Vitamins Types and their Deficiency Disorders - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Deficiency Disorders - Vitamins

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 21 Mar 2013 - 11:26

Vitamins are chemical components required by an organism in small amounts to facilitate optimal body functioning. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body, so they must essentially be consumed from the diet.
Vitamins are classified as being either water or fat soluble.
To date, 13 vitamins have been identified and are classified as:

  • Water Soluble- Vitamins B and C
  • Fat Soluble- A, D, E and K

Generally, consumption of water soluble vitamins is essential, since they are eliminated by the body quite rapidly and are not stored. Fat soluble vitamins may be stored for periods of time in the body, so symptoms of deficiency May takes months to manifest.

The Vitamins

Vitamin A
This is an important vitamin for eye function and color vision. Vitamin A is abundant in foods with a characteristic orange color, such as pumpkin, carrots, ripe yellow-orange fruits and even spinach. An adult is recommended a daily intake of 400-900 micrograms (IU), up to a maximum of 3000 micrograms. Toxicity is very likely in over dosage as fat soluble vitamins are not easily eliminated in urine.
Deficiency of Vitamin A may lead to night blindness, keratomalacia or hyperkeratosis, dry skin and brittle nails.

Vitamin B1
This vitamin is important in promoting metabolism of sugars and proteins. It is water soluble and must be obtained from the diet, since it cannot be synthesized by the human body. Whole grains and pork in particular are the best sources of thiamine from foods. The daily recommended intake of thiamine is set around 1.4 mg, but there are no reported cases of over dosage since excessive amounts are excreted readily in urine.
Deficiency of vitamin B1 may lead to development of Beri-Beri or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, poor appetite and muscle cramps.

Vitamin B2
This is a very important vitamin for cellular metabolism and is unique in possessing yellow-orange discoloration ability. Vitamin B2 is found in a wide range of foods, such as milk, cheese, many grains, fermented products and liver of animals. The Recommended Daily Intake of the vitamin is around 1.3 mg/day.
Deficiency of Vitamin B2 is associated with a muscle wasting syndrome, disorders of vision, and sores around the lips or nostrils.

Vitamin B3
Also known as niacin, this vitamin plays a role in metabolism, and may slightly decrease the risk of cardiovascular events in susceptible individuals. Niacin is found in grains of all types, excepting for those extracted from maize or corn. The average recommended daily intake of niacin is between 12- 18 mg, with a dose of 35mg being the accepted upper threshold dose.
Deficiency of vitamin B3 can lead to development of pellagra, decrease metabolism, depression, constant fatigue and lack of concentration.

Vitamin B5
Also known as panthothenic acid, this vitamin is water soluble and found in many foods. It plays a role in the metabolism of all three macronutrients, namely fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It is found in low doses in virtually every food, but good sources include eggs, grains and meat.

A daily recommended dose of around 15mg is good for adults, but over dosage is rare as the vitamin is easily eliminated.

Deficiency of this vitamin is extremely rare, only in cases of starvation has it been observed. Even so, the effects are not drastic, and may include symptoms characteristic of other B vitamins, such as lack of energy, fatigue, anxiety and so on.

Vitamin B6
This is a water soluble vitamin also known as pyridoxine, that plays a part in numerous body functions, such as metabolism of fats, protein and carbohydrates, synthesis of hormones such as histamine and serotonin and DNA synthesis. It is readily found in foods such as meats, whole grains and vegetables, with an average daily intake of 80- 100mg. 
Deficiency of this vitamin may result in seborrheic dermatitis, neurological issues or tingling/numbness in the extremities (neuropathy).

Vitamin B7
Better known as Biotin, this is also a water soluble vitamin involved in metabolism of fats and proteins and may also aid in blood sugar control. It may be obtained from eggs, green vegetables and liver, in daily dosages of about 30 micrograms.

Deficiency of vitamin B7 is rare, occurring mainly in individuals who consume raw egg whites. Raw egg whites contain a compound called avidin, which is capable of binding biotin in the body and inactivating it.

Vitamin B9
This water soluble vitamin, known as folic acid is important to a massive array of bodily functions. It plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, production of red blood cells and enhancement of fertility in couples desirous of having children. Folic acid is abundant in leafy vegetables, and nowadays in many fortified grains and cereals. An average folic acid intake of about 600 micrograms is advised for adults, while pregnant women are advised to take in about 800 micrograms.

Deficiency of B9 may lead to brain diseases, anemia, depression, diarrhea or fetal deformities during pregnancy.

Vitamin B12
This is another water soluble B vitamin that must be obtained from the diet, since it cannot be synthesized in the body. B12 plays an important role in normal functioning on the brain and nervous system, DNA synthesis, blood formation and metabolism. B12 is found abundantly in nature, in vegetables, various meats especially liver, various grains and cereals. The source from plants may however be unusable. The recommended daily intake of this vitamin stands at around 2-3 micrograms.
Deficiency of B12 can be a very serious condition, resulting in severe neurological damage, bouts of depression or psychosis, or pernicious anemia.

Vitamin C
This is the other water soluble vitamin and must be obtained from the diet. It is essential, in that deficiency of it can lead to a severe collagen disorder known as scurvy. Vitamin C is important in several enzyme reactions and is a potent anti-oxidant that scavenges free radicals. Vitamin C occurs naturally in numerous fruits and vegetables, and is scarcely found in animal food sources. The average recommended daily intake of Vitamin C stands at about 90mg, but doses up to a maximum 2000mg have not been reported to have negative health effects( in adults).
Deficiency of vitamin c may lead to bleeding from mucous membranes, connective disease disorder scurvy, compromised immune function, skin discoloration and if severe, death.

Vitamin D
This is an interesting fat soluble vitamin that may be synthesized in the body (through sun exposure), or that may be obtained from the diet. Vitamin D is believed to have an effect on promoting bone strength, offsetting cancer, supporting the immune system and possibly decreasing mortality rate. The average daily intake of Vitamin D stands around 600IU for adults.
Deficiency of Vitamin D may lead to development of rickets, a bone disorder in children that hinders growth and may lead to bone deformities. Deficiency in adults, results in a condition called osteomalacia which causes muscle weakness and fragile bones.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a potent natural antioxidant that plays a supporting role in numerous processes. It is needed to support production of enzymes, aid in neurological well-being, helps in gene expression and its main use as an antioxidant. Vitamin E can be easily obtained via the diet, through consumption of foods such as avocados, wheat germ, various nuts and fruits. The average recommended intake of Vitamin E is 15 mg per day, but doses up to 1000mg are not uncommon.
Deficiency of Vitamin E is relatively rare, but when it occurs symptoms may include inhibited immune response, destruction of red blood cells, muscle pain and peripheral neuropathy (numbness in the fingers or toes).

Vitamin K
This vitamin class consists of a group of similar structural chemicals that are all fat soluble and needed for blood coagulation and various processes of metabolism. Vitamin K plays an important role in the clotting of blood, mineralization of bone, as an antidote to blood thinners and an investigative role as an anti-Alzheimer’s drug. Vitamin K is abundant in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage or broccoli.
Deficiency of Vitamin K may lead to bleeding disorders, osteoporosis, anemia or easy bruising.


This is not a medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only, please contact your doctor for any health care issue.