Vitamins are indispensable for a functioning metabolism. Since the body cannot produce most of the vitamins on its own, it must absorb them through food. 13 Vitamins play an important role in this. All important information at a glance.
Important Functions in the Human Metabolism
Vitamins are indispensable for the body. Although they do not provide him with energy, they perform important functions in the human metabolism. Each food product contains a certain amount of vitamins.
In principle, however, the following applies: the fresher and less processed, the better. Some vitamins react sensitively to heat, light or oxygen, which leads to a lower vitamin content. It is therefore worthwhile to cook fruits and vegetables gently.
In contrast to minerals, vitamins can be produced synthetically. They have the same chemical structure as natural vitamins and therefore have the same effect. If vitamins are added to food by artificial means, this is called fortified food.
13 Vitamins play an important role in the human diet. The body can produce vitamin D and B3 itself, it gets all the others only through food. A distinction is made between water- and fat-soluble vitamins.
The latter are called lipophilic vitamins in technical language. It is best for the body to absorb them in combination with some fat, such as olive oil. He creates a supply of it in the adipose tissue and in the liver. It is therefore less noticeable here if someone absorbs less large amounts of it at times or even develops a deficiency.
The water-soluble vitamins are called hydrophilic. They are distributed in the water-containing areas of the body, for example in the blood or the interstices of the cells. With the exception of vitamin B12, the body cannot store water-soluble vitamins.
Water-Soluble Vitamins at a Glance
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B1 is involved in important reactions in energy and carbohydrate metabolism and performs specific functions in the nervous system. Deficiency occurs, for example, with high consumption of alcohol.
Possible symptoms are muscle atrophy, heart muscle weakness or confusion. Women should take 1 mg of vitamin B1 daily, men – 1.2 mg. This amount contains, for example, 80 g of sunflower seeds or 180 g of wholemeal pasta.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is involved in many reactions in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, as well as in the production of energy. A deficiency is manifested by cracks in the corners of the mouth, a rash around the nose or inflamed oral mucosa.
The daily requirement of women is 1.1 mg, that of men is 1.4 mg. This amount corresponds, for example, to 0.9 liters of milk or 6 hard-boiled chicken eggs.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3 is better known today than niacin. Since the body can produce niacin itself, it is not considered a vitamin in the classical sense. Niacin is essential for the production of energy. It supports the body in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism. A deficiency only occurs very rarely.
The daily requirement of women is 12 mg, that of men is 15 mg. For example, 100 g of roasted peanuts or 135 g of chicken breast are sufficient for this.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the metabolism of amino acids. In addition, it affects the functioning of the nervous system and immune defense. Possible symptoms of a deficiency are skin inflammation, mouth and lip cracks or neurological disorders.
Women should consume 1.4 mg daily, men with 1.6 mg a little more. This amount is, for example, 270 g of raw pork kidney piece or 265 g of raw salmon.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 is practically contained only in animal foods. Among other things, the vitamin supports cell division and blood formation and is necessary for healthy nerve cells.
Deficiency is manifested by anemia and nerve damage. The recommended daily intake of grownup is 4 µg. This amount corresponds, for example, to 140 g of beef or 240 g of Emmental, full fat.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Probably the most well-known vitamin is vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. It is found only in plant foods. It protects cells from free radicals. These are aggressive molecules that lack an electron.
They take electrons from other molecules in order to stabilize themselves. This leads to oxidative stress, which can, for example, promote arthritis or diseases of the cardiovascular system. In addition, vitamin C supports the immune system and improves the absorption of iron.
It is also important for the development of connective tissue and bones. A slight deficiency is manifested by poor wound healing, increased susceptibility to infection and decreased performance.
If the deficiency is pronounced, bleeding occurs in the skin, mucous membranes, musculature and internal organs. Women need 95 mg daily, men should take 15 mg more. For example, 110 mg of vitamin C is contained in 65 g of raw red hot pepper or 140 g of kiwi.
Folic acid (folate)
Folic acid plays an important role when the body needs to divide, differentiate and regenerate cells. The symptoms of deficiency include anemia and changes in the blood picture. Deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of congenital malformations or premature birth.
Pregnant women should therefore consume 550 µg of folic acid daily, while 300 µg is sufficient for grownup. This amount is contained, for example, in 200 g of steamed spinach or 90 g of dried chickpeas.
Good to know: pregnant women in the first trimester and women who want to become pregnant should consume 400 µg of synthetic folic acid daily in addition to a diet rich in folates.
Very many foods contain pantothenic acid. That is why a shortage is very rare. The vitamin supports the energy metabolism of the cells and the build-up and breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The daily requirement of 6 mg is covered with 300 g of raw salmon or 275 g of raw mushrooms.
Biotin is found in both animal and plant foods and is often bound to proteins. The vitamin supports enzymes that are significantly involved in the metabolism of nutrients. A deficiency only occurs very rarely.
Possible symptoms are skin changes, general weakness or depression. grownup should consume 40 mg daily. This amount is contained, for example, in 3 chicken eggs or 200 g of oatmeal.
Fat-Soluble Vitamins at a Glance
Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin A is also known as retinol. It is found only in animal foods. The vitamin protects the skin and mucous membranes and is important for reproduction, growth, development, the immune system and vision.
Deficiency is manifested by poor vision and increased susceptibility to infections. The daily requirement of women is 700 µg, that of men is 850 µg. This amount is contained, for example, in 1.8 liters of whole milk or 228 g of raw tuna.
Vitamin D (Calciferol)
Vitamin D is the only fat–soluble vitamin that the body can produce itself – under the influence of the sun. However, the body absorbs 10 to 20 percent of vitamin D through food.
Intestinal calcium and phosphorus absorption is aided by vitamin D. It thus regulates the absorption of minerals and the level of calcium in the blood. In addition, it supports muscle building as well as bone and tooth formation and strengthens the immune system.
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are the two primary types. A deficiency causes symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disorders or muscle weakness. The daily requirement of adults is 15 µg. To cover it, for example, 180 g of raw salmon is enough.
Vitamin E (tocopherols)
As an antioxidant, vitamin E turns off free radicals and thus protects fats in the blood and cell membranes. If there is a deficiency, problems arise with muscle metabolism and the nervous system. The daily requirement in women is 12 mg, men should take 2 mg more. For example, 14 mg is contained in 30 g of rapeseed oil or 80 g of mayonnaise.
Vitamin K supports blood clotting and the build-up and maintenance of our bones. A deficiency occurs only rarely. At most, certain diseases or medications can trigger it. Women should consume 60 µg daily, men 70 µg. This amount is contained, for example, in 65 g of lettuce or 25 g of steamed broccoli.
Eating a Vitamin-Rich Diet: Here’s How it Works
- Eat three servings of veggies and two servings of fruit each day. A handful is equal to one serving.
- Cook as often as possible with fresh food. If this is not possible, natural frozen products offer a good alternative.
- Combine raw food with a little oil. Certain vitamins are fat-soluble. So, the body can use them only if you absorb them together with fat.
- Milk, cottage cheese and cheese are also good sources of vitamins. Take three servings a day.
- Fish contains various B vitamins. Include it in your meal plan.
- Vitamins A, D, K and B are contained in eggs. Two to three eggs a week will be enough.
Those who eat a balanced diet usually absorb enough vitamins through food and do not need dietary supplements. However, certain groups of people such as the elderly, pregnant women, women who wish to have children or people with chronic diseases such as Crohn’s disease may have an increased need for nutrients. In this case, it may be useful to take dietary supplements. But you should only do this after seeing a medical professional, of course.