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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Vitamins: their roles in the human body

By Ketna Volcy

Special to CSMS Magazine

Vitamins refer to vitality and life, which encapsulate healthiness. Our wholeness of being – including our mind, body, and spirit – depends on providing the necessary tools: nutrients to support the continual regeneration of our bodies.

Vitamins are nutrients that serve many key roles to promote normal body functions. For example, (1) folate helps nerves communicate with the brain and muscles, improves thinking, and improves moods when supplemented by people with deficiency [1]; 

(2) vitamin B12 was found to be more effective in the treatment of diabetic neuropathic pain compared to the drug nortriptyline [2]; and (3) vitamin D deficiency correlates with heart problems [3] and poor bone health [4].

For the most part, our bodies cannot generate vitamins; therefore, we access them through the food that we eat, the sun, or supplements.

Out of the thirteen essential vitamins, four are fat-soluble (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K), while the remaining seven are water-soluble (biotin, folate, Niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), thiamine (B1), pyroxidine (B1), vitamin B12 and vitamin C).

The fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in our fat tissue for later use when consumed in excess; on the other hand, the water soluble vitamins must be consumed daily because excess get flushed from our bodies through the kidneys. As such, deficiency in water soluble vitamin is common; therefore, a look at your diet to ensure that it is rich in B-complex vitamins and vitamin C that are crucial to provide antioxidant that can protect your body from toxins and to promote an overall healthy body that is reflected through glowing skin, hair, and nails. Some common foods that are good sources of multiple B-vitamins include: Beans, peanuts, dairy, eggs, green leafy vegetables, oranges, and meat.

The availability of vitamins for use by our bodies (bioavailability) can be influenced by medication [5], age [6] and bodyweight [7]; therefore, maintaining a normal weight can facilitate the optimal use of the nutrients accessibility by the body. Although the ideal source for vitamins is food sources, it can be difficult for many people to include all the diverse food products required to get enough of all the vitamins that the body needs daily in their diet. The alternative can be vitamin supplements, which may derive from either synthetic or organic sources.

 Assuring that we get the recommended levels of vitamins can seem daunting, but it is a worthwhile exploit, if the goal is to have a long and healthy life. Detailed information about vitamins and their food sources can be found at Medline (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/vitamins.html).


1.         Loria-Kohen V, Gomez-Candela C, Palma-Milla S, Amador-Sastre B, Hernanz A, Bermejo LM: A pilot study of folic acid supplementation for improving homocysteine levels, cognitive and depressive status in eating disorders. Nutr Hosp 2013;28:807-815.

2.         Talaei A, Siavash M, Majidi H, Chehrei A: Vitamin B12 may be more effective than nortriptyline in improving painful diabetic neuropathy. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2009;60 Suppl 5:71-76.

3.         Schierbeck LL, Rejnmark L, Tofteng CL, Stilgren L, Eiken P, Mosekilde L, Kober L, Jensen JE: Vitamin D deficiency in postmenopausal, healthy women predicts increased cardiovascular events: a 16-year follow-up study. Eur J Endocrinol 2012;167:553-560.

4.         Zhou W, Langsetmo L, Berger C, Poliquin S, Kreiger N, Barr SI, Kaiser SM, Josse RG, Prior JC, Towheed TE, Anastassiades T, Davison KS, Kovacs CS, Hanley DA, Papadimitropoulos EA, Goltzman D: Longitudinal changes in calcium and vitamin D intakes and relationship to bone mineral density in a prospective population-based study: the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos). J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact 2013;13:470-479.

5.         Havens PL, Kiser JJ, Stephensen CB, Hazra R, Flynn PM, Wilson CM, Rutledge B, Bethel J, Pan CG, Woodhouse LR, Van Loan MD, Liu N, Lujan-Zilbermann J, Baker A, Kapogiannis BG, Gordon CM, Mulligan K: Association of higher plasma vitamin D binding protein and lower free calcitriol levels with tenofovir disoproxil fumarate use and plasma and intracellular tenofovir pharmacokinetics: cause of a functional vitamin D deficiency? Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2013;57:5619-5628.

6.         Battisti C, Dotti MT, Manneschi L, Federico A: Increase of serum levels of vitamin E during human aging: Is it a protective factor against death? Arch Gerontol Geriatr 1994;19 Suppl 1:13-18.

7.         Vimaleswaran KS, Berry DJ, Lu C, Tikkanen E, Pilz S, Hiraki LT, Cooper JD, Dastani Z, Li R, Houston DK, Wood AR, Michaelsson K, Vandenput L, Zgaga L, Yerges-Armstrong LM, McCarthy MI, Dupuis J, Kaakinen M, Kleber ME, Jameson K, Arden N, Raitakari O, Viikari J, Lohman KK, Ferrucci L, Melhus H, Ingelsson E, Byberg L, Lind L, Lorentzon M, Salomaa V, Campbell H, Dunlop M, Mitchell BD, Herzig KH, Pouta A, Hartikainen AL, Streeten EA, Theodoratou E, Jula A, Wareham NJ, Ohlsson C, Frayling TM, Kritchevsky SB, Spector TD, Richards JB, Lehtimaki T, Ouwehand WH, Kraft P, Cooper C, Marz W, Power C, Loos RJ, Wang TJ, Jarvelin MR, Whittaker JC, Hingorani AD, Hypponen E: Causal relationship between obesity and vitamin D status: bi-directional Mendelian randomization analysis of multiple cohorts. PLoS Med 2013;10:e1001383.

Note: Ketna Volcy is our new contributor. She lives and works in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. She may be reached at ketvolcy@gmail.com.

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