Why do we need vitamins?

vitamins health benefits
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Vitamins are essential substances for life. We find in the word vitamin, the Latin “vita” meaning “life”. They are involved in a whole series of chemical reactions that are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies. Alas, we cannot synthesize these precious substances ourselves. We have to bring them through our diet. In general, a balanced diet must provide us with the 13 vitamins in sufficient quantity. There are moments in our life where our vitamin needs are increased: pregnancy, disease, growth… There are ways to preserve and assimilate to the best of these precious vitamins, vital and essential to our body. And when the food is no longer enough for a sufficient intake. It will be necessary to increase its contribution through food supplements.  

What they are:

  • They are essential substances to our organism. Only we are not capable of making it. So it is the food that is supposed to provide us with these precious substances.
  • Unlike most nutrients like sugars, proteins or fats, vitamins are needed in very small quantities because they act at low doses. To give you an idea, the required vitamin amounts are 1000 times less important than the protein-lipid-carbohydrate trio.
  • Vitamins contribute greatly to the metabolism of our cells. They are involved in a variety of chemical transformations that make our body build and function properly.

What they are not:

  • These are not foods, as they do not bring direct energy and therefore no calories.
  • They are not involved in the construction of the body; They help the cells to do their chemical reactions.
  • These are not harmless substances because some vitamins taken in excess can cause health problems.

Deficiency and vitamin deficiency? What differences?

  • Vitamin or vitamin deficiency refers to the absence or insufficiency of an intake of vitamins. This causes health problems characteristic for a given vitamin. It can be due either to insufficient food intake or to a digestive deficiency. The clinical signs caused by a deficiency do not appear abruptly. It is during a prolonged state that the symptoms occur. At this stage the organism will have exhausted all its reserves in vitamins. A deficiency condition causes the onset of serious illnesses that often regress when the body receives the missing vitamin again. Some examples: Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets… Know that in our industrialized countries, the major diseases of deficiencies have practically disappeared because our diet is satisfactory to open the needs of vitamins. This is not the case for countries undernourished.
  • If deficiency diseases are extremely rare in our regions, this is not the case for States of deficiency. Some people may see their health deteriorate due to a lack of vitamin. This deficiency state is also called Hypovitaminosis. This may be a deficiency of vitamin intakes or an increase in vitamin requirements.

People at risk:

Contribution shortfalls

  • Persons placed in retirement or nursing homes
  • Anorexics
  • People following inadequate dieting
  • The toothless
  • People with chronic bowel disorders
  • People who use prolonged medications.

    Increased needs

  • Young people in times of growth

  • Big athletes

  • Pregnant women, breastfeeding, oral contraceptives

  • When taking certain medications

  • Smokers: The needs of vitamins C and a are increased because nicotine is responsible for a faster loss of vitamins by desaturation of tissues

  • Alcoholics (Vit A, B1, B12, B6, C)

  • People living in polluted environments may have increased needs in vitamins, especially vitamin D (decrease in skin synthesis by redirection of sunlight due to industrial fumes), as well as vitamins A, E, C

The main causes of disability

  • An unbalanced diet

An unbalanced diet does not ensure the qualitative and quantitative contribution of all the substances essential to the proper functioning of the organism.

Avoid fast food and prepared dishes. The best is to prepare even his meals, or some people, very often alone

  • Depression

The decrease or lack of appetite resulting from a depressed state: loneliness, boredom, demotivation… can be the basis of a vitamin deficiency.

  • Anorexia

A voluntary restriction of dietary infeed may result in vitamin deficiency. The morbid fear of obesity and the obsession with the slimming of our society are often at the origin of this disorder that reaches especially women.

  • Digestive Disorders

It is at the level of the digestive tract that the vitamins are absorbed. If the digestive tract is not in good condition, the absorption of the food and thus the vitamins will be incomplete, hence a risk of deficiency.

-Acute digestive disorders: it plays an extremely important role in the absorption of vitamins. Digestive disorders such as: constipation, diarrhea, intestinal infections, parasitic, hepatic deficiencies etc… Are signs of disturbed digestion. Disturbed Digestion often rhymes with disturbed intestinal flora. It is therefore essential to maintain its intestinal flora so that your intestines can adequately fill their nutrient absorption role!

-Chronic digestive disorders: People with chronic bowel problems absorb vitamins poorly: chronic diarrhea, stéatorrhées, pancreas diseases etc.

-Dental problems: we do not necessarily think about it but serious dental problems may be responsible for insufficient food intake for “mechanical” reasons

-Surgery: Persons who have undergone surgery to remove part of the digestive tract.

-Taking medications: prolonged use of certain medications decreases the absorption of vitamins (gastric bandages, laxatives)

Nb: It has been found that even when the diet is balanced, the coverage of vitamin requirements only reaches 80% of the recommended intake. So where did the remaining 20% go? In our regions, the techniques of food transformations and conserves are responsible for a decrease in the vitamin content of these foods.

The main causes of vitamin loss:

  • The sifting (separation of the sound and the flour), is often excessive. A sifting can get a very white flour? But the consequence is a significant loss of vitamins: 2/3 of the vitamins of group B would thus be lost).

    So “white” bread is much poorer in vitamin B1 (0.08 mg for 100g) than “full” bread (0.25 for 100g).

    Hence the interest of turning to products based on organic complete flour for a greater supply of nutrients.

  • Milk skimming removes the bulk of soluble vitamins.

  • The purpose of the bleaching of vegetables before conservation or freezing is to improve the quality of these and also to reduce the volume of food. It consists of boiling the vegetables or steaming them.

    The loss due to scalding can reach 60% for vitamin C, 30% for B1, 40% for B2.

  • Dehydration causes a very important vitamin loss.

  • Cooking inevitably causes losses in vitamins (B1 and C above all). Prefer to cook with soft steam which denatures much less food.

   Our way of life is that we eat more and more “ready-made” dishes and less and less fresh food. If “ready-to-eat” industrial foods make life much easier, they are partly responsible for a significant vitamin loss…. As we have just seen, this is due to food processing and conservation technologies.

It is best to cook your own dishes and eat fresh, seasonal and local foods.                       I am sure you are surrounded by small local producers with quality products. What is good is that we know where it comes from, the products were not kept for days in cold rooms before being offered to consumers on a large surface. Consequence? Your food is better quality, filled with vitamins, minerals and trace elements, to the delight of your taste buds and especially your health!

Other advice: Our health goes through the health of our intestines, the place of absorption of all the elements essential to the proper functioning of our organism. This is where it all starts. That’s why it’s important to pamper your intestinal flora.

Counted from December 26th, I will publish every day on our Facebook account care and Nature a detailed card to present each vitamin: their roles, food sources, disorders related to deficiencies…

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