALL vitamins daily. Although good for us, too much of certain vitamins can be damaging and this page is designed to give you all the information you’ll need to ensure that you are taking the right amount of vitamins.

Why Do We Need Vitamin A (retinol)

Unlike vitamins C & B which are water-soluble and unable to be stored by the body, with any excess being passed out of the body through our urine, vitamin A is not passed out of the body so quickly and although we do need to maintain our levels of vitamin A just like with other vitamins, we should be aware that vitamin A is fat-soluble and our bodies will store this vitamin in the liver for as long as a few weeks.

This means that while we need to maintain a healthy intake of vitamins, we do not need to take this particular vitamin daily like we may others. It is also worth remembering that the fresher the produce and the nearer to its natural state, the higher its vitamin content is. Fresh foods should be stored carefully.

Vitamin capsules/tablets should be kept in a cool dry place and preferably away from daylight. A kitchen cupboard is one place however, do not put them in a cupboard that is above an area where cooking or boiling takes place especially during colder months where cooking/boiling may cause high levels of condensation.

One of the benefits we receive from vitamin A is that it aids our vision. It is also responsible for healthy skin and keeps our mucus membranes working efficiently. The mucus membranes when clogged can cause ear infections, headaches, and sore throats, as well as bronchial and lung infections. It also helps with the growth of our teeth, and bones, especially in growing children. Vitamin A can also be used as a treatment for acne.

Although Vitamin A is an important anti-oxidant it is also fat-soluble and can build up in the body to toxic levels and could cause death. If you take medication always consult your doctor before taking vitamins or supplements.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

Boiled Egg
Eggs a great source of Vitamin A
  • Cornea damage leading to eventual blindness.
  • Dull dry rough skin.
  • Eye infections.
  • Growth problems.
  • Hair loss.
  • Night blindness.
  • Respiratory infections.
  • Weight loss.

Sources Of Vitamin A

Leafy green vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, Full-fat dairy produce, fish liver oils, liver, kidney, eggs, apricots, and peaches. Both apricots and peaches can be eaten fresh, or dried, with no loss to their vitamin content. Margarine’s similar to Flora Spread has Vitamin A added as well as containing Vitamin D and E. Their website comes with recipes and a guide to keeping track of the calories and nutrients in each recipe dish.

Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI)

The RNI guide is part of the Dietary Reference Values (DRV) and is used to give an estimated value of the amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals that should meet the needs of most of the groups to which they apply, ensuring that the needs of nearly all the group (97.5%) are being met to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, having said that there would be many individuals within their group who would need far less because of eating a variety of healthy foods that would provide their daily needs.

In the early stages of pregnancy take only those recommended by your doctor. Do not take extra vitamin A. Excess can, rarely, cause problems for your baby.

Those groups who may suffer from a deficiency, and may benefit from supplements, could be those on strict diets, the infirm, and the elderly on a poor diet. Those with prolonged ill-health such as overactivity of the thyroid gland, cystic fibrosis those who rely on certain medication, to mention just a few groups most at risk.

If you become pregnant an estimated RNI would be 700mcg, and breast-feeding mothers an estimated of 950mcg is advised.

Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) do not need to be taken daily as our body can store these particular vitamins in the liver, sometimes for weeks. However, we do need to eat or take them regularly to keep our bodies topped up.

The B Vitamins

Consisting of eight water-soluble vitamins and all of them have an important role to play. These are vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), Folic acid (B9). Biotin is also one of the B-complex, Cyanocobalamin (referred to as B12) is a man-made vitamin, and is in fact just one of a class that makes up B12 however, it is thought to be the vitamin most affected by aging, and the lack of it produces symptoms which match those associated with senility. What is worth remembering, as far as our health is concerned, is that the B vitamins work best when taken together.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 (thiamin, aneurin) breaks down carbohydrates to provide us with energy. It also provides us with healthy muscles and a healthy nervous system. It is an essential vitamin for children to ensure normal growth, it may also help toward counteracting pain and help toward memory and learning skills. Vitamin B1 is also thought to protect against the development of cataracts in older people

Recognised Deficiency Effects

Nuts a source of vitamin B1: Maggie Smith
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness and depression
  • Shortness of breath
  • If a deficiency is severe it can lead to Beriberi (can be fatal)

Sources Of Vitamin B1

Red meat, fish, most cereals, rice, pulses (include all beans, peas, and lentils), nuts, kidney beans, soya beans, yeast extract, dairy products.

