Vitamin fresh fruit

Vitamin Deficiency Diseases 

      WHEREVER THERE IS POVERTY there is malnutrition, which means that this problem is present in all the world, even in the more favoured countries. Children fail to gain weight and adults appear withered and old. Even youth show evidence of loss of weight, with skin wrinkled and arms shrunk to skin and bones. Careful examination reveals that they also suffer from skin lesions, bone deformities and anaemia. In extreme cases the abdomen is distended  but this condition is seen only in times of war or famine.
      Even where food is available in abundance people may still  sufter from malnutrition due to certain faulty dietary habits. Using alcohol and tobacco in any form will result in loss of
appetite. The habits of eating sweets and taking food between meals should be shunned if one desires to cultivate a good
appetite. A diet high in carbohydrates needs to be supplemented with proteins and vitamins. Special care should be taken in  cases of nursing mothers and pregnant women, for these conditions make heavy nutritional demands on the system.
     One of-the greatest problems facing nutritionists is the popular use in many countries of foods deficient in essential
minerals, vitamins and proteins. Modern refining processes frequently rob food of these important elements ; as a result untold numbers of people suffer from diseases of malnutrition.

       If the diet is deficient in one element it is often deficient in. others. The total result of such a diet is often a bizarre group of
complaints that add up to no specific diagnosis. For this reason. it is often necessary to pres cribe tablets containing, all the vitamins and also the esserttial mineral elements. There are also a few problems related to specific nutritional deficiencies in certain particular areas.


       There is perhaps no more important subject in the field of nutrition than that of vitamins. Their presence began first to be
suspected at the turn of the century. Later, in 1913, the first vitamin was actually discovered. Since then fifteen or twenty
different vitamins have been discovered, and now some of them are made synthetically.
      Vitamins may be divided into two classes, the fat-soluble and the water-soluble. Vitamin A and D are fat-soluble ones and are therefore usually obtained in the various fish oils on the market. Vitamin E and K ate also included in this group of
fat-soluble ones. All other vitamins are water-soluble. These and the fat-soluble ones are obtainable in an adequate diet of
fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and milk. These are also available in tablet and liquid forms. A lack of specific vitamins
in the diet gives rise to certain. symptoms, characteristic of various nutritional deficiencies .These will be considered one by one.

Vitamin A 

       Vitamin-A is a fat-soluble vitamin. Whenever  fats are not properly handled by the body, absorption of this vitamin is
reduced. Carotene is a forerunner of vitamin A and is converted in the intestinal wall of in the liver.  The most  important value of this vitamin is that it enters into the complex. Mechanism of the retina which functions as a detector of light. Vitamin A has  much to do with night vision and people suffering from deficiency of this nutrient complain of "night blindness"Orderly development of the teeth and also the general condition of the skin depend upon the presence of vitamin A in
sufricient quantity . Deficiency of this vitamin can be seen in those who regularly take mineral oils, although their diet may
be adequate otherwise. This is because the mineral oil dissolves vitamin A and D and literally washes them away. Unless this
vitamin is present in normal quantities the skin becomes dry and has a tendency to darken. The cornea or the transparent
portion of the eye may become thickened and at times may ulcerate, leading to possible blindness.
      Vitamin A is stored in the liver to such an extent that a period of. Eight months may pass before clinical signs of
deficiency begin to appear. The daily need is 1, 500 units for infants and gradually increases to 5, 000 for adults.
      Vitamin A is found mainly iin green leafy vegetables such as amaranth leaves, cabbage, coriander leaves, spinach, etc. it is also found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash.
Fruirts such as apricots and peaches also serve as excellent sources of this vitamin.  Meat, nuts and grains (except corn) have practically no vitamin A. However, liver rates very high in vitamin A. (See  chart )


Vitamin B1 

    Vitamin B1 is perhaps the best known of all vitamins. Important sources of this vitamin are fruits, whole-grain cereals,
pulses, nuts and oil seeds. Milk is also an important source of Vitamin B1 and is therefore an. Important item in the diet of
infants and   young children.
    The disease which results from a deficiency of this vitamin is known as beriberi. Modern methods of refining foods such as rice and flour have robbed us of these health-giving, vitalizing elements, Which in the case of vitamin B accounts for the enormous increase of beriberi among people of the Orient, It is an established fact that the outer covering of commonly used
grains contains the vitamins and minerals so much needed by the "body, but few people are willing to break their habits and eat grains in their unrefined form. If the diet is made up of only' Polished rice, for example, or milled flour (maida)
what can be expected but malnutrition?
     On the east coast of India the most common complaint of patients is numbness and tingling of the legs and feet. On the
west coast they complain Of substernal distress, that is, a sense of tightness under the breast-bone. Often they suffer with 
neuritic pains or severe weakness. All these are characteristics of beriberi. We have seen patients so weak from this dreadful 
disease that they were unable to turn over in bed and were hardly able to breathe. 
      The actual effect of beriberi is a degeneration of the nerves. This leads to numbness and muscular weakness. The 
heart often becomes weak and dilated, giving rise to substemal distress. Swelling of the feet occurs and the swelling may creep 
up till the patient develops an effusion in the abdominal cavity. Weakness of the lower limbs is often seen and is characterized by a walk in which patients hyperextend their knees to prevent their legs from collapsing under them. Wasting of the muscles and"foot drop"are commonly seen. 

