People on weight loss diets and plans often end up with specific vitamin deficiencies which can lead to serious health issues. Choosing a diet for weight loss needs to take into account your individual physiology, food preferences, eating habits, and vitamin needs.
I put together this quick guide to vitamins for people on weight loss diets so they can make informed choices about the source of the many vitamins the body requires to function optimally.
Many of our foods today are vitamin deficient due to farming methods, and while organic foods are often the better choice, you may still need to consider supplements depending on your individual circumstances.
Vitamins are something no one can live without. They help to sustain us and keep the body strong and healthy. They can be described as “organic compounds required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism.” Vitamins cannot be synthesized by the body in the amounts required and therefore must come from diet.
Vitamins perform a number of significant functions in the body. For instance they build healthy blood cells, encourage the growth of bones, improve the work of the cardiovascular system and do their part to convert food into energy the body requires. Without all of the right vitamins the health of your body and brain will suffer.
So vitamins play an instrumental role in your overall well-being.
The 13 Types of Vitamins:
Researchers looking into the subject of vitamins and their many benefits have identified 13 types of vitamins the human body requires. These vitamins include in no special order: A, C, D, E, K and B-complex (of which there are eight vitamins. These include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12).
These 13 vitamins are then subdivided into water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. The water-soluble ones include the eight B vitamins and vitamin C. The fat-soluble ones include A, D, E, and K.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in the body and are stored in a selection of body tissues for a short span of time. Fat-soluble vitamins on the other hand stay in the body tissues for a much longer period of time. These vitamins are mainly stored in the liver and the fatty tissue.
Every vitamin plays an essential role in health. If the supply of a vitamin is very low or if the vitamin is not used in the proper manner in the body it can result in a deficiency taking place.
Let us take a closer look at each one of the 13 vitamins and find out how they are of benefit to each and every one of us and the foods associated with them!
A Look at Fat-Soluble Vitamins – A, D, E and K:
Vitamin A, also known scientifically as Retinol and Beta-Carotene (pro-vitamin A), was discovered in 1913.
This fat-soluble vitamin plays an instrumental role in the growth of bone, vision, cell division, reproduction and what is known as cell differentiation (this is when cells become a part of the brain, muscles etc.).
Vitamin A helps to regulate the functioning of the immune system and helps to promote healthy surface linings of the respiratory tract, the urinary tract, the intestinal tract and the eyes.
Vitamin A can be found in whole eggs, milk, margarine and cod liver oil. It can also be found in carrots, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes and spinach. Please note that the animal sources of vitamin A are absorbed better than the plant sources. Night blindness is one of the first signs that a person is suffering from a deficiency of vitamin A.
Vitamin D is known chemically as Calciferol. This vitamin was discovered in 1920.
This fat-soluble vitamin can be stored easily in the body and can be obtained through exposure to sunlight. A chemical reaction of the sun combines with the oils in the skin to find its way into the body.
Vitamin D is required for bone growth and bone repair.
It aids the function of the kidneys and is necessary for the development of teeth. It also helps the body to assimilate vitamin A and is essential for the normal growth and development of children.
Sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna. It can also be found in fortified milk and dairy products (in particular, butter). A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to a disease called rickets, malformations of bones or joints, weak muscles or slow development of teeth.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that cannot be stored as efficiently in the human body as other vitamins of its kind can. Also known as Tocopherol, this vitamin was discovered in 1922. It’s an antioxidant that promotes normal growth and development, heals the skin, slows down the aging process and promotes the normal formation of red blood cells. In women it can help to improve fertility and help to prevent miscarriages. In males it can protect against prostate cancer.
The main sources of vitamin E are plant-based. Examples include asparagus, broccoli, corn, spinach, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, fortified cereals and wheat germ (and wheat germ oil). The animal sources include eggs and butter.
A deficiency of vitamin E can lead to feelings of lethargy, muscle degeneration, nerve dysfunction and reproductive problems. It can also lead to the degeneration of red blood cells, various types of anemia and difficulty concentrating. Both pregnant women as well as smokers should take vitamin E supplements as directed by their doctors.
Vitamin K, also known as Phytonadione (or Phylloquinone) was discovered in 1929. Deficiencies of this vitamin are rare. It’s produced by the bacteria found in the small intestines. Eating yogurt that contains “good” bacteria or live bacterial cultures can help to prevent a vitamin K deficiency. The number one function of vitamin K is to help the body to create prothrombin which is necessary for the clotting of blood.
It also promotes normal growth, and healthy bones as well as preventing hemorrhagic disease in newborn babies.
