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Benefit of Vitamins and Signs You Are Not Getting Enough

Updated on May 25, 2013
Spinach
Spinach

Malnutrition is a term that is most commonly associated with charity drives in which money is sought from the public for those in less developed countries. However, this is not the whole story as the problem can be found much closer to home.

Malnutrition does not solely refer to a situation where an individual is not consuming enough food, it can also describe a situation in which the right food is not being consumed. As a result, the body can suffer a distinct dearth of the vitamins and minerals required to maintain a healthy body. This can be the case whether someone is underweight, overweight or appears to be at an ideal weight. Accordingly, body weight alone cannot be used as a sole indicator of whether the body is properly nourished.

Instead, other aspects should be considered, particularly when they take a downward turn that is either unusual and/or comes on suddenly. A constant general feeling of being below par or tired can be a sign that the body does not have enough nutrients. However, this would be on the basis that any other potential causes, such as common cold, flu or some other virus, have been eliminated. A feeling of weakness and muscle fatigue can be a message from a body that is not getting the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy.

The appearance, other than weight, should be considered when trying to determine whether the body is undernourished through lack of vitamins. Dry and/or sallow skin, thin hair that is falling out, brittle and weak fingernails and discoloured whites of the eyes can all be signs that something is not quite right.

Symptoms that affect the physical body on a more fundamental basis can also be caused by a lack of vitamins. Minor cuts that take longer to heal than normal, interrupted bodily functions, joint pain, bone issues and skin diseases can all be representative of a deficiency in essential vitamins. At its worst, a lack of vitamins can lead to serious medical conditions, such as scurvy and anaemia.

Fortunately, getting enough vitamins and minerals does not mean having to spend a large amount of money in a health food store. Artificial sources are not necessary as it is possible to get all the vitamins and minerals needed from a healthy and balanced diet. The trick is to know the different types of vitamins, where you can get them, what the benefits are and the consequences of not getting enough.

Vitamin A

Not often at the forefront of people’s minds when vitamins are considered, vitamin A is often forgotten amongst its counterparts. Due to this, the benefits can go unrecognised, but it is actually highly beneficial. Vitamin A aids the maintenance of some of the physical parts of the body, such as the hair, eyes and skin, not only making sure they look good but also that they are healthy. Accordingly, a lack of vitamin A is thought to have a detrimental effect on the eyesight, breathing and hair. The vitamin also helps to keep the respiratory system free from infection, as well as maintaining the bones. In order to avoid suffering eye problems, breathing issues, hair loss and bone trouble, it is prudent to increase the intake of vitamin A. Fortunately, a wide range of everyday foods contain enough vitamin A for a sufficient level to be consumed within an average healthy diet. Egg yolk, leafy green vegetables, oranges, carrots and milk are all great sources.

Vitamin B

Unlike other types, vitamin B is not one single vitamin and is better known as the complex B vitamins, which actually comprises a group of different vitamins. Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine and is essential for growth and metabolism of carbohydrates, lack of the vitamin can also negatively affect the appetite. Serious conditions can result from a chronic lack of vitamin B1, but it is easy to get from nuts, wholegrain, egg yolk, some fruit and vegetables.

Riboflavin is another name for vitamin B2, which enables the cells of the body to process the food we consume to create energy and aid the body’s growth. It can also be found in some fortified breakfast cereals. Red meat, liver and poultry are great sources of vitamin B2. Non-meat eaters can increase their intake of B2 with eggs, milk and green vegetables.

Vitamin B6 can also be called niacin and a sign of a deficiency in this vitamin can manifest itself in the form of skin conditions and diarrhoea. In severe cases, an absence of B6 in the diet can lead to dementia and death. Milk, meat and green vegetables offer a source of vitamin B6.

Biotin is vitamin B7 and is necessary for healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as muscle tissue, bone marrow and the nervous system. Liver, leafy green vegetables and peanuts are particularly rich in vitamin B7 and help to avoid conditions like depression, weakness, numb extremities, hair loss, dermatitis and conjunctivitis.

B9 is also known as folic acid and is available from a number of different food types, like egg yolk, seeds, offal and some wholegrain products like bread, pasta and cereals. Unexplained shortness of breath, weakness, nerve issues, forgetfulness and mental cloudiness, headaches and heart palpitations can all be symptoms of a deficiency in folic acid. Certain groups of people, such as pregnant women, athletes and elderly people, can all require extra supplies of B9 to take care of the specific needs of their bodies.

B12 is a vitamin that is also known as cobalamin that helps to maintain the body and the mind. Those with a chronic lack of B12 can suffer anaemia, mental health issues and physical weakness. To avoid this, good sources of the vitamin must be regularly consumed, which includes leafy greens, offal, veal, beef and seafood.

Lemons, a member of the citrus family and a great source of vitamin C
Lemons, a member of the citrus family and a great source of vitamin C

Vitamin C

Many people are aware of the benefit to the immune system that vitamin C can offer, but it has other benefits too. It is a powerful antioxidant that mops up free radicals that would otherwise damage the body and also helps to boost the immune system and maintain the tissue of the body. In severe cases, a lack of vitamin C can result in scurvy, a condition that results in lethargy, bone pain, gum disease and loose teeth. A diet that comprises plenty of fruit and vegetables, such as citrus, tomatoes, cabbage, celery and onions will ensure a sufficient level of vitamin C.

Vitamin D

Sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D, which aids the body’s ability to absorb and use calcium. However, sunbathing must not be taken lightly as it is a process that can lead to skin cancer. Fortunately, there are a number of foods available that contain vitamin D, which are readily available and can be eaten on a regular basis. These include salmon, egg yolk and fortified milk. A severe lack of vitamin D can result in rickets, which leads to severe teeth and bone problems.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a must for those who are keen to take care of their skin as it can aid in the process of healing scars. In addition, vitamin E benefits the skin in other ways as it is also a powerful antioxidant that helps fight the signs of ageing. This powerful vitamin also reduces the In order to get a decent supply of vitamin E, increase your consumption of sunflower seeds, nuts like peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts, wheat germ oil and soybeans.

Vitamin K

Another oft forgotten about vitamin is K, which is needed to help the blood clot, an essential process for healing after cutting the skin. Vitamin K is also useful in aiding the absorption of calcium, strengthening the bones and preventing kidney stones from developing. Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, oats and rye are all good sources of vitamin K.

All it takes to get a decent amount of vitamins for a healthy physical and mental self is to ensure your diet contains a wide variety of natural and healthy ingredients.

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