People low in vitamin B1 may suffer from depression and have trouble with memory and learning abilities

Why Do We Need Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is essential as it helps the body extract energy from carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It promotes healthy skin and nails, helps in keeping our hair healthy as well as being good for our vision. Vitamin B2 is also important for reproduction and it aids our immune system to fight disease.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

Cheese a source of vitamin B2: Suat Eman
  • Inflammation of the tongue and lips
  • Lip sores
  • Watery eyes
  • Scaly scalp
  • Hair loss
  • Greasy scaling skin on the face
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Weight loss
  • Formation of cataracts
  • Dizziness and Insomnia

The body can only store a small amount of vitamin B2, so foods that contain it should be eaten daily.

Sources Of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Liver, meat, fish, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, persimmons, okra, chard, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs, and dairy products.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 (niacin, nicotinic acid) contributes toward having efficient blood circulation, the control of blood cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugars, having healthy adrenal glands. It is also great for giving us healthy skin, a healthy nervous system, and a good healthy appetite.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

Asparagus a source of vitamin B3: Jason Webber
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Diarrhea
  • Dermatitis
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Generalized muscular weakness
  • Dementia with dermatitis & diarrhea (severe deficiency)

Sources Of Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is found in a variety of foods, some with higher levels of niacin than others: Rice (not maize), whole milk, fortified white flour, and other products. Fish, chicken, eggs, red meat, liver, lamb, and kidney. Yeast extract & brewer’s yeast. Beans & peas, asparagus, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, peanuts, and pasta.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) helps the body to extract and metabolize energy from carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It helps the body fight allergies and keeps our hair and skin healthy, along with a healthy nervous system, it also helps in the production of antibodies against infection. It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and hormones in our adrenal gland.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

Although a deficiency in humans is rare symptoms could include:

  • Increased susceptibility to allergy, infections & asthma
  • Cramp
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Sources Of Vitamin B5

Beef, kidney, liver, pork, brewer’s yeast, eggs, fresh vegetables, legumes, royal jelly, salt-water fish, mushrooms, milk, nuts, and whole-wheat foods.

Most people that eat an average diet get the recommended amounts of Vitamin B5.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is needed by our bodies in small amounts to stay healthy. It plays an active role in protecting our immune system and is responsible for the growth of new cells. It also helps to process fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It tirelessly produces antibodies to fight against infection and helps toward the formation of red blood cells. It is worth mentioning that this particular vitamin can help towards a healthy disposition and combat mood swings, and to top it all off, it is also looked upon favorably as an aid, to reduce colon-rectal cancer. This particular cancer develops in parts of the colon.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • General weakness
  • Skin problems
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Unhealthy looking nails
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis

I did read reports a while ago that a human deficiency in this vitamin has never been reported, but as I say, that was some time ago.

Sources Of Vitamin B6

Liver, kidneys, fish, brewer’s yeast, yeast extracts, eggs, chicken, carrots, peas, prunes, pulses (include all beans, peas, and lentils), raisins, soya beans, nuts, wheat germ, wholegrain cereals, and milk.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) allows for the proper functioning of vitamin B12. Folic acid along with vitamin B12 helps to control the production of red blood cells as well as increasing the appetite and stimulating the formation of digestive acids, as well as being good for our nervous system. It reduces the levels of an amino acid (homocysteine) in the body, protecting against heart disease. It also helps our body get rid of Homocysteine. Homocysteine is a blood toxin that affects the heart muscle and makes cholesterol deposit in the heart muscle. It is believed to be useful in preventing stroke and heart attack.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

lentils by Robert Cochrane
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Memory loss & forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion

Sources Of Vitamin B9

Liver, kidney, meat, green vegetables, fresh fruit, brewer’s yeast, yeast extract, brown rice, wheat germ, pulses (include all beans, peas, and lentils), and breakfast cereals.

Those people most at risk from the lack of this vitamin are the elderly, those with stomach problems, pregnant women, and possibly those who are taking the contraceptive pill. If antibiotics are used for prolonged periods or antacids are taken frequently at mealtimes, the ability to absorb vitamin B9 (folic acid) drops considerably.