Besides yogurt, vitamin K can be found in alfalfa, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green tea, tomatoes and whole grains. Animal sources of this vitamin include cheddar cheese, egg yolks and liver.
A deficiency of this vitamin can lead to colon problems, miscarriages and osteoporosis. It can also lead to hemorrhaging throughout the body including internal bleeding relating to blood clotting issues, nosebleeds, postoperative bleeding and blood in the eye or blood in the urine.
A Look at Water-Soluble Vitamins- C and B-Complex:
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is one of the most commonly discussed vitamins.
Also known as Ascorbic Acid, it is one of the most important vitamins and can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Discovered in 1920 vitamin C promotes healthy bones, teeth, gums and capillaries. It does its part to heal wounds and burns.
This vitamin aids the absorption of the mineral iron.
It treats anemia and urinary tract infections. It increases calcium absorption, helps to form collagen and reduces cholesterol as well as the symptoms of arthritis.
Plant sources that are rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, green peppers, potatoes and black currants. You can also find Ascorbic Acid in mangos, strawberries, tomatoes, watercress and papayas. You’re well advised to eat these foods fresh or raw whenever possible.
The most common deficiency of vitamin C is a disease called scurvy which is rarely seen today. Scurvy is characterized by swollen and/or bleeding gums, the loss of teeth, tiredness, muscle weakness, bleeding under the skin and depression. Other symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency include bruising, anemia, skin problems and an immune system that works at a lower capacity.
Vitamin B is also known as Thiamine (or Thiamin). It was one of the earliest vitamins to be discovered. The year was 1910.
Vitamin B1 assists the body in converting carbohydrates into energy.
It’s a necessary vitamin for the healthy functioning of the heart, the nervous system and the muscles. It also helps with the process of digestion, improves blood circulation, and promotes healthy skin.
This vitamin aids in maintaining a normal red blood count and increases the formation of urine. Vitamin B1 prevents premature aging as well as senility because it increases mental alertness. It also improves energy and stamina and reduces fatigue. B1 is more potent when it is combined with the other B-Complex vitamins, as compared to when it’s on its own.
Vitamin B1 is found in cereal grains such as whole wheat, wheat germ and rice bran. It is also found in fish and pork. Other excellent sources to choose from include beans, peas, peanuts and enriched flour.
A vitamin B1 deficiency is more common in those with malabsorption problems and alcoholics. A nutritional disorder called Beriberi is caused by deficiencies in vitamin B1 and is characterized by heart and nerve impairments. Babies who are breastfed by mothers who are deficient in vitamin B1 can suffer from heart failure.
Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin was discovered in the year 1920. This vitamin is required for the growth of the body and general health. Vitamin B2 works as part of the metabolic systems involved in the oxidation of carbohydrates and fats. Normal tissue maintenance requires B2. It also helps with the digestive process and promotes healthy skin, hair and nails. Vitamin B2 is instrumental in the health of the eyes and can help to prevent constipation.
One of the most abundant sources of Vitamin B2 is whey (which is the watery element of milk). It is also found in meat and egg whites. You can also get an adequate supply of vitamin B2 in leafy green vegetables and whole grains.
A deficiency in vitamin B2 can show itself in the form of reddening of the lips with cracks appearing at the corners, inflammation of the tongue, and the mucous membranes of the mouth. It can lead to slower growth in babies and children as well as ocular (eye) disturbances (such as eye fatigue, abnormal intolerance to light, etc.).
Vitamin B3 is known chemically as Niacin. Discovered in 1936, this vitamin plays a paramount role in the proper circulation of the blood. It also makes sure that the nervous system functions as designed. It maintains the normal function of the gastrointestinal tract and promotes healthy skin.
Vitamin B3 can enhance memory and has been used to treat those who suffer from schizophrenia.
It’s also instrumental in the synthesis of sex hormones.
Vitamin B3 can be found in both meat and plant-based sources. Meat sources include organ meats such as liver, heart and kidney, chicken, fish, lean meat, eggs and milk. Plant options include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, legumes, carrots, dates, nuts, asparagus and avocadoes.
A deficiency of this vitamin when it’s minor can cause fatigue, low blood sugar, dizziness, canker sores, insomnia and loss of appetite. A long-term deficiency can lead to a disease known as pellagra.
Vitamin B5 was discovered in 1931. Also known as Pantothenic Acid, this vitamin can be found in a variety of foods and is also produced by good bacteria that live in the intestines.
Many of the vital functions of the body require vitamin B5.
It helps with the production of red blood cells as well as the production of hormones. It helps to support the immune system and it stimulates the adrenal glands.
