An in depth look at the bodies absorption of vitamins and minerals
Have you ever thought about importance of vitamins? How they work to keep you healthy and what happens if they don’t?
From a medical point of view neither vitamins are food nor medications but the most important thing we need to learn is that our life would not be possible without them. While fungi, bacteria and plants produce vitamins for themselves we are not able to, so we must provide another way of intake. These ways include varied diet. Both animal and plant sources are essential to ensure sufficient amounts of all kind of vitamins. Although, chemists have found a way to synthesize the same or similar compounds that compensate food intake through supplements. The deficiency leads to disease called hypovitaminosis (lack of vitamins) or avitaminosis (absence of vitamins).
Vitamins come in two types: fat-soluble (lipid-solubile) and water-soluble. The main differences between them are: different ways of transport, storage in body and elimination of the excess. While minerals are stored in your body only few of vitamins also stay as our guests in liver ( fat-soluble are stored in fatty tissues also) . These are fat-soluble vitamins and vitamin B12, as an exception.
Digestion and absorption of vitamins
Our body is clever, it acts like a machine that crushes food, processes, uses and stores vitamins and minerals. This process starts in mouth by chewing food. Saliva is responsible for chemical breakdown and allows next step – swallowing. Once you swallow it travels to your stomach where hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes are dealing with solid parts, shredding them and sends to small intestines where further digestion and nutrient absorption occurs. In the upper regions of small intestine begins the final part of digestion. Bile and pancreas enzymes give us fine particles able to pass between intestinal cells wall. This is called absorption and now through capillaries vitamins go to bloodstream. Journey continues by sending nutrients in liver to be used immediately or stored or sent to kidneys for elimination through urine.
There is a common belief that fats are unhealthy. If you are convinced in it too I must break it to you. It´s opposite, fats are necessary for usage of vitamin A, D, E and K. The whole process wouldn´t have been possible if fats are missing and the body would just eliminate this group of vitamins. Each type is responsible for different functions in organism.
- A – supports good vision and immune system functioning. We can find it in fish liver oil, butter, liver of animals, carrots, spinach. Deficiency can cause hair loss, dry eyes, blindness, reduce immune function.
- D – aids in bone health and development and supports immune system. Dietary sources : fish oil, fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified foods. Lack of vitamin D leads to increased bone fractures, weakened immune system and muscles, hair loss, more prone to infections, tiredness.
- E – as antioxidant protects body from free radicals that can cause cancer. It is found in sunflower seed and oil, almonds, hazelnuts… Deficiency leads to muscle weakness, vision problems, anemia, heart disease.
- K – main role is in blood clotting. Also, reduce risk of heart disease, high concentration of calcium in the blood… Dietary sources : kale, liver, butter, spinach, eggs. If this vitamin is missing it can cause bleeding and reduced bone density that can lead to fractures.
If you are thinking now how essential they are for your overall health and you maybe did not take this seriously you are right! But on the other hand, I would like to turn your attention to the fact that they are stored in our body so overdose can cause toxic conditions. It is important to follow recommended intake.
- Vitamin B1 ( thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
- Vitamin C
You should try to provide them from your diet or supplements because they are generally not stored in the body. But also you shouldn´t worry about overdose because there is small probability for toxic effects because excretion is fast.
Functions, diet sources and deficiency
Thiamine is important for many essentials chemical reactions just like riboflavin and niacin. Pantothenic acid is the key for various metabolic functions. Vitamin B6 helps red blood cell formation, energy metabolism, synthesis of several neurotransmitters. Biotin as well as the others uses chemical reactions for fatty acid synthesis, glucose formation and amino acid metabolism. Vitamin B9 is necessary for the cell growth, DNA formation and amino acid metabolism. Cobalamin is involved in brain function maintenance, DNA synthesis… Vitamin C has a role in neurological functions, formation of red blood cells, organism defence. Dietary sources include various fruits, vegetables and meat. Deficiency cause severe problems, opposite of their function.
Be wise without help of years. Think now and take care about your health, because what more important than that?