HEALING HERBS: The world of vitamins
I remember it as it happened in 1988. I entered the food and nutrition classroom where the demonstration table was laden with silent doctors.
I was a very young teacher and felt a bit intimidated by the eyes which were glued on me. I was hoping that I would not freeze up.
Suddenly a student stood up; I was about to sink in agony. I later learnt that his name was Leon. He said in a very husky voice: “But ma’am, why do we have to learn anything at all about vitamins?”
Little did Leon know that his innocent question would set the stage for a very informative and interesting lesson. Here we go!
Dr Sheldon Saul Hendler defines vitamins as “a group of chemically unrelated organic (carbon-containing) nutrients that are essential in small quantities for normal metabolism, growth and physical well-being”. They are divided into water-soluble vitamins – B and C – and fat-soluble ones – A, D, E and K.
Furthermore, the term “vitamin A” is captured in the minds of some people as a particular nutrient, but that is not true. Vitamin A is a broad group of related nutrients comprising retinoids (found in animal foods) and carotenoids (found in plant foods).
A vitamin A deficiency can lead to various health challenges, including night blindness which is the inability to see well at night, dry rough skin, infections of the urinary tract, slow healing of wounds, poor foetal development and an immune system susceptible to infections.
Vitamin A is needed in the body for the following reasons:
• Essential for maintaining night vision, skeletal soft tissue and teeth.
• Important for a baby’s embryonic growth.
• Fights against cancer due to antioxidant properties.
• Maintains healthy skin and mucousmembranes.
• Assists in the fight against infections.
• Builds the immune system.
• Produces the pigment in the retina of the eye.
• Protects against infection in the digestive, respiratory and urinary tract.
• Good to maintain nails.
Additionally, vitamin A can treat or prevent many health challenges, including AIDS, angina, asthma, lung and cervical cancer, cataracts, cystic fibrosis, dry eyes, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, and thyroid disorders.
Silent doctors that are rich in plant-based vitamin A: dandelion greens, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricot, paw-paw, mangoes, tomatoes, seaweed, lettuce, aloe vera, moringa, hibiscus, guava, fit weed, clove, avocado, tamarind, cayenne pepper, peppermint, basil, green beans, plums, oranges, watermelon, and parsley.
This month, set up your blender and read this column as we explore the world of vitamins through drinks and other natural remedies.
• Annette Maynard-Watson is a teacher and herbal educator.
DISCLAIMER: It is not our intention to prescribe or make specific health claims for any products. Any attempt to diagnose and treat real illness should come under the direction of your health care professional.