How Do Vitamins Improve Health?

How Do Vitamins Improve Health?Hello!  Just hearing the word vitamins probably makes you think about health.

When you were a kid growing up you may remember people always telling you how important it is to take your vitamins.

Vitamins are definitely important to good health and you can get many vitamins from eating a healthy diet.

However, many people aren’t aware of this and end up spending a lot of money on vitamin supplements.  This leads into the title of my blog of how do vitamins improve health?  Vitamins are different from the 3 major macronutrients which are proteins, carbs, and fats.

One difference is the amount.  For proteins, carbs, and fats the amounts needed are measured in grams.  With vitamins, the daily amounts needed are much smaller and measured in micrograms.  Also, vitamins aren’t a source of energy and don’t have any caloric value.

2 Types of Vitamins

There are 2 different types of vitamins, fat-soluble and water-soluble. Vitamins, A,D,E, and K are fat-soluble.  Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Folate, B6, B12, and Vitamin C are water-soluble. The difference in solubility affects the way your body absorbs, transports, and stores the vitamins.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A – Vitamin A is most popular for its role in vision.  It’s also important for proper growth, reproduction, and your immune system.  It helps maintain healthy bones, skin, and mucous membranes as well.

Sources – Most dietary Vitamin A comes from animal foods.  About 1/3 of Vitamin A intake comes from fruits and vegetables.  Some foods rich in Vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, cantaloupe, mangoes, and tomatoes.

Vitamin D –  Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because if you get enough sunlight, your body can sometimes get all it needs from the sun.  It is necessary for bone health and helps reduce the risk of cancer.  In older adults it helps prevent osteoporosis.  It helps with cell growth also.

Sources – Most foods don’t naturally contain Vitamin D so the major sources come from fortified foods.  Examples of these fortified foods include milk, cereal, margarine, grains, and breads.

Vitamin E – Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning it helps prevent free radicals in your body from invading cells.  Its functions are enhanced by Vitamin C and selenium.

Sources – Vitamin E is found in many different foods of both plant and animal origin.  Good sources of Vitamin E include almonds, spinach, tomato sauce, and broccoli.

Vitamin K – Without Vitamin K to promote blood clotting, a single cut would eventually lead to death.  Therefore, it’s very important in the coagulation of blood.

Sources – Vitamin K mostly comes from plant foods.  Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, and brussels sprouts are rich sources of Vitamin K.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Thiamine – Thiamine is used in the process of glucose metabolism.  It also regulates the movement of chemicals involved in transmitting messages in the nervous system.

Sources – Pork has a lot of Thiamine along with legumes.  Nuts, seeds, some types of fish and seafood are also good sources.

Riboflavin – Riboflavin participates in reactions that remove ammonia during the breakdown of certain amino acids.  It also has antioxidant properties to help strengthen your immune system.

Sources – Sources of Riboflavin include beef, liver, whole grain cereal, yogurt, mushrooms, and cottage cheese.

Niacin – If you need energy during vigorous activity, Niacin helps convert pyruvate to lactate to help provide that energy.  It also helps promote the breakdown of fatty acids.

How Do Vitamins Improve Health?

Sources – Most Niacin comes from beef, poultry, fish, and whole grain breads.

Little Niacin is lost during cooking because it remains very stable when heated.

Pantothenic Acid – Pantothenic Acid is involved in many metabolic processes.  These include energy generating processes and fat breakdown processes.

Sources – Foods rich in Pantothenic Acid include chicken, beef, potatoes, oats, and tomato products.  Pantothenic Acid is damaged easily so freezing and cooking can reduce its strength.

Biotin – Biotin is used for amino acid metabolism, breakdown of fatty acids, and DNA synthesis.

Sources – God sources of Biotin are cauliflower, liver, peanuts, cheese, and egg yolks.  Heat breaks down Biotin so cooking will reduce its potency.

Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 supports and aids in the metabolism of protein, blood cell synthesis, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Sources – Main sources of Vitamin B6 include fortified cereals, fish, poultry, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables.  Vitamin B6 is very weak under heated conditions.  As much as 50% of a food’s Vitamin B6 content can be lost from cooking.

Folate – Folate is necessary for DNA synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and growth of red blood cells.

Sources – Fortified breakfast cereals provide a good amount of Folate. Dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, and orange juice are also good sources.  Folate is extremely vulnerable to heat and foods can lose up to 90% of their Folate from cooking.

Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is crucial for the metabolism of Folate.  It also helps break down fatty acids and aids myelin in coating nerve fibers.

Sources – Beef, liver, and salmon are excellent sources of Vitamin B12. Tuna, cottage cheese, and milk also provide a good amount of Vitamin B12.

Vitamin C  – Vitamin C plays a major role in forming collagen, a protein that reinforces connective tissues in your body.  It’s also an antioxidant and minimizes free radical damage in your cells.

Because of this, it helps enhance your immune system.  Consuming Vitamin C rich foods can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, and cataracts.

Sources – Citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables are great sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is vulnerable to heat, so fresh fruits and vegetables are the best options.

Summary – As you can see, vitamins have many important functions and are just as important to your health as any other major nutrients.  If you eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables you can get most of the vitamins you need.

By doing this, you can avoid having to buy a lot of vitamin supplements.   It really comes down to having a healthy diet inclusive of all the major food groups.  The company Organic Facts wrote a very informational article on the benefits of vitamins you can see here.  How do you get your dose of vitamins?

If you have any comments or questions please let me know and I will get back to you. Thanks for reading and don’t forget your vitamins!

Jon


 

4 thoughts on “How Do Vitamins Improve Health?”

  1. I’m big on vitamins. I take a multivitamin and vitamin c everyday for the past year. I have been doing what I can to lose weight and be more fit. 65lbs so far in a years time. This is a very important topic. Thank you getting it outt there. I am going to flag this so I can come back to it later and really go throught it and see what you offer most. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      That’s great that you’ve lost 65 lbs this year, congratulations! Yes, multivitamins can definitely help fill in the gaps if you’ve missed particular vitamins during the day. Thanks for your input, have a great day!

      Jon

  2. Hey Jon

    I’ve always known, as most do, that getting a good mix of vitamins is important for overall health. But I didn’t know precisely what each one did. Awesome to learn this stuff.

    I typically try to have a varied diet with plenty of fruits and veges – but it doesn’t always happen that way. I don’t currently use any supplements but I have done in the past.

    One question: I hear it’s possible to get too much of a vitamin. How likely is this to occur? For example, if you were getting all of your vitamin needs from food and took supplements, would you potentially be taking too much? Or would you would you have to take significantly more before it had a negative impact?

    1. Hi Nathan,

      In general, it’s usually pretty hard to take too much of a particular vitamin unless you’re really taking huge amounts of it. It also depends on which vitamin it is. With some vitamins, it’s almost impossible to take too much of it, but with others it can be possible. If you have a specific vitamin in mind you’d like to ask about, I can let you know more details of the possibility of taking too much. Thanks for your comment and have a terrific day!

      Jon

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