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Roles of Vitamins



Prepared by: Shampa Roy : 1020523030 Saquib-E-Azam : 0930252520 Submitted to: Submission date: Biology Assignment Course: BIO103.6: Biology I; Spring 2011 Room: SAC 404 Dr. Kazi Nadim Hasan(KNH)


Vitamins are organic compounds found in plants and animals and known as essential nutrients for human beings. The name vitamin is obtained from "vital amines" as it was originally thought that these substances were all amines. They cannot be made within the body, so must be present in the diet. Human body uses them for growth, function, energy, tissue repair and waste removal. If a given vitamin is lacking, a characteristic set of symptoms will develop known as a deficiency disease.

Types of Vitamins
There are two categories of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Watersoluble vitamins, such as vitamins B, C and H need to be included in our daily diet as our body does not store any excess of these vitamins. The excess is being excreted in the urine. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, are absorbed by the intestine and transported to different parts of the body by the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system.

Characteristics of the vitamins

most of the vitamins have been artificially synthesized some of vitamins are soluble in water and others are fat-soluble some vitamins are synthesized in the body, for example some members of vitamin B complex are synthesized by microorganisms in the intestinal tract) vitamins are partly destroyed and are partly excreted vitamins can be stored in the body to some extent, for example the fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and subcutaneous tissue vitamins can perform their work in very small quantities; hence, the total daily requirement is usually very small

Why We Need Vitamins?

First of all vitamin is that component of a balanced diet which the human body generally cannot manufacture on its own. So you must consume vitamin directly in the form of food or through supplements as tonic or pills. The whole process of assimilation of

vitamins depends on ingestion of food. Once you have it as a part of your meal, say for tomatoes, lemon, spinach and other stuffs, it is more helpful. Moreover you don't feel that you are a patient and need to have medicines for cure. But if the deficit of a particular vitamin is high, then supplementary dose of vitamins have to be given to the body for a particular period. The body's metabolism is also dependent on vitamins as on carbohydrates, fats, minerals and other basic components of a complete diet. But before adding the vitamin list to our routine diet, let's understand the importance of vitamins in life.

Role of Vitamins in Metabolism

Metabolism describes all of the chemical reactions that take place within the tissues. Each part of the intricate process requires specific protein molecules called enzymes. Most of these enzyme proteins rely on coupling with a vitamin coenzyme in order to become active. You can see in the figure above that the vitamin, portrayed in light brown, seems so insignificant compared to the four massive subunits of the protein enzyme. Its presence is absolutely essential for the active enzyme to function. The vitamin helps form what is called the active site of the enzyme. This is the exact location that the molecule to be acted upon (substrate) by the enzyme fits into the active enzyme. Because most of the vitamins are water soluble, they have relatively short half-lives, from minutes to a few days. This means that they need to be replaced daily from either food intake or a vitamin supplement. Metabolism involves anabolism, or the building of small molecules into large molecules to create all of the substances that are needed by the cells. It also involves catabolism, or the breaking down of large molecules into small ones, so the cells have the energy that they need to work. Vitamins play a role in these reactions.

Carbohydrate Metabolism Vitamin B1, also called thiamin, has a crucial role in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Enzymes, or proteins that speed up a reaction, sometimes use substances called coenzymes for help. Vitamin B1 in its coenzyme form of thiamin diphosphate is vital in several of the steps of carbohydrate metabolism. Three different groups of enzymes must have thiamin diphosphate so carbohydrates can be broken down to glucose within the cells of the body.

Glycogen and Amino Acid Metabolism

The coenzyme form of vitamin B6 is called pyridoxal phosphate and approximately 80 percent of this coenzyme is in the muscles. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose, and when this glycogen reserve has been used up, the vitamin B6 coenzyme is released so the liver can make glucose from amino acids. Amino acids are proteins, and the liver uses amino acids to make glucose to meet the energy needs of the body. Pyridoxal phosphate is also a coenzyme in the metabolism of amino acids.

