Functions of water-soluble vitamins

Functions of water-soluble vitamins

  • Post category:WELLNESS
  • Reading time:9 mins read

Vitamins are essential for our body, for the proper functioning of our systems, to metabolize nutrients and generate energy. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water, which is why they are often lost with washing, heat and cooking. What we can do to recover them is to use the water where we cook these foods. If we consume vitamins in excess, we eliminate them through the urine, so there is no risk of toxicity for the group of water-soluble ones. Except for vitamin B12 that is stored in the liver, these types of micronutrients are not preserved for long in our body, so we must ingest them regularly or we will begin to feel the consequences of their deficiency.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

– It is an antioxidant that favors the protection of cells and fights free radicals.

– Promotes the formation of collagen, a structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, teeth and gums.

– Collaborates with the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin (linked to mood) and norepinephrine, important in the functioning of the brain and nervous system.

– Prevents infections and stimulates the immune system, phagocytosis and the formation of antibodies.

– Helps the body to absorb iron, preventing anemia.

– It is involved in metabolism as it participates in the synthesis of carnitine, a necessary component to transport fat and convert it into energy.

– Promotes normal psychological functioning and reduces fatigue.

– Synthesize cortisol and sex hormones.

– Helps regulate blood cholesterol levels.

– It’s also essential for wound healing, preventing bleedings.

Its deficiency generates scurvy, this disease begins with swelling and bleeding of the gums at first, which spreads to other organs and can cause death. Another frequent symptom of its deficiency is the difficulty in the healing of the wounds.

Foods with vitamin C: Citrus fruits, oranges, pineapple, lemon, lime, passion fruit, grapefruit, tangerine, papaya, lychee, camu camu (fruit of Peru, Colombia and Brazil), kakadu (Australian fruit), currant, green leafy vegetables (broccoli), red pepper, green pepper, kiwi, strawberries, guava, melon, tomato, chilli, Brussels sprouts, watercress, fresh parsley, mustard and potatoes.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

– Helps cells convert carbohydrates into energy, metabolizes glucose, fats, proteins and nucleic acids.

– It’s very important during pregnancy and lactation because it intervenes in growth and development.

– It’s essential for heart function and vascular health.

– It favors neuronal health because it intervenes in brain functions and in the propagation of the nerve impulses.

– Intervenes in the maintenance of normal psychological functions (vitamin B1 deficiency is associated with the development of diseases such as Wernicke-Korsakoff, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s).

– Its deficiency causes poor appetite, poor concentration, muscle pain and weakness, back pain and general fatigue. In a second stage, a disease called beri beri may develop (the following are added to the previous symptoms: nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, hypotension and dizziness). Serious deficiencies lead to death. The higher consumption of carbohydrates demands a greater amount of thiamine to metabolize them.

Foods with vitamin B1: Enriched cereals (and their derivatives such as pasta, cookies and whole-grain bread), brown rice, nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts), legumes, beans, corn, green leafy vegetables, fruits, yeast, soy, potatoes, sesame, meat, liver, beef and pork.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

– It’s important in the formation of red, white and platelet blood cells.

– Intervenes in the growth and development of the embryo.

– It takes part in the assimilation of iron.

– Promotes the metabolism of proteins and lipids to provide the cells with the necessary energy.

– Helps maintain healthy mucosa and cornea.

– It’s an antioxidant: it protects cells from oxidative stress.

– It intervenes in the normal functioning of the nervous system.

– Decreases fatigue and exhaustion.

– Helps in liver detoxification.

– Improves the condition of the skin, nails and hair.

This vitamin is very sensitive to heat and sun exposure, so much of its properties are lost in the cooking process. In cases of alcoholism and anorexia, a deficiency of this vitamin also occurs. Its deficit generates alterations in the skin and mucous membranes, eye disorders, ulcerations and lesions in the mouth, lips and tongue.

Foods with vitamin B2: meat (beef, pork, lamb, fish), liver (and its derivatives such as foigras and patés), whole grains (germ wheat), dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt), eggs, green leafy vegetables, spinach, avocado, asparagus, corn, yeast, mushrooms, almonds and lentils.

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

– Contributes to energy metabolism, converts food into glucose used to produce energy.

– It takes part in the oxygenation of the cells and in the elimination of toxins.

– Helps maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes.

– Intervenes in the health of the nervous system.

– Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL).

– Contributes to the synthesis of some steroid hormones.

– Repairs and protects DNA.

Its deficiency causes indigestion, fatigue, thrush, vomiting and depression. In a second instance, a disease called pellagra occurs (characterized by pink erythema on the skin, dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, general weakness and alterations in the central nervous system). In severe cases, paralysis and mental disorders such as dementia can occur.

