Vitamins (from the Latin word Vita – life) are complex chemical substances necessary for the normal functioning of the human body. They play an important role in the processes of assimilation of food substances, increase the body’s performance and resistance to infectious and other diseases, contribute to the growth and renewal of tissue cells, and increase vitality.
Lack of vitamins in food negatively affects the general condition of the body.
Vitamins in their natural form are mainly formed in the cells of plants and animals for the living organism’s own needs. A person receives vitamins by eating plant and animal products, as well as through microbes that inhabit the digestive tract and have the ability to produce vitamins.
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Nutrients can be absorbed only after complex chemical transformations. This is facilitated by special combinations of protein origin, which are called enzymes.
Enzymes are produced in the human body and are contained in saliva, gastric juice, bile, pancreas, as well as in all body cells.
Vitamins are part of many enzymes
Among the well-known vitamins, A, B, B2, PP, C, D, as well as E and K are most important.
Vitamins are divided into 2 groups: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins include B1, B2, PP, C, and fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E, K. Each individual type of vitamin has a special effect on the human body unique to it. Now vitamins are obtained artificially. The industry produces them as tablets, dragées, syrups, oil solutions, etc.
Vitamin A (retinol) is one of the most important
It contributes to the maintenance of healthy skin, mucous membrane of the stomach, intestines, and bronchi. For children, vitamin A is a growth factor. Its role in normalizing vision is also known. In its free form, a lot of vitamin A is found in the liver fat of sea fish (cod, sea bass, shark) and marine animals (whales and seals), as well as beef liver, egg yolks and heavy cream.
There is no vitamin A in vegetable food, but it has provitamin A – carotene, from which vitamin A is synthesized in the body. Carotene has a yellow-yellowish color, which explains the color of carrots, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, apricots, and red rose hips. Leafy and bulbous green vegetables – spinach, sorrel, green onions (feathers) and others – also contain carotene. 2 mg. of carotene in its effect is equal to 1 mg. vitamin A.
The average daily amount of vitamin A for an adult is from 2 to 5 mg. It is necessary to remember the following: in order for vitamin A and carotene to be actively absorbed by the body, food must have a sufficient number of fats.
The human body can accumulate vitamin A, forming its reserves for 7–8 months. The best seasons for this are summer and autumn.
When food is cooked, vitamin A and carotene are practically not destroyed. The content of carotene in freshly picked fruits is adversely affected by sunlight. Therefore, they should be stored in a dark and cool place. You should also not use copper and iron utensils for cooking, as the oxides of these metals also have a detrimental effect on carotene. And when preparing vegetable salads, vinegar should be added immediately before serving. This is explained by the fact that an acidic environment reduces the content of carotene.
Nutritional hygiene: B vitamins
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – plays an important role in metabolism and strengthening of the nervous system. It is recommended for people with mental work and pregnant women.
A good source of vitamin B1 is bran, wholemeal flour, cereals (buckwheat, barley, oats), millet, as well as corn and legumes (beans and peas). In addition, it is found in carrots, lettuce, green peas, tomatoes, onions, brewer’s and baker’s yeast, mushrooms, and meat.
Vitamin B1 does not accumulate in the body. Therefore, it must be administered daily with food. The average daily requirement is 1-2 mg. — for children and 2-3 mg. — for adults. When cooking food, vitamin B1 is destroyed in a small amount. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is involved in many significant life processes of the human body, especially in its growth and tissue renewal. It is part of the enzymes that ensure the oxidation of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in cells.
Vitamin B2 is found in yeast, meat, liver, milk, fresh cheese, green onions, sorrel, spinach, green peas, beets, cucumbers, mushrooms and other foods. The average daily need for vitamin B2 is 2 mg. When there is a lack of proteins in food, this vitamin is poorly washed by the body and the need for it increases.
Vitamin PP (nicotinamide or nicotine acid), the absence of which in food causes skin damage, exhausting diarrhea and mental disorders, is found in meat, beef liver, fish, mushrooms, brewer’s and baker’s yeast, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, spies. The average daily need for vitamin PP is from 10 to 20 mg. In the human body, vitamin PP is formed from the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in milk and dairy products. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is necessary for the general strengthening of the human body. It increases work capacity and resistance to various diseases.
Vitamin C is an antiscurvy agent
It is also necessary for the growth and development of the body. No life process can do without it. Vitamin C plays a critical role in regenerative processes, in strengthening the walls of small vessels and in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
The main source of vitamin C is plant food.
Red pepper (salad), dill, horseradish (root), parsley (greens), black currants, dried rose hips (red), walnuts (green), oranges, tangerines, lemons, sour apple varieties contain a lot of vitamin C.
The daily requirement of the body is from 30 to 100 mg. (Depending on the person’s age and physical activity). In the body, this vitamin does not accumulate and is not formed independently. Its entry into the body with food should be daily.
When fresh fruits and vegetables are stored, the vitamin C content gradually decreases. It is also partially destroyed in the process of canning – both intoxicated of heat treatment and high of oxygen. This process is especially intensified if iron or copper dishes are used for conservation. Peeled and cut fruits and vegetables should be stored for no more than 20 minutes. Don’t use copper, iron, or damaged enameled dishes, and don’t heat fruits and vegetables for a long time while they are cooking.
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is critical for the normal functioning of the body. It plays a major role in the processes of calcium and phosphorus exchange, which means bone formation. This vitamin is contained in the liver and fat of various fish, in fish oil, butter, eggs, caviar. The daily need for it is from 0.015 to 50 mg. Vitamin E (tocopherol) is especially useful for nervous diseases and anemia. It is contained in corn and oil.
Vitamin K (phytomenadione) promotes blood clotting. It is contained in cauliflower and white cabbage (it is especially abundant in the green cover leaf), as well as in spinach, carrots, pork liver, etc.
See another article on food hygiene: food ingredients.
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