Vitamins – Deficiency & Excess

Vitamins juices

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

Vitamins are essential ingredients for a healthy life. Deficiency of these elements can lead to numerous diseases within the human body which are at times incurable. Excess quantity of vitamins also proves to be detrimental, but complications associated with them can be controlled through the reduced intake. At present, the low and middle-income countries, as well as the developing or underdeveloped countries of the world, are suffering from vitamin deficiency. A large percentage of the population in those countries suffer from malnutrition, which is directly impacting the life expectancy. According to the recent epidemiological studies by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), about 12.9% of the current global population is malnourished.

 

What are vitamins?

Vitamins foodsVitamins are a category of organic nutrients (medically termed as micronutrients) which are necessary for a healthy life. These vitamins need to be present in adequate quantities in the regular diet because the human body is incapable of synthesizing them naturally. They play a vital role in metabolism and growth.

All total there are 13 different types of vitamins and each of them has important roles in the growth and development of the body. Proper intake of all these vitamins is necessary especially in the growing years of a child, to ensure healthy development and proper build up of immunity. It is to be noted that all the 13 vitamins cannot be obtained from a single source of food. Hence the daily diet should consist of different types of foods, each having a definite value (in terms of vitamins and essential nutrients).

According to statistics of the World Health Organization, in industrialized countries, the daily food intake by an average adult is about 600 g (dry-weight basis), of which vitamins constitute about less than 1 g.

 

Different types of vitamins

Vitamins are divided into two main classes according to their medium of solubility. These are as follows-

Fat-soluble vitamins: Fat-soluble vitamins are those vitamins which are primarily dissolved in fat before they are carried by the circulating blood to different organs of the body. Surplus quantities of fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fat tissues and utilized by the body whenever needed. There are four fat-soluble vitamins namely- Vitamins A, D, E and K.

 Characteristics of fat-soluble vitamins

 Following are the unique characteristics-

  • Storage: These vitamins are stored in liver and fat tissues and utilized whenever necessary.
  • Longevity: They last for a long time since the body does not need them on a daily basis.
  • Absorption and excretion: They are absorbed along with dietary fat through the small intestine and excreted at a slow rate.
  • Toxicity: Fat soluble vitamins stored within the body for a prolonged period can cause toxicity.

 

Water-soluble vitamins: Water-soluble vitamins are necessary on a regular basis via a balanced diet. They dissolve easily in water and are carried to the body tissues which perform several essential functions. The main water-soluble vitamins are- Vitamin B complex group and Vitamin C. 

Characteristics of water-soluble vitamins

 Following are the unique characteristics-

  • Storage: These vitamins are not stored in the body for a long time.
  • Longevity: They do not last for a long period within the body tissues and are easily excreted on a regular basis.
  • Toxicity: Since these vitamins do not stay within the body for a very long period, hence the chances of toxicity are nil.

 

Different sources of vitamins

Vitamins of any category are consumed via daily diet (preferably a balanced diet). There are two primary sources of vitamins – plant source and animal source. The different sources of all varieties of vitamins are discussed below-

  • Vitamin A: Fruits (green or ripened), green leafy vegetables (contain beta carotene and carotenoids), dairy products, cereals, fish oil, liver
  • Vitamin D: Egg yolk, organ meat, fortified milk, fish (cod liver oil), sunlight
  • Vitamin E: Whole wheat, cereals, egg yolk, nuts, avocado, peanut butter
  • Vitamin K: Soybeans, broccoli, spinach, sprouts, turnip
  • Vitamin B1: Yeast, whole grains, wheat germ, organ meat, pork, dried beans, seeds
  • Vitamin B2: Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, organ meat, nuts, whole grain, mushrooms, poultry
  • Vitamin B3: Fish, poultry, whole grains, peanut butter, mushrooms
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): Beef, corn, meat, orange juice
  • Vitamin B6: Yeast, poultry, wheat germ, whole grains, meat, potato, banana, beans
  • Vitamin B12: Fish, poultry, liver, meat, dairy products (cheese, yogurt)
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits (lemon, orange), green leafy vegetables, green pepper, black currant, tomato, cooked egg, non-fat yogurt, low-fat milk

 

What are the main functions of vitamins?

Different vitamins have different roles in the growth and nutritional development of the body. These are discussed below-

Vitamin A

  • Hair, skin and nail growth
  • Bone and teeth development
  • Healthy maintenance of respiratory and intestinal tract
  • Protection and regeneration of mucous membrane
  • Eye health

Vitamin D

  • Healthy maintenance of bone, teeth, brain
  • Regulation of blood calcium level

Vitamin E

  • Maintenance of healthy cell, skin and tissue
  • Protection and development of red blood cells
  • Antioxidation
  • Immunity enhancement

Vitamin K

  • Assists in blood coagulation
  • Prevents excess bleeding
  • Maintenance of liver health

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

  • Enables carbohydrate and protein metabolism
  • Maintenance of normal functioning of heart, muscles and digestive system
  • Growth and development

Vitamin B2 (Riboflabin)

  • Carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism
  • Maintenance of health of eyes and oral health
  • Skin, hair and nail growth

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

  • Carbohydrate and fat metabolism
  • Regulation of cholesterol level
  • Maintenance of oral health

Vitamin B6

  • Protein metabolism
  • Production of red blood cells, hormones, enzymes, antibodies
  • Proper transmission of nerve impulse

Vitamin B12

  • Maintenance of nervous system health
  • Production of red blood cells
  • Improves protein metabolism
  • Enhances appetite

Vitamin C

  • Maintenance of oral health
  • Collagen synthesis
  • Healing after surgery or injury
  • Facilitates calcium and iron absorption
  • Improves immunity

 

What are the deficiency symptoms of vitamins?

