I can remember not liking to take vitamins when I was younger. I thought vitamins were for “old people”. Now I am a “little” more mature in my thinking. I now understand that vitamins are an essential part of maintaining my health and wellness.
So why are vitamins important to us? According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Vitamins are a group of substances that needed for normal cell function, growth, and development.” It is understood by medical experts that there are 13 essential vitamins that required to carry this out effectively. Those 13 nutrients can be found in all of our natural food sources.
The 13 vitamins can be divided into two major categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The major difference between the two categories is that water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored for long periods (with the exception of B12), but fat-soluble vitamins can. Given the nature of fat-soluble vitamins, toxicity is more common if we add supplements to our daily intake.
The water-soluble vitamins must be used by the body immediately and include:
- Vitamin C – is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums, and helps the body absorb iron, maintain healthy tissue, and promotes wound healing.
- Thiamin (B1) – helps the body cells change carbohydrates into energy and is essential for heart function and healthy nerve cells.
- Niacin (B3) – helps maintain healthy skin and nerves and has cholesterol-lowering effects at higher doses.
- Riboflavin (B2) – is important for body growth and the production of red blood cells.
- Pantothenic Acid – is essential for the metabolism of food and plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
- Biotin – is essential for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
- Pyridoxine (B6) – helps forms red blood cells and maintains brain function.
- Vitamin B12 – is important for metabolism and also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.
- Folate – works with Vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells and is needed for the production of DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function.
The fat-soluble vitamins are used easily in the presence of dietary fat and include:
- Vitamin A – helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.
- Vitamin D – helps the body absorb calcium and to maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.
- Vitamin E – is an antioxidant that helps the body form red blood cells and Vitamin K.
- Vitamin K – helps blood stick together (coagulate).
Many of these nutrients can be gained from eating a well balanced and healthy diet, particularly plant foods, fruits, and vegetables. However, as with many things, too much consumption of anything (even things that are good for us) can be toxic and can cause harmful effects. In other words, everything must be done in moderation.
In the final analysis, we can lead a better healthy life by ensuring that we are consuming the appropriate amount of the 13 essential vitamins. If the foods we consume do not contain a sufficient amount of the recommended daily amount of nutrients, then we can obtain the rest from supplements. A WORD OF CAUTION: Seek professional medical consultation prior to using any type of supplemental source. For additional information, please use the links provided above in this article.
Sean Mungin, author of “The Thorn In The Flesh”