Vitamins – Functions, Deficiency, and Sources

Vitamins are essential nutrients our body needs to function normally. We obtain them from food as they are naturally present in food, and our body can’t synthesize most of the vitamins. There are 13 vitamins and every vitamin has a specific and vital role to play in our body. An insufficient amount of any of the vitamins in our body causes vitamin deficiency that gives rise to health problems.

Here are the details of the functions, deficiency, and food sources of vitamins:

A(Retinol)An important role in normal vision, immune function, cell and tissue differentiation, reproduction.Impaired vision and immune function, skin problems such as itching and scaling.Carrots, papaya, pumpkin, apricots, spinach, oily fish, sweet potato, red bell pepper, tomatoes, dairy products.
B1(Thiamine)Obtaining energy from food and proper functioning of the nervous system.Beriberi disease with symptoms such as muscle weakness and impaired growth.Whole grains, legumes such as peas, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, asparagus.
Maintaining skin health, obtaining energy from food, promoting vision.Painful cracks on the corners of mouth and lips, sore tongue and throat, sensitive eyes, hair loss.Almonds, mushrooms, fish, meat, green vegetables, eggs, dairy products, legumes.
B3(Niacin)Has a role in energy production, digestion, healthy skin, and nerves.Pellagra disease with symptoms that include skin problems, diarrhea, and mental confusion.Nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, banana, legumes, meat, whole grains.
(Pantothenic Acid)
Plays an important role in energy production, forming hormones and red blood cells, synthesizing cholesterol.Deficiency is rare, as it is found in a wide variety of food.
Symptoms include digestive problems, muscle cramps, headache, and fatigue.
Whole grains, legumes, egg yolk, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, mushrooms, avocado, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, broccoli, tomato, seafood, potato.
Essential for red blood cell formation, utilization of energy in food, normal functioning of nerves, hemoglobin synthesis.Dermatitis, sore tongue, mental confusion, cracks in the corners of mouth, numbness in hands or feet.Meat, whole grain, legumes, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, eggs, carrots, avocado, sweet potato.
B7(Biotin)Plays a key role in maintaining skin, nail, and hair health, energy production, normal functioning of the nervous system.Deficiency is rare, as it is found in a wide variety of food.
Symptoms of deficiency include hair loss, eczema, muscle weakness, and brittle nails.
Nuts and seeds, avocado, egg yolk, salmon, milk, legumes, mushrooms, sweet potato, yeast, banana, broccoli, raspberries, spinach.
Folic Acid
Promotes red blood cell formation, reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects during early pregnancy.Impaired growth, diarrhea, neural tube defects at birth, anemia, Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, meat, fish.
An essential role in red blood cell formation, normal functioning of nerves, boosting the immune system.Fatigue, anemia, disturbed vision, mouth ulcers, depression, dementia.Fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, nutritional yeast, fortified breakfast cereals.
(Ascorbic Acid)
Pivotal role in proper functioning of the immune system, production of collagen, enhances wound healing, reduces inflammation.Deficiency causes Scurvey with symptoms that include swollen and bleeding gums, delayed wound healing, joint and muscle pain, fatigue.Citrus fruits, guava, tomato, cantaloupe, red bell peppers, broccoli, potato, cauliflower, papaya, Brussel sprouts.
D (Calciferol)Critical role in absorption of calcium and phosphorus to maintain healthy bones and teeth, supports the nervous system.Deficiency causes rickets in children with symptoms that include soft and deformed bones. In adults, Vitamin D deficiency causes osteoporosis, frequent infections, back pain, hair loss, and depression.Fortified dairy products, oily fish, egg yolk, and exposure to sunlight.
E (Tocopherol)Protects the body from tissue damage, promotes immune function, skin health, reduces inflammation.Deficiency is rare. Symptoms include muscle weakness, impaired immune function, numbness and tingling.Olive oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, avocado, spinach, trout, butternut squash, kiwi fruit.
(Menaquinone, Phylloquinone)
Plays a key role in wound healing and bone health.Hemorrhage, osteoporosis, risk of coronary heart disease.Green leafy vegetables, soybean oil, olive oil, figs, blueberries, meat, eggs, dairy products.

Eating nutritious and balanced diet helps our body in obtaining an adequate amount of nutrients. A healthy meal plan, regular exercise, and spending enough time in nature help in preventing many diseases and deficiencies. If you choose to take vitamin supplements, seek medical advice from a doctor.

Sometimes despite dietary intake of nutrient-rich food, deficiency may occur, if our body is not able to absorb nutrients in sufficient amounts due to certain health problems or medications. It is important to consult a doctor if you develop symptoms of vitamin deficiency to identify the cause and receive proper treatment.



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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Parvathi

    Much needed information. This is so good and informative. Thank you

    1. Rancy D'Souza

      I’m glad to know that you found it informative.
      You’re welcome Parvati!

  2. Nausheen

    Thanks a lot dear this article is so informative 👍🏼
    I wish to see many more from you

    1. Rancy D'Souza

      You’re welcome Nausheen!
      Glad to know that you liked it.

  3. Veena Hegde Bhat

    This is so helpful! Please write an article on how vegetarians can maintain a balance.

    1. Rancy D'Souza

      Thank You! I’m glad to know you found it helpful.
      My youtube video ‘Nature’s Treasure’ is about plant-based sources of nutrients.
      You can watch it with this link- or visit my channel ‘Rancy’s Insight’ on youtube and watch ‘Nature’s Treasure’.
      Hope you find it helpful.

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