Palak Midha, co-founder of Miduty, a nutraceutical brand which aims to eliminate chronic health conditions and help build a healthy, disease-free life by combining Ayurveda and modern medical science, speaks on the importance of vitamins A, D and K as the country observes National Nutrition Week from September 1 to 7.
What is the importance of vitamins A, D and K?
Vitamins are indispensable for maintaining our body's optimal functioning, growth, and overall health. They are classified into two categories: water-soluble, like Vitamin C, and fat-soluble, including Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Vitamins A, D, and K are notable for their significant roles within our bodies, working together to support various essential functions. They are often collectively recognized as the ‘miracle trio’.
How does each of these vitamins contribute to overall well-being?
Vitamin A lights the way to health and wellness. It is essential for maintaining healthy vision, promoting a strong immune system, and supporting proper cell growth and differentiation. It is called the 'beauty vitamin' because it does great things for our eyes and skin. It aids skin health and helps regulate gene expression. It keeps our skin looking fresh, smooth and young. Vitamin A also helps make collagen, which keeps our skin tight and bouncy, helping to prevent lines and wrinkles. Its antioxidant properties protect cells from damage, contributing to overall health and vitality. A deficiency in vitamin A can lead to a range of health issues.
Vitamin D is the mighty guardian/superhero of bone health. It maintains strong bones by allowing absorption of calcium and thus bolstering the immune system, and aids in cell growth and differentiation. Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our skin can produce this vitamin when exposed to sunlight. When our skin is exposed to UVB rays, a chemical reaction occurs, converting a form of cholesterol into active vitamin D. It ensures that bones remain robust and resilient; and prevents osteoporosis and fractures. It also plays a role in mood regulation.
Vitamin K is the overlooked champion of blood clotting and more. It plays a central role in blood clotting, which is essential to prevent excessive bleeding. It also supports bone health by aiding the activation of proteins that regulate calcium levels in bones. It ensures that calcium is properly distributed to those parts of the body which require it the most, such as bones and teeth, while limiting calcium build-up in arteries and other soft tissues. Vitamin K2’s ability to inhibit the accumulation of calcium in arteries promotes cardiovascular well-being, reducing susceptibility to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
What causes the persistent deficiency of these vitamins?
Inadequate dietary intake is the primary cause, as many people may not consume foods rich in these vitamins regularly. Socio-economic disparities and limited access to diverse, nutritious foods can exacerbate this issue. Additionally, medical conditions like malabsorption disorders or specific dietary restrictions may hinder absorption and utilisation of these vitamins. Inadequate sun exposure, crucial for vitamin D synthesis, also contributes. Addressing these variables through education, improved access to nutritious foods, and medical intervention is essential for mitigating persistent vitamin deficiencies and promoting better overall health.
What is the right amount of dosage as per gender and age?
The recommended daily intake of vitamins A, D, and K varies depending on factors such as age, gender, and individual health needs. Here are some general guidelines:
For children (up to 18 years): The recommended daily intake varies but is typically around 300–900 micrograms (mcg) of retinol activity equivalents (RAE).
For adults (19 years and older): around 700–900 mcg RAE for men and 600–700 mcg RAE for women.
For infants, about 400–1,000 International Units (IU) are recommended.
For children (1–18 years): around 600–1,000 IU.
For adults (19–70 years): approximately 600–800 IU.
For adults over 70 years: about 800-1,000 IU.
The recommended daily intake varies, but for adults, it’s typically around 90–120 micrograms (mcg) for women and 120–150 mcg for men.
Vitamins A, D, and K are essential for our general health. They have a variety of important roles in our bodies, from maintaining healthy vision and strong bones to boosting the immune system and preventing multiple diseases. Vitamin deficiency is a complex issue that is influenced by dietary habits, socioeconomic variables, and medical conditions. To improve our health, we must prioritise balanced diet, equal access to healthy foods, and increased understanding of the critical functions these vitamins play. Getting adequate supply of these vitamins is the key to a healthier, more resilient future.