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 Biology 103 Nutrition    

Unit 5 Discussion Topic:

1. Discuss the role of vitamins and antioxidants in the human body.
2. Discuss the functions and sources of antioxidant micronutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidant minerals.
3. Discuss the functions of vitamins in catabolic pathways and anabolic pathways.




Subject Biology Pages 4 Style APA


Biology 103: Nutrition – Unit 5 Discussion Topic

Vitamins and antioxidants have important roles in the human body. Antioxidants play a role in delaying or preventing some types of cell damage. Examples of antioxidants include vitamin E and C, carotenoids, and selenium. Carotenoids include lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), 2021). Antioxidants help prevent formation or reduce the level of free radicals in the body. Free radicals causes oxidative stress, which is associated with development of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts (NCCIH, 2021). Oxidative stress is also implicated in development of respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma (Liu et al., 2018). There is evidence that people who frequently take a diet high in fruits and vegetables experience lower risk of several diseases. Antioxidants can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, eye cataracts, and cardiovascular disorders (NCCIH, 2021).

Different types of phytochemicals, antioxidant micronutrients, and antioxidant minerals are derived from different sources and have different functions in the human body. Diets that are high in fruits and vegetables are considered as good sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and phytochemicals (NCCIH, 2021). Selenium is found in foods such as fish, beef, Brazil nuts, shellfish, poultry, brown rice, and barley. Zinc is found in oysters, beef, poultry, shrimp, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, fortified cereals, cashew, and chickpeas (Harvard School of Public Health, 2021). Antioxidants are substances that prevent cell damage from highly reactive as well as unstable molecules. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is important for health of the human body. Phytochemicals are defined as naturally occurring compounds in plant foods such as whole grains, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, and fruits (American Institute for Cancer Research, 2015).  Some vitamins, such as vitamin E and C, act as antioxidants (NCCIH, 2021). Besides, some minerals such as selenium function as antioxidants by direction blocking action against free radicals (American Institute for Cancer Research, 2015). Other minerals such as zinc and manganese also function as antioxidants (Harvard School of Public Health, 2021). Some other important sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants are dietary supplements (NCCIH, 2021).  A combination of antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene and zinc help reduce the risk of development of an advanced stage of age-related macular degeneration by 25% in individuals with intermediate stage of the disease or those with an advanced stage (NCCIH, 2021).

Vitamins play an important role in anabolic and catabolic pathways. For example vitamin B6 acts as an essential cofactor in various biochemical reactions. The biological active form of vitamin B6 is a co-enzyme in many different enzymatic activities in the body involved in lipid, carbohydrate, and amino acid metabolism (Parra, Stahl, & Hellman, 2018). Vitamin B6 and B2 play are important cofactor in the kynurenine pathway, which is plays an important role in energy generation in the form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (Majewski et al., 2016). Vitamin K acts as a cofactor in blood clothing pathway and in promotion of blood coagulation to stop bleeding (Janssen et al., 2020). Lastly, but not the least, vitamin D play a role in  regulation of phosphate and calcium hemostasis, which influence the bone growth (Uwitonze & Razzaque, 2018).












American Institute for Cancer Research. (Nov 16, 2015). Difference between antioxidants and phytochemicals? https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/healthtalk-whats-the-difference-between-an-antioxidant-and-a-phytochemical/

Harvard School of Public Health. (2021). The nutrition source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/

Janssen, R., Visser, M. P., Dofferhoff, A. S. M., Vermeer, C., Janssens, W., & Walk, J. (2020). Vitamin K metabolism as the potential missing link between lung damage and thromboembolism in coronavirus. British Journal of Nutrition, First View, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114520003979

Liu, Z., Ren, Z., Zhang, J., Chaung, C-C., Kandaswamy, E., Zhou, T., & Zuo, L. (2018). Role of ROS and nutritional antioxidants in human diseases. Front. Physiol., https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00477

Majewski, M., Kozlowska, A., Thoene, M., Lepiarczyk, E., Grzegorzewski, W. J. (2016). Overview of the role of vitamins and minerals on the kynurenine pathway in health and disease. J Physiol Pharmacol., 67(1), 3-19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27010891/

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (Feb 10, 2021). Antioxidants: In depth. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth

Parra, M., Stahl, S., & Hellman, H. (2018). Vitamin B6 and its role in cell metabolism and physiology. Cells, 7(7), 84. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6071262/

Uwitonze, A. M., & Razzaque, M. S. (2018). Role of magnesium in vitamin D activation and function. The Journal of Osteopathic Association, 118, 181-189. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2018.037





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