Vitamins are found (naturally) only in plants animals. The body can only synthesis a few vitamins, the rest must be obtained from food or in dietary supplements. Vitamins are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies. They are necessary for our growth, vitality, and general well-being.
Vitamins cannot replace food. In fact, vitamins cannot be assimilated without ingesting food (and minerals). That is why we suggest taking them with a meal. Vitamins are involved in many biochemical processes; they help regulate metabolism, help convert fat and carbohydrates into energy and assist in forming bone and tissue.
Below is a comprehensive list and explanation of the roles each of the vitamins play. Also included is a list of sources of each of these vitamins.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene, Retinol)
Role: Necessary for growth & repair of body tissues: helps maintain smooth, soft disease-free skin; helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose , throat & lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infections; protects against air pollutants; counteracts night-blindness & weak eyesight; aids in bone and teeth formation. Current medical research shows that foods rich in Beta Carotene will help reduce the risk of lung cancer & certain oral cancers. Unlike Vitamin A from fish liver oil, Beta Carotene is non-toxic.
Deficiency symptoms: May result in night blindness; increased susceptibility to infections; rough, dry, scaly skin; loss of smell & appetite; frequents fatigue; lack of tearing; defective teeth & gums’ retarded growth.
Sources: Green leafy vegetables, melon, squash, yams, tomatoes, fish-liver oils.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin)
Role: Plays a key role in the body’s metabolic cycle for generating energy; aids in the digestion of carbohydrates; essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system, muscles & heart; stabilises the appetite; promotes growth & good muscle tone.
Deficiency symptoms: May lead to the loss of appetite ; weakness & feeling tired; paralysis & nervous irritability; insomnia; loss of weight; vague aches & pains; mental depression & constipation; heart & gastrointestinal problems.
Sources: Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ/bran, whole-grain cereals, seeds and nuts, beans, leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
Role: Necessary for carbohydrate, fat & protein metabolism; aids in the formation of antibodies and red blood cells; maintains cell respiration; necessary for the maintenance of good vision, skin, nails & hair; alleviates eye fatigue; promotes general health.
Deficiency symptoms: May result in itching and burning eyes; cracks and sores in the mouth & lips; bloodshot eyes; purplish tongue; dermatitis; retarded growth; digestive disturbances; trembling; sluggishness; oily skin.
Sources: Whole grains, brewer’s yeast, torula yeast, wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, cooked leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin, Niacinamide)
Role: Improves circulation and reduces the cholesterol level in the blood; maintains the nervous system; helps metabolise protein, sugar & fat; reduces high blood pressure; increases energy through proper utilisation of food; prevents pellagra; helps maintain a healthy skin, tongue & digestive system.
Deficiency symptoms: May result in pellagra, gastrointestinal disturbance, nervousness, headaches, fatigue, mental depression, vague aches & pains, irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia, skin disorders, muscular weakness, indigestion, bad breath, canker sores.
Sources: Brewer’s / tortula yeasts, wheat germ, rice bran, nuts, sunflower seeds, brown rice, green vegetables.
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)
Role: Necessary for the synthesis & breakdown of amino acids, the building blocks of protein; aids in fat and carbohydrate metabolism; aids in the formation of antibodies; maintains the central nervous system; aids in the removal of excess fluid of premenstrual women; promotes healthy skin; reduces muscle spasms, leg cramps, hand numbness, nausea & stiffness of hands; helps maintain a proper balance of sodium & phosphorous in the body.
Deficiency symptoms: May result in nervousness, insomnia, skin eruptions, loss of muscular control, anaemia, mouth disorders, muscular weakness, dermatitis, arm & leg cramps, loss of hair, slow learning, and water retention.
Sources: Brewer’s yeast, bananas, avocado, wheat germ/bran, soybeans.
Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin)
Role: Helps in the formation & regeneration of red blood cells, thus helping prevent anaemia; necessary for carbohydrate, fat & protein metabolism; maintains a healthy nervous system; promotes growth in children; increases energy; needed for calcium absorption.
Deficiency symptoms: May lead to pernicious anaemia, poor appetite, growth failure in children, tiredness, brain damage, nervousness, neuritis, degeneration of spinal cord, depression, lack of balance.
Sources: Deep green leafy vegetables, lima beans, spinach, nuts, broccoli,brewer’s yeast.
Role: Participates in the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats & protein, aids in the utilisation of vitamins; improves the body’s resistance to stress; helps in cell building & the development of the central nervous system; helps the adrenal glands, fights infections by building antibodies.
