Know Your Water Soluble Vitamins
Micronutrients (needed in small quantities hence the name) like vitamins and minerals are commonly overlooked by a good ratio of the population because of the common myth that they are not as important. Consuming them consciously and regularly is the only ticket to good health. They are the reason to every process in your body and help in harnessing energy from the macronutrients - carbohydrates, protein and fats. Whether it is for an adult or for children, micronutrients have the same role although in different amounts. To have a good mix of these vitamins and minerals in the diet, a clinical nutritionist or a child nutritionist can help plan a balanced diet with them. Similarly, many of these micronutrients are neglected when on low calorie diets for weight loss. Hence, weight loss programs should be carefully undertaken, which include all the micro nutrients to help maintain good health.
Talking about vitamins, they are organic compounds which have been classified according to their solubility. As the name suggests, water soluble vitamins are the ones which are soluble in water and are carried in your bloodstream unlike fat soluble vitamins which are soluble in fat. Water soluble vitamins are not stored in significant amounts in your body which makes it essential to consume them on a daily basis.
There are roughly 9 vitamins that are water soluble:
B complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12)
B complex is a vitamin family that are related in their functions towards health. Important among them are:
Vitamins B1, B2 and B3 also called as Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin respectively, help in energy production, support cell growth and regulate metabolism.
Thiamin or vitamin B1 can be found in foods like bran of the cereals, pulses, eggs, fish, meat and vegetables. It is a very important vitamin of the B complex group. The requirement increases when an individual exercises because B1 aids in energy production, tissue repair and recovery.
Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is found in foods like milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, eggs, pulses and whole grains. In India, riboflavin deficiency is found to be common amongst children and women. It helps in maintaining the energy supply of the body.
Niacin or vitamin B3 can also be made by Tryptophan in the body so foods rich in Tryptophan or Niacin help in maintaining this vitamin’s levels. Foods like groundnuts, pulses, meat, protein rich foods can help you take care of your B3 levels. Naicin may help lower cholesterol and boost brain function besides many other vital functions
Vitamin B5 also known as pantothenic acid, or Pantothenate helps produce energy and promotes a healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver. Its deficiency is rarely seen and hence is not much known. It is found in egg yolk, dairy, grains, fish, meat and vegetables like broccoli, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, etc.
Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is available in various forms but are interchangeable in the body. Pyridoxine has important functions like forming co-enzymes, aids in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, aids in the creation of red blood cells, and neurotransmitters, etc. Foods like whole grains and cereals, organ meat and vegetables are a good source of B6 vitamin.
Also called Biotin, vitamin B7 is necessary for metabolism and creating enzymes, It is also needed for good hair and nails. Foods like liver, cauliflower, salmon, whole wheat cereals, eggs, dairy, nuts etc are rich in biotin.
Also called folic acid or folate, vitamin B9 got its name from a Latin word, ‘Folium’ meaning leaf because B9 was isolated from spinach leaves.
Vitamin B9 is available in several forms - folic acid, folate and L-methylfolate. They are important in producing RNA and DNA, forms hemoglobin and hence prevents anemia. During pregnancy the requirement for B9 increases in the first trimester as it lowers the risk of delivering a baby with a spinal cord, neural tube or brain defects.
Folic acid is available in both animal and plant foods like green leafy vegetables, pulses, whole grains, fortified foods like pasta or bread and fruits like oranges.
B12 or Cobalamin is one of the most essential water soluble vitamins but is unfortunately many of us are deficient in it. Vitamin B9 and vitamin B12 are also involved in cell maturation and both the vitamins work together to form hemoglobin and prevent anemia. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause megaloblastic anemia. Another important contribution of B12 in the human body is that it contributes in the proper functioning of the central nervous system and is required for DNA synthesis.
B12 is naturally found in animal products which could be a possible reason for common B12 deficiency in vegetarians. Foods like meat, eggs, sea food like shrimp or shell fish, milk and milk products contain B12, some fortified food products may also contain some amounts of the vitamin.
Vitamin C, also called as ascorbic acid is a miraculous vitamin, if consciously added to our daily diet. It is one of our body’s main antioxidant which means, it helps in reducing or slowing down cell damage. It also poses as an important nutrient for athletes because it helps in reversing oxidative damage caused due to exercise. The second major role this vitamin has to play in our body is that it helps in forming collagen which is the main protein of the connective tissue which holds our bones, muscles and other tissues together. For individuals with vegetarian or vegan dietary habits, vitamin C has some special importance as it helps in the absorption of iron and folate that is derived from plant sources. Lastly, something that all of us want - ascorbic acid helps in keeping our immunity intact as it helps boosts the formation of antibodies.
Coming to the dietary sources of vitamin C, fruits and vegetables have been a well know source of this vitamin. The richest source of this vitamin is Indian gooseberry (Amla) following with foods like pink guava, black currants, cashew apple, drumstick leaves, coloured bell peppers, raw mango, orangees, lemon juice and tomatoes. Make sure you are adding these foods to your meals to achieve the very many benefits.
Interesting Fact: Vitamin C is a highly volatile compound which makes it sensitive to oxygen, heat and light.
As we read earlier, the above vitamins being water soluble are not stored in the body which makes it highly important to consume their sources on a daily basis. So, if one is on a weight loss program or a weight management program ensure that these vitamins are included in the weight loss process. Similarly, it] is easy for children to fall a prey to the vitamin deficiency easily so, consult a child nutritionist to help plan a balanced meal with the vitamins in the necessary amounts.