Have you ever wondered why vitamins are so vital for our health, and more importantly, how you can meet the recommended daily intake of vitamins? If so, this article is just for you. Along with the two aforementioned questions, we’ll be taking a few more important ones here.
What Are Vitamins?
Vitamins are organic compounds that we need in very small amounts to sustain life. We can get most vitamins through food. If, for some reasons, one can’t get her vitamins from a diet, supplements are recommended.
How Many Vitamins Are There?
In total, there are 13 vitamins, divided into the following two categories based on their solubility.
These vitamins can dissolve in fats and oils but not water. There are four fat-soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
These vitamins depend on fat for absorption, so make sure your diet includes sufficient amounts of healthy fats. If the diet is lacking fats, fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies can occur, which in turn can lead to malnutrition and disease. For instance, lack of vitamin A in the body could cause blindness and other health issues.
That said, too much of fat-soluble vitamins is also bad and can cause toxicity symptoms, like irritability, loss of appetite, nausea, blurred vision, drowsiness, and headache.
Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. Instead, we excrete the excess through urine. Precisely for this reason, you’re less likely to experience toxicity symptoms with overconsumption of water-soluble vitamins.
There are eight water-soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
- Vitamin B12
Why Do We Need Vitamins?
We need vitamins to exist – it’s as simple as that. Each of the 13 vitamins performs several important bodily functions.
- Vitamin A supports immunity function, reduces free radical damage, and maintains good eyesight;
- Vitamin D promotes bone growth and reduces the risk of developing chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes;
- Vitamin E slows the aging process of the cells by fighting free radical damage;
- Vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting and supports bone health;
- Vitamin B7 helps the body to metabolize fats, amino acids, and carbohydrates;
- Vitamin B9 is necessary for making red blood cells, boosting immune function, and enhancing brain health;
- Vitamin B3 aids the digestive system, supports brain function, and reduces cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risks;
- Vitamin B5 is important for the production of red blood cells and the making of sex-related hormones;
- Vitamin B1 aids energy production, boosts memory, and lowers cardiovascular risks;
- Vitamin B2 helps maintain the body’s energy supply, maintain liver health, and promote eye, skin, nerve, and muscle health;
- Vitamin B6 is important for maintaining brain health and making of the hormone serotonin (also called the happy chemical because of its ability to regulate mood);
- Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cells formation;
- Vitamin C protects cells from free radical damage and reduces the risk of developing heart diseases.
How to Get the Vitamins You Need
The best way to meet your vitamin requirements is by following a healthy and varied diet, one that contains plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
However, you can’t get vitamin D in adequate amounts from food sources. Its best source is sunlight. Soaking in the sun for 10-15 minutes every day can help you meet the recommended daily allowance for it.
Here are some nutrient-rich foods that you would do well to include in your diet:
- Broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, kale, chard, and collard greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Baked potatoes
- Cantaloupe, raspberries, strawberries; and papaya
- Dried beans (pinto, kidney, garbanzo)
- Seeds (sesame, sunflower, flax, and pumpkin)
- Lentils, peas
- Peanuts, almonds, and cashews
- Oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa
- Shrimp, salmon, cod, tuna, halibut
- Chicken, turkey
- Lean beef, lamb
ٌReasons Behind Vitamin Deficiency
Some health conditions, such as liver disorders and IBS, can inhibit the absorption of vitamins. In case you frequently experience low-energy levels and have a chronic health condition, you should consult your doctor who might prescribe certain tests to eliminate vitamin deficiency. Take a look at the following vitamins infographic to discover the deficiency signs of all vitamins so you know if you should get yourself checked.
Salman Zafar is an acclaimed blogger, editor, publisher and digital marketer. He is the founder of Blogging Hub, a digital publishing portal with wide following across the world.