Vitamins are micro-nutrients that our body uses in very little amounts. This is different from other macro-nutrients such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that are basic components of the food we eat. During food processing or improperly storage, much quantities of vitamins destroy. Likewise some diets may be lacking certain vitamins. Vitamins are vital for basic functions and cellular biochemistry of our body. Six vitamins are very much indispensable for maximal lifespan and successful aging process.
For example, people who are entirely vegetarian may have deficiency of vitamin B12. That’s why in order to get minimal quantity required for health, they have to take a supplement or vitamin pill itself. It has seen that processing whole wheat grain into white flour reduces the content of vitamins B and E. It also reduces fiber and minerals such as zinc and iron from the flour. Such deficiencies of vitamins may reduce the chances of reaching our maximal lifespan.
You may find two kinds of vitamins i.e. synthetic form and natural form. Synthetic vitamins are those made in the laboratory while natural vitamins are those which extracted from food. Although in many cases, differences between these two are insignificant but in some cases small differences have been noted.
For example, in its natural form vitamin E is also known as d-alphatocopherol while synthetic form is known as dl-alphatocopherol. The letter “L” which is added to its name reveals its production in the laboratory. Human body, easily absorb natural form of vitamin-E than synthetic form.
Healthy and successful aging:
Flourished aging is not something about living longer, but also about having quality life, as long as we live. Study shows that although more women lives above 100, but men who live above 100 are more active than women. It was observed that less mineral content in bones are reasons that elderly women are at risk of osteoporosis/fracture risk.
Vitamin A for successful aging.
Vitamin A is made of group of compounds, very important for proper growth, vision, reproduction, and functioning of immune system. Some amount of vitamin A activity is involved in naturally occurring compounds i.e. Retinol, retinaldehyde, and retinoic acid. A massive quantity of synthetic compounds also has activity of vitamin A and collectively referred to as retinoids. Some of these may protect from deficiency which causes due to inadequate intake of vitamin A in the diet.
An adequate intake of Vitamin A is necessary to maintain your health. Liver and fish liver oils are among richest sources of preformed retinol. Major amounts of vitamin-A can also be found in eggs, whole milk and fortified milk. Best provider of vitamin A in daily diet comes from carrots, liver, eggs, whole milk products and vegetable soups.
Deficiency of vitamin-A
Apart from its super effects on health, its deficiency may cause night blindness, diarrhea, and irreversible corneal lesion that may lead to blindness. In addition to this, hyperkeratosis, food loathing, vulnerability to infections, and changes in the structure of cells of the respiratory tract and other organs.
Don’t take high dose of retinol/ vitamin-A:
Human liver contains almost 90% of the stores of vitamin-A of whole body. Retinyl esters are hydrolyzed in the small intestine to form retinol, after being taken up from the blood, as they pass through the liver. Large daily doses of retinol, greater than 20,000 IU are considered toxic and should be avoided. On the other hand, carotenoids have a limited ability to be converted into vitamin A in the liver, intestine and other organs. Therefore they are considered to have limited toxicity. However, large doses of carotenoids may turn the skin, especially soles of feet and palms of hands, into yellowish hue.
However, supplement of vitamin-A in shape of beta-carotene may have adverse effects. A study was conducted in 1994 in Finland on smokers with 20-mg daily dose of beta-carotene. It was found that smokers which have 18% higher incidence of lung cancer than who did not take the supplement. In 1996, study was conducted on persons who were vulnerable to lung cancer i.e. smokers and persons exposed to asbestos. It shows that they have 28% greater risk of lung cancer and 26% higher risk of heart disease than those who were not taking supplements.
Similarly a study conducted in 2002 shows that, persons having more than recommended amount of vitamin-A in their daily diet, had a 48% greater hazard of suffering from hip fracture. It is recommended that apart from balanced daily diet, vitamin-A in any form should not be taken in shape of supplements. Current RDA for vitamin-A is 800 micrograms for women and 1000 micrograms for men.
