The Vitals About Vitamins

Vitamins - Seniors Today

All you need to know about vitamins, as explained by Dr. Noor Gill

How many of you have been taking BCForte or Vitamin B complex capsules for a while now? Have you been popping vitamin E and multivitamins just because someone (not with a degree in medicine and a stethoscope around their neck) recommended them to you?

Well, when you take your capsule in the evening you should at least know what you’re taking it for. Read on to boast to your friends all the ways in which you can use VitE while you sip on your whites and reds.

Vitamins are organic compounds that occur in small quantities in different natural foods and are necessary for the growth and maintenance of good health and well functioning body. Most vitamins can be procured from our food. Yes, you are already getting your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins from your diet itself. Make a healthier lifestyle and dietary choices so you don’t have to remind yourself to take an extra tablet. Some people may, however, need supplements.

Some Essential Vitamins

Both men and women require vitamins to keep their bodies well oiled. But in the Indian scenario women tend to have deficiencies more than men do. Some of the vitamins that are necessary to keep the body functioning well and their added advantages are:

Vitamin A: Its active form is present only in the animal tissue. But don’t you worry, our body knows how to break down and convert the inactive form to an active one. So eat your greens and carrots and papaya. Mango season is on its way which means that you’ll be loading up on VitA without even realizing you’ve already chowed two mangoes down. Milk, cream, cheese, egg yolks, and liver are great sources. And fish liver oil is the richest of them all.

Women tend to have more vitamin deficiencies than men, especially in India

VitA has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also decreases sebaceous secretions. So if you have oily skin or are prone to acne, VitA (retinol/isotretinoin) is your go-to. It is also great for wrinkles it does not make them disappear altogether but they sure do tighten your skin. It plays a great role in our vision and is also necessary for reproduction. Miscarriages are noticed in some women with deficiencies.

Vitamin B Complex: This has more vitamins than you think. All very complex. Each vitamin is important individually and as a group.

VitB1 (Thiamine): Its richest source is cereals. But avoid eating polished grains, they might sound like they are better, but believe me, they are not. B1 metabolizes fat and produces energy. It is what is keeping you up and moving.

VitB2 (Riboflavin): It has some great antioxidant properties. Its deficiency is very rarely seen since it is naturally synthesized by the intestinal flora.

VitB3 (Niacin): This decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Its deficiency in women can cause pellagra which translates to rough skin. This is because VitB3’s metabolism is inhibited by estrogen metabolites.

VitB6 (Pyridoxine): VitB6 deficiency can lead to VitB3 deficiency and thus cause pellagra. It also causes anemia by hindering the process of heme formation. So load up on those wheat germs, pulses, and cereals. And don’t forget your greens. If you’re on ATT (Anti Tubercular Therapy) take supplementary B6. Mild B6 deficiency is also seen in women on oral contraceptives.

Vit B7(Biotin) and VitB9 (Folic acid): Ever wondered why pregnant women glow? It’s not only happiness, the inner radiance comes from VitB7 and B9, which also keeps your skin, hair, and nails healthy and shiny.

VitB12: This is necessary for proper red blood and nerve cell function and formation.

VitC: It is essential for the growth and repair of the body tissue. It has great antioxidant properties and thus may prevent cancer formation. Daily intake of VitC can reduce the risk of cancer. It also helps in collagen formation thus keeping wrinkles at bay, or at least delayed.

A healthy diet and lifestyle choices may help you avoid supplements

VitD: The “sunshine vitamin”. It helps in calcium absorption hence keeping your bones strong and healthy and also a healthy immune system. If you sit in the sun (with your sunscreen on!) for 20-30 mins a day, you will not need dietary supplements for the same.

VitE: It is a powerful natural antioxidant. It also protects the RBC from dying in vain (hemolysis). It slows the aging process and also boosts the immune response.

VitK: It is necessary for coagulation. Some of the clotting factors depend on VitK for their formation. This is also produced by the intestinal flora but green leafy vegetables are a good dietary source.

Choline: It plays a major role in the nerve cell and liver function and formation.

If these vitamins are deficient, they can cause problems but too much of anything is never good either. So you need to find just the right balance between too much and too little, and always consult your physician before you start taking any supplements. Eat better, stay healthier.

About Dr Noor Gill

Dr Noor Gill, MBBS, deciphers the space between heartbeats, figuratively and literally. Powered by frequent long naps and caffeine, she believes that “knowledge without giving back to society is meaningless” and works to make caring cool again.

View all posts by Dr Noor Gill

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