Metabolism to Produce Energy

Vitamin B2 is also referred to as riboflavin. Flavin adenine dinucleotide, or FAD, and flavin mononucleotide, or FMN, are the coenzyme forms of vitamin B2. The coenzyme forms of niacin, which is also called vitamin B3, are nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, or NADP. All of the coenzyme forms of vitamin B2 and niacin have roles in the metabolic processes that provide energy for the cells. FAD and FMN both pass along electrons from one molecule to another when the cell needs to make energy. NAD transfers electrons when the cell breaks down large molecules for energy, while NADP transfers electrons whenever the cell needs to build large molecules. These metabolic processes are also called oxidation.

Fatty Acid and Cholesterol Metabolism

Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, has a role in metabolism because it forms part of a substance called coenzyme A. Coenzyme A is crucial in the metabolism of fatty acids and in the synthesis of cholesterol. It joins with a molecule called acetyl to form acetylCoA. Acetyl-CoA will then join with other substances and form fats, or join with another acetyl-CoA as a beginning step in the formation of cholesterol. Because vitamin B5 is found in so many foods, people rarely have deficiencies in this vitamin.

Gluconeogenesis refers to the metabolic process that makes glucose. Vitamin B7, also called biotin, has a role in this process because it has the responsibility of transferring carbon dioxide in several reactions that are part of making new glucose molecules.

Sources, Roles and Deficiency Diseases of Each Vitamin

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is found in animal foods such as whole eggs, liver, milk, margarine, and fortified ready-to-eat cereals. Also, Vitamin A is abundant in darkly colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes and spinach. Animal sources of vitamin A are well absorbed and used efficiently by the body. Plant sources of vitamin A are not as well absorbed as animal sources.

Eye Health- Within the eye lies a complex neural/sensory processes that allow us to see. Vitamin A is fundamentally involved in this process and is also involved in maintaining the health of the cornea. Maintenance of Mucus Producing Tissue- Vitamin A is also indispensable for the maintenance and regulation of growth of many types of cells in the body. Cells that produce mucus, a lubricating and protecting substance, are particularly

sensitive to vitamin A status. These types of cells are found lining the digestive tract and lungs and also in the eyes cornea. Growth of Body- Vitamin A is also essential for normal growth and development of the human body as a whole. It is now clear that vitamin A acts in certain cells throughout the body at the genetic level. This means that some of the function of vitamin A is related to its ability to interact with DNA and affect the manufacture of certain proteins. This seems to be very important in the proper development and maintenance of various tissues throughout the body. Regulate the immune system-Vitamin A helps prevent or fight off infections by making white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. It also may help lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, fight infections more effectively.

Deficiency Diseases
Night blindness (Xerophthalmia) is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. It can contribute to blindness by making the cornea very dry and damaging the retina and cornea. Vitamin A deficiency diminishes the ability to fight infections, and cells lining the lungs lose their ability to remove disease-causing microorganisms, contributing to pneumonia. Inadequate mucus secretion of cells lining the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive tracts will greatly affect the function and health of these tissues as well. Dry, hard skin is an observable sign of a vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine, Thiamin) is found most abundantly in foods such as cereal grains (wheat germ, whole wheat) and meats (pork, fish). Good sources also include peas, beans, enriched flour, and peanuts.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine, Thiamin) helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for the heart, muscles, and nervous system to function properly. Additionally, it aids in digestion, especially of carbohydrates, increases urine formation, maintains normal red blood count, improves circulation, and promotes healthy skin. It also reduces fatigue, increases stamina, and prevents premature ageing and senility by increasing mental alertness. Similar to other B vitamins, it is more potent when combined with other B vitamins rather than used separately.

