The WHO estimates that over a third of the world’s population, from the sea to the sea, is affected by vitamin deficiencies. Vitamins are essential compounds for the body and are mostly obtained from food sources. Vitamins are used by the body for various functions such as cell and tissue growth and regulation metabolism.
The forms of folate are folic acid and vitamin B9. Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects in pregnant women. The element promotes fertility and reduces stroke. Folate deficiency can manifest as anemia, depression, fetal neural tube defects, confusion, brain defects during pregnancy, glossitis, fatigue, swollen tongue, mouth ulcers and gray hair. Foods with the highest amount of folate include liver, avocado, sprouts, spinach, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. It also occurs in dairy products, fruits, dark green vegetables, seafood, cereals, peas, beans, nuts, poultry and cereals.
Over 300 different enzymes in the body need zinc to function optimally. Zinc is necessary for the digestive and immune systems to function properly and also control diabetes, improve metabolism and reduce stress levels. Zinc is essential in protein synthesis and also regulates cell production. High concentrations of zinc are stored in the ocular retina, pancreas, liver, red and white blood cells and kidneys. The meat has been identified as the main source of zinc along with oats, oysters, whole grains, almonds, peas and turnips. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include low blood pressure, depression, stunted bone growth, general growth retardation and loss of appetite. It is estimated that 2.
- Vitamin K
Vitamin K includes a group of compounds, the most important of which are vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is acquired from green leafy vegetables and other vegetables, while K2 is obtained mainly from eggs, meat and cheese. Vitamin K is essential in preventing excessive bleeding and is responsible for blood clotting. Vitamin K deficiency increases the risk of excessive bleeding and a supplement may be recommended.
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for teeth and bone structure. It takes part in more than 300 enzymatic reactions and plays a role in the prevention of heart attacks, migraines and cardiovascular diseases. Low magnesium intake is commonly associated with diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and the metabolic syndrome. A diet rich in magnesium includes dark green vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, avocado and dark chocolate. 57% of the American population does not get US RDA for dietary magnesium intake.
Calcium is essential for bone maintenance and also mineralizes teeth and bones. The amount of calcium in the blood is tightly regulated and the excess is stored in the bones. Calcium performs different functions as a signaling molecule and therefore contributes to the healthy functioning of the body. The most common disorder of calcium deficiency is osteoporosis, in which the bones become soft and brittle. Good sources of this vitamin are dark green vegetables like spinach and cabbage, boneless fish and dairy products. Low calcium intake is common in the elderly and young women.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin essential for nerve and brain function and blood formation. The element is found almost exclusively in foods of animal origin such as dairy products, organ meat, eggs, shellfish and meat. The absorption of vitamin B12 in the body requires the help of a protein called intrinsic factor. Vitamin B12 causes blood disease known as megaloblastic anemia in which red blood cells become enlarged. In developed countries, vitamin B12 deficiency is mostly reported among older populations while in developing countries, it begins at an early age and persists throughout life.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a type of fat-soluble vitamin that is present in a few dietary sources. The vitamin is also produced when the ultraviolet rays of the sun hit the skin and facilitate its synthesis. Vitamin D is necessary for bone growth, absorption of calcium in the intestine, reduction of inflammation, modulation of genes and immune function. The lack of adequate vitamin D in children results in soft bones, rickets, delayed growth, bone loss and muscle weakness in adults. Food sources for the item include egg yolks, cod liver oil and fatty fish. People living in regions far from the equator are at risk of vitamin D deficiency due to limited sun exposure.
Iron deficiency is a common nutritional disorder in many developing countries where it affects mainly women and children. Iron binds with hemoglobin and subsequently transports oxygen into cells. Iron is divided into two dietary categories. Haem iron is the most easily absorbed by the two types and is present in animal products while non-haem iron is obtained from both plant and animal foods, but it is not as well absorbed. Vegetarians have a higher risk of iron deficiency since they eat only non-haem iron. Iron deficiency is manifested primarily as anemia whose symptoms include impaired brain function, weakness and weakened immune function. Red meat, organ meat, beans, broccoli, canned sardines and seeds are good sources of iron.
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A consists of several liposoluble retinoids such as retina and retinol. The element is critical in vision, immune function, reproduction and formation and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, cell membranes and skin. There are two groups of vitamin A. The preformed vitamin A is obtained from products of animal origin such as dairy products, fish and meat, while the Pro-Vitamin A is acquired from vegetable-based products mainly from fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A deficiency is mostly reported in developing countries where it causes temporary and permanent blindness and suppressed immunity.
Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones help the body regulate metabolism, stimulate brain development and general growth among other processes. Iodine deficiency affects about one third of the world’s population. The deficiency is commonly manifested as goiter, which is the swelling of the thyroid, shortness of breath and increase in heart rate. The symptoms of iodine deficiency in children include developmental abnormalities and mental retardation. Iodine deficiency is a major concern in developing countries in Africa, the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. Australia and New Zealand also report significant cases of the condition. Iodine can be obtained from algae, dairy products, fish and eggs. The addition of iodine to salt has also helped several countries curb the shortage.