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Article: Vitamins A, B, E, D, C and K | Vitamin Supplements

Vitamins A, B, E, D, C and K | Vitamin Supplements

Vitamins 

Author: Dr. Veena

Vitamins:

Vitamins are organic substances essential for certain metabolic pathways. They are categorized into fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble vitamins (B complex group and C).

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E refers to several fat-soluble vitamins, primarily tocopherols, essential for various vertebrates. Deficiency can lead to infertility, muscle degeneration, and vascular abnormalities. It is abundant in wheat, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables, and can also be synthesized. Vitamin E is used in animal feeds and as an antioxidant. Research suggests that Vitamin E consumption may prevent cancer by strengthening the immune system. There are eight related substances with Vitamin E activity, with α-Tocopherol being the most important dietary form.

Vitamin E has several metabolic actions, including preventing the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes, maintaining cell membrane structure, and affecting DNA synthesis and cell signaling. It is involved in the anti-inflammatory and immune systems. Vitamin E deficiency is rare in developed countries but can cause anemia, a weak immune system, and Alzheimer's disease. In humans, deficiency is mostly seen in premature infants and those with malabsorption issues, causing mild hemolytic anemia, ataxia, and visual scotomas. Higher Vitamin E intake is associated with lower rates of coronary heart disease.

Reference: Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine.

Natural Home Remedies / Sources of Vitamin E:

  • Almonds: Eat a handful for Vitamin E.
  • Topical Vitamin E Oil: Moisturizes chapped lips during winter.
  • Chard: A leafy vegetable also known as Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) contains 13 polyphenol antioxidants, including kaempferol and syringic acid.
  • Other Sources: Papaya, Brussels sprouts, kale, olives, flaxseed oil, collard greens, vegetable oils (sunflower, rice bran, peanut, palm), spinach, kiwi, peanut butter, apricots, green vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, apples, lentils, rice, chickpeas, oats, barley grass, hazelnuts, turnip greens, salmon, avocado, and evening primrose oil.

To preserve Vitamin E in vegetable oils, keep them in tightly capped containers to avoid exposure to air.

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble vitamins whose deficiency can cause keratinization of epithelial tissues, leading to night blindness and xerophthalmia. It is found in animal products like egg yolk, milk, butter, and fish liver oils (e.g., cod, halibut, shark). Vitamin A exists in forms such as retinol, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate (liver storage form). It is also derived from carotenes in green and colored vegetables and some fruits. Retinol is found only in animal foods. Vitamin A is essential for normal growth, fetal development, fertility, hematopoiesis, and immune function. Deficiency is often due to inadequate intake or liver problems and can cause night blindness, rough or dry skin, broken nails, and in severe cases, blindness, particularly in children in Asia. Pregnant women in areas with endemic deficiency should consume dark green leafy vegetables.

Forms in Foods:

  • Retinol: Found in animal foods.
  • Carotenoids: Found in plant foods.


Toxicity:

High doses of retinol can cause liver damage, hyperostosis, and teratogenicity. Pregnant women in non-endemic areas should avoid Vitamin A supplements. Excessive carotene intake can cause skin pigmentation (hypercarotenosis), which fades with reduced intake.

Storage of Vitamin A:

Vitamins A, D, and B12 are stored in the liver in large amounts, while others like Vitamin K are stored in smaller amounts and deplete rapidly if dietary intake is low. Plant-based vitamins and minerals are absorbed more easily by the human body than synthetic ones.

Foods Rich in Vitamin A:

  • Fruits: Mango, orange, jackfruit, figs, pear, tomato, and jambu.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, parsley, mustard greens, asparagus, broccoli, soybeans, lentils (masoor dal), Bengal gram (chana dal), red gram (toor dal), pearl millet (bajra), red peppers, and hot chili peppers.
  • Animal Products: Fish liver oil, milk, cheese, fatty fish, chicken, liver.
  • Others: Sweet potatoes, kale, apricots, watermelon seeds, grapefruits.

Reference Nutrient Intake:

  • Men: 700 μg
  • Women: 600 μg

Reference: Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine.

Ayurvedic Preparations:

Triphala Ghrit: Often prescribed to improve eyesight and possibly related to Vitamin A.

Though quantities for natural remedies are mentioned, it is advisable to consult with an Ayurvedic physician for appropriate dosages.