Vitamins are a group of organic nutrients, required in small quantities for a variety of biochemical functions that, generally, cannot be synthesized by the body and must therefore be supplied in the diet. This includes various types of food, including fruits, meat, fish, vegetables etc. Exceptions include vitamin K, which is synthesized by intestinal bacteria; and vitamin D, which can be produced by exposure of the skin to the sun’s UV rays.
The Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Regulations stipulate that all packaged food must be clearly labeled. This includes the nutritional information in g/mg per 100 g of the food product, as well as the energy content of the food in kcals. Labeling is particularly important for packaged infant food, such as milk powder, which is fortified with various micronutrients, including vitamins. Since vitamins are present in minute quantities, the amounts are sometimes expressed as µg/100g in case of certain vitamins.
A Report of the Expert Group of the ICMR, published in 2009 by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad presents a comprehensive data-set and analysis of the nutrient requirements and RDA for Indian consumers.
Vitamins are required by the body to catalyze metabolic reactions, without which, various types of deficiency diseases can occur. Currently, 13 vitamins have been discovered, which are classified as fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, whereas vitamin B and its derivatives and vitamin C are water soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins can be toxic if consumed above the daily recommended allowance (RDA).
13 Vitamins, their sources & recommended daily intake in the table below:
|Vitamin||Sources||Recommended daily intake||Deficiency diseases|
|A (Retinol, |
|Liver, carrot, milk and milk products, eggs, fish oils||700 µg (men)|
600 µg (women)
|Night blindness, xerophthalmia; keratinization of skin|
|D (Calciferol)||UV exposure to skin; vegetables, nuts, seed oils||10 µg if > 65 years or no sunlight exposure||Rickets (poor mineralization of bone; osteomalacia (bone demineralization)|
|E (Tocopherols, tocotrienols)||Sunflower oil, vegetables, nuts, seed oils||4 mg (men)|
3 mg (women)
|Extremely rare – serious neurologic dysfunction|
|K (Phylloquinone; menaquinones)||Green vegetables, soya oil; menaquinones produced by intestinal bacteria||1 µg/kg||Impaired blood clotting, hemorrhagic disease|
|B1 (Thiamin)||Pork, cereals, grains, beans||0.8 mg per 2000 kcal energy intake||Beriberi (peripheral nerve damage) or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (central nervous system lesions)|
|B2 (Riboflavin)||Milk and milk products, breakfast cereals, bread||1.3 mg (men)|
1.1 mg (women)
|Lesions of corner of mouth, lips, and tongue; seborrheic dermatitis|
|B3 (Niacin, nicotinic acid, nicotinamide)||Meat, cereals||17 mg (men)|
13 mg (women)
|Pellagra (photosensitive dermatitis, depressive psychosis)|
|B6 (Pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)||Meat, fish, potatoes, bananas, vegetables; intestinal microflora synthesis||1.4 mg (men) |
1.2 mg (women)
|Disorders of amino acid metabolism, convulsions|
|Folic acid / Folate||Liver, green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals||200 µg||Megaloblastic anemia|
|B12 (Cobalamin)||Animal products; bacterial colonization||1.5 µg||Pernicious anemia (megaloblastic anemia with degeneration of the spinal cord)|
|Pantothenic acid||Liver, kidney, yeast, egg yolk, broccoli||6 mg||Peripheral nerve damage (nutritional melalgia or “burning foot syndrome”|
|H (Biotin)||Egg yolk; intestinal flora||10-200 µg||Impaired fat and carbohydrate metabolism, dermatitis|
|C (Ascorbic acid)||Citrus fruit, fresh fruit, fresh and frozen vegetables||40 mg||Scurvy (impaired wound healing, loss of dental cement, subcutaneous hemorrhage|
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