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Chapter: 11th 12th std standard Class Nursing Health Care Hospital Hygiene Higher secondary school College Notes

Vitamins protective foods

' Vita' means life. Deficiency of vitamins results in ill-health and even death. There are two groups: Fat- soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. Water soluble Vitamins: B and C.

Vitamins protective foods


Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, as very small amounts of vitamins and minerals are needed every day to keep the body in good health. Many foods contain vitamins and minerals as well as proteins, carbohydrates and Fats. Vitamins and minerals regulate the body functions.




' Vita' means life. Deficiency of vitamins results in ill-health and even death. There are two groups:


Fat- soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.


Water soluble Vitamins: B and C.


Vitamin A:


Vitamin A is needed in the body for


Healthy eyes.


Healthy skin and mucous membrane.


Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): A daily requirement of vitamin A is 800 micrograms. Too much is harmful.




Fish liver oil, egg, butter, ghee and milk are rich sources of vitamin A. In plants there is a substance called carotene or pro-vitamin A, which can be made into Vitamin A in the body.


Sources of carotene are dark green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrot, papaya, ripe mango, yellow pumpkin.




If a person does not have enough Vitamin A, he gets night blindness, then dry eye, and may become blind.


Vitamin D:




It helps in absorption of calcium and phosphorus to build bones and teeth.




1.     Sunlight is the cheapest source. Vitamin D formed in the skin by the action of ultra-violet rays in sunlight.


2.     Fish liver oil.


Butter, ghee, groundnut oil and egg yoke.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 400 internal units.




Deficiency leads to rickets


Vitamin E:


Vitamin E is essential for normal reproduction.

Plant sources : Vegetable oils, soyabeans, groundnuts, whole cereals.

Animal sources    :         Eggs, meat and fish.

Recommended  dietary  allowance  (RDA):  11  international units.



Deficiency may lead to infertility.


Vitamin K:


Vitamin K is the necessary for blood clotting. It is used in prevention and treatment of hemorrhage.


1.     Dark green leaves of all kinds, pulses, cereals and fruits.


2.     It is also produced by bacteria in the small intestine.


3.     Sprouted grains.


4.     Dairy products.


Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 60 micrograms per day.




Deficiency leads to bleeding disorders.


Water soluble vitamins: Vitamin B and C


Vitamin B1 or Thiamine:


Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is necessary for carbohydrate metabolism and conduction of nerve impulses




Dried fruits, yeasts, unpolished rice, whole wheat flour, whole cereals and pulses, nuts and oils seeds, liver and green leafy vegetables.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 1.1 milligram per




This is common where people eat a lot of raw polished rice, as in parts of Andhra Pradesh. Early symptoms are

1.     Loss of appetite


2.     Tingling hands and feet, or numbness.


3.     Restlessness and general weakness.


4.     Breathlessness due to heart enlargements.


5.     Leads to loss of memory and nervous disorder.


If thiamine deficiency continuous, it results in the disease


called beri-beri. There are two forms of beri-beri. In the wet type, there is edema or swelling all over the body. In the dry type, there is paralysis.


Infantile beri-beri can result in early sudden death due to enlarged heart. In deficiency of thiamine, there is usually also deficiency of riboflavin and nicotinic acid. Therefore vitamin B Complex is needed in its treatment, as well as extra thiamine.


Riboflavin: Vitamin B2


Riboflavin is necessary for


1.     Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and amino acids.


2.     Healthy eyes and mouth.




Dried yeast, whole cereals, pulses and dark green leafy vegetables, milk and eggs, and liver.


Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 1 - 2 milligram per day.




Signs of this are


1.     angular stomatitis-sore white patches at the corners of the mouth.


2.     glossitis-swollen sore tongue.


3.     redness and burning feeling in the eyes.


4.     dermatitis -skin lesions.

Nicotinic acid:


Nicotinic acid (Niacin) is needed for


1.     carbohydrate metabolism along with thiamine and riboflavin

2.     healthy skin and mucous membrane


3.     healthy nervous system.




Dried yeast, whole cereals, groundnuts and pulses, liver, meat and fish.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 15 milligram per





Deficiency leads to a disease called pellagra. The signs are


1.     Sore tongue, with teeth marks made by the teeth.


2.     Dermatitis- dark patches on exposed parts of the skin.


3.     Diarrhoea


4.     Dementia- loss of memory.


Advanced stage of pellagra usually ends in death.


For both Riboflavin and Nicotinic acid deficiency, vitamin B complex is given.


Folic Acid:


Folic acid is needed for synthesis of red blood cells and in the formation of new tissues.




Dried yeast, liver and egg, cereals, pulses, nuts and oil seeds, dark green leafy vegetables and other vegetables. Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 180 microgram per day. For pregnant and lactating women need 300 micrograms per day


Vitamin B12: (cobalamin)


Vitamin 12 is also needed for synthesis of red blood cells.




Milk, eggs and meat especially liver.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) : 2 microgram per




B12 deficiency leads to pernicious anemia.


Vitamin B6: (pyridoxine)


Vitamin B6 is necessary for carbohydrate and fat metabolism.


Cereals, pulses, oil seeds, potatoes, fish, liver, wheat germ, yeast and nuts.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 2 mg per day


Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)


Vitamin C is necessary to


1.     Keep body tissues intact

2.     Help in repair of tissues.


3.     Protect the body against infections.


4.     Absorb iron.


Drumsticks and their leaves, amla (nellikai), bitter gourd guava, sprouted grain, citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, papaya, tomato. The vitamin is very easily destroyed by heat, light and drying.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA): 30-50 mg, and for lactating women 80 mg.



This results in scurvy. It is found in infants who are given inadequate feeds and those who do not take enough fresh fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C.


Signs and Symptoms of scurvy are:

1.     Spongy, bleeding gums and loose teeth.

2.     Bleeding under the skin and into various tissues.


3.     Pain and swelling in the joints.


4.     Slow healing of wounds, or breakdown of old wound scars. Treatment is with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) tablets or multivitamin tablets,  and advice about  diet.  Infants who  are not breast fed need vitamin C, and given in the form of fruit juice or vegetable juice. Those recovering from illness such as diarrhoea, or from wounds, need more of this vitamin.



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