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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Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Isagenix diet weight loss
How are BMI and BMR different and what do these numbers mean? BMI and BMR are two important metrics that provide a clear picture of your body's metabolism and also…
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…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
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…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
Did you know drinking alkaline water could be the healthier choice for you? Ever wondered how safe is your drinking water in terms of pH? Recent studies have revealed that Alkaline…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Tight phimosis ring
Phimosis Read to know everything about phimosis, types, symptoms, treatment, risks and prognosis for patients with this condition.
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…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
Gatorade: Top things you need to know about this staple energy drink Gatorade is a popular (in fact the most popular) energy drink worldwide. But this power-packed drinks comes with…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) test Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that is found in every cell of the body and it plays…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
Unbelievable health benefits of gooseberries (and a few tasty recipes) Gooseberries are antioxidant-rich tasty fruits that can be easily added in daily diet to improve overall health and…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
Valerian Root: The best way to achieve tranquil sleep every night Valerian root is probably one of the oldest and safest way to cure your insomnia. Find out how…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
free psa test
Free PSA Test The free PSA test is used to detect the level or percentage of free PSA in the body…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
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…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…