Vitamins make up a small - but very important - part of your diet. Each day, the cells in your body carry out billions of chemical reactions that allow your cells to function properly and, collectively, support life. Many of these reactions depend on the presence of vitamins in your system, and your body requires a number of vitamins to keep you alive and healthy.
One vitamin essential for life is vitamin D, also called cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol. Vitamin D plays a role in a number of processes essential for good health. It helps to guide cellular maturation, regulates your blood pressure, supports your immune system and regulates your body's calcium balance, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to severe symptoms, such as developmental disorders in children, and muscle and bone disorders in adults. Your skin generates vitamin D in response to sunlight, so talk to your doctor about appropriate sun exposure to prevent a vitamin D deficiency. The amount of sunlight required is going to vary based on where you live, as well as individual body's needs, so it is best to see a doctor to determine what is right to get a good balance between vitamin D production and potential sun damage.
Another vitamin essential for life is vitamin A, or retinol. Vitamin A in your body helps with red blood cell production, supports your vision and plays an essential role in immune system functioning. In addition, vitamin A proves essential for tissue functioning, regulating the activity of genes within your cells, as well as guiding cellular maturation. The Linus Pauling Institute explains that vitamin A deficiencies can lead to immunodeficiency, leaving your body open to infections and increasing your risk of death due to infectious disease. Carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach serve as food sources of dietary vitamin A.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is also important for life. Ascorbic acid is essential for the strength and function of several tissues, including your bones, cartilage, skin, ligaments and blood vessels, according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, or UMMC. Deficiency in vitamin C may increase your risk of potentially fatal diseases, including heart disease or cancer, reports the UMMC. Consume produce such as tomatoes, strawberries and citrus fruits as dietary sources of vitamin C.
While these three vitamins prove essential for life, your body relies on several other vitamins and other nutrients to function properly. Instead of focusing on increasing your intake of a few select vitamins, you should generally consume a variety of healthy foods as part of a balanced diet to consume a range of vitamins and minerals essential to your health. If you're concerned about possible vitamin deficiencies, consult a medical professional to determine how best to address your body's needs.
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