Vitamin B6

    Vitamin B6 is called pyridoxine. Deficiency of this vitamin makes a person hyper-irritable ; that is, he reacts more quickly to sudden noises, the so-called "startle"response thus being markedly increased. Convulsive seizures may occur and there is occasional gastro-intestinal discomfort. 

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is known by the names ascorbic acid, cevitamic acid and anti-scorbutic vitamin. A lack  of this vitamin results
in scurvy, a disease characterized by weakness, fatigue, and aching in the muscles and joints. Haemorrhages occur around the roots of the hair. Sometimes bleeding occurs deep in the Muscles and even in the joints, giving rise to pain. Bleeding is also seen in the gums if the gum swell up, they turn to a bluish or grey colure, sometimes laying the foundation for the  onset of gangrene. Teeth may also loosen and eventually fall out. Wounds do not heal easily.
       Some of the best sources of this vitamin are Indian gooseberries (amla), guavas, oranges and tomatoes. It i's also found in drumstick leaves  and coriander leaves. Special care should be taken in the preparation of food to preserve this vitamin. It does not stand pasteurizing, evapotation or drying. The practice of prolonged cooking in open vessels should also be avoided.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is a term denoting a group of  four substances which are necessary for  the proper growth of the bones. It has
to do with the supply of calcium to the bones. Deficiency of this vitamin causes a swelling of the ribs at the place where
they join the breast-bone. This-is known as "rachitic rosary." The ribs will flare out at  the lower portion of the chest wall, especially in front. The breast-bone  may also be depressed at the top and pushed forward at the lower end, giving the chest a funnel-like shape. The sides of the forehead appear prominent. The bones of the head around the fontanel do not  grow and as a result these soft areas at the top of the head
in a small child may not close well. The muscles tend to relax,  the abdomen becomes distended and deformities such as bowed legs and knock-kness often result.
     The richest sources of vitamin D are certain animal products, especially fish. For this reason oil from livers of cod,halibut and shark is sold on the market. This vitamin is also found in butter, egg yolks and milk. Other minor sources are cereals and, vegetables. These contain ergosterol, which is changed to vitamin D by the action of sunlight on the skin. If one does not eat fatty food he should get this vitamin by
spending time in the open sunlight. The darker one's skin, the more he has to be exposed.
     Vitamin D is mainly needed in the development of bones, and is essential for growing children and youth. Upon reaching full growth this need ceases and it is better not to take extra vitamin D after that time. Dr.Spies of the University of
Louisiana in a-12-year study found that the bones of adults are rendered brittle by the intake of extra vitamin D. The survey
also showed a higher incidence of bone fracture among the group included in the study.
      Besides the vitamins discussed here somewhat in detail, there are others, the specific purpose of which has not been
precisely detetmined. Their importance to good, health, however, is not denied. Among these are vitamins E, K and biotin.
     In addition to vitamins, mention could be made of two fatty acids that are also vital to good nutrition. They are linoleic acid and arachidonic acid, found in vegetable fats. One who eats a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains will have no difficulty in obtaining an adequate supply of these in his diet.

Treatment of Vitamin Deficiencies 

    When two or more vitamins are found  to be deficient in the system of a person, that person is said to be having a
condition called avitaminosis. This is brought about in several
ways such as : 1. Failure to provide a wide enough variety of
foods in the daily diet. 2. Destruction of vitamins in cooking by overheating or prolonged boiling in open kettles.
.3. Insufficient exposure of the body to sunshine. 4. Chronic diarrhoea. 5.
Regular use of mineral oil.
 6. Failure of absorption for unknown
      Hospitalization is necessary in serious cases. Injections may have to be given.. Those who are weak may need three or
four weeks to recuperate completely. Mild cases show improvement with the taking of vitamins in tablet form. People who
cannot afford vitamin tablets can go to the rice mill, get some of the polishings and extract the vitamins that have been
removed by milling. This is done by simply pouring one pint of boiling water over one cup of rice polishings. Let it stand
for three hours ; strain and bring again to a boil and cool. Flavour with lemon or orange juice and a little salt. Drink a glass of this daily.

      Basically the important  thing is to bring variety into the diet. A wide selection of foods should be eaten, including fresh
fruit and vegetables. Be sure  to eat unrefined cereals. Eat beans (especially soya beans), peas, grams, and whole-grain
cereals. This will ensure not only an adequate supply of vitamins but also of minerals and proteins.

To summarize we might establish four rules helpful in preventing vitamin deficiency.
         1. Eat a wide variety of foods. Fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, pulses and milk are foods of choice. Include at
least one fresh fruit and one vegetable daily.
         2. Use vegetable fats.. The ideal ones are safflower, corn or ground-nut oil.
        3 : Eat whole-grain cereals.
        4. Keep the gastro-intestinal tract free from infection.
        5. Avoid extended use of mineral oil.

Read also: what others can't tell you about diebetes.


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