Vitamins play a vital part in human metabolism. Some are produced by the human body itself, others must be regularly ingested via food. However, the bodies of some animals can produce vitamins that the human body cannot produce. This page explores how to meet the human requirements for vitamins in a colony on Mars.
Vitamins are classified according tot he following list : A, B1 to B12, C, D1 to D5, E, K.
Foods that contain vitamins
Foods that contains few vitamins
These foods provide carbohydrate for energy needs, but do not have high vitamin contents.
This vitamin is required for maintaining the skin and mucus linings. It is available in meat(especially liver), cheese, eggs, oily fish and milk. Due to energy restrictions on Mars this kind of food can not be easily produced.
Recommended consumption varies according to age and condition from 0,6 mg/day to 1,3 mg/day or at most 0,5 grams per year. The entire yearly supply for a 1000 person settlement would be 0,5 kg.
This vitamin is required by the human body to produce blood and to manage the energy processes of proteins and carbohydrates. It is available in pork, chicken, turkey, cod, but also in whole cereals, vegetables, soy beans and peanuts. Due to the availability in herbal food the demand for the Martian settlers can be met by agricultural production methods.
This vitamin is needed to process folic acid. It can be found in meat and algae. The latter can be grown on Mars in aquaculture.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, can be produced with agricultural products or synthesized from glucose.
Recommended consumption is 90 mg/day, or about 33 grams per year. The entire yearly supply for a 1000 person settlement would be 33 kg.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin through exposure to UV light. Vitamin D is mostly produced from biological sources, and biological production would be required for Mars. A 15 minutes exposure to ultraviolet lighting, 3 times a week, should be sufficient to produce the required vitamin D for humans. A tolerable intake is about 20-50 ug/day. So less than 0,5g per year. The entire yearly supply for a 1000 person settlement would be 0,05 kg.
Vitamin E is produced from biological sources.
Recommended consumption is 7-15 mg/day, or about 5 grams per year. The entire yearly supply for a 1000 person settlement would be 5 kg.
Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat-soluble vitamins that the human body requires for complete synthesis of certain proteins that are prerequisites for blood coagulation (K from Koagulation, German for "coagulation") and which the body also needs for controlling binding of calcium in bones and other tissues.
Recommended consumption is 90-120 ug/day, or about 0,1 grams per year. The entire yearly supply for a 1000 person settlement would be 0,1 kg.
Artificial production of vitamins
Some vitamins can be produced artificially on an industrial scale, but with current knowledge an adequate supply of all vitamins seems not to be possible on an artificial basis. Natural food is inevitable, even for a martian settlement.