What vitamins are good for
What are vitamins? They are defined as molecules that are required by the body mostly in small amounts to carry out important processes in the body. Most vitamins are usually required in small amounts: few milligrams (mg) or micrograms (μg) per day. The best sources for vitamins are from healthy foods however, vitamin supplements are also an inexpensive and important source for getting the right vitamins.
The Functions of vitamins
There are about 13 vitamins in all and the body requires every single one of them to be fully functional. The absence or lack of any of these vitamins may lead to unwanted medical conditions or leave the body vulnerable to diseases. Vitamins also assist in the production of enzymes, hormones and other chemical messengers that the body uses to grow, repair and defend itself, produce energy and remove wastes. Another function of vitamins in the body is that it acts as powerful antioxidants that capture free radicals in the body. One free radical starts a cascade of new free radicals in your body. The free radicals blunder around, grabbing electrons from your cells—and doing a lot of damage to them at the same time. Antioxidants are your body’s natural defense against free radicals. Antioxidants are enzymes that patrol your cells looking for free radicals.
Types of vitamin
There are two groups of vitamins; fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. Vitamins are commonly named using letters (Vitamins A, B, C, etc) but in recent times are referred to by their names, eg. Thiamin, riboflavin, folate, etc.
The fat-soluble vitamins are A, E, D and K. These vitamins are known to dissolve in fat but not water and are stored mostly in the fatty tissues and in the liver.
Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and all the B vitamins. These vitamins can’t really be stored in the body for very long as they dissolve in water which means any excesses are carried out of the body.
The table below summarizes the types of vitamins we have.
|Water-Soluble Vitamins||Fat-Soluble Vitamins|
|Vitamin B6||Vitamin K|
Supplements and Vitamins
Taking vitamin supplements can improve your health now and ensure it for the future. People need many different vitamins and nutrients if they are to maintain good health and reduce the risk of diet-related diseases. Vitamin and nutrient requirements vary for every individual and may differ at different stages in life. For example, men do not require as much iron as compared to women preparing for pregnancy. Vitamin requirements also vary according to age, sex, and overall health being. The type and amount of vitamins you decide to take should depend on your personal health.
Importance of vitamins and supplements
What is Nutrient Reference Value?
Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) is the amount of vitamins that the average healthy person needs in order to prevent deficiency. Food supplement labels list the ingredients included in the product and give the proportion of the NRV value (% NRV) that is contained within the supplement e.g. vitamin C, 80mg, 100% NRV
|Vitamin C||80 mg||Vitamin A||800|
|Niacin||16 mg||Folic Acid||200 µg|
|Vitamin E||12 mg||Vitamin K||75 µg|
|Riboflavin||1.4 mg||Biotin||50 µg|
|Vitamin B6||1.4 mg||Vitamin D|
|Thiamin||1.1 mg||Vitamin B12||2.5 µg|
Reference: https://www.hsis.org/a-z-food-supplements/ , http://dx.doi.org/10.1533/9781782420811.1.3
One gram (g) contains 1,000 milligrams (mg). A gram is roughly equivalent to one-quarter teaspoon, or 0.035 of an ounce. There is about 4,000 mg in a teaspoon. One milligram contains 1,000 micrograms (mcg). That means a microgram is 1/1,000 of a milligram, or 1/1,000,000 (yes, one millionth) of a gram.
The average person should be able to meet all these vitamin requirements by eating a reasonably healthy diet which contains plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. The question is, who’s this average person? Sure it’s not anyone we know as our modern lifestyle does not allow us to regularly have healthy diets. When was the last time you had broccoli, kale, vegetables, avocados, etc.? When was the last time you had processed foods or fine sugars?
Because of this, vitamin supplements are very important as they help fill any deficiency gaps we may have. Taking vitamin supplements daily is sensible insurance – it is an inexpensive option that ensures you are getting the vitamins needed by the body. The benefits of taking supplements are not realized overnight. It takes time before you start noticing improvements in your overall health. The more important thing about health supplements is the things that don’t happen as a result of taking them. By taking daily vitamin supplements, you may be preventing future problems like heart diseases and arthritis. Remember, you should be able to find vitamin supplements from trusted brands like Pure Food Supplements for about £10 per month which will go a long way in helping you achieve better health.
Deficiency for vitamin
Deficiencies occur when you don’t get enough vitamins for some time. If this is prolonged, it may result in a deficiency disease. Marginal deficiency may also occur if
– You don’t regularly eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain.
