Health Education

Know Your Vitamins: Uses, Benefits and Deficiencies

We know the word ‘Vitamins’ is not new to you our dear reader. You’ve heard it a number of times but do you really know what vitamins are? Do you know their importance, why you need them or what vitamins you should be taking? Most likely NOT. So, in this article we would guide you on the uses, benefits and likely results to expect from various vitamins.

What Are Vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds found in very small amounts in food and required for normal functioning—indeed, for survival. Humans are able to synthesize certain vitamins to some extent. For example, vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight; niacin can be synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan; and vitamin K and biotin are synthesized by bacteria living in the gut. However, in general, humans depend on their diet to supply vitamins. When a vitamin is in short supply or is not able to be utilized properly, a specific deficiency syndrome results. When the deficient vitamin is resupplied before irreversible damage occurs, the signs and symptoms are reversed. The amounts of vitamins in foods and the amounts required on a daily basis are measured in milligrams and micrograms.

Vitamins play crucial roles in various bodily functions, from immune support, healthy skin, energy production and lots more.

What are types of Vitamins?

Vitamins are grouped into two categories:

  1. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s liver, fatty tissue, and muscles. The four fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are absorbed more easily by the body in the presence of dietary fat.
  2. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. The nine water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and all the B vitamins. Any leftover or excess amounts of these leave the body through the urine. They have to be consumed on a regular basis to prevent shortages or deficiencies in the body. The exception to this is vitamin B12, which can be stored in the liver for many years.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these vitamins, their functions in the body and natural food sources.

1. Vitamin A:

   Vitamin A helps to support vision health. In addition, it promotes healthy skin, thereby ensuring your skin glows. More so, it greatly boots your immune system. Vitamin A is found in various forms, including retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and dairy products like milk and cheese.

2. Vitamin B Complex: This type of vitamin helps to convert food into energy. It also supports nervous system function and aids in mood regulation. Vitamin B encompasses a group of eight water-soluble vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). Vitamin B12, like the other B vitamins, is important for metabolism. It also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central and peripheral nervous system. Foods rich in B vitamins include whole grains, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.

3. Vitamin C: This is considered the most popular vitamin and is regularly taken by many people as a result. This vitamin helps to boost immune system function. Also, it supports collagen production for healthy skin and helps wounds to heal faster. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is found in many fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits), strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.

4. Vitamin D: promotes bone health by aiding calcium absorption and it supports immune function and mood regulation. Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies can produce it when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish (like salmon and tuna), egg yolks, fortified foods (such as milk, orange juice, and cereal), and supplements.

5. Vitamin E: This is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Food sources of vitamin E include nuts (such as almonds and peanuts), seeds (like sunflower seeds), vegetable oils (such as sunflower oil and olive oil), spinach, and broccoli. This type of vitamin acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from damage. Like Vitamin A,C and D, it supports skin health and immune function.

6. Vitamin K: is needed in the body because without it, blood would not coagulate normally. Some studies suggest that it is important for bone health. Natural sources include: cabbage, cauliflower, cereals, dark green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus), dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collards, and turnip greens), fish, liver, beef, and eggs

General uses of Vitamins:

– They fill nutritional gaps in your diet.

– They aid in your overall health and well-being i.e ensuring healthy functioning of your body systems.

– They address specific health concerns or deficiencies example:

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness and weakened immune function.

Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause anemia, fatigue, and nerve damage.

Vitamin C: Inadequate intake can result in scurvy, characterized by fatigue, swollen gums, and easy bruising.

Vitamin D: Deficiency may lead to weakened bones (osteoporosis) and increased risk of fractures.

Vitamin E: Some studies suggest it may help protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting, deficiency can result in excessive bleeding.

Therefore, regular use of essential vitamins and supplements can lead to noticeable improvements in overall health and well-being.

Side Effects

Many people think that if some is good, a lot is better. This is not always the case. High doses of certain vitamins can be toxic. Ask your health care provider what is best for you.


The best way to get all the daily vitamins you need is to eat a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fortified dairy foods, legumes (dried beans), lentils, and whole grains.

Dietary supplements are another way to get the vitamins you need if the food you eat is not supplying enough vitamins. Supplements can be helpful during pregnancy and in certain medical conditions.

It is important to note that this article does not serve as a prescription. Please see your healthcare provider or contact us at United Wellness Pharmacy to guide you on what vitamins would be a perfect fit for you based on your health goals.

You may also shop from our online pharmacy in Lagos, if you have an authorized prescription. We are your one stop pharmacy for anything and everything health and wellness.


One thought on “Know Your Vitamins: Uses, Benefits and Deficiencies

  1. Ruth says:

    Very informative article, thank you.

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