This vitamin also helps to fight high levels of stress and increases vitality.
Food sources of this vitamin include beef, pork, fish, poultry, organ meats and egg yolk. Other sources include cauliflower, legumes, mushrooms, broccoli, whole wheat, enriched cereals, oranges and strawberries.
A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to nausea, fatigue, cramps, muscular weakness, cardiac instability and nervous system disorders.
Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine made its first appearance in 1934.
This vitamin is required to absorb vitamin B12 and zinc. It’s also needed to produce red blood cells, antibodies, magnesium and hydrochloric acid.
It also treats degenerative diseases, improves disorders of the skin and maintains the health of the skeletal system.
You can get the necessary vitamin B6 you need from brown rice, whole wheat, rye, wheat bran, buck wheat, bananas, cantaloupe, lentils, soybeans and cabbage. Meat sources of this vitamin include beef (including ground beef), chicken, liver, shrimp, tuna and ham.
Vitamin B6 is excreted very easily from the body and can be destroyed by alcohol consumption and food processing. This explains why a deficiency of Pyridoxine is relatively common. Symptoms of such include anemia, insomnia, tooth decay, kidney stones, low blood sugar, excess PMS, dry skin, skin rashes and a sore mouth.
Vitamin B7 is also known as Biotin (or vitamin H). Discovered in 1931, it’s found naturally in bacteria in the intestines.
Normal growth and development require the presence of vitamin B7.
It’s necessary for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates and for the formation of fatty acids. It helps to promote the growth and health of nerve and sweat glands, as well as the sex glands, blood cells, hair and skin.
Vitamin B7 can be found in chicken, clams, liver, eggs, salmon, tuna and mackerel. It can also be found in whole grains, oatmeal, almonds, lentils, green peas, walnuts, soybeans and mushrooms.
The necessary supply of this vitamin in the body can be depleted by way of alcohol consumption, food processing, estrogen, long-term use of antibiotics and sulfur drugs. Symptoms of a deficiency include eczema, fatigue, nausea, dermatitis, hair loss, pale tongue and anemia.
Vitamin B9 also goes by the names Folic Acid and Folate. It was the last B-Complex vitamin to be discovered. The year was 1941. Vitamin B9 is an important nutrient for the production of nucleic acids, the formation of red blood cells, the division of body cells and for overall growth and development.
It’s a necessary element for the reproductive organs, the nervous system and the intestinal tract.
This vitamin is especially essential for pregnant women as it helps to prevent birth defects that affect the nerve cells such as spina bifida.
Consume vitamin B9 in asparagus, Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, cabbage, citrus fruits, lentils, carrots, apricots, wheat germ, egg yolk, whole wheat, and fortified grain products.
A deficiency of Folic Acid can lead to digestive issues, diarrhea, insomnia and impaired memory. It can also lead to paleness of the skin, anemia, confusion, a sore and red tongue and nervous problems.
Vitamin B12, the last of the water-soluble B-Complex vitamins was discovered in 1926, and is also known as Cobalamin or Cyanocobalamin.
The body needs this vitamin to produce red cells and from there to prevent anemia from taking place.
It’s required for a healthy nervous system.
The vitamin plays a key role in metabolizing fats and carbohydrates, as well as being required for the formation of DNA and RNA. It also improves balance, memory and concentration.
This vitamin is needed by the body in small quantities. It can only be found in animal sources. These sources include milk, eggs, yogurt, liverwurst, kidneys, blue cheese, dairy products, oysters, mackerel and sardines.
Vitamin B12 does not absorb well through the stomach lining. Water, sleeping pills, alcohol and sunlight all work against this vitamin. A deficiency in Cobalamin would yield symptoms such as nerve damage, fatigue, shortness of breath and bruising. Other signs of a deficiency include nausea, weakness in the arms and legs, a sore tongue, poor memory and depression.
The Final Word:
We all need vitamins to be healthy. Vitamins can be found in a number of different plant and animal sources. They can also be found in supplements that can be purchased from health food stores and the health and alternative food sections in pharmacies and grocery stores.
It’s more common to require supplements of water-soluble vitamins as opposed to fat-soluble ones because they stay in the body for less time. Always check with your physician before you start taking a supplement.
Successful permanent weight loss starts with healthy food choices but also includes exercise and changing our relationship with food through our thoughts and feelings about the topic. For more articles about weight loss and information about a comprehensive weight loss program visit Erika Slater’s web site at http://www.freeatlasthypnosis.com
Erika Slater, CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Upton, MA 01568