Water-soluble vitamins strengthen the body: They ensure firm connective tissue, promote physical fitness and support the immune system. Without it, the metabolism would not function.
If you want to stay healthy, you should regularly eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables in order to always have enough vitamins. Because these organic substances are vital and regulate many metabolic processes. With a few exceptions, the body cannot produce them itself, so they have to be ingested through food.
Some vitamins are water-soluble, we are talking about them here, others need fat as a transport medium so that the body can use them.
The water-soluble get into the blood via the intestines , where they have different functions: some strengthen the skin and nerves, others support the immune system or help detoxify the body. The body cannot store excess supply – it eliminates it. A deficiency, on the other hand, often has much more serious consequences.
The individual vitamins are described in more detail on the following pages.
Vitamin C strengthens the connective tissue
The best-known water-soluble vitamin is vitamin C. If it is missing, the consequences are fatal: Centuries ago many seafarers suffered from what is known as scurvy. At first the skin turned pale, later it bled, then the sailors’ teeth fell out. In the terminal stages, her heart also began to beat irregularly, and many died.
Today such severe deficiencies are unthinkable in the industrialized countries. Those who eat healthily get all the vitamins they need with their food. Vitamin supplements can also help sick and pregnant women .
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is the universal talent among vitamins. Thus ascorbic acid apparently protects the body from the attacks of cell-destroying substances, so-called free radicals. It supports the absorption of iron from food, strengthens the connective tissue and the gums.
Long cooking destroys the vitamin
Apparently, vitamin C also strengthens the immune system . However, it has not yet been proven whether it helps against flu-like infections . Anyone who regularly consumes fresh fruit and vegetables can easily cover their daily requirement of 100 milligrams.
Ascorbic acid is mainly found in the skin of the fruit and directly below it. Good sources are citrus fruits, potatoes, peppers, and kiwis. Kale, fennel, Brussels sprouts or spinach also contain plenty of vitamin C. However, when prepared traditionally, they lose a lot of it, as long cooking and keeping the food warm destroy the vitamin. Deficiency leads to fatigue, irritability and delayed wound healing.
Vitamin B1 and B2
Vitamin B1 strengthens the condition
As an accompanying enzyme, vitamin B1 (thiamine) helps to break down carbohydrates and thus quickly supplies muscles and nerve cells with energy. This increases the energy metabolism of the cells and thus strengthens concentration and physical condition.
Since the vitamin is contained in many foods, a balanced diet is usually sufficient to cover the daily requirement of around one to 1.3 milligrams. Pregnant women and athletes need more. If there is a lack of thiamine, tiredness, muscle weakness and poor concentration can occur. Larger amounts of it can be found in meat, especially pork, as well as in liver, whole grain products, oatmeal, pulses and potatoes.
Vitamin B2 gives energy
As a typical milk vitamin, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) stimulates the metabolism and in this way provides energy. With a large glass of milk, the daily requirement of 1.2 to 1.5 milligrams is already half covered.
In addition to dairy products, eggs, liver, fish, spinach, kale, broccoli and mushrooms are also rich in vitamin B2. Deficiency or excess are rare.
Niacin and pantothenic acid
Niacin strengthens the skin and nerves
Niacin (nicotinic acid / nicotinamide, also obsolete vitamin B3) is involved in the build- up and breakdown of sugar , fatty acids and amino acids. It is important for the transport of electrons. Niacin is found primarily in meat and offal, milk and fish, but also in whole-grain bread and coffee . The body can also produce some of it itself from the essential amino acid tryptophan.
The daily requirement is between 13 and 17 milligrams. A deficiency in niacin first becomes noticeable through physical weakness and loss of appetite, followed by skin inflammation and diarrhea.
Pantothenic acid stimulates the metabolism
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates , fatty acids and proteins in all tissues . It is also needed to make hormones like estrogen and testosterone. It is found in almost all foods.
Good sources are meat, liver, grains, and legumes. The recommendations for daily intake are around six milligrams per day. A deficiency is extremely rare, then manifests itself in headaches and tiredness.
Vitamin B6 and biotin
Vitamin B6 supports the immune system
The vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a companion of many enzymes in the protein metabolism. The amino acids contained in the food proteins are processed and finally converted into the body’s own proteins. The vitamin supports the immune system and helps with blood formation.
B6 is contained in almost all foods, so deficiency is very rare. Daily doses of 1.2 to 1.6 milligrams are sufficient. Particularly good suppliers are meat, fish, whole grain products, wheat germ, cabbage, green beans, potatoes, and bananas.
Biotin is used by the skin and hair
Biotin (vitamin B7 or vitamin H) helps to build up skin tissue , hair and nails . It is made by microorganisms in the intestine and is found in many foods, such as liver, egg yolks, soybeans, spinach, mushrooms and nuts.
A daily amount of 30 to 60 micrograms is recommended. People who take antibiotics, alcoholics and smokers are more prone to deficiency symptoms such as abnormal changes in hair and skin . Alcohol reduces the absorption of the vitamin in the body, nicotine increases the consumption of biotin.
Folic acid and vitamin B12
Folic acid is important for the embryo
This substance plays a special role in all growth and development processes. The body needs folic acid (vitamin B9) above all for the formation of nucleic acids, the building blocks of the genome. Folic acid is therefore particularly important during pregnancy, especially in the first few months, as the embryo needs the vitamin for its development. Pregnant women should consume at least 0.6 milligrams a day , as deficiency can lead to deformities in children. This dose is also recommended for breastfeeding women.
The 0.4 milligrams per day otherwise required for adults can usually be covered with food. A 200 to 250 gram portion of spinach covers more than half the daily requirement. Folic acid is also found in lettuce, leafy vegetables and tomatoes, as well as in wheat germ, egg yolks and liver. Folic acid is sensitive to heat and light. For this reason, vegetables should be eaten fresh if possible or, if stored for a long time, be kept in a cool and dark place.
Vitamin B12 helps with cell growth
The body only needs vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in very small amounts, around three micrograms a day. Nevertheless, it plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells and supports the growth of the cells.
Vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin, including meat, offal, milk, cheese, eggs, and mackerel. Since the body cannot manufacture the substance itself, vegans are particularly at risk of not getting enough of it.
In sauerkraut and beer, the vitamin is produced in small quantities by bacteria that are involved in fermentation. It can take years for a B12 deficiency to manifest itself. Symptoms are, for example, impaired perception, depression , changes in the blood count or damage to the nerves and mucous membranes.