Deficiency Diseases
Deficiency is more a problem in alcoholics and people with malabsorption conditions. Beriberi, a nutritional disorder caused by deficiencies in Vitamin B1 (Thiamin, Thiamin) is characterized by impairment of the nerves and heart. Typical symptoms include loss of appetite, digestive irregularities, and a feeling of numbness and weakness in the limbs and extremities. Left untreated, a gradual degeneration of the long nerves will occur, beginning in the legs, and then the arms, followed by atrophy of muscle and loss of

reflexes. Also, infants breastfed by mothers deficient in Vitamin B1 (Thiamine, Thiamin) may lead to rapidly progressing heart failure.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) occurs abundantly in whey (the watery part of milk), egg whites, and meat. It is also present in leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and enriched grains.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is an essential nutrient for growth and general health. It is mainly known to function as part of metabolic systems concerned with the oxidation of carbohydrates, fats, and miscs. It is also involved in a number of chemical reactions throughout the body and is essential for normal tissue maintenance. Other uses include aiding in digestion, preventing constipation, promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails, strengthening the mucous lining of the mouth, lips, and tongues, and playing an important role in the health of the eyes. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is also sensitive to light, and can be destroyed if food is sun-dried. Normal cooking does not destroy this vitamin; however, losses may occur in the excess water if the food is boiled.

Deficiency Diseases

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency can be characterized by symptoms such as reddening of the lips with cracks at the corners, inflammation of the tongue, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth, scaly inflammation of the skin, fatigue, dizziness, nervous tissue damage, and retarded growth in infants or children. Ocular disturbances may also exist, such as vascularization of the eyeball with eyestrain, abnormal intolerance to light, eye redness, eye fatigue, or a dry, sandy feeling in the eyes.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 (niacin) foods include chicken, fish, lean meat, milk, eggs, and various organ meats such as liver, heart and kidney. Plant sources include wholegrain products, leafy green vegetables, legumes, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, dates, nuts, seeds, fortified cereals, asparagus, and avocados.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) play an important role in proper blood circulation, ensures that the nervous system functions properly, maintains the normal functions of the gastro-intestinal tract, and metabolizes miscs and carbohydrates properly. It also helps to maintain healthy skin and dilates the blood vessels to increase the flow of blood to the peripheral capillary system. Finally it is also used in the synthesis of sex hormones and can be used to treat schizophrenia and enhance memory.

Deficiency Diseases
Long term deficiency of vitamin B3 (niacin) can lead to pellagra. The disease starts with sunburn-like eruptions on the skin when exposed to sunlight, with other symptoms including diarrhea, dementia, swollen red tongue, and irritability. Other symptoms of more minor deficiency typically include fatigue, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, and canker sores.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) foods include pork, beef, fish, egg yolk, poultry, and especially organ meats such as liver, heart, and kidney. Plant sources include whole wheat, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, enriched cereals, oranges, and strawberries.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is abundant in many foods and also produced by intestinal bacteria. It plays a major role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and miscs and also in the synthesis of amino acids and fatty acids. This vitamin plays an essential role in many of the vital functions of the body such as red blood cell production, hormone production, adrenal gland stimulation, and immune system functionality. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) also acts as an anti-stress agent, increases vitality, wards off infections, and speeds up recovery from illness.

Deficiency Diseases
Typical symptoms of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) deficiency include fatigue, nausea, cardiac instability, depression, muscular weakness, cramps. Nervous system disorders may include tingling hands, numbness, headaches, headaches, and insomnia. Factors than can contribute to this deficiency include allergies, stress, too much processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine.

Vitamin B6


Most natural food sources come from non-meat sources such as brown rice, whole wheat, rye, buck wheat, wheat bran, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, cabbage, lentils, soybeans, and seeds. Meat sources also include beef liver, chicken, ground beef, ham, shrimp, and tuna.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is necessary for the body to absorb vitamin B12, zinc and produce hydrochloric acid, magnesium, antibodies, and red blood cells. It maintains healthy brain function. It is also a coenzyme involved in metabolizing misc, carbohydrates, fats, and selenium and promotes the synthesis of nucleic acids. Other functions include controlling nausea during pregnancy, treating degenerative diseases, maintaining the health of the skeletal system, improving skin disorders, and relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Deficiency Diseases
Excess Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is usually excreted by the body, and can be destroyed by food processing and alcohol. For this reason, deficiency is quite common. Deficiency symptoms include low blood sugar, increased infections, anemia, insomnia, tooth decay, kidney stones, morning sickness, excess PMS, skin rashes, sore mouth, dry skin, and nervousness.

