The ABC of vitamins
Good nutrition is a vital part of a balanced lifestyle, but most of us find it hard to follow the regular guidelines. The discrepancies we have in eating a well-balanced regular diet make it easy to understand why the nutritional supplement industry (think vitamins and other nutritional additives, natural or synthetic) is a $41 billion market. Is it, however, important to take supplemental vitamins regularly? What exactly are vitamins? What exactly do they do? What role do they play in our bodies? It’s important to know the ABCs of vitamins. To work properly, our bodies need 13 vitamins. Vitamins are organic compounds that are mainly obtained from the foods we consume. They’re needed in small amounts to keep life going. All of these vitamins play critical roles in the body, including digestion, vision, nerve function, bone health, and immune system support. Water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins are the two types of vitamins.
Vitamins that are water-soluble dissolve in water and are not retained by the body; any waste is excreted by the kidneys. Since these vitamins don’t last long in the body, we need a steady supply in our diet. Eight B vitamins (the B vitamin complex) and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins.
The eight B vitamins that make up the “B complex” are thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate (folic acid), vitamin B12, biotin, and pantothenic acid). B vitamins are found in a variety of animal and plant sources of food.
Vitamin C is well-known for its antioxidant properties, which help to strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is essential for wound healing, bone and tooth formation, blood vessel wall strengthening, and cell adhesion via collagen synthesis.
Iron absorption and utilization are aided by vitamin C. Citrus fruits are the most well-known source of vitamin C, but it’s also found in potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kiwifruit.
Fat-soluble vitamins, unlike their water-soluble counterparts, are contained in the liver and fatty tissue of the body. Since excess fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver, there are health risks associated with having too many of them in the body. A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin A is mainly obtained from animal sources of food, but the human body can also turn beta-carotene contained in plant sources, such as carrots, spinach, and beets, into vitamin A if necessary. This vitamin has many functions, including eye protection, bone growth, tooth formation, reproduction, cell division, and immune system control. Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant as well. However, consuming too much Vitamin A over an extended period of time can be toxic.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, has recently gained popularity as a result of the important role it plays in our wellbeing. Vitamin D controls how much calcium remains in our blood and helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, adding them to our bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also essential for muscle function and helps the brain and body to communicate through the nervous system. This vitamin has also been related to alleviating depression symptoms. The three sources of Vitamin D are diet, sunlight, and supplementation (vitamins or fortified dairy products). The food sources of vitamin D are somewhat limited but include milk and other fortified dairy products, cod and oily fish (herring, sardines, salmon), and mushrooms. The body has the unique ability to produce vitamin D through the skin in response to direct sunlight. Getting outside is one way to increase our daily dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects red blood cells, vitamins A and C, and essential fatty acids from becoming destroyed. Vegetable oil, fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), seeds (sunflower), and fortified cereals are all good sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin K aids in the formation of blood clots, which helps to avoid unnecessary bleeding. Leafy greens are the primary food sources of the vitamin. Vitamin K is another vitamin that the human body is capable of producing on its own. It is produced by bacteria in the intestines during digestion. Vitamin K is not needed to be supplemented because the body produces sufficient quantities.
To sum up, Our bodies are complex and the best way to get your essential vitamins is to eat whole, real foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories. If you’re healthy and eat a well-balanced diet, chances are good you don’t need to take additional vitamins.