So many people talk about vitamins. They’re in our food, they’re in pills we buy at the store, they’re good for us. Sure, but why? What exactly are vitamins and what do they do? Why are they good for us? It’s not so easy to feel motivated to do something good for yourself when you don’t know why it’s a good thing in the first place.
But maybe that’s the problem. Stop thinking of vitamins as something you could take. Think of them as something you should take. Vitamins are essential and taking them ensures that we aren’t deficient in them. They help you avoid some nasty conditions and illnesses and they have some pretty nice fringe benefits as well. If you’re a little confused about vitamins, here’s a quick primer on these wonders.
What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are natural compounds that the body needs for normal growth. These can be taken only in limited amounts. In other words, popping seven B12 pills a day does more harm than good and eating a handful of gummy vitamins is an overdose.
Vitamins must be obtained through either supplements or a healthy diet. Both are valid ways to get your vitamins in. Do note, however, that a multi-vitamin does not contain all the vitamins you need. They only contain some, so always check the label before making a purchase.
What’s in it for me?
Vitamins protect us from deficiency diseases. If you don’t get your vitamins, your more at risk for these conditions. For example, a Vitamin A deficiency could result in night blindness while a deficiency in Vitamin D could cause rickets.
Deficiencies in vitamins don’t happen right away. Just because a deficiency disease hasn’t been experienced doesn’t mean that you aren’t deficient in a vitamin. Deficiencies can lie dormant for a number of years before their effects start showing, which is why it’s important to take steps to stop them before they become an issue.
Where do I find Vitamins?
Taking ten different supplements every morning isn’t the best way to get out of bed. Luckily, most vitamins can be found in your diet. Unfortunately, mac and cheese probably isn’t going to help you out here, so put it away.
Vitamin E acts an antioxidant and can protect us from the damage that other cells do to our body. Make yourself a healthy salad for a hit of this super vitamin. Vitamin E is found in fruits and veggies as well as nuts and seeds. Vitamin E is one of the easiest vitamins to get, you can eat fruit or a few seeds or nuts as a snack in between demanding work.
Vitamin B12 keeps the body’s nerve cells healthy which an essential job. For vegetarians and vegans, it can be harder to get this vitamin as it’s found in red meats, poultry, dairy, and eggs. In this case, you might consider getting a Vitamin B12 supplement to round out your diet if you don’t regularly consume meat, dairy, and eggs.
There are some Vitamins that can be found in our own bodies as well. Vitamin K, for example, is produced in the intestines. And you know how Vitamin D is branded as the sunlight vitamin? That’s because it’s synthesized in the skin when light hits it. With that said, if you’re not one to get out much or you are already deficient in one of these vitamins, there are foods that you can munch on to get them back into your diet. For Vitamin K, focus on leafy greens and egg yolks. For Vitamin D, fish, eggs, and mushrooms are the way to go.
How Much Should I Take?
All vitamins are different and since we are all different weights, heights, and genders, our intake level is different as well. So, ask your doctor or pharmacist about your daily requirement if you’re taking a supplement. There are also helpful online rescores, just make sure to cross-reference your information as overdoses of vitamins can be dangerous.
Speaking of all vitamins being different, some are fat-soluble and some are water-soluble. What this means is that vitamins like the B Vitamins all dissolve in water. They don’t store very easily in the body, so you’ll need more of them than fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E, and K. These Vitamins store themselves in body fat which mean that we need less of them.
Vitamins are a vital part of any diet and not making them a priority can have consequences. Monitor your diet and see which food groups you’re missing out on and what vitamins you’re not paying enough attention to. Gaps like this can be resolved with supplements. Other supplements like fish and krill oil are relatively tasteless and have a bounty of necessary vitamins, so look at your options. Vitamins are important so give them the attention they need for a healthier and happier you.