Vitamin B9


Common plant sources for vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate) include asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, lentils, carrots, apricots, melons, wheat germ, fortified grain products, and whole wheat. Animal sources include egg yolk and calf liver.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate) is essential for the division of body cells, the formation of red blood cells, the production of nucleic acids, and for normal growth and development. It maintains vital systems like the nervous system, the intestinal tracts, and the sex organs. Experts also agree that vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate) can reduce the risk of birth defects; it regulates embryonic and fetal development of nerve cells and prevents neuraltube defects.

Deficiency Diseases
Deficiency in vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate) can cause some forms of anemia, digestive problems, nervous problems, sore / red tongue, diarrhea, impaired memory, insomnia, confusion, reduced immunity, and paleness.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin, cyanocobalamin) is required in small amounts and only found in animal foods. Common sources include blue cheese, dairy products, sardines, oysters, mackerel, liverwurst, milk, yogurt, eggs, and kidneys.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin, cyanocobalamin) is needed for the body to form red blood cells, thereby helping to prevent anemia. It is also used to metabolize fats, miscs, and carbohydrates. Additionally, it is essential for a healthy nervous system, and plays a role in nucleic acid metabolism, and the formation of RNA and DNA. Other uses include improving concentration, memory and balance, and also detoxifying cyanides and tobacco smoke.

Deficiency Diseases
Some common "enemies" of vitamin B12 (cobalamin, cyanocobalamin) include water, alcohol, sunlight, and sleeping pills; it is also not well absorbed through the stomach. Common deficiencies include fatigue, nerve damage, weakness in the arms and legs, shortness of breath, depression, poor memory bruising, sore tongue, nausea, and brain damage.


Vitamin C

Many foods are rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Plant sources include citrus fruits, black currants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, green peppers, mangos, papayas, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and watercress. It is best to eat these vegetables and fruits fresh or raw when possible.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of the most common and important vitamins found in many fruits and vegetables. It promotes healthy capillaries, bones, tissue, gums, and teeth as well as helping to heal wounds and burns. Right before a cold, it is advised to take more vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to decrease the intensity and duration, and also to encourage immune activity. It can also be used to aid iron absorption, treat anemia, treat urinary tract infections, form collagen, and increase calcium absorption. Additional benefits include reducing cholesterol, preventing some forms of cancer, reduce symptoms of arthritis, and reduce the toxic effect of alcohol and drugs.

Deficiency Diseases
The most common ailment of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency is scurvy, which is characterized by swollen gums, loss of teeth, bleeding gums, bleeding under skin, muscle weakness, tiredness, and depression. Other symptoms include lowered immune activity, bruising, anemia, and various skin problems.


Vitamin D

Vitamin D is common in fortified milk and dairy products, especially butter. It is also found in cod-liver oil, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna.

Vitamin D is fat soluble so that it can be stored in the body and also produced by exposure to sunlight. This production occurs through a chemical reaction of the sun with various skin oils, which is then absorbed into the body.


Figure: Vitamin D Metabolism

The primary function of vitamin D is for bone growth, repair, and hardening though the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. It also treats post-operative muscle contraction, promotes normal growth and development of children, and is necessary for the health of bones and teeth. Other uses include regular kidney function, and helping the body assimilate vitamin A.

Figure: Vitamin D in Calcium Absorption

Deficiency Diseases
Things that contribute to vitamin D deficiency include little exposure to sunlight and living in highly polluted areas. The most common symptom of deficiency is rickets, a 16

childhood disease characterized by bent or bowed legs, malformations of joint or bones, late tooth development, or weak muscles. The adult form is called Osteomalacia, and is characterized by pain in the ribs, brittle bones, and muscle weakness.

Vitamin E

Most vitamin E food sources come from plants like asparagus, broccoli, corn, spinach, walnuts, almonds, nuts, peanuts, wheat germ, and fortified cereals. Animal sources include butter and eggs.