Deficiency symptoms: May lead to painful & burning feet, skin abnormalities, retarded growth, dizzy spells, digestive disturbances, vomiting, restlessness, stomach stress, muscle cramps.
Sources: Royal jelly, whole-grain breads/cereals, green vegetables, peanuts, crude molasses.
Role: Aids in the utilisation of protein, folic acid, Pantothenic acid, and Vitamin B-12, promotes healthy hair.
Deficiency symptoms: May lead to extreme exhaustion, drowsiness, muscle pain, loss of appetite, depression, grayish skin colour.
Sources: Brewer’s yeast, soybeans, unpolished rice.
Role: Necessary for DNA & RNA synthesis, which is essential for the growth and reproduction of all body cells; essential to the formation of red blood cells by its action on the bone marrow; aids in amino acid metabolism.
Deficiency symptoms: May result in gastrointestinal disorders, anaemia, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, premature grey hair.
Sources: Beans, brewer’s yeast, lamb, oranges, pork, fish.
Role: Necessary for the formation of lecithin; aids in the breakdown of fats; helps reduce blood cholesterol; helps prevent thinning hair.
Deficiency symptoms: May result in high blood cholesterol, constipation, eczema, hair loss.
Sources: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, & milk.
Role: Very important in controlling fat & cholesterol buildup in the body; prevents fat from accumulating in the liver; facilitates the movement of fats in the cells; helps regulate the kidneys, liver & gallbladder; important for nerve transmission; helps improve memory.
Deficiency symptoms: May result in cirrhosis and fatty degeneration of the liver, hardening of the arteries, heart problems, high blood pressure, haemorrhaging kidneys.
Sources: Egg yolks, legumes, meat, milk, whole grain cereals.
PABA (Para Amino Benzoic Acid)
Role: Aids healthy bacteria in producing folic acid; aids in the formation of red blood cells; contains sun screening properties; aids in the assimilation of pantothenic acid; returns hair to its natural colour.
Deficiency symptoms: May cause extreme fatigue, eczema, irritability, depressions, nervousness, constipation, headaches, digestive disorders, hair turning prematurely grey.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Role: Essential for healthy teeth, gums & bones; helps heal wounds, scar tissue, & fractures; prevents scurvy; builds resistance to infection; aids in the prevention & treatment of the common cold; gives strength to blood vessels; aids in the absorption of iron. It is required for the synthesis of collagen, the intercellular “cement” which holds tissues together. It is also one of the major antioxidant nutrients. It prevents the conversion of nitrates (from tobacco smoke, smog, bacon, lunch meats, & some vegetables) into cancer-causing substances.
Deficiency symptoms: May lead to soft & bleeding gums, swollen or painful joints, slow-healing wounds & fractures, bruising, nosebleeds, tooth decay, loss of appetite, muscular weakness, skin haemorrhages, capillary weakness, anaemia, impaired digestion.
Sources: Rose hips, citrus, strawberries, apples, guavas, cabbage, tomatoes, turnip greens, green bell peppers.
Vitamin D (calciferol)
Role: Improves absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorous; required for bone and teeth formation; maintains a stable nervous system and normal heart action.
Deficiency symptoms: May lead to rickets, tooth decay, softening of bones, improper healing of fractures, lack of vigour, muscular weakness, inadequate absorption of calcium, retention of phosphorous in the kidneys.
Sources: Fish-liver oils, sprouted seeds, mushrooms, sunflower seeds
Vitamin E (tocopherol)
Role: Major anti-oxidant nutrient; retards cellular aging due to oxidation; supplies oxygen to the blood which is then carried to the heart and other organs, thus alleviating fatigue; aids in bringing nourishment to cells; strengthens the capillary walls & prevents the red blood cells from destructive poisons; prevents & dissolves blood clots; has also been used by doctors in helping prevent sterility, muscular dystrophy, calcium deposits in blood walls and heart conditions.
Deficiency symptoms: May lead to a rupture of red blood cells, loss of reproductive powers, lack of sexual vitality, abnormal fat deposits in muscles, degenerative changes in the changes in the heart and other muscles; dry skin.
Sources: Raw or sprouted seeds, nuts and grains. Green leafy vegetables. Cold pressed olive oil.
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
Role: Blood clotting, bone formation, prevents osteoporosis.
Deficiency symptoms: Causes one to bruise easily
Sources: Kelp, Alfalfa, soybean oil. Naturally present in healthy intestines.
Role: Enhance absorption of Vitamin C. Not produced by the human body. Antibacterial effect.
Sources: The white material just beneath the peel of citrus fruits and peppers.