A Brief Overview on Essential Vitamins
When it comes to your diet, you’re probably aware of the basics – healthy fats, protein, fiber, carbohydrates. But there are other things that affect our health too.
These include vitamins and minerals, which can be easily found on food labels. However, if you have any specific nutritional concerns or would like to supplement your diet with certain nutrients, a vitamin or mineral supplement might be right for you.
What exactly is a vitamin?
A vitamin is a substance required by humans in small amounts for normal growth and development. Vitamins cannot be created from other substances within the body. Instead, they come from foods that contain them. The best known example is the B-vitamins (B1, B2, B3, etc.), which help convert carbohydrates into energy. They also help with metabolism, blood clotting, and nerve function.
Vitamin deficiencies aren’t uncommon for people who do not eat enough of the recommended daily allowances of these key nutrients. This is why taking a multivitamin is often recommended as part of a healthy diet.
Are all vitamins the same?
No… and yes! There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K, dissolve in fat. Water soluble vitamins, like C, B6, and B12, dissolve in water. Both types play an important role in our bodies. However, only the fat soluble ones require additional supplementation.
The most popular type of vitamin supplement includes both water and fat soluble vitamins. It is called a multi-vitamin because each pill contains a different combination of these kinds of vitamins.
Which vitamins should I take?
This depends on your individual needs. If you don’t get enough of certain vitamins from your diet, then you might want to consider supplementing your diet with a multivitamin. You could even take an antioxidant supplement to support your immune system and provide extra protection against free radicals.
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that adults between the ages of 19 and 50 take a multivitamin every day. Those over 50 years old may need to take one every few days. Children under 18 years old should take a multivitamin with iron once per month.
If you already follow a healthy eating plan, but still feel that you need more nutrition, then consider adding a calcium supplement. Calcium helps keep bones strong and prevents osteoporosis. In addition, some experts believe that calcium contributes to overall good health.
Calcium is also necessary for muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Your body absorbs less than half of the calcium you consume, so it is important to get your daily requirements from food sources. It’s generally recommended that women between the ages of 19 and 64 take 1200 mg of calcium per day, while men over 65 years old should try to meet 800 mg per day. Children younger than 12 years old should receive 400 mg per day. For adults who are vegan or vegetarian, the RDI for calcium ranges from 500 to 1,200 mg per day depending on gender and age.
Mostly people are using vitamins as health supplement because they are unable to complete all of their body requirements of all kinds of vitamins from the food which they eat. This issue is specially seen in vegetarians as they are unable to take all the required vitamins and nutrients from vegetarian food like biotin, protein and many more. So because of all these reasons they have to take all these supplements.
Vitamin and mineral supplements – what to know
It is very important to remember that taking supplements is no substitute for a balanced, healthy diet. Even though vitamins and minerals are essential for maintaining optimal health, many people still struggle to obtain enough through their diets alone. So, it is important to take a look at how much of these vitamins and minerals you actually consume.
The easiest way to check this is to look at the ingredients list on the back of the packaging. Look specifically for the words “natural flavors”. These are often used as fillers and preservatives in many processed foods. They often contain artificial flavorings and sweeteners, which means they are essentially empty calories.
One of the best ways to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is to make sure you eat plenty of nutritious whole foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, and seafood.
While supplements are convenient, they can cause problems when taken without a doctor’s advice. Taking large doses of vitamins and minerals will increase your risk of developing side effects, especially if you take them long term. You should always consult your healthcare provider before starting a new product, supplement, or treatment.
In some cases, vitamin and mineral supplements can interact negatively with prescription drugs or other medications. Always speak with your physician about whether a particular supplement is appropriate for you.
For example, calcium supplements can interfere with the absorption of antacids and antibiotics, thus reducing the effectiveness of these treatments. Vitamin C can also reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, so it is best to avoid taking both together.
Many people think that because vitamin and mineral supplements are available in pill form, they must be safe. However, the pills are actually manufactured using synthetic compounds that lack the natural chemicals found in plant-based foods. Therefore, they don’t actually contain any of the nutrients we need to stay healthy.
Instead, they simply serve as vehicles for delivering the vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream. While this is okay for short-term use, long-term use can lead to serious health risks, including liver damage.