Since vitamin E is fat soluble, it can be stored in the body, but not as efficiently as others. Excess amounts are excreted in urine, so it is considered to be non-toxic. Considered to be an antioxidant, it also slows down aging, improves immunity in the body, heals the skin, and promotes normal growth and development. It also works as anti-blood clotting agent and promotes normal red blood cell formation. During pregnancy, it can reduce the


risk of a miscarriage and can also improve fertility. In males, it protects against prostate cancer as well as reduces the risk against fatal first myocardial infarction.

Deficiency Diseases
Deficiency symptoms can include lethargy, inability to concentrate, reproductive problems, muscle degeneration, red blood cell degeneration, nerve dysfunction, and various forms of anemia. Similar to other vitamins, vitamin E is also very susceptible to food processing. Smokers and pregnant women should take vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin H

Animal sources of vitamin H (biotin) include liver, chicken, clams, eggs, mackerel, salmon, and tuna. Plant sources include wholegrains, nuts, unpolished rice, oatmeal, almonds, green peas, lentils, mushrooms, peanuts, walnuts, and soybeans.

Biotin or Vitamin H is a water soluble product found in many foods and also synthesized by intestinal bacteria. It is necessary for normal growth and development, aids in the formation of fatty acids, and is required for the metabolism of miscs, carbohydrates, and fats. It is also promotes the growth and health of sweat glands, nerve glands, skin, hair, blood cells, sex glands, and bone barrow.

Deficiency Diseases
Some common enemies of vitamin H (biotin) include food processing, alcohol, sulfur drugs, estrogen, and egg whites. Long term use of antibiotics can also have a detrimental effect, as the body's natural bacteria that produces biotin is also destroyed. Deficiency symptoms include depression, eczema, fatigue, impairment of fat metabolism, nausea, loss of muscular reflexes, dermatitis, pale tongue, hair loss, and anemia.


Vitamin K

Most sources of vitamin K (phytonadione) are found in plant foods such as alfalfa, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, Brussels sprouts, green tea, wholegrains, and tomatoes. Animal sources include yogurt, liver, cheddar cheese, and egg yolks.

Vitamin K (phytonadione) is fat-soluble vitamin, so deficiency rarely occurs. The bacteria located in the small intestine produces it, and yoghurt, which encourages "good" bacteria growth in the small intestine, can be a contributing factor towards preventing vitamin K (phytonadione) deficiency. The primary function is for the body to form prothrombin, which is required for blood clotting. It also promotes healthy bones, prevents hemorrhagic disease of the newborn, and promotes normal growth.

Deficiency Diseases
Vitamin K (phytonadione) can result in hemorrhaging throughout the body including nosebleeds, postoperative bleeding, blood in the urine or eye, intestinal bleeding due to blood clotting problems. It can also cause miscarriages, colon problems, and osteoporosis.


Inference :
Vitamins are needed for growth and good health. The vitamins we need are found in the food you eat. It's important to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Some food is enriched. This means that vitamins were added. For example, bread and milk are enriched. Some people also take vitamin pills. Vitamins are chemical compounds. They are nutrients for the human body that are contained within food substances. Vitamins control the chemical reactions within the body to convert food into energy and living tissue. They help the body use the energy nutrients, maintain normal body tissue, act as a regulator, and are only needed in small amounts. There are a total of thirteen needed vitamins, four that are produced in the body itself. Biotin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin K are made in the human intestine and usually in


adequate amounts to meet the body's needs. Sunlight on the skin surfaces can produce sufficient amounts of vitamin K. The remaining vitamins must be supplied in the daily diet. Each vitamins meets specific body needs that one of the other compounds cannot substitute or act for instead. However the lack or deficiency of one of them can sometimes interfere with another vitamins function. If a vitamin deficiency continues, the person can incur a related disease such as beriberi, pellagra, rickets, and scurvy. Conversely, too much of some vitamins brings on a toxic condition.