Vitamins Classification

A basic working knowledge of the main vitamins and minerals used by the human body for folk and practitioners of a variety of therapies.

Definitions:

Vitamin Any chemical within the group of organic compounds required (in very small amounts) by the body in order to maintain good health. These cannot be synthesized by the body and so are essential constituents of the diet – though most can also be taken in tablet form, as dietary supplements.Deficiencies (and in many cases also excessive intake) of these substances can lead to specific diseases.
Fat-Soluble Vitamins Vitamins that are soluble in oil. This group are sometimes described as “oil-soluble” rather than “fat-soluble”.This group includes: Vitamin “A”, Vitamin “D”, Vitamin “E”, and Vitamin “K”.
Water-Soluble Vitamins Vitamins that are soluble in water. This group includes: Vitamin “C”, and the “Vitamin “B” complex.

The following table includes basic data about each of the major vitamins:

Vitamin

Functions

Sources  Deficiencies  Excessive Intake

A  (Retinol)

Essential
for growth;

Vision in dim light;

Maintenance of soft mucous tissue.

Milk
products;

Egg yolk:

Liver.

Can be formed in the body from its precursor
(beta-carotene), found in:

Cabbage;

Carrots;

Green vegetables;

Lettuce

Orange/yellow vegetables;

Yellow/red fruits.

Deficiency
can lead to:

Stunted growth;

Night blindness;

Xerophthalmia (dry, ulcerated eyes);

Keratomalacia (dry, ulcerated eyes);

Defective dental development;

Skin Disorders.

Early
indications of excess vitamin A can include
dry skin and itching.

Vitamin A can be stored in the body in such large quantities
that it can become toxic. Symptoms may include: dizziness,
nausea, headaches and vomiting.

B1 (Thiamin, Aneurine)

Formation
of the enzyme thiamin pyrophosphate;

promotes normal metabolism, appetite, digestion,
and growth;

Brain development and function.

Beans;

Cereals;

Meat;

Nuts;

Peas;

Potatoes;

Yeast .

Moderate
deficiency may induce anxiety, depression and irritability.

Extreme
deficiency can lead to the disease “Beriberi”-
involving nerve inflammation, muscular weakness and,
in extreme cases, heart failure.

Excessive
doses (possibly by injection) may lead to
toxic symptoms such as:

Allergic reactions;

Disturbance of heart beat;

Nervousness;

Shaking and Swellings.

 

B2  (Riboflavin)

Production
of acetylcholine, noradrenaline, serotonin
(neurotransmitters essential to the brain);

Release of energy from carbohydrates;

Synthesis of arachidonic acid, linoleic
acid and linolenic acid (essential fatty
acids);

Tissue respiration.

Cheese;

Eggs;

Fish;

Liver;

Milk

Pulses.

Deficiency
can lead to:

Ariboflavinosis;

Dizziness;

Eczema;

Insomnia;

Oversensitivity to light;

Scaly Scalp.

Overdose
is unlikely but extremely large doses are associated
with numbness and itching.

B6  (Pyridoxine)

Many functions, including:

Maintaining healthy skin and nerves;

Formation of red blood cells;

Formation of hormones essential for functioning
of the brain;

Synthesis & breakdown of amino acids;

Resistance to disease;

Fight signs of premature ageing.

Many
foods including:

Fish;

Green vegetables;

Meat; Milk; Liver;

Whole-grain cereals.

Rare,
but can lead to:

Loss of appetite;

Anaemia;

Fatigue;

Nervousness;

Insomnia;

Memory problems;

Menstrual problems.

Excessive
intake can lead to poisoning and damage to the central
and peripheral nervous systems, especially the sense
of touch.

B9  (Folic Acid)

Synthesis
of nucleic acids;

Pre-conception & in early pregnancy
folic acid is thought to help prevent neural
tube defects and other congenital foetal
malformations.

 

Green
leafy vegetables (such as spinach);

Kidneys;

Liver;

Nuts;

Whole-grains;

Yeast extract.

Megaloblastic
anaemia (includes several types of anaemia);

Apathy / Depression;

Dizziness;

Dull grey-looking skin.

B12 (Cyanocobalamin)

Synthesis
of nucleic acids;

Maintenance of myelin in the nervous system;

Correct functioning of Folic Acid.

Brewers
Yeast;

Dairy products;

Eggs;

Fish;

Liver;

Meat.

Affects
most body tissues, especially those containing
rapidly dividing cells;

Pernicious anaemia;

Degeneration of the nervous system (incl.
loss of sensation and poor co-ordination);

Tongue infections.

(Ascorbic Acid)

Antioxidant
Properties;

Maintaining healthy connective tissues;

Integrity of cell walls;

Synthesis of collagen;

Improves resistance to infections;

Promotes healthy function of phagocytes
(a type of white blood cell);

May help to reduce allergic reactions (by inhibiting
the action of histamine).

Citrus
Fruits;

Potatoes;

Vegetables.

Mild deficiency:

Tender joints;

Soft/Bleeding gums;

Reduced immunity to diseases;

Weakness.

 

Extreme Deficiency:

Scurvy.

Sudden
high intake of vitamin C can cause diarrhoea.

Very high dosage can lead to stomach problems in some
people.

D

Absorption
of calcium and phosphorous (from the intestine
& deposition of them in the bone).

Regulation of the permeability of cell membranes.

Liver;

Fish oils.

Ergocalciferol 

(Vitamin D2)

from plant sources.

Cholecalciferol

(Vitamin D3)

is produced by the action of sunlight on 7-dehydrocholesterol, which is in the skin.

Deficiency
may be due to poor diet or to insufficient sunlight
and can lead to:

Decalcified
bones;

Rickets (in children);

Problems in dental development (in children);

Osteomalacia (in adults);

Muscle weakness and cramps;

Osteoporosis – if deficiency over extended period of
time.

Over-calcification
of the bones and teeth;

Formation of calculus stones in the kidneys
and other organs;

Hardening of arteries.

In
cases of extreme over-dose, vitamin D may
lead to poisioning. Symptoms may include:

General discomfort;

Itchy eyes and skin;

Extreme thirst;

Diarrhoea.

(Tocopherols and Tocotrienols)

Antioxidant
properties;

Muscle Development;

Production of red blood cells.

Reproductive functions.

 

Butter;

Corn and peanut oils;

Eggs;

Soya beans;

Vegetable oils;

Wheat germ;

Wholemeal Cereals.

 

Some
vitamin E can be safely stored in the body but excessive
doses may result in stomach problems and diarrhoea.

K

Needed
for formation of prothrombin by the liver – for blood
clotting.

Fish;

Green leafy vegetables;

Meat;

Molasses;

Nuts;

Seaweed;

Also
synthesized by bacteria in the large intestines.

Deficiency
may lead to:

Osteoporosis

Some
people with liver diseases cannot tolerate supplements
of vitamin K.