The body needs a complex of at least 13 vitamins for good health. However a few of the major vitamins are considered especially important. If your daily diet is deficient in these nutrients, you'll begin to see serious effects in a short period of time. Luckily these vitamins are the ones most often added to foods as a supplement, so it's not hard to fulfill your needs.
This water-soluble vitamin is vital to the proper functioning of all sorts of bodily processes. According to Merck's Manuals, it's used in the repair of bone, skin and connective tissues, and it helps maintain healthy teeth and gums. It also helps the body to absorb iron. If you don't get enough vitamin C, you can feel tired and weak, and suffer from dry hair and skin. If your deficiency is really severe, you can end up with scurvy, which can cause severe anemia and cause your teeth to fall out. Vitamin C is abundantly available in fruits and vegetables, and is often featured as a supplement in processed foods, especially drinks.
Vitamin B is actually a complex of eight vitamins, all of which are essential for good health. A whole raft of symptoms accompanies deficiency of the B complex, but the most common ones are chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, memory impairment, rashes, insomnia and mental uneasiness. Foods high in the B complex vitamins include fortified breakfast cereals and meats such as turkey and steak. Breads made with whole grains also contain B vitamins.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, deficiency in vitamin A is the leading cause of blindness among children in developing nations. This vitamin is essential in preserving the health of your eyes, and even mild deficiency can produce night blindness or impair the ability of your eyes to adapt to the dark. It's also essential to the functioning of the immune system, and helps fight against infections. Vitamin A is present in highest concentrations in yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes, but also in leafy greens. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin A, as are dairy products.
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