Why Do We Need Vitamin B12

Vitamins B12 (cyanocobalamin) helps to produce our DNA material or, genetic makeup. It also works alongside vitamin B9 to create healthy red blood cells and helps iron to function correctly in the body. It helps to provide us with a healthy nervous system, the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins, the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and prevention of cell degeneration, so you have read how important it is to maintain a healthy diet. In a nutshell, B12 is essential for life.

It is needed to make new cells in our body. The making of millions of red blood cells made in the bone marrow are especially dependent on this particular vitamin these cells are continually replaced as old cells break down. Our nervous system also realizes the need for this vitamin to maintain a healthy nervous system.

A chemical called hemoglobin can be found in our red blood cells its job is as I have just said above, life. What it does is bind to oxygen, then from the lungs, it carries its precious cargo of oxygen to all parts of the body. Our bone marrow needs to be kept in tip-top condition this is essential if our body is going to replace those red blood cells and hemoglobin that break down.

This is achieved by the intake of nutrients such as iron and certain vitamins of which B12, which we get from food, plays an important part in the chain. Fewer vitamin B12 means fewer red blood cells carrying oxygen. Lack of B12 is known as Vitamin B12 Deficiency or Pernicious anemia. (loss of gastric parietal cells, and subsequent inability to absorb vitamin B12.)

A deficiency of Vitamin B12 usually develops over many months or even years. The reason behind this is because the liver can store it for as long as 6 years.

Below is listed the disorder you could suffer from to constitute a deficiency.

  • Your stomach cannot produce enough intrinsic factor (a substance secreted by the stomach which enables the body to absorb vitamin B12).
  • Your intestine cannot absorb enough vitamin B12.
  • You do not eat enough food containing vitamin B12. This could happen to you if you were following a vegan diet. It could also happen if you are someone who does not eat meat or dairy products, apart from certain seafoods B12 is found in abundance in meat and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is not present in fruit or vegetables.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

  • Anaemia.
  • Becoming breathless.
  • Depression.
  • Feeling faint.
  • Irritability.
  • Lethargy.
  • Memory loss.
  • Numbness & tingling of limbs.

Other not-so-common symptoms could include headache, loss of appetite, altered taste, palpitations, and ringing in the ears.

As vitamin B12 works alongside vitamin B9, a deficiency in this vitamin would present very similar symptoms to those of vitamin B9.

Vitamin B12 deficiency contributes to the onset of anemia. This affects blood and nerves. The body can’t make normal red blood cells to carry oxygen in the blood and the lack of oxygen makes people weak and tired. B12 is also needed to protect nerve cells from damage. A severe deficiency would lead to degeneration of the nervous system leading to moving and speaking difficulties.

Sources Of Vitamin B12

Liver, kidney, meat (beef and lamb), poultry, egg yolk, dairy products (especially cheese and fortified cereals), milk, and other animal-derived foods. Traces of B12 can also be found in brewer’s yeast and yeast extracts.

Why Do We Need Biotin

Biotin (one of the B-complex) is a water-soluble vitamin. Just like the other B vitamin biotin plays its part in keeping our body in good working order. As well as being needed for the formation of fatty acids and glucose, It is necessary for the conversion of proteins and carbohydrates into energy. It is also produced by bacteria in the intestines and contributes to the growth of healthy skin and hair follicles. Just like the other B vitamin (water-soluble) once the body has used what it needs, it is then passed out through our urine.

Recognised Deficiency Effects

  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Dermatitis

Biotin deficiency is very rare; however, deficiencies can be caused by being on an inadequate diet. If for some medical reason you have undergone a surgical procedure to remove your stomach, tobacco and alcohol can also decrease the absorption of biotin. Severe deficiency can lead to high blood cholesterol levels and heart problems.

The B complex vitamins are water-soluble and must be replenished on a daily basis since any excess is excreted in the urine.

Sources Of Biotin

Egg yolk, milk, liver, kidney, beef, wheat germ, nuts, oats, yeast/yeast extract, bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes.

It is also produced naturally by our body in the intestines.

Updated 15th September 2020

Know Your Vitamins Continued: Page 2.

Eggs: Rosevita Nuts: Maggie Smith Cheese: Suat Eman Asparagus: Jason Webber Fish: Suat Eman Free Digital Lentils In A Scoop: Robert Cochrane