Foods with vitamin B3: Tomato, broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, asparagus, mushrooms, legumes, nuts, yeast, eggs, dairy products (milk, egg, cheese, yoghurt), meats (liver, beef, pork and fish) and cereals (brewer’s yeast, wheat germ and derived products such as bread). The body produces it endogenously through tryptophan, a component of proteins.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

– Helps in the metabolism of food, carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

– It takes part in the obtaining of energy at the cells level.

– Plays a role in hormone production and cholesterol synthesis.

Alcohol complicates the absorption of this protein. Its deficiency is very difficult since this vitamin is present in many foods. Its symptoms include headache, fatigue, insomnia, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet.

Foods with vitamin B5: Kiwicha, quinoa, eggs, mushrooms, meats, fish, dairy products, nuts, legumes, whole grains such as wheat, yeast, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, potato and sweet potato. It’s synthesized in a small amount endogenously in the intestine.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

– It’s involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to produce energy.

– Intervenes in the formation and maintenance of teeth, bone tissues, soft tissues, membranes, mucous and skin.

– Increases muscle performance.

– It’s involved in the production of antibodies.

– Helps absorb minerals such as iron.

– Maintain neurological & psychological functions.

– It’s vital for the brain development of the fetus during pregnancy and in infancy.

– It’s involved in the production of red blood cells.

– Keeps blood sugar (glucose) in normal ranges.

– Decreases fatigue.

Its deficiency is rare, it can occur in the case of alcoholic patients. The symptoms of its deficit include anaemia and neurological disorders such as seizures.

Foods with vitamin B6: Whole grains, wheat germ, nuts, liver, meats, fish, soybeans, egg yolks, yeasts, starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B7 / H (biotin)

– Intervenes in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates

– It’s essential in the production of hormones and cholesterol.

– It’s essential in cell growth, tissue formation and embryo development.

– Regulates blood sugar levels, improving insulin metabolism and preventing diabetes.

– Helps maintain healthy hair, nails and skin.

Its deficit results in the following symptoms: hair loss, dermatitis, red and scaly rashes around the eyes, nose and mad, depression, apathy, insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, loss of appetite, tingling in the arms and legs. This vitamin can also be synthesized by the body itself in the intestinal micro flora.

Foods with vitamin B7: Legumes, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, tomato, potato, fruits (bananas, strawberries, peaches, grapes), fruits dried (walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts), honey, egg yolks, meats, whole grains, dairy, and beer yeast.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid)

– It’s involved in DNA production, tissue growth and cell function.

– It’s essential in pregnancy to avoid congenital defects such as spina bifida.

– Helps in the formation of red blood cells.

– Promotes digestive processes.

– It takes part in the formation of the nervous system.

Its deficiency produces megaloblastic anemia. Antacid abuse, alcoholism, celiac disease, kidney failure, pregnancy and lactation can contribute to a deficiency of this vitamin. Symptoms of the deficit are diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. In pregnancy it is serious because of the risk of malformations in the baby.

Foods with vitamin B9: Green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, lettuce, cabbages), fruits (citrus, melon, bananas), meats (especially liver and kidneys), whole grains, milk, eggs, sunflower seeds, legumes and nuts. This vitamin is easily destroyed by heat and oxygen from the environment.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

– It’s important for metabolism, it generates energy through the use of fats and proteins.

– Helps the formation of red blood cells.

– Supports the immune system.

– It’s important in growth because it intervenes in the correct formation of cells.

– Facilitates the proper functioning of the central nervous system.

– Intervenes in the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Intestinal parasites, celiac disease and alcoholism negatively affect the absorption of this vitamin. Its deficiency causes pernicious anemia (decreased number of red blood cells), neurological disorders, tingling in the extremities of the limbs, digestive problems, weight loss, mood disorders and, in the elderly, cognitive disorders.

Foods with vitamin B12: Meat, chicken, duck, seafood, fish, eggs, nori seaweed and milk.

In conclusion, if your diet is varied and includes the different food groups of the nutritional pyramid, you shouldn’t have vitamin deficiencies. In any case, it’s a good idea to expand your nutritional spectrum by incorporating a variety of fruits, citrus, vegetables of different colors, legumes, nuts, various meats, rice, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, seeds and cereals. Whenever possible, it’s preferable to consume raw fruits and vegetables, so they can preserve all their nutritional properties. Educating children to eat different types of food and have good eating habits is essential, it will help them grow healthy and have good nutrition for the rest of their lives.

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