health

A Guide on Vitamins: What Does Each One Do For Me?

vitamins

Everything You Need To Know About Vitamins

In the past, many people have questioned how useful supplements such as multivitamins are to our health. A lot of people argue that a healthy diet is all we need to maintain good health, and while that statement does hold merit, it doesn’t mean that everyone is capable of eating well on their own without help.

Thanks to extensive research by the medical community over the past few decades and the use of advanced techniques such as cell based assays, scientists are able to isolate and identify what effects each vitamin has on our body. Their findings have been positive and it’s resulted in an explosion of popularity among health foods and supplements.

Getting enough vitamins in your body is crucial. Our bodies need them to function and maintain health, but despite what a lot of people say about our nutrition we only need small doses of vitamins to keep our bodies working. There are 13 vitamins that we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle: A, C, D, E, K and eight B vitamins. To give you an idea on what each vitamin does for our body, here’s a handy little guide.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an antioxidant that also helps us maintain good eyesight and keeps our teeth, skin, and bones healthy. A diet high in antioxidants is a natural way to slow the aging process that all of our bodies go through as we get older.

We can find vitamin A in milk, eggs, liver, orange or green vegetables, and orange fruits. Colour matters a lot when it comes to vitamins! Great vegetables to eat are carrots, kale, and potatoes, and fruits would be peaches, mangos, and apricots.

Some signs of vitamin A deficiency include gluten sensitivity issues, a leaky gut and it’s also common in alcoholics. If you feel your eyesight worsening it could also be a sign of vitamin A deficiency!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps to strengthen our bones to protect them from conditions like arthritis. It’s essential for growing children and also for elderly folks that are having trouble working their joints. Signs of vitamin D deficiency can be quite vague, but they include fatigue, drowsiness, and aches in the joints.

Vitamin D is unique because it is created by our bodies when sunlight touches our skin, but it also comes from egg yolks, oily fish like salmon and tuna, and even orange juice. A great way to get vitamin D is to bathe in the sun for a couple of minutes each day. It could be a walk through the park, opening the blinds a bit more, or relaxing in the park—just remember to wear a non-SPF sunscreen in the summer!

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant which means it can prevent or delay damage to our cells. It helps to boost our immune system so that our bodies can fight against bacteria and viruses, and it also widens our blood vessels to improve our blood circulation. It also has the added effect of protecting your hair and balancing hormones.

It’s found in a lot of foods such as nuts, leafy vegetables, and whole grains. It’s rare to see a vitamin E deficiency in healthy people because it’s found in a lot of healthy foods, but a deficiency could lead to nerve and muscle damage or a weak immune system.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K helps to prevent blood clots and excessive bleeding. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin K isn’t used as a dietary supplement. If you find that your cuts and wounds bleed for a long time, then it could be a sign of a vitamin K deficiency. It’s rare to experience a deficiency in adults but it’s more common in infants or children.

Vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are high in vitamin K. Meat, eggs and beans are also a good alternative. As long as you’re maintaining a healthy diet, you shouldn’t run into issues with a vitamin K deficiency.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients that we can take. It holds our skin cells together, protects and strengthens our immune system and is commonly used to treat colds. If you have flaking or chapped skin on the ends of your fingers then it’s most likely a sign of vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits like oranges, we can find it in strawberries, and for vegetables, it’s found in broccoli and spinach. A glass of vegetable or orange juice is a great way to get extra vitamin C into your body.

The B Vitamins

The B vitamins are split into eight different types. All of the B vitamins help to convert our food into fuel to give us energy, and they also help to metabolize fats and protein. B vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy organs, hair, and eyes, but they also keep our brains active as well. The B vitamins often work together in harmony and they rely on each other to perform their functions properly, hence why they are categorized under a single letter despite serving different functions.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine was the first B vitamin that scientists discovered. It’s often known as the anti-stress vitamin because it can strengthen our immune system and also increase our resistance to stressful situations. It’s easy to get enough thiamine into your diet because most common foods contain small amounts, but meats usually contain the largest amounts of thiamine. Alcoholics are usually at risk of developing thiamine deficiency and symptoms can include headaches, fatigue and depression.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin is found in milk, meat, and eggs. It helps to reduce the risk of migraines, acne, cramps and carpal tunnel. If you have skin disorders, sores at the corners of your mouth or you experience hair loss, then they could be early signs of a riboflavin deficiency.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is commonly used as a cholesterol treatment that can lower cardiovascular risks. We get niacin from most meats and green vegetables, so it’s fairly easy to get the recommended amount each day. However, if you experience dizzy spells or have trouble digesting food, then it could be a sign of a niacin deficiency.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Pantothenic acid is found in meats, vegetables, cereals, eggs and also milk. It has a long list of benefits such as reducing acne, assisting with alcohol problems, lowering the effects of asthma and also preventing heart failures. However, there is no scientific evidence to determine what it excels at which makes it an all-around good vitamin to consume through foods and multivitamins.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Pyridoxine is found in starchy vegetables such as potatoes, non-citrus fruits, and meat. It helps to improve our metabolism, reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease and can improve cognitive function in elderly people. Pyridoxine deficiency is uncommon, but symptoms include itchy rashes, cracked lips and depression.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Biotin contains some vital metabolic functions, but it can also be used to treat cancer, Crohn’s disease, prevent hair loss, reduce the risks of Parkinson’s disease, and also help diabetics. The daily requirement for biotin is relatively low and there are many foods that contain it.

Unlike other vitamins, your body will also recycle biotin so that even if you don’t eat for a while, biotin will remain in your body and continue working. It can be found in organ meats, dairy products, bread, broccoli, cauliflower, poultry, fish, and mushrooms.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)

Folic acid is crucial for brain functions and it plays a big role in mental health. It also aids the production of DNA which is important when cells and tissues are growing such as in a child. It’s actually quite common to have low levels of folic acid because certain medications and regular alcohol consumption can lower the levels of folic acid in your body. If you experience diarrhea, gingivitis, loss of appetite or forgetfulness then it might be a sign of folic acid deficiency.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 improves our red blood cell generation and it’s also important for nerve cell functions. It’s found in foods like beef liver, clams, fish, poultry, milk and eggs. Some cereals might also be fortified with vitamin B12. If you lack vitamin B12, then it could lead to tiredness, fatigue, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, and even nerve problems such as numbness in the hands and feet.

So… What Should I Take?

In general, it’s best to consult your doctor about any symptoms you have that could be a result of a vitamin deficiency. Many symptoms are vague and could be a more serious issue that stems from deeper underlying health issues. Never try to take your healthcare into your own hands with medication and vitamins and always read the labels.

Your doctor may suggest that you simply take a multivitamin to balance out your nutrients. However, if you have an otherwise healthy diet, then your doctor might prescribe you single vitamin supplements instead to give you help where you need it.

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