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What Is Vitamin P? What Are The Benefits And Food Sources?


oi-Amritha K

As a term, vitamin P once referred to a group of plant compounds called flavonoids. These compounds, however, are not vitamins in the conventional sense.

Flavonoids are naturally occurring pigments found in fruits, vegetables, tea, cocoa, and wine. Flavonoids give certain foods their colour, provide protection from UV rays and infection, and may also be beneficial to human health.

What Is Vitamin P?

Over 6,000 different flavonoids have been identified, often referred to as bioflavonoids or polyphenols.

In general, flavonoids are not considered essential nutrients [1]. This means that they are not needed for growth or development, but eating flavonoid-rich foods may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Although flavonoids are not as important for health as vitamins, they are found in many foods that are beneficial to the body.

Why were flavonoids named vitamin P?

Scientists discovered flavonoids in 1930 when a new substance was separated from oranges. At the time, it was believed to be a new category of vitamins and was called vitamin P. Later, however, it was established that it was not a vitamin at all [2].

What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin P?

Flavonoids are still being studied by scientists, but some of the potential benefits include the following:

1. Possess antioxidant effects:

Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by your body that may damage your cells. As a result of this damage, your body may experience inflammation and be more likely to develop diseases such as cancer and heart disease as antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals [3].

In addition to their antioxidant effect, flavonoids may also be helpful in preventing chronic disease. However, they may be less easily absorbed by your body than other antioxidants such as vitamin C.

2. May help prevent heart disease:

As a result of their antioxidant activity, flavonoids may reduce your risk of heart disease. They may also help to lower blood pressure and inflammation [4].

3. May help prevent diabetes:

There is evidence that flavonoids can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Flavonoids improve how your body uses glucose and digests carbohydrates. A study of 200,000 men and women found that people who consumed a high level of flavonoids had a reduced risk of diabetes [5].

4. May improve brain health:

Researchers have shown that flavonoids may protect your brain by lowering inflammation and protecting your vascular system. A type of flavonoids found in cocoa may improve brain function, memory, and blood flow to the brain [6].

Vitamin P Food Sources

Flavonoids are classified into six main classes: Flavonols, Flavones, Isoflavones, Flavanones, Anthocyanins, and Chalcones.

Are There Any Side Effects For Vitamin P?

According to experts, there is no risk of toxicity associated with flavonoids commonly consumed through food, however, there may be risks associated with high dose supplements, which may negatively affect thyroid function, interact with medications, and affect nutrient levels [7][8].

On A Final Note…

A number of health benefits are thought to be associated with flavonoids, although most research has been conducted in test tubes. Some observational studies in humans indicate that flavonoids may boost brain health and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

In the current situation, there is no Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for flavonoids, since they are not crucial to human development. However, a diet rich in healthy, whole foods will naturally contain flavonoids and contribute to good health as a whole.

Story first published: Monday, January 23, 2023, 16:30 [IST]

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