We all know that vitamins are the substances necessary for life and health, but not everyone thinks about what is the essence of vitamins and what is the role of vitamins in the human body. In order to answer the above mentioned questions, we will try to understand, what determines our health. The great philosopher Heinrich Heine said: “The only beauty that I know is health.”
According to the research of the World Health Organization (WHO) http://www.who.int/, health is 15% dependent on genetics, 15% – on the level of medicine, but 70% – on lifestyle and nutrition. Scientists have shown that a balanced diet is necessary for the growth and development of our organism, preservation of good health and active longevity.
Combining a variety of foods in the diet, we supply your body with an arsenal of all necessary nutrients. In total there are about 600 nutrients. Each of these essential components is involved in maintaining the body’s vital processes. The most significant of them are the following:
- Proteins – they perform a building function, beeing the “building blocks” for cells, tissues and organs;
- Fats and carbohydrates – they charge the body with energy, making it fresh and strong all day;
- Water is the universal solvent for many reactions;
- Minerals are also structural material (like proteins). Besides they participate in many processes which take place in the body.
All vitamins (together with proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and water) are essential nutritional factors. They neither serve as sources of energy, not included in the structure of cells and tissues. However, the value of vitamins for the human body is very great.
The value of vitamins in human life
Vitamins (in translation from Latin «vita» – life, «amini» – nitrogen compounds) are low molecular weight organic compound, which are necessary for healthy and proper life. They consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, sometimes nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus and other chemical cells connected in a different order. These tiny molecules is part of 150 enzymes and start up all the vital biochemical and physiological processes in the cells of our body.
Vitamins are involved in the functioning of the nervous system, muscles, heart and other organs. The degree of their content in food depends on the level of physical and mental performance, resistance to dangerous infections and exposure to harmful environmental factors. Thus, vitamins is “the flame of life”, as the body’s existence is impossible without them!
So, let’s sum up. The role of vitamins in human nutrition is the following: they are an integral part of a balanced diet, which is the key to a successful and healthy life of the modern person.
9 vitamin functions in the body
Function 1. Vitamins are the regulators of the set of biochemical reactions, which make up the metabolism and energy in the body. How did these tiny molecules can operate as a powerful mechanism of metabolism, which is the basis of our life activity? It’s not as difficult as it may seem at first glance.
First of all, we should understand the way our body operates. Since birth and throughout our life, we breathe, eat, drink, walk, sleep, work, relax, in a word – we live. All of these processes require huge amounts of energy. In addition, energy is necessary for the generation of heat, heart, respiratory, circulatory, digestive systems. In total our body needs from 1200 to 1500 calories a day (ie, women – about 54 kcal per hour, men – 59 kcal per hour). The question arises, where this energy comes from and how can we get it?
Here’s the thing. Our body is not able to digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the form in which they come to us with food. First of all, these nutrients disintegrate in the stomach and intestines into simpler components, familiar to our body. For example, proteins are broken down to amino acids, fats – to glycerol and fatty acids, and carbohydrates (namely glycogen) – to glucose, and then – to pyruvate and lactic acids. In a result of all these reactions, a precious energy is allocated, that is spent on the construction of new, more complex materials and structures, as well as providing vital processes of cells, organs and body as a whole.
It should be noted, that all these chemical reactions operate at high speed at human body temperature (36,6º C). How is this possible? It happens due to special substances having protein structure – enzymes. They are called catalysts (or accelerators) of biochemical reactions. The enzymes trigger reactions of substances decay and substances formation in the cells, moreover they increase their speed in many millions! Our body has a huge number of these biological catalysts. Each enzyme starts up the precise reaction thus being unique in its kind. There are digestive, respiratory enzymes and so on. But what has our vitamins to do with all these processes?
You see, each enzyme needs helpers to become active and begin to act. This is the role of vitamins. Being a part of most enzymes, vitamins (especially B vitamins water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamin K) regulate and accelerate the major reaction in the cells of the body, in other words, perform a catalytic function. Thus, our body becomes saturated with energy, growing and developing. This is the biological role of vitamins in metabolism. It is important to note that the importance of vitamins in the diet is very high, as they help us to digest all the vital nutrients contained in the food.
Function 2. Some vitamins such as A, C, E and β – carotene have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants vitamins (or antioxidants) is a group of biological or synthetic substances that protects our body from the ravages of the most dangerous enemies – free radicals.Function 3. Vitamins are involved in the formation of some hormones – biologically active compounds which regulate various stages of metabolism. For example, using vitamin B3 (also known as vitamin PP, nicotinic acid, niacin) our organism creates sex hormones and adrenal cortex hormones. Vitamin A is also involved in the formation of steroid hormones (or sex hormones, corticosteroids).
Function 4. Interaction of vitamin plays an important role in the body. Some of them are required for the formation of others. Thus, vitamin B2 (riboflavin or) regulates the formation of active forms of vitamin B6, B9, D, and vitamin B3 formation of the amino acid tryptophan. Lack of vitamin riboflavin disrupt the function of these vitamins and lead to their deficiency even in case of sufficient supply with food. There are a lot of examples of vitamins interaction.
Function 5. Vitamins play an important role in the regulation and function of the nervous, endocrine and immune systems. They are especially important for maintaining the immune system and resistance to various diseases and adverse environmental factors.
Function 6. According to doctors, vitamin mitigate or eliminate many drugs effect on the human body..
Used in high doses, the vitamins can be applied for medicinal purposes as a non-specific funds: vitamins B1, B2 and B6 – at a diabetes; Vitamin C – in infectious and respiratory diseases; vitamin PP – with bronchial asthma; vitamin-like substance U and nicotinic acid – ulcers of the gastro – intestinal tract; Vitamin B3 – in hypercholesterolemia. However, there are lot of researches on this item at the moment.
Function 7. Vitamins are involved in the regulation of all vital organs and body systems:
- Central nervous system – vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12;
- Heart, skin and hair – vitamin A;
- Skeletal system – vitamins C and D;
- Lung – vitamins E, A, and retinoids, and vitamin B2;
- Teeth – vitamins C, A and D;
- Eyes -Vitamin A;
- The blood vessels – the B vitamins and vitamin C.
Function 8. Some vitamins play an important role in the assimilation of minerals. For example, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) promotes absorption of iron by the body. Vitamin D is involved in maintaining calcium and phosphorus.
Function 9. Vitamins protect us from diseases caused by lack of vitamins, namely, vitamin deficiency and hypovitaminosis.
So, we sorted out the basic functions of vitamins in the human body. Now we may say with sure, that each vitamin is unique and has a number of specific features and functions. If you can get the necessary amount of vitamins from food, you may take tem in the form of pills. The various vitamins are presented by Canadian Family Pharmacy, an online pharmacy, where you may purchase need goods without any troubles!