– You’re under a lot of high stress over long periods
– You’re seriously depressed which may then affect your eating habits
– You smoke as it increases your need for vitamins
– You’re a heavy drinker.
What vitamins should I take
Different foods provide different vitamins that also offer different benefits. The benefits that you obtain from Vitamin A are different from the benefits you get from taking Vitamin C. In the same way, the deficiency disease related to Vitamin C is also different from what you’ll get from lack of Vitamin A.
Sources and benefits of vitamins
Below is a summary of the vitamin food sources, deficiencies and associated benefits from the various vitamins.
|Vitamin A||Whole Milk|
Slow or stunted growth in children
Dry skin and eyes
|Vitamin A may lower the risk of some cancers|
Helps improve resistance to certain diseases
Supports a healthy function of eyes, hair, teeth, and gums
Assists in the production of white blood cells
Dark green leafy vegetables
|Maintaining healthy Muscles and skin|
Supporting the immune and nervous system
Stimulating cell reproduction and growth
|Vitamin C||Citrus fruits|
Poor wound healing
|Helps fight colds and flu|
Help boost the immune system
Promotes healthy teeth and gums
Strengthens blood vessel walls
Dark green leafy vegetables
|Low vitamin D or deficiency results in rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults||Reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer|
Helps the body maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus
Dark green leafy vegetables
Inability to concentrate
Supports healthy muscles and nerves
Production of red blood cells
|Good for bone metabolism|
Necessary for blood clotting
The right vitamins in the right amounts can play an important role in dealing with some medical disorders or conditions. Below is a summary of vitamin supplements that may help prevent, treat or cure some medical conditions.
|Medical Condition||Useful Vitamins|
|Common heart disorders like Cardiac arrest, carditis, endocarditis||Vitamin E|
|Heart attacks||Vitamin B Complex|
|High blood pressure/hypertension||Vitamin C|
|High Cholesterol/hyperlipidemia||Vitamin B complex|
|Poor appetite||Vitamin A|
Vitamin B complex
|Peptic ulcer||Vitamin E|
|Menopausal symptoms||Vitamin B Complex|
|Arthritis||Vitamin B complex|
|Common Cold||Vitamin A|
|Hayfever||Vitamin B Complex|
|Dry Skin||Vitamin A|
Vitamin B Complex
|Hair loss||Vitamin E|
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, some people subscribe to the notion that if a little is good, then more is better. But vitamin supplements may be harmful when taken in amounts above what is considered beneficial. They may take a handful of other supplements alongside taking multivitamins. At best, they may be wasting their money. At worst, they may be endangering their health. It is always important to stick to the recommended dosage that is stated on the label of the supplement. The amount right for you must be based on your needs, so talk to a qualified person before you start taking new vitamin and mineral supplements.
Getting the right supplement is mostly not a straight forward process. Because of the influx of cheap ingredients and products on the UK market, food or dietary supplements are readily available, either online or in most stores. When buying a vitamin supplement, some considerations should be made. Below are some of the factors to consider when buying a vitamin supplement.
- Firstly, use your instincts. If it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t feel right, then it’s maybe not right for you. Listen to your guts when buying a supplement especially the ones that make ridiculous claims (eg. Lose weight overnight, Butt curving pills, etc). If it is incredibly cheap, you should not be too excited. Quality comes at a price.
- The ideal supplement is backed by science with years of successful use
- You should buy from a company that is registered under some jurisdiction eg UK Law. Companies that are not registered or cannot be traced may offer dangerous products
- The right vitamin supplement is manufactured by a reputable company that can provide a certificate of analysis to confirm the ingredients used.
- Only buy supplements that are not adulterated with fillers or excessive artificial ingredients.
- Buy supplements that are made to the GMP code of practice. You are mostly guaranteed high-quality products with supplements that have been produced under such conditions.
- Look out for potency levels. The potency level in say Vitamin B12 (1000mcg) is different from that of Vitamin B12 (100mcg). In the same way, 1mg (milligram) is not the same as 1mcg (microgram). Consumers should be aware of these things when shopping for supplements.
Blake, S. (2008). Vitamins and minerals demystified. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Pressman, A. and Buff, S. (1997). The complete idiot’s guide to vitamins and minerals. New York: Alpha Books.