Plague in 1720, cholera in 1820, Spanish flu in 1920, and COVID-19 in 2020. 0ne thing that’s common over the years is the pandemic. And apart from that, the first line of treatment used to cure these diseases was also the same, which was – NUTRITION.
And one such massive nutrient is “THE VITAMINS.”
Vitamins are micronutrients that are required in micro quantities for our body. And this requirement is fulfilled by eating a vitamin-enriched balanced diet because our body originally did not have the ability to produce them on its own. And since they are required in very fewer quantities, we can make up for the body’s need for vitamins just by the food we eat on a daily basis.
Having said that, many people still face vitamin deficiencies, and this could be due to various reasons like poor diet, illness, diseases, etc. But whatever the reason be it, we should not neglect such deficiencies as they drive our body’s immune system.
Vitamins are broadly classified into 2 types:-
Water soluble vitamins —
These are vitamins that get dissolved in water to enter the cell.
Fat-soluble vitamins —
These are vitamins that dissolve in lipids and fats to enter the cell.
ROLE OF TOP FIVE VITAMINS IN IMPROVING THE IMMUNITY
1) VITAMIN A
SOURCES OF VITAMIN A —
- Sweet potato
Vitamin A is of two types:- RETINOIDS and CAROTENOIDS.
Retinoids can be directly consumed by the body, whereas carotenoids cannot be consumed directly.
Thus, our body converts these carotenoids into retinoids for it to consume them easily. When this conversion fails to occur due to some illness or disease, it leads to vitamin A efficiency.
But otherwise, in normal conditions, when we consume vitamin A, it is absorbed by our intestine and stored in the liver.
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN A —
This vitamin A further causes mucus secretion in the linings of the eyes, nose, stomach intestine, and other mucus membranes, where it acts as a barrier to the entering bacteria and prevents them from infecting the organs. Thus, they provide barrier immunity.
It also helps in the maturation of epithelial cells and the formation of B and T cells which play a major role in the immune system by identifying the pathogen and initiating immune actions like antibody production, phagocytosis, complement system, and so on.
Vitamin A also plays a major role as an antioxidant. Usually, when we breathe, the oxygen radicals entering our body gets attached to the cell membrane and oxidizes or kill the cell. This is when the fat-soluble vitamin A that was previously dissolved in the lipid membrane (cell membrane) reacts and prevents such a condition. This improves immunity.
2) VITAMIN B
SOURCES OF VITAMIN B —
- Grains and cereals
- Green vegetables etc
Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin that is of various types like- B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12.
Out of these, vitamin B6 is the one that helps the body to improve its immunity.
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN B —
It plays a major role in increasing the number of RBCs in our body, which in turn raises the hemoglobin levels present in the blood.
The increased hemoglobin facilitates the transport of sufficient oxygen to all the cells and prevents diseases like anemia, and improves immunity.
It also prevents heart diseases, eye diseases, Alzheimer, etc.
3) VITAMIN D
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D —
- Cod liver oil
- Sun exposure (UV-B) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is of 2 types-
1) Vitamin D2, and
2) Vitamin D3.
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN D —
The UV-B rays from the sunlight hit the cholesterol cells on the skin and lead to the production of calcium in the kidneys. This further gets absorbed by the liver and linings of other organs as well.
Thus, Vitamin D prevents liver sclerosis, swelling in the stomach and intestine, respiratory diseases, and so on.
It also helps in weight loss and dealing with depression and mental pressure.
It strengthened the bones by providing calcium and was thus used to cure rickets in infants.
It clears autoimmune diseases, which is a main offset of the immune system and thus improves body immunity.
4) VITAMIN E
SOURCES OF VITAMIN E —
- Sunflower seeds
- Spinach etc
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Types of vitamin E are:-
2) Beta tocopherol
3) Gamma tocopherol
4) Delta tocopherol
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN E —
It is an antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of various WBCs like neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes which otherwise might get damaged.
This escalates the immune activity of these cells.
Apart from this, it also reduces cholesterol levels, prevents heart attacks, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and so on.
5) VITAMIN K
SOURCES OF VITAMIN K —
- Fermented food
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Vitamin K is of 3 types:-
1) K1 — Vitamin K1 is obtained from fruits and vegetables
2) K2 — Vitamin K2 is obtained from fermented food, and a large amount of this vitamin is produced by the bacteria present in the gut and intestine naturally
3) K3 — vitamin K3 is artificially made by humans as a supplement in the laboratory.
These K3 supplements though not legally sold, are used in animal feed where it enters the body, get converted into K2 in the liver, and are used up.
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN K —
Vitamin K plays a major role in coagulating blood and bone strength.
It facilitates the clotting of blood with the help of mast cells and prevents blood loss. Otherwise, anyone with a deep cut or wound would bleed to death without the clotting factor.
It keeps up with gut health which is directly linked to the state of one’s mental health (brain cells) and metabolism.
Vitamin K reduces inflammation of wounds and fights infection.
It also maintains bone health and heart rate and thus improve the body’s immune system.
MEDICAL ADVICE DISCLAIMER:
This blog, including information, content, references, and opinions, is for informational purposes only.
The Author does not provide any medical advice on this platform.
Viewing, accessing, or reading this blog does not establish any doctor-patient relationship.
The information provided in this blog does not replace the services and opinions of a qualified medical professional who examines you and then prescribes medicines.
And if you have any questions of medical nature, please refer to your doctor or qualified medical personnel for evaluation and management at a clinic/hospital near you.
The content provided in this blog represents the Author’s own interpretation of research articles.