If You Don't Eat Your Veg.....
You won’t grow up to be tall and strong!! For most of us, I expect that we can remember this being recited to us as children not once or twice but a countless number of times, I know that I certainly can! However for most of the time, we were never really told exactly how or why eating a plate of unattractive green or orange vegetables would supposedly transform us into Popeye or Arnold Schwarzenegger in one foul swoop!
Well, as you may well have gathered by now, Popeye is just a cartoon character and as for Arnold, I have no doubt that his physique is the result of a lot more than a plateful pretty-coloured vegetables!
In this modern age, we know that vegetables have an abundance of vitamins which are essential for our bodies to grow and function healthily. They do not, however work as separate entities. There are vitamins which need to react with water, other vitamins or even fat (yes, FAT!) before they can be effectively utilised by the body.
Vitamins... healthy lifestyle... what exactly are these words all about and more importantly, how are they connected and how do they affect us? Perhaps I should begin by trying to explain exactly what vitamins are, why they are of such importance to us and from which foodstuffs they can best be obtained.
Vitamins are found naturally in organically grown foodstuffs and they play a major part in regulating our metabolic rate. However I am sure that it is a sign of the times that at the mention of vitamins, one may immediately think of pills as opposed to fresh vegetables. However, most of the ‘pill’ vitamins will have begun their life as an organically grown substance anyway!
If you were asked to name as many vitamins as you could, you would probably mention A,B,C,D,etc. and of course this would be quite correct. However, it may surprise you to know that all of these vitamins actually have individual names. The original reason for naming each vitamin after a letter in the alphabet was because the chemical structure of each vitamin was unknown. Today however, with scientific advancement, all of the above vitamins (and more) have individual names... but there are still several vitamins which have yet to be discovered and named!
Vitamins form an essential part of our diet as they aid in counteracting night blindness, promoting the growth of strong bones, healthy skin, teeth, bones and hair, to name but a minuscule number of their positive effects. They can, however, have an adverse effect if they are taken in mass quantities, resulting in unnatural hair loss, diarrhoea, headaches or even something as extreme as liver damage! However with this in mind, they can also be used to positively treat problems such as constipation, fatigue, insomnia or even halitosis!
Let us have a look at the properties of some of the most common vitamins and how we can possibly be affected if we have too little or too much of them.
This is a fat-soluble vitamin, i.e. it requires fat as well as other minerals in order to be efficiently digested. It can be found in both animal-origin foodstuffs as well as vegetables. It can be stored by the body and therefore does not have to be replaced each day.
- It can counteract night blindness and weak eyesight.
- It can help in the removal of age spots.
- It can be applied externally to help in treating acne, boils and open ulcers.
Can cause hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue or headaches if taken in too large quantities.
This is water-soluble. All excess of B vitamins are not stored in the body and must therefore be replaced daily.
- Aids in digestion (especially of carbohydrates).
- Helps in the daily functioning of the nervous system and the heart.
- Helps in treating Herpes Zoster.
As any excess supplies of this vitamin are not stored in the body, there are no real adverse effects from this vitamin.
This is water soluble. It primarily aids in the production of collagen which is important for growth and repair.
- It can be used as a natural laxative.
- Heal wounds, burns and bleeding gums.
- It can help to prevent colds or decrease the duration of a cold.
- A deficiency will cause scurvy.
- When taken in excess, it will cause diarrhoea or increased urination.
This is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is obtained through sunlight or through foodstuffs.
- It reacts positively with calcium and phosphorus and aids in maintaining strong healthy teeth and bones.
- When used in conjunction with vitamins A and C it can help to prevent colds.
- It can also help in treating conjunctivitis.
- Overdosing on this vitamin could cause sore eyes, itching skin, thirstiness and vomiting.
- Severe tooth decay.
- In extreme cases rickets may occur.
It is only possible to study a small number of vitamins in this article as there are such a vast amount, all with positive and negative effects. I am sure, however, that you can see from the ones that I have chosen that there are both advantages and disadvantages from either not taking enough or even taking too much of these vitamins.
It is important to remember that if you are not taking these vitamins in their natural form (eg. as a vegetable) it is inadviseable to exceed the recommended dosage.