Bernie's Basics ABC Science Health IQ quiz: Vitamins, We often think of them as magic pills that can compensate for poor diet and lifestyle.
But how much do you really know about vitamins? We need calcium for good bones and Hollywood teeth, and vitamin C to ward off scurvy. And vitamin D is essential to avoid the 'howdy pardner' stance that comes with rickets. But how exactly do molecules like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and retinol (vitamin A) affect the quality of our skin and help us see in the dark? And how can swallowing bits of metal like zinc, iron, calcium and potassium stave off anaemia, cramps and a wad of other unpleasantries. It's all surprisingly straightforward. Most vitamins and minerals act as cofactors they're like a missing bit of jigsaw that's essential for our enzymes to work. Cofactors coach outlet coupons printable coupon the Allen keys of life Enzymes coordinate the thousands of chemical reactions that happen in our cells every day. Every enzyme is in charge of one reaction, and for that reaction to happen the substance involved has to fit in a little nook in the enzyme. The nook is called the enzyme's active site, and it's just the right shape and charge for the reacting substance (the substrate) to fit in snugly. Some enzymes have active sites that are ready to go, but others need to get a slight tweak in their shape so they can get a firm hold on the substrate. And that's where cofactors vitamins and minerals come in. When a cofactor binds to an enzyme it changes the shape of the active site slightly so it's just the right fit for the substrate. Vitamin C is a classic example of a cofactor. It's essential for the formation of collagen, a protein that acts like fibreglass reinforcement for our bodies. Collagen keeps our skin firm, helps hold our organs coach outlet locations zip code together and forms the scabby scaffolding that new skin grows on after we're wounded. The key to collagen's strength is its shape it's made up of fibres twisted together like rope. A bunch of enzymes are involved in making and twisting collagen, and one of those enzymes needs a molecule of vitamin C to do its job. The vitamin C locks onto the enzyme's active site, changing its shape so it's a better fit for the collagen molecule (substrate). The enzyme makes a chemical change in the collagen to give it a nice three ply twist. Without vitamin C, the enzyme can't get a hold on the collagen, and the resulting fibres come out a little frayed. And without top shelf collagen our wounds don't heal properly, giving us gums and complexions that only the mother of an 18th century sailor could love. The B group vitamins all act in a similar way, whipping enzyme active sites into shape. They're cofactors in of most of our cells' everyday reactions releasing energy from food, making and breaking proteins, fats and carbohydrates and building DNA. And without vitamin K as a cofactor the enzymes that clot our blood just can't work. But it's not just vitamins that make good cofactors minerals do it too. A lot of the minerals we eat are metals, so they always have a positive charge when they dissolve in our bodies. And slotting a small positive charge in just the right spot can turn an enzyme's active site on in a jiffy. Magnesium the stuff that burns in birthday sparklers is a cofactor for hundreds of enzymes. It's essential for everything from building DNA and proteins to storing energy and making coach outlet stores myrtle beach nerve signals and muscle contractions. And while we may not have heard of manganese, molybdenum and selenium, there are enzymes that just don't work without them, and neither would we. But rejigging enzymes isn't the only job in town for vitamins vitamin A and D work at an even more basic level. They act as hormones that directly regulate our genes. Vitamins A and D the gene genies When sunlight hits your skin, UV rays convert some cholesterol into vitamin D. It's the only vitamin we can make ourselves, so we only need it from food if we're taking slip slop slap to the extreme. Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is the keeper of calcium levels in our blood and our bones. The concentration of calcium (Ca2+) has to be just right for the nervous system to work properly, and bones need calcium to form the kind of crystals that grow straight and strong. To make sure we've got enough Ca2+ floating around, vitamin D enters the nucleus of a cell, binds to a couple of receptors and latches onto switches in our chromosomes. Those switches make our cells produce the proteins that increase calcium in our blood, by absorbing more calcium from our food or dragging it from our bones. If you're not getting or making enough vitamin D, you're not making these proteins so your body can't absorb enough calcium from your food. Blood takes priority over bone so other hormones will leach calcium from your skeleton. That weakening of the bones is what causes the bandy legs in young rickets sufferers their growing leg bones literally bend under their bodyweight. Adults with vitamin D deficiency might not walk like cowboys, but their new purple coach purse outlet bone is a bit on the soft side. Like vitamin D, vitamin A (retinoic acid) acts as a hormone that switches on genes to make particular proteins. But another form of vitamin A, retinal, has a more direct action in our bodies. It helps us to see in the dark. Vitamin A from food gets converted into a form called retinal, which ends up in the retina the part of your eye where rod and cone cells detect light and send signal image making signals to your brain.
Retinal binds to a protein called opsin that pokes out of rod cells. Together they form the pigment rhodopsin, or visual purple. Rhodopsin can absorb light at low levels, which is why vitamin A is essential for night vision among non infrared goggle owners.
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