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Role of Vitamins in Homeostasis

By Sylvie Tremblay

Your body constantly works to maintain a physiological ideal that allows your cells to function optimally and maintain your health. The processes through which your body maintains this ideal balance are collectively called homeostasis. The vitamins and other nutrients obtained from your diet contribute to several aspects of homeostasis, helping to prevent disease and support your day-to-day activities.

Fluid Balance Regulation

One way that vitamins can contribute to homeostasis is by helping to regulate your body's fluid balance. Maintaining a proper fluid balance helps to ensure that your blood contains a proper concentration of salts, sugars and other nutrients to nourish your cells. It also helps to regulate your blood pressure: too high a concentration of electrolytes in your bloodstream increases your blood's volume, which in turn increases blood pressure. Vitamin D helps contribute to your fluid balance by regulating the concentration of calcium and magnesium in your blood, while vitamin A helps to regulate the levels of calcium. Abnormally high levels of either vitamin can affect your fluid balance and disrupt proper homeostasis.

Temperature Regulation

Some vitamins also contribute to temperature regulation in your body. Maintaining an internal temperature of approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit proves important to your health, since the enzymes within your cells function optimally at this temperature. An abnormally high or low internal temperature hinders enzyme and cellular function and can prove fatal. Vitamins A, C, E, and the B vitamins all contribute to proper temperature regulation by maintaining healthy skin tissue. Healthy skin can help lower your body temperature via sweating, or restrict blood flow to prevent heat loss in response to cold. Consuming these vitamins helps retain healthy skin, ensuring that the organ can function properly to maintain a relatively constant body temperature.

Internal Oxygenation

A few vitamins also contribute to internal oxygenation, another important aspect to maintaining homeostasis. Your cells utilize oxygen to carry out their proper functioning. A lack of oxygenation can lead to a breakdown of cellular functioning, which prevents your body from maintaining homeostasis. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 contribute to internal oxygenation by helping your body produce hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in your bloodstream. Deficiencies in these vitamins can disrupt the normal flow of oxygen throughout your body, hindering its ability to maintain homeostasis.

Hormone Production Regulation

Vitamins also play a role in maintaining homeostasis by helping your body control hormone production. A number of vitamins interact with major hormone glands in your body: niacin affects your adrenal glands, vitamin B12 interacts with your pineal gland, vitamin A affects your thyroid. The hormones produced in these glands play a key role in regulating homeostasis, helping to control reproductive health, stress, your internal clock and your metabolism. Consuming adequate amounts of vitamins each day supports homeostasis by allowing for proper hormone production.

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