Vitamin-A is a double edge sword. Extreme and unnecessary intake of vitamin A, either highly or continuously can cause life-threatening and serious problems. It includes, vomiting, headache, alopecia, diplopia, bone abnormalities and even liver damage. Birth defects and unstructured abortions have also been depicted due to heavy dose of vitamin-A.
Vitamin B12 for successful aging.
In early 20th century, vitamin-B12 was used as “booster” to improve energy and good feeling. All vitamin-B are water soluble and they have nothing lethal even if given high dose, because they excreted in urine. Vitamin-B supplements are extensively used in all multivitamin which are available in market. Although one can take much amount of vitamin-B in its daily diet, but even then mostly individuals are deficient. This is because they either fail to absorb more of the B vitamins or take too little in their daily diet. Absorption problem is a particular issue with elders who are expected to suffer from destructive anemia. Such disorder, despite of eating B12 enriched foods, prevents vitamin-B12 from absorption in the intestine.
Elders require more dose of vitamin-B12.
Study shows that old aged persons require higher level of circulating B12 as compare to their earlier life. Lab reports show B12 levels between 200pg/ml, instead persons near age of 75 should have a level greater than 300 pg/ml. This level required for their sensory and cognitive function. Due to mal-absorption and in order to insure an adequate level, they have to get vitamin-B12 through intramuscular injection.
Mostly patient of old ages may have problems of memory loss or sensory changes, because level of vitamin-B12 decline below the normal. Even younger persons with same issues can benefit from increasing level of vitamin-B12. Because these issues are not age related and can be faced by persons who failed to food enriched with vitamin-B12.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) for successful aging.
In the B family of vitamin, thiamine is a necessary co-factor, which is required for normal energy forming process in body. It also plays important role in metabolism of amino acids, derived from protein sources. It also may have a function in normal nerve membrane activity. Lead causes of non-absorption of B-1 may include folate deficiency and alcohol abuse. Similarly, caffeic acid in coffee and tannic acid in tea are resistant to vitamin-B1. Well-known disease called “Beriberi” is a result of deficiency in diet or non-absorption of vitamin-B1. It also causes changes in cardiovascular and nervous system.
Deficiency of vitamin-B1.
In addition to abovementioned, food hatred, weakness, confusion and shaky walk can also consequences of deficiency of thiamin. Although in rare cases, but deficiency can also cause paralysis or effect normal eyes movement. It can cause heart swelling and brisk heart rate which can lead to heart failure. Alcoholics as well as persons on chronic dialysis are most vulnerable to common deficiency of thiamin. Main nutritional sources of vitamin-B1, are non-refined cereal grains, brewer’s yeast that is fortified, seeds, organ meats, legumes and nuts. Refined white rice and white flour are deficient in thiamin, causing vitamin deficiency in persons having dietary preferences for refined foods.
Vitamin D for successful aging.
For proper absorption of calcium and growth of healthy bones, vitamin-D has been known as basic ingredient, since long. It has commonly observed that children with vitamin-D deficiency may develop skeletal disorder with bowing of knees and knobs over the ribs. Similarly adults with vitamin-D deficiency may develop weak bones and vulnerable to fractures, skeletal bone pain and micro-fractures.
Vitamin-D is responsible to maintain normal calcium level and phosphorous levels in blood. In recent study, vitamin-D has been connected with neuro-muscular function and proper balance, therefore storage of vitamin-D in body is necessary. That’s the reason that skin should be exposed to ultraviolet light to get vitamin-D3. Vitamin-D3 circulates in the body, and when it passes through the liver, it becomes more potent when (OH) group is added. Collectively, this compound circulates throughout the body and while passing though kidney it becomes 5 times stronger than original vitamin-D, which skin collected. That’s the reason that unwell kidney or liver, may manipulate vitamin-D metabolism and its ability to maintain healthy metabolic trail.