A regular intake of all forms of vitamins is important for the proper growth and development of the human body. A balanced diet is essential to achieve the same. Shortage of any type of vitamin in the body can give rise to several deficiency symptoms which are discussed below-

Vitamin A deficiency symptoms

  • Night-blindness
  • Dry and reddish eyes
  • A weakness of bone and teeth
  • Stomach discomfort

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms

Vitamin E deficiency symptoms

Vitamin K deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B1 deficiency symptoms

  • Beriberi
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired growth (in children)
  • Complications of the nervous system

Vitamin B2 deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B3 deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms

  • Pernicious anemia
  • Loss of memory
  • Mental instability
  • Cognitive impairments
  • General weakness

Vitamin C deficiency

 

What are the symptoms of hypervitaminosis?

Vitamins capsuleExcess intake of any kind of vitamin (hypervitaminosis) is as bad as vitamin deficiency. The complications associated with hypervitaminosis are discussed below-

Vitamin A hypervitaminosis symptoms

  • Dry, itchy skin with rashes
  • Peeled off scales
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Liver dysfunctions
  • Headache
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Extreme fatigue

Vitamin D hypervitaminosis symptoms

  • Excess calcium salt depostion in body tissues and cartilages (calcification)
  • Arrhythmia due to the presence of excess calcium ions in the blood
  • Kidney damage (due to inability to filter larger calcium molecules)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy skin

Vitamin E hypervitaminosis symptoms

Vitamin K hypervitaminosis symptoms

  • Blood clots within arteries
  • Liver damage

Vitamin B3 hypervitaminosis symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Headache

Vitamin B6 hypervitaminosis symptoms

  • Numbness of limbs leading to difficulty in walking
  • Temporary loss of sensation

Vitamin C hypervitaminosis symptoms

How to manage and prevent nutritional deficiencies?

  • Vitamins juicesA majority of the population is deficient in vitamin D. The daily requirement of vitamin D is 2000 IU. Vitamin D2 comes from plants while D3 comes from animal products. D3 is also produced in our bodies when we expose ourselves to sunlight. Thus a balanced diet rich in fish, eggs, liver, and milk can help prevent vitamin D deficiency.
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, bok choy, and cauliflower are rich in essential nutrients and also help your body Detox.
  • It is important to address the major reasons behind nutritional deficiencies among low and middle-income countries. These mainly include – maternal nutritional anemia, protein-energy malnutrition, lactation failure, and vitamin A deficiency.
  • Include healthier eating habits – consume whole grains instead of refined, fruits in place of sweet desserts, and water in place of artificially sweetened beverages.

 

Facts

  • Altogether 40 vitamins and minerals are required by the human body to sustain a healthy living. These need to come from the diet as the body cannot synthesize these as required by the body.
  • In case you consume excess of water-soluble vitamins (vitamin B & C), they will be excreted through your urine.

Facts

  • Vitamins and minerals are not the only nutrients required by the body. Amino acids and essential fatty acids are also counted as nutrients.
  • The term “vitamins” has been derived from the words “vital” (because of their importance) and “amines” (since they were previously thought to be amines).

Facts

  • There are all total 13 vitamins – 4 fat-soluble ( A, D,E,& K) and 9 water-soluble ( Vitamin C and 8 types of Vitamin B).
  • If you accidentally cut yourself or suffer a wound, vitamin K will ensure that you form clots and don’t bleed excessively and vitamin C will try to heal it as soon as possible.

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Test Your Knowledge

Welcome to your Nutrient Deficiency Quiz

What type of sun rays help synthesize vitamin D?
Which disorder is characterized by inability to speak in certain social situations?
Beriberi is caused by the lack of this micronutrient-
Can stuttering be genetic?
Which of these vitamins are needed for calcium absorption by the body?
What is scoliosis?
People with darker skin are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.
If you have thiamine deficiency, which of these should you avoid consuming with your thiamine rich diet?
Which of the following is a speech disorder that affects the pronunciation of letters like s, z, r?
Consumption of mushrooms exposed to UVB rays help with low vitamin D levels.

Take the full quiz

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Remember that in order to absorb any form of calcium you need vitamin D as well. This can be obtained from diet and natural sunlight.
  • Women should try to maintain a healthy level of iron in their bodies since they experience regular blood loss during menstrual cycles.
  • Note that Vitamin A, D, E, & K (fat –soluble) will only be absorbed in the body if these are taken with food that has a little fat content.
Don'ts
  • Consume prenatal vitamins if you are not pregnant or trying to conceive. Many women take such supplements for hair growth. But such a condition might lead to abnormally high iron levels.
  • Assume that just because you are taking vitamin supplements you can skip healthy foods. As the name suggests, these pills need to be supplemented along with food.
  • Consider that vitamin pills will compensate for heavy drinking, smoking, or eating unhealthy food.

 

 

 

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Androstenedione Test Androstenedione is produced by the adrenal gland, the test of the levels of Androstenedione helps in the evaluation…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
TSH test
TSH Test – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone TSH test measures the level of thyroid secreting hormone in the blood. The level of this hormone is…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
5 htp brain
5-htp: Is this the ultimate cure for those pesky migraines attacks? 5-htp is a supplement that is extracted from the plant Griffonia simplicifoli.  It is an amino acid that helps…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
copper serum test
Copper Serum Test Copper serum test checks for abnormal levels of copper in the body. Both high and low levels of…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
rosacea-treatment--before-_-after
The best and safest ways to treat rosacea Rosacea is a skin disease that is characterized by reddish hives and rashes on the face. Read more…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…