Sources of vitamin-D.
It can be found in numerous dairy produces. Butter and eggs are also containing some vitamin-D. One of the big sources of vitamin-D, is sunlight. People should have diet enriched with vitamin-D. However, people who continuously exposed to sunlight and having no liver or kidney disease, or any other disease which can interfere vitamin-D metabolism need no extra vitamins beyond what they are getting from daily diet. In elder people and individuals with osteoporosis, recommended daily diet is between 400-800 IU. It has also been linked to proper maintenance of mental health.
Although sunlight is a big source of vitamin-D, but there are some serious dangers of excessive exposure to sunlight. It is essential to remember that vitamin-D is also potentially toxic and may lead to life-threatening increase of calcium.
Another important aspect to be aware, is that sunscreen or protective cloths can limit the ability of body to produce adequate quantity of vitamin-D. In elder persons, skin is not able to produce much vitamin-D3 as compare to young, therefore they should take vitamin supplements. But, these vitamin supplement should be taken with direct advise of physician.
Vitamin E for successful aging.
This wonderful vitamin is very much important in neuro-muscular and normal reproductive health. In recent years, vitamin-E got more attention as strong antioxidant. Its deficiency is commonly found in untimely born infants or who have problem with absorbing fat for about five years.
A deficiency of vitamin-E may cause cell damage and resultantly neurological indications. Because, vitamin-E is present in all cell membranes and is linked with fatty acids, that are present in phospholipids, distributed in whole body. Low level of vitamin-E can also cause to breakage of red blood cells due to changes in their structural membrane. While consumed in recommended dose, vitamin-E is comparatively non-toxic, as compare to other fat-soluble vitamins. Standard daily dose of vitamin-E among men is 9.8 mg and among women is 7.1 mg.
Alpha–tocopherol is a kind of vitamin-E, which boosts immune system and saves from blood clots. It also help to prevent cell damage caused by highly reactive chemicals. Alpha–tocopherol is a kind of antioxidant and is being studied for treatment of some sorts of cancer. To ensure adults health, daily recommended allowance of alpha-tocopherol, for men and women is 10-mg and 8-mg respectively.
Quantity of tocopherol in food, is depend upon its method of preparation, storage and processing. Rich sources of tocopherol are vegetable oil, corn, cottonseed, and products that are made from margarine. There is conflicting data regarding role of vitamin-E in stopping diseases, but studies proposed that low antioxidants may elevate risks of certain cancers.
Vitamin K for successful aging.
Vitamin-K is very much important for blood clotting and biosynthesis other proteins in body. It absorbed in intestine and most mainly in ileum and jejunum. Normal pancreatic function is necessary to achieve maximum absorption. Individuals facing malfunctioning regarding absorption of fats, are susceptible of developing deficiency in vitamin-K.
It plays an important role in many proteins, located in kidneys, bones and other tissues. It also known as helping hand to bind calcium in structuring of bones and has a role in cell integrity. Excess medications, poor diets and chronic diseases are risk factors for deficiency of vitamin-K. Similarly antibiotics have effect on removing intestinal bacterial which are important for formation of vitamin-K.
It has been observed that vitamin-K is non-toxic even if taken in higher than suggested dose.
Source of Vitamin-K.
Leafy green vegetables are abundantly rich with vitamin-K. 100 grams portion of leafy green vegetables can provide 50-800 mcg of vitamin-K. Least vitamin-K is also available in dairy products like milk, meats, cereals, eggs, vegetables and fruits. Normal dietary intake of vitamin-K must be almost 1-mcg per kilogram body weight per day. It would be 80-mcg and 63-mcg for men and women respectively.
Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are non-toxic because they will exit from the body through urine. However, excessive amount of fat-soluble like vitamin, A, D, E and K, is extremely dangerous and may lead to headache, vomiting, double vision, bone